Girl Guides in Australia drop reference to ‘God’ from oath

Effective today, Australia's Girl Guides will no longer have to uphold their duty to God or promise to serve the Queen, instead pledging to "be true to myself" and "serve my community and Australia." The changes are part of the long-standing organization's attempt to modernize itself and remain relevant — and to attract more members given its current roster of only 28,000 girls.

Under the changes, Australian Girl Guides will still wear their sashes with badges, but pledges of duty to Britain's monarch and obedience have been dropped. The removal of the word "obedience" is an interesting one; as New South Wales state commissioner Belinda Allen noted to the Daily Telegraph, "Obedience was universally seen as not appropriate for women in 2012."

The updated oath reads like this: "I promise that I will do my best; to be true to myself and develop my beliefs; to serve my community and Australia, and live by the Guide Law."

Needless to say, the changes, which required over 18 months of consultation, have been criticized by commonwealth Republicans and Monarchists, who took objection to its "political correctness." Writing in the Telegraph, Jonathan Pearlman reports:

"If the Girl Guides think they will achieve greater numbers by removing the very essence of what they are, then I feel they are sadly mistaken," said Philip Benwell, from the Australian Monarchist League.

"At one time parents would send their daughters to the guides to encourage self discipline and leadership. Now it seems all they will get is a cringing towards political correctness. And all this to cater to those children or more probably their parents who have republican sympathies, or who are irreligious."

On the other side of the playing field, the Australian Republican Movement said the decision to drop the pledge to the Queen was uncontroversial and part of an "inevitable" move towards a Republic. Girl Guides Australia say the move is meant to keep the organization relevant and to become more inclusive.

Now, while the Australians have made the switch, the official Girl Guide's pledge in the United States still makes mention of God:

On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

According to the Girl Scouts of the USA, the word "God" can be interpreted in a number of ways, depending on one's spiritual beliefs. They also say that it's acceptable for a Girl Guide to replace the word "God" with whatever word their spiritual beliefs dictate.

In Canada, the Girl Guides dropped their pledge to both God and the queen back in 1994, instead promising to "take action for a better world" and "respect the Guiding Law."

Sources: BBC, Daily Telegraph, Globe & Mail, Canadian Atheist.

Image via explow.