I promise

Alison Mitchell | June 21st 2013

I was seven the first time I said it. I took it very seriously, as only an earnest seven-year-old can, making sure I remembered every word, and practising my salute. It was exciting joining the Brownies, especially since my parents had first met through Scouting. It felt like becoming part of a family dynasty.

What was the promise I made? I’m still word-perfect on it:

I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to God
To serve the Queen
And help other people
And keep the Brownie Guide law.

There’ve been a number of changes over the years. In the 90s, the phrase “do my duty to God” changed to “love my God”. The aim was to be inclusive for those of other faiths. But now it’s gone even further, with the announcement this week that God will be dropped altogether.

I suppose I’m not surprised at another example of atheism winning over faith—but I’m saddened by what’s been added in to fill the hole. Here’s the new promise:

I promise that I will do my best
To be true to myself and develop my beliefs
To serve the Queen and my community
To help other people
To keep the Guide (Brownie) law

What a sad reflection of our modern culture. We replace God with ourselves. My experience of working with children and young people is that they need very little encouragement to look inward and focus on themselves. That comes naturally. It’s the challenge and encouragement to look beyond themselves that they struggle with, and especially to look further still and consider eternal things. What a pity that an organisation founded by a Christian, on Christian principles, has changed so much.

Of course, Guiding is no longer a Christian organisation, and they have come to this decision after a wide and thorough consultation. If the new promise reflects the feedback they’ve had, then I’m not surprised at the changes. But what saddens me is that they felt the need to fill the “God-hole” with self. I think Paul would have had something to say about that:

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is for ever praised. Amen.” Romans 1 v 25

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Alison Mitchell

Alison Mitchell is a Senior Editor at The Good Book Company, where she has worked on a range of products including Bible-reading notes for children and families, and the Christianity Explored range of resources. She is the author of the award-winning Jesus and the Lions' Den.