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