Guides update pledge
Article from The Ballarat Courier
By James Fettes July 6, 2012, 11:28 a.m.
Girl Guides Australia announced yesterday it would remove all references to God and the Queen in its Guiding Promise, which members make as one of their first rites of passage.
Girl Guides Ballarat District manager Astrid Bahr said the change was a welcome move.
“It’s something we’ve been looking at for the past 12 months, we’ve all been involved in the change,” Mrs Bahr said.
“It makes the pledge more current with the many different parts of Australia.”
State Commissioner for Girl Guides in Victoria Robinette Emonson said the move was about being inclusive for the wide range of girls joining the group.
“This initiative was driven from the ground up, to evolve the language and make it more meaningful for everyone,” Ms Emonson said.
She said the decision to remove references to God did not detract from the spiritual part of Guiding.
“We have a strong belief in the spiritual development of the girls,” she said.
Although it was too early to call the change a success, Mrs Bahr said the response had been warm.
“The girls and current leaders all voted for it, so it’s what they want,” she said.
Girl Guides Australia is not the first youth organisation to change its rituals in the name of modernity.
Scouts Australia executive manager Martin Thomas said his organisation, which altered its Scout Promise a number of years ago and gave its members two options, had followed a similar route.
“Each organisation has to position itself as a contemporary reflection of society,” he said.
“We commend the Guides on being innovative.”
Members joining the Scouts do not have to make their promise in the name of the Queen, but both options make reference to God.
“The spiritual dimension of our program involves a personal belief in God, but we’re not a religious organisation,” he said.
In the case of the Queen, the royal family has had a special connection with Ballarat’s Girl Guides.
In 1927, they greeted the Duke and Dutchess of York with a doll dressed in a Guide’s uniform for their baby, Princess Elizabeth.
She would later grow up to become Queen Elizabeth II.
Despite removing any reference to the Queen, Mrs Bahr stressed the change did not portray a republican sentiment.
“It isn’t really about that. It’s about remembering that we give service to our local community, which the Queen as our head of state is a part of,” she said.
“The wording seems to suit girls better for that.”