Australian Girl Guides Drop ‘God’ from Their Official Promise

For over 40 years, this was the promise recited by members of the Australian Girl Guides (kinda like American Girl Scouts):

But as of this past week, that pledge will be changing to the following:

Notice the difference? :)

The refreshed Girl Guides’ promise will see its 28,000-strong group promise to do their best “to be true to myself and develop my beliefs” rather than to “do my duty to God, to serve the Queen and my country”.

National director of the Australian Republican Movement, David Morris, said it was important young Australians developed an ethic of service to community and country.

“Our members didn’t feel ‘duty to God’ reflected all faiths and belief systems across the world,” NSW Guides commissioner Belinda Allen told the ABC.

It’s a welcome change from a progressive organization.

Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts of America still won’t let gays and atheists join. Way to be role models, my people.

(Thanks to Lakafaith for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Cicada

    There’s a news story on the change here: 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tY7nBZsItQ

  • Mark Hunter

    I’m a scout leader in Canada and an atheist.   Scouts Canada had no problem with that.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

    Yeah I found out the hard way when I was 11 that Boy Scouts didn’t take kindly to Atheists. It’s awkward to see the scout leaders you’ve known as a friend for like a year suddenly asking you to either change your beliefs or just stop coming to meetings. 

  • MegaZeusThor

    Thumbs up on the change. Nice to see.

    (Hopefully we don’t see too many people flipping out over the change.)

    I do like that “to be true to myself and develop my beliefs” works for people who have religious ties and for those that don’t.

    • OverlappingMagisteria

       Though I wouldn’t be surprised if ultra-fundies have a problem with “develop my beliefs.”

      Kids aren’t supposed to develop their beliefs! They’re supposed to just accept whatever beliefs were imposed onto them without question! The beliefs that developed 2,000 years ago were just fine then and they’re just as fine now!

      • LutherW

        As atheist, I have a concern with “develop my beliefs”. How much better would be to “develop my critical thinking”.

        • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

          My reaction exactly.

        • Stev84

          Beliefs aren’t necessarily a problem. Atheists have beliefs too. What we don’t have is faith. Beliefs can be based on evidence and reason too.

        • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

          I actually like “develop my beliefs.” It implies that the girl is supposed to form them on her own, and not just accept whatever adults tell her. It doesn’t have to refer to religious beliefs. It could also mean political and moral beliefs. Critical thinking is important, too, of course, but I think it’s more of a means to an end than an end in itself.

  • Miko

    They also replaced the mention of government with community.  Another big improvement.

  • http://trucklicense.net/get-cdl Freedom Jackson

    Makes a big difference.  When you have to acknowledgement of the creator then you are truly lost. 

  • http://mimitabby.com/ not a christian

    I was wondering if one of you would contact me. My husband is dying from cancer. He has a cousin, a very good woman, who insists that if he would just thank Jesus for dying on the cross, that he would be better… it just drives me crazy.. but she really believes it! I JUST DON”T GET IT.. what does this thought do to good christians?

    • Edmond

      Tell them that Jesus doesn’t NEED to be thanked for “dying” on the cross.  Death isn’t much of a sacrifice if you get a reprieve three days later, and then turn into god.  That’s no “sacrifice”, that’s a cherry deal!

      Or, maybe they could find ANOTHER innocent person to be punished for crimes they didn’t commit.  Such a twisted concept of justice and punishment would go hand-in-hand with such a twisted concept of disease and healing.

    • LutherW

       I would suggest searching some of the Ask Richard topics. Also submit your question to Ask Richard.

    • Arc182

      You didn’t leave any contact information, so I will.  arc182@comcast.net  My husband died 5 years ago, also from cancer.  He lived and died as an agnostic, with plenty of Christian family members praying for him…cancer doesn’t really care who prays for what… 
       As for your husband’s cousin, you might tell her (if you feel like playing along) that the Bible is pretty clear that it is the prayers of the faithful that matter to God, hence it is HER prayers that will get through anyway, so she should get busy.
      I was raised a good Christian (now I’m a happy atheist) but I don’t think I ever thought quite like this woman, so, nope, I don’t get it either.

  • HughInAz

    Good riddance to the queen, too.

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ northierthanthou

    very cool

  • Joe Zamecki

    Meanwhile meanwhile, the Girl Scouts of America still has a god-oath. They don’t act like it much though. Which only raises the question: “Why keep the god-oath?” 

    They should learn from the Aussies.

    • Erp

       The GSUSA allows substitution for  ‘God’ in their promise (note that the GSUSA also uses ‘promise’ instead of ‘oath’) though I agree following the Girl Guides Canada and Australia might be an idea (though imagine the uproar from the Christian right).

      • Gringa

        What type of substitution can you use?  Cant you just omit that part and say “… to serve my country”

        • Erp

          Apparently some do drop though officially there is suppose to be a substitution (what is up to the girl and to her leaders).  Standard substitutions would be ‘my  religion’ (the wording used in many Buddhist countries) or Allah (Muslims in many countries).   Girls might consider what it means to develop a good internal ethical system and promise to pursue that using words that fits what they understand.    I suspect the last is why Girl Guides Australia chose “develop my beliefs”.

  • Seladora

    I like the queen, but I’m glad that she’s out of the pledge too.

  • Kim

    Kudos to the Girl Guides for changing with the times. Australia is a diverse country and the Girl Guide pledge should reflect that.

    When I was a Girl Guide in Canada, I always felt uncomfortable pledging loyalty to God because I did not believe in him. We also closed each meeting by singing Taps, which ends with the line “God is nigh”. I hope that has changed too.

    The Canadian Girl Guides have changed a lot with the times. I was surprised when a younger relative joined and her uniform was cargo pants and T-shirt. They have a badge for Science & Technology now, yay!

  • michael both

    I’m not sure this is so much about progression than shoring up a drop in numbers – from the ABC website:
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-07-05/girl-guides-drop-queen-god-from-promise/4113022 … numbers are down to 30,000 from 80,000 at some unspecified time period. However, good news of course.

    Now, one might speculate – as the numbers of Christians fall, will this eventually also bring about a change in ‘policy’ to try and shore up numbers? Will there be a ‘Christ-lite’ movement development where being Christian becomes more of a philosophical way of life than it is now. I think this is a real possibility (at least with Lutherans / Anglicans etc, perhaps not so much Catholics).I think ‘now’ is as good as it’s been to be an atheist  - and things are only going to get better.

  • advancedatheist

    So the Girl Guide who says the old god-based oath on the day before the transition finds that her life has meaning, but this meaning mysteriously vanishes as she recites the atheistic oath on the following day?

  • Murbul

    Fred Nile (Christian Democratic Party leader and irrelevant old bigot) has predictably called for a boycott “They should be ashamed of themselves for this act of disloyalty … I urge families of Girl Guide members to complain to their executive and
    director and threaten to boycott… until they reverse this shameful,
    disloyal and atheistic policy”.

    Thankfully nobody seems to pay much attention to him these days, except for the media.

  • compl3x

    I think there also used to be a pledge to be obedient, which they ditched. Obedient to whom, I don’t know. Men, I assume?

    I think Monarchists can’t accept that their beloved royalty aren’t nearly as admired here in Australia as they were a few decades ago. Sure, when the Queen drops by you get a whole bunch of people who come out and stare as she passes by, but once she’s gone , everyone goes back to not caring about the Monarchy.

    Same issue with Christians. Church attendance is dropping like a stone yet they’ll still try to convince the public they’re as relevant as they always were. *whispers* they really aren’t *whispers*

    • John Andrews40

      Believe me it’s the same here in Britain, if you watched the Jubilee pageant on the TV you’d think everybody was in the streets celebrating but street parties were few and far between as the majority of Britons are either apathetic to, or against the royals but the state promotes the opposite view.

  • kate

    I’m very proudly a Girl Guide here in Australia and totally delighted by the change of promise and law. If you’re interested, we did a PR day at our local shopping centre today – the day after all this news broke in the media. Nobody gave us any grief for removing God from the promise (nobody particularly cares). However, we got tons of flack f0r removing the Queen. So there’s a nice summary of Australian society right there: secular but fiercely pro-Monarchy.

    At least that’s one for two..!

  • Mark Hanna

    I found out just last week that both the New Zealand Girl Guides and our Scouts organisation have similar references in their promises. After seeing this great news, I’ve contacted both organisations about this. It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, happens because of this.


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