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Brownies and church attendance

(50 Posts)
autumnmum Fri 12-Apr-13 14:30:03

Hi all, my DD goes to our local brownie pack which she loves. However, Brown Owl has taken to sending quite snotty emails home to parents about how she expects all Brownies to attend church parades. If we don't she says it is embarrasing for the pack. Now as a family we chose not to go to church. I am an atheist and DH is a non-practicising Catholic. The church parades would be C of E. I don't want my daughter to go but feel bullied by Brown Owl. I can't find anything on the guiding website about how church fits with Brownies and what is expected. Can anyone else shed some light on this for me? The church is 8 miles from home and I would be expected to take her, sit through the service and then bring her home.

DorisShutt Fri 12-Apr-13 14:48:42

Brownies is (currently, it's under consideration) a religious organisation - they promise to "love my god".

Generally, any pack I've been involved in has required attendance for Thinking Day church parades. There are also packs who are affiliated with specific churches/religious places - there attendance is more important.

However, I don't think anything is compulsory.

woolleybear Fri 12-Apr-13 19:08:45

Brownies is religious, but it is not Christian, and therefore there is no compulsory element to attending church.

I am a Guide leader and it is embarrassing if you go to church parade and only one or two turn up each time. I think this the point a unit needs to consider whether to keep attending or not.

greenandcabbagelooking Fri 12-Apr-13 19:12:48

Brownies is not, and never has been, a Christian organisation. And even to call it religious would be pushing it. Attendance at Church is no more compulsory than going on the trip to the park or the swimming pool or whatever.

lljkk Fri 12-Apr-13 19:25:08

Are these parades every Sunday or just special events?
I don't mind DD doing special events, it's part of community service.

MimsyBorogroves Fri 12-Apr-13 19:26:58

I ended up leaving (more feeling pushed out) the Guides because we were pretty much forced to go to church.

SirChenjin Fri 12-Apr-13 19:32:51

Perhaps it depends on the troop? Both my eldest DCs have been in Beavers/Cubs/Scouts/now Explorers and Rainbows/Brownies/now Guides. While they are encouraged to attend thinking day ceremonies and things like Remembrance services at the local church it's definitely not compulsory.

Ragwort Fri 12-Apr-13 19:34:24

I am a Cub Leader and I do stress to parents when their child joins that we have faith as one of our core values and I expect the Cubs to attend church services twice a year. If parents have a problem with that then I quite understand that Cubs is not the right organisation for their child.

Not all of them do attend the service and of course there's not much I can do about it but it is disappointing for the (volunteer) Leaders when parents 'pick and choose' what bits of the programme they wish to support. We vary the churches as well (and also have informal 'outdoor' activities with a faith theme) so that we are not seen to be favouring any particular church.

Some Brownies/Cubs are sponsored by a Church so in those particular cases it is not at all unreasonable to assume that attending church is part of the programme. How often are the church parades OP?

chickensaladagain Fri 12-Apr-13 19:39:24

I'm a brownie leader and we encourage the girls to attend parade twice a year

It counts towards their brownie adventure badge as service in the community

They aren't forced as at the end of the day they have no control over whether they attend or not

In guiding we promise at the moment to love our god, attending services is only one way of showing that but so is looking after our environment, being kind to others, helping our community through fundraising etc

SirChenjin Fri 12-Apr-13 19:40:38

Ragwort - can you refuse to admit the child to your troop if they don't want to attend twice a year though?

soontobeslendergirl Fri 12-Apr-13 19:40:52

My boys have gone through Beavers, Cubs and now Scouts and have NEVER been asked to attend church or had anything about that mentioned. They are requested to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony (not in church) annually which they do with pride, but that is not religious per se.

The Boys and Girls Brigade are unashamedly a Church based organisation but the Scouting/Girl Guide movement isn't. Leaders who tell you that church attendance is a requirement are using it to peddle their own beliefs imo.

nancy75 Fri 12-Apr-13 19:43:49

Our local brownies is very much connected to the local church, which is why my dd doesn't go to brownies. I wouldn't send her to something that had church connections as it is not something we believe in, there are plenty of other after school groups which aren't connected to church.

SoupDragon Fri 12-Apr-13 19:46:26

I expect the Cubs to attend church services twice a year

What if the child is not Christian? I'm just curious.

The SmallDragons can't go to any church parades during rugby season as they have a commitment to their team (predates cubs/scouts/rainbows). Despite not having a faith, I try to take them to the parades that aren't in rugby season though, provided they are with me and not their father.

SirChenjin Fri 12-Apr-13 19:49:27

I don't think that a troop leader has the right to expect that they attend church services tbh, but I may be wrong.

invicta Fri 12-Apr-13 19:55:03

Going to church is not mandatory, but is part of the Brownie life. Apart of the snotty emails, is there any particular reason why you don't want to go? Surely going once or twice a year won't do any harm.

derektheladyhamster Fri 12-Apr-13 19:59:00

I know that our cubs/scouts use the church hall as it's meeting place, and the troop is named after the church, so I think it is expected that your child goes to at least some of the 6 church parades. We take them if we're free and although the boys moan that it's boring we just tell them that it's part of being a cub/scout

piprabbit Fri 12-Apr-13 20:00:42

DD's pack has 4 church parades a year - Mother's Day, Harvest Festival, Remembrance Sunday and Christmas.

We are not a religious family, but I support DD in attending these parades because they are part of the Brownie experience and I think it is important for her to understand how to behave in church and respect other people's beliefs.

However, I do not take her to the Mother's Day parade. It is Mother's Day and the last thing I want to do is give up my annual lay in to go to a church service at the crack of dawn.

magpieC Fri 12-Apr-13 20:37:42

As others have said Guiding is not a Christian organisation - it does (currently) require a faith/belief of some kind in that members promise to "love my God" but at the same time definition of that God is seen as an individual (or family/community) responsibility. There is also a sense in which Guiding encourages a spiritual journey/personal reflection and there are occasions which are designed for this - however they should be without "pushing" any particular religion.

It is often difficult at Brownie level to encourage spirituality without resorting to the dominant religion in the community especially where leaders are members of a particular church or other faith organisation. As girls get older it could be seen that attending an occasional church parade could be part of their spiritual exploration - especially if they have the opportunity to explore different churches/faiths. Personally, if I hadn't attended church parade as a Guide I would probably only have been in church for weddings or carol services so I see that (for me) it was educational (--and we got points for our patrol--)

In addition, some churches, especially where the unit meets in a church building do expect girls to come along to church parade as a "thank you" or to be part of the church community. It may be up to the leader to discuss this with the local minister and set some expectations - and obviously how this conversation goes can vary greatly!

However the Guiding Equality and Diversity policy explicitly says

"Attendance at any act of worship must always be voluntary and be seen as part of the spiritual development of the individual member. Attendance at church parade or any religious gathering is not part of the guiding programme."


It should therefore not be presented as compulsory.

Hope that helps - if the leader in question is making you feel uncomfortable then I would suggest trying to have a chat with her about it (but maybe not at the start/end of a meeting as she's probably busy trying to get things organised/cleared away!)

Ragwort Sat 13-Apr-13 08:15:12

I would echo what magpieC has said (very eloquently) with regards to Scouting and faith. Scouting does require members to have 'a faith' (not 'christianity' - there are a number of Muslim Scout groups for example) and this is clear in all the literature about Scouting. Obviously some Leaders may emphasise it more than others.

This is currently under review and may be changed at some time in the future.

Whilst I wouldn't turn a child away from scouting if he/she didn't want to attend church/faith activities I would discuss with them how they felt about 'making a promise to my God'. Leaders are also expected to have a faith although I have never known anyone actually be turned away for not having a faith; I know quite a few who sort of fudge the issue by putting 'CoE' on their application form (Not sure if this applies to Guiding).

SoupDragon Sat 13-Apr-13 08:22:43

Whilst I wouldn't turn a child away from scouting if he/she didn't want to attend church/faith activities...

But you said

I expect the Cubs to attend church services twice a year. If parents have a problem with that then I quite understand that Cubs is not the right organisation for their child.


ImpatientOne Sat 13-Apr-13 08:35:14

I am a Brownie leader, we meet in a Church hall (which we pay to rent), we do not attend any services at the Church.

We do ask the girls to attend the Remembrance parade once a year but this is a civic rather than religious event that takes place at the war memorial - it is in no way mandatory.

Any leader who is pushing service attendance in any way is old school and following old by laws which the organisation has tried very hard to abolish.

GirlGuiding is not a religious organisation.

Awakeagain Sat 13-Apr-13 08:37:54

When I was in brownies and guides we used to meet at the church hall and our group was named after the church we met at. Church parade was once a month (I think when it was a family service) and we used to do the tea/coffee/biscuits after.
When I joined scouts (more camping) we were based in a 'stand alone' scout hit so had no ties to church. We used to go to the remembrance parade & ceremony in the local town and that was it! A different rainbow and brownie group met at the scout hut and they didn't do church parade.
I understand the children attending to show the presence of the pack/troop but wonder what people would say in areas of diverse religions - would you expect children who were a different religion to attend?

SirChenjin Sat 13-Apr-13 11:26:19

Ragwort - I'm still not quite sure why you imagine you have the 'right' to expect the Cubs to attend church services twice a year. You really don't.

Ragwort Sat 13-Apr-13 16:27:42

Perhaps I haven't phrased my comments very carefully, if so I apologise. I don't have the 'right' to expect the Cubs to attend faith events twice a year but as I mentioned earlier I do find it disappointing that people 'pick and choose' which elements of scouting they wish to follow. And yes, I would question why a child wants to become a Cub or Scout if they are not willing (as opposed to being unsure) about making a promise to their god. Which I fully accept may not be the same as the faith I practice.

I am sure you would agree that parents have the 'right' to expect me to run a safe, challenging and comprehensive programme for the Cubs/Scouts according to the national guidelines, which clearly include spiritual development.

From the Scout website

What is spiritual development?
Spiritual development implies that leaders and Members should be encouraged to follow the five principles.

1.Develop an inner discipline and training.
2.Be involved in corporate (group) activities with others.
3.Understand the world around them.
4.Help to create a more tolerant and caring society.
5.Discover the need for prayer and worship, both personal and shared.
These principles are what is meant by spiritual development in The Scout Association and it should be an integral part of every activity, meeting and event.

As I said before, this whole topic is under review and may well be changed after consultation.

infamouspoo Sat 13-Apr-13 16:32:43

far as I know its not compulsory. When one of mine was in Brownies these parade things happenend once aterm I think. dd1 has sensory issues so would start yelling. Brown Owl begged me not to send her on those nights grin

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