Creeping secularisation

All over the news in Australia today: the Girl Guides of Australia have removed references to God and the Queen from their pledge.

BELINDA ALLEN, DIRECTOR, GIRL GUIDES AUSTRALIA: The Queen was contentious with a number of our members, not all our members by any means. It was very much felt that she wasn’t actually the word required, but people can still serve her by serving Australia.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: The move follows 18 months of consultation with thousands of members of Australia’s largest volunteer girls group, most of them girls between the ages of ten and 14. Still, among older members, it’s controversial.

[…]

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: In its heyday the Girl Guide movement in Australia boasted 80,000 members. Now it’s closer to 30,000 and Guide leaders acknowledge the changes are designed to boost its membership from any faith or culture.

BELINDA ALLEN: We are very much hopeful with the new wording to the promise that we’ll be seen as more inclusive and a modern, relevant organisation and that many more women will like to join us.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: In the new Guide law “loyal” has been replaced with “respect”. “Helpful” with “considerate”. “Obedience” has been abandoned and instead girls are encouraged to make choices for a better world.

BELINDA ALLEN: With equality and women, obedient is not an appropriate word to have in a promise.

I really like that they’ve consulted the current members as to what will make the pledge both more inclusive and acknowledge the importance of each girl being true to their own boundaries while engaging in public service. Hurrah for the Girl Guides!


Somewhat in the news in the USA last week: a new activist network for Secular Women was announced.

Mission

The mission of Secular Woman is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women.

Vision

Secular Woman envisions a future in which women without supernatural beliefs have the opportunities and resources they need to participate openly and confidently as respected voices of leadership in the secular community and every aspect of American society.

SW welcomes men as members, and also any people of faith who share their secularist goals of limiting the state-mandated intrusion of religion into public life.  This is an important area of activism in the USA, much less so here where our Prime Minister is openly atheist and the resultant antagonism is very much on the fringe (not that Aussies should be too complacent – look at the pushback against the ethics-option-alongside-RE program in schools).

SW has an excellent resources section – Recommended Reading+Music etc, Anti-Harassment Policy Registry, Find Petitions, Local Groups, Speakers Bureau.

Of course, Secular Women was immediately loudly denounced, and responded by using a quote as an anti-testimonial on their website. Brava!



Categories: culture wars, ethics & philosophy, religion, social justice

Tags: , , , ,

21 replies

  1. The relationship of the concept of secularisation with the three items mentioned(guides, non religious women and teaching humanism in schools) shows a misguided philosophical outlook on life. As far as I know the Queen has not claimed to exercise her powers by divine right, those who advocate single issue politics tend towards fanaticism while teaching humanism in school is no different from teaching religion in school. If the latter is considered to be a process of indoctrination then the former is no different. One rule for secularists and another for believers.

    • Philip:
      * The Queen isn’t really relevant to secularisation, it’s just that the Guides dropped their pledge to her at the same time as they dropped their pledge to God. Both were done to increase perceptions of inclusivity, but only one was done for secular reasons.
      * The Secular Women organisation is addressing many political issues. The single-issue advocates in this scenario are the Stars-and-Stripes-waving extremists who want to shoe-horn conservative Christian dogma into legislation where it doesn’t belong.
      * The proposed Humanist secular ethics course is to be taught alongside religious education in schools (yes, that happens here), as a non-religious option for non-religious parents. Religious organisations here have objected on the grounds that this will mean their own children will miss out on being taught ethics (!!!), and that the ethics course should be taught to all children, not just the children of non-religious families. Perhaps Google could have been your friend here?

  2. Are the Related Posts not showing up for other people? I’m seeing a link to my post ”The fast track to devil worship: Humanist ethics in public schools” which is about the Victorian humanist ethics classes. (And the Related Posts section on that post leads to more.)

  3. Lauredhel, they’re certainly showing up for me. Philip doesn’t appear to be a great one for reading carefully though.

  4. I don’t know if Philip is a regular commenter. He comes across to me like some kind of automated concern troll in response to a post with the word “secular” in it. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were religious organisations arranging something like that.

  5. Snap! tigtog!

    Are we piling on yet?

  6. This appears to be Philip’s first ever comment here, and yes, I think we are piling on.
    It’s hard not to in response to the rank dishonesty of this though:

    One rule for secularists and another for believers.

    • Philip has responded with an 8 paragraph submission, which has been declined publication for multiple breaches of the comments policy, including but not limited to:
      * failure to be even one of the four qualities required in our primary rules
      * excessive length
      * assuming the bloggers are ignorant/lengthy, repetitive, sneering condesplaining
      * misquoting interlocutors (alleging use of the word “hypocrisy” when what was actually used was the phrase “rank dishonesty”)
      If you want to take another run at expressing your dissent Phil, please do have at it, but if you want it to see publication you will need to abide by the Comments Policy.

  7. My apologies for inadvertently transgressing posting guidelines, it was not intentional. The criticism of excessive length is accepted. However, Aqua’s perception that I was ” some kind of automated concern troll in response to a post with the word “secular” in it” suggests deception on my part, contrary to the guidelines. As you have seen the unpublished response you are aware that my argument was substantially different from that implied. As for the misquotation you are correct. I used the synonym ‘hypocrisy’ instead of the phrase “rank dishonesty” – the meaning was the same. I see no point in continuing the discussion, although I trust this response is in accordance with the guidelines and will be published for people to draw their own conclusions.

    • Aqua’s perception that I was ” some kind of automated concern troll in response to a post with the word “secular” in it” suggests deception on my part, contrary to the guidelines

      “concern trolls” are rarely deceptive, IMO. The effect of concern-trolling can be disruption/derailment of a discussion, and the arguments are usually justifiably described as “bad faith”, but arguing in bad faith is not the same as deception (deception implies intent, bad faith arguments often result from unconscious cognitive biases).

      As for the misquotation you are correct. I used the synonym ‘hypocrisy’ instead of the phrase “rank dishonesty” – the meaning was the same.

      No, the meaning is not the same. Hypocrisy involves covert/denied dishonesty, not rank/blatant dishonesty.

      I see no point in continuing the discussion, although I trust this response is in accordance with the guidelines and will be published for people to draw their own conclusions.

      I tend to agree that there is little point in continuing this discussion. My own responses are also provided for the purpose of people drawing their own conclusions.

      • [Moderator note – this comment was delayed in moderation due to moderators being out and about. Released for publication 3:04pm]
        Sorry but claiming “unconscious cognitive biases” reveals your own. There was no cognitive bias in my original response which argued for consistency of treatment of world views, the removal of humanistic and religious education from schools to the home and the study of differing world views as part of historical and social studies rather than as a separate subject. I respectfully disagree with your semantic response about synonyms and your defence of Aqua’s attempt to link my post to the activities of religious organisations. If you are committed to the concept of an open mind, publishing my real position as a counter to Aqua’s misrepresentation of my views is the least that can be expected.

  8. Caveat that this is possibly still considered piling on.

    However, Aqua’s perception that I was ” some kind of automated concern troll in response to a post with the word “secular” in it” suggests deception on my part, contrary to the guidelines.

    I can’t even parse this sentence. It’s obviously meant to address my comment. I’m going to guess (because the alternative parsings I’ve come up with are more critical of Philip himself than me, and the rest of his comment does not suggest that level of self-criticism) that he is claiming that I broke the posting guidelines by suggesting he was being deceptive.
    I said “[Philip] came across to me as” precisely because I was reporting on the impression I formed based on the words I read (and context, i.e. a vague sense, confirmed by tigtog, that Philip is new here, as well as the topic of the post). I have no idea, and am not going to speculate, about the motivations and beliefs behind the words. But I am allowed to report how I react to them.
    If I made a comment somewhere and someone else said I came across as a concern troll, I would for sure go back and read my comment carefully and make sure the words I’d chosen expressed my meaning. If I was new in the place, I would read a bit more to get a sense of why my comment was taken that way. I’d be more likely to stick around than if I’d simply been called a concern troll, because I value places that make those kinds of distinctions.

  9. There was no cognitive bias in my original response which argued for consistency of treatment of world views, the removal of humanistic and religious education from schools to the home and the study of differing world views as part of historical and social studies rather than as a separate subject.

    But you didn’t argue for any of those things in your original published response. What you did write (eta: in that first comment) is indeed reasonably consistent with a background position such as you write above (eta: quoted from your later comment), but you didn’t actually write any of that there (eta: in your first comment), and we’re not mindreaders.

    • With respect, my position was set out very clearly in the post which was not published. Perhaps the length and verbosity of that post obscured it. My point is that my position is nothing like that suggested by Aqua.No one would deny Aqua’s right to state how she perceived my post but equally I have the right to point out that her perception was wrong. Who’s at fault is moot.

      • With respect,

        This is not a forum which responds well to parliamentary-style insincerity

        my position was set out very clearly in the post which was not published

        Since it was not published, it is irrelevant to further discussion here, because only the moderators have seen it. Please do not mention it again.

        My point is that my position is nothing like that suggested by Aqua.

        Then instead of referencing material invisible to readers you should have argued your position again, but this time abiding by our comments policy.

        No one would deny Aqua’s right to state how she perceived my post but equally I have the right to point out that her perception was wrong.

        Nothing about that position gives you the right to lie about our position, as you did with your first post where you said One rule for secularists and another for believers, a position which is explicitly refuted in the post (which Lauredhel linked at #3 (and its related post links) and which you have ignored.

  10. [Moderator note: more of the same from Philip deleted. Derail over.]

  11. Derailing this in a completely other direction just for fun, I reckon you could make an argument that the Queen rules by divine right. Or, at very least, she is the Queen by divine right, if ruling through the consent of the people. Her title includes the words ‘Elizabeth II, by the grace of God,’ and the ‘grace of God’ bit makes it onto UK coins, along with ‘Defender of the Faith’. I think that could be read as some sort of claim to God-given authority, and I’m not sure what other justification for that particular family ruling would be. ‘Tradition’ is the more modern excuse, but she doesn’t put that on the coins…

  12. Feminist Avatar, I was thinking much the same myself. She’s the head of the Church of England, isn’t she? Monarchy is certainly not the most secular thing around. I don’t imagine that is the primary objection to the Queen that was keeping potential girl guides away, but as noted, they did chose to remove references to God and the Queen at the same time.

  13. As far as I know the Queen has not claimed to exercise her powers by divine right

    Yes she does!
    “The Preface to the 39 Articles of the Church of England describes the monarch as ‘being by God’s Ordinance, according to Our just Title, Defender of the Faith and … Supreme Governor of the Church of England’.” Link.

  14. Quibble, the Queen may or may not rule by divine right, manifest through accident of birth or allocation of personhood to a particular conception, however, I have no information or reason to believe that the Lady herself has claimed such, and what information I do have suggests an astute person who would leave it unsaid.
    (I have resisted the temptation to put in the phrases “with respect”, the even nastier “with all due respect”, and “has the object of this sentence exerted agency in this regard?”. I shall now fetch myself a cookie)

  15. From the Queen’s Coronation Oaths:
    “Archbishop: Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?
    Queen: All this I promise to do.”
    She’s sworn to maintain the doctrine of the Church of England, which says the monarch rules by divine right. There are numerous references by her in speeches etc to being Queen “by God’s Will” or “by God’s Grace and Mercy”. I think you’re fighting a losing battle here if you’re trying to suggest she doesn’t claim the principles she’s sworn to uphold.
    Link.

%d bloggers like this: