Girl Guides amend their promise

by Richard on June 19, 2013

I see that Girlguiding UK has announced that from September this year the promise its members make will be amended to remove reference to God. The new promise reads

I promise that I will do my best
To be true to myself and develop my beliefs
To serve the Queen and my community
To help other people
and
To keep the Guide law

Strictly speaking, this is nothing to do with me. I’m obviously not a member of girlguiding! However, the Scout Association is going through a consultation about amendment to the Scout Promise, and I greatly fear we might be heading in the same direction. It seems to me that this new promise owes more to the individualism and sentimentality of the Disney channel than it does the vision of the Baden Powells. “To develop my beliefs”? “To be true to myself”? What does that mean?

The wording of the scout promise

On my honour, I promise that I will do my best
to my duty to God and to the Queen
to help other people,
and to keep the Scout Law

may be open to a range of interpretations, but it at least has the merit of directing the scout away from themselves and towards others. That’s the essence of scouting. The promise of duty to God is not an affirmation of any particular religion. Almost from its inception, scouting was an internationalist, inclusive movement. Girlguiding’s new promise does nothing to extend that inclusivity — quite the reverse. By making the individual guide the centre of her promise, the Guides have given in to the nonsense of ‘it’s all about me’. I hope and pray that UK scouting won’t follow suit.

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Meaningless promises | connexions
09.08.13 at 10:47 pm

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Kim 06.19.13 at 4:13 pm

I’m so glad you blogged on this inane oath. The i ran the story of the new promises today, and I immediately rifled the editor the following email:

Sir:

So from September, Girl Guides will be promising “to be true to myself and develop my beliefs” and “to serve the Queen” (News, 19th June). God’s teeth! Or rather Elizabeth Regina’s. This oath, how very du jour, how very banal. Perhaps a cross-dressing Polonius chaired the working party?

Revd. Kim Fabricius
Swansea

2

Richard 06.19.13 at 6:00 pm

I hope they run it - couldn’t have put it better myself!

3

Elizabeth 06.21.13 at 6:01 pm

I felt somewhat queasy about the new promise too. I was a Brownie myself some moons ago and made the old promise with suitable ceremony whilst saluting a giant toadstool…

I’m not so bothered about the removal of ‘God’ since I think the Guides has something to offer young women who explicitly believe in the absence of any such thing and I wouldn’t want to exclude them or leave them feeling they made what for some feels like quite a solemn promise whilst telling a half-truth. What bugs me is that they felt the need to replace God with something else and the something else they chose was oneself - a very modern individualistic notion that doesn’t really hold with the rubbing along together and helping out sort of ethos that I thought they stood for. Why not just promise to do one’s duty to the community and wider world? Oh, because we have to believe in something and we have substituted belief in God for belief in oneself, which as a thing to make public promises about is just weird….

4

Richard 06.23.13 at 8:51 am

“…made the old promise with suitable ceremony whilst saluting a giant toadstool”

Scouting and guiding do have some (ahem) ‘quaint’ practices!

5

Matthew (yes, gift from god) 07.11.13 at 6:36 pm

“The promise of duty to God is not an affirmation of any particular religion.”

Not true and is a noted logical fallacy, known before the time of Christ. I am unsure why you would want to employ a logical fallacy like that. Any notion of God always falls on some sort of religious description or depiction of God. Clearly we are not talking Gods of love, or Gods of War, to admit this is to come to understanding that we are indeed talking for the most part, the doctored, watered fluffy version of God that exists in the UK.

I think the sentiment about individualism highlights the issue entirely. Whether conciously or unconciously you simply seek to shackle these children with the same limitations that you yourself have chained yourself too. Rather than encourage the core essence of co-operation, love, care and utility you want them to be chained to your own ignorances.

Well done Scout movement, only decades too late. But it’s a positive start.

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