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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.

Ragwort Sat 13-Apr-13 16:36:33

I am aware that I might be coming across as a bit 'opinionated' about all this but I am finding the debate very useful and will help with responses to the discussion at HQ level about the 'faith side' of Scouting. smile

SirChenjin - I agree it's not 'compulsory' to attend faith events, (although it is encouraged) but it is compulsory to make the promise to god at the investiture ceremony. Were you comfortable with this? Genuine question, I am not being arsey about this but it is the sort of thing we never get real feedback on. Most camps will also include some form of 'faith activity' although often this is so far from a 'church service' that the children may not realise it is part of spiritual development.

badguider Sat 13-Apr-13 16:39:04

Church parade is more of a community thing than a church thing. In the village I grew up it involved majorettes and pipe band as well as more 'Christian' organisations like scouts, guides, boys brigade and the military cadets.
Where I grew up kids could 'parade' then be picked up outside the church before the service if they felt strongly a out not going in - my parents picked me up to take me to catholic mass.

Have you ever watched the event? I suggest you check it out and see if something similar is possible.
If it is like the one I grew up with then it shows all the youth organisations in the village but to have to say "yes there is an active brownie pack but they didn't want to come" probably IS a little embarrassing for the brown owl.

ReadytoOrderSir Sat 13-Apr-13 19:36:22

Some Guiding units are connected with a church or other religious organisation - there are Jewish units for example, Sikh and Hindu ones. Some units have free use of a church hall, for example, and attendance at that faith's services is expected.

Note the emphasis on the word SOME!

My Brownies are invited to a Carol service, Remembrance day events and a Thinking Day service at a local ecumenical church. Attendance is strongly encouraged, but absolutely not compulsory. Our unit is not linked to any one faith and we welcome all girls.

I do not have any faith of my own. When I take my Brownies through their Promise preparation I am very clear to them that the words are ".. to love MY god" and that everyone's interpretation of what THEIR 'god' is will be different for each person.

My son's Scouting units have a similar arrangement. Their interpretation of "do my duty to God" is pretty loose!

Note also that both organisations have recently undertaken wide-ranging consultations on their Promises... results of both are awaited.

autumnmum Sun 14-Apr-13 10:09:32

Blimey I wasn't expecting this number of replies - thank you! MagpieC thanks for providing the link to the Guiding site about spirituality. I think this gives me the answer I was looking for.

My DDs Brownie pack is not a church group and they have their own scout hut. The church service brown owl wants her to attend is not at our village church but in a town 8 miles away so not really part of our immediate community. As an Atheist I find it frustrating that some people assume there is no problem with me attending Christian church services, as if I am just a lapsed Christian. My atheism is not out of laziness it is a deliberate decision on my part, I don't believe in any god. I don't stop my DCs attending church if they want to - they have been to Mass with my DHs family and went to the CofE christmas service with my DH because they asked to go. If my DD wanted to attend this service I would take her, but she doesn't because she has a football match and would rather go to that. I had no problem with her making her Brownie promise because it refers to "my God" which I considered encompassed any religion or spiritual affiliation.

SirChenjin Sun 14-Apr-13 10:42:50

Ragwort - fwiw mine DO attend the church services whenever they can. However, that is a choice that we make as a family. I don't have any faith, and we don't attend church as a family. I'm afraid if any of the leaders had told me they 'expected' it I would have been far less supportive - the leaders can encourage attendance, they cannot 'expect'.

ReadytoOrderSir's post is very good - the interpretation of "my God" should reflect whatever divine being it is that the individual respects, and should not preclude anyone from joining.

lljkk Sun 14-Apr-13 10:52:31

Sounds too fixed on only benefiting your own community. Benefiting the wider community would be good enough for me and in the true spirit of Guides & Scouts.

DS was bullied locally so attends Scouts 9 miles away; he attends St. George parades up to 17 miles away in other directions. We are completely areligious but these events are about supporting his troop & the community events, showing respect/pride in selves to Vets/English patriotism.

And it is utterly fantastic to turn up and see 60+ teenagers and youths (ATC joins in, too) in perfect uniform and self-discipline, showing high levels of public respect and responsibility, counters the popular "Hoody Hooligan Thug" image.

What is her commitment to the football team, do they need her as a valuable player?

Startail Mon 15-Apr-13 12:36:49

I was brown Owl of a pack that had (Saint 'Fred's) on it's name tapes. I went to Rememberance Sunday and a few of the Brownies turned out for thinking-day.

DD1 has been to thinking day, she does Remembrance Sunday at our local church as she is on choir duty.

DD2's Scouts do a three line whip for Remembrance parade and very smart they look too, but that's it.

Startail Mon 15-Apr-13 12:47:35

I should add that non of us believe in God and all three of us accept we run duty to god in with duty to other people and our community.

DD1 uses much the same logic for singing in the church choir. She hopes it sounds nice to the congregation and helps them enjoy the service. Yes she loves singing, but she does still feel it's her community duty to turn out at 9 am on freezing Sundays or rehearse on wet evenings when she'd rather not.

That sense of community duty doesn't require a belief in a god. Neither does being the public face of Guides or Scouts twice a year. Church parade week in week out is very different and is IMO far beyond what my God means.

DeskPlanner Tue 16-Apr-13 07:59:48

Is it every week she expects attendance or just the odd parade ? My dds rainbows and brownies packs have two parades a year. One in the summer and one In November. The girls are invited but not under any pressure to attend. We are church goers so attend anyway, but other patents who don't usually attend seem to enjoy it as its so occasional. To be honest it is lovely seeing them all together parading around the church. If its only a couple of times a year it would nice if you could attend. I can see it would be embarrassing if nobody turned up, especially if it is a pack based in a church hall. However if its more often I do think the brown owl is out of order.

Chopstheduck Tue 16-Apr-13 08:12:43

Not read all of the thread but my dts attend cubs. They are Hindu. We reached the compromise that they would attend the big parade wehere all the groups meet up, but not actually stay for the church service. The cub leader was quite keen to have full numbers for the parade but was happy enough for them to skip the church part. Worth asking?

thesecretmusicteacher Tue 16-Apr-13 10:37:19

Crikey! I had no idea cubs was religious. DS2 is due to start this week - should I sound out other parents to see whether the leader will be "disappointed" if we don't go to church, etc?

soontobeslendergirl Tue 16-Apr-13 10:48:19

My boys have been in Beavers, then Cubs and now Scouts - (now 7 years of involvement) they have never been asked to go to church or a parade. The only request is that they attend the remeberance day ceremony at the memorial which I (and they) am happy for them to do. Their meetings are held in a church hall now but the Cubs was in a school hall.

Sounds like it varies. When we filled in the registration form we put "None" under the section on religion. It has never been a problem. OH and I are Athiests - I don't think the children believe in anything either but I have never removed them from Religous observation in school - they need to make their own mind up.

thesecretmusicteacher Tue 16-Apr-13 10:50:56

Ah ok, putting "none" sounds like a good idea.

I find the idea of the promise, suggesting that religion equals morality, a bit um....embarrassing....... but it sounds as though the winds of change are blowing.

Usefully, it will all go over DS2's head anyway smile

soontobeslendergirl Tue 16-Apr-13 11:13:47

I don't mind the promise tbh - they also pledge allegience to the Queen and I am not a Royalist either.

It does crack me up that some people who are religous think they hold the moral highground. Especially when you consider the wars started in "god's" name and the crimes and abuse covered up and commited within religous organisations.

We don't believe in any god but we do believe in a responsibility to society so have brought our boys up to respect and support others where they can. I think that fits with the Scouting Ethos.......and above all else to enjoy themselves and enjoy the outdoors and make friends.

That's what Scouting means to me.

SirChenjin Tue 16-Apr-13 18:11:15

Agree Soon

badguider Tue 16-Apr-13 18:56:03

I'm glad somebody mentioned religious observance at school. IME guides and scouts are no more 'religious' than british 'non-denominational' state schools.

So many people seem 'horrified' that scouts and guides are nominally religious (although both claim to be about 'spiritual development' rather than 'religion) but yet very few remove their children from the obligatory religious acts that happen in all UK schools.

teacherandguideleader Mon 22-Apr-13 22:01:52

All of the guide and scout groups where I am based are church groups. I have to include a bit about church attendance on my letters. I hate it. I am atheist and sadly have not been able to reveal my religious views (they are strong). I don't attend church parade (my assistant does) and I don't expect any of my girls to. The sooner guides drops the religious bit the better, it makes me so uncomfortable.

soontobeslendergirl Mon 22-Apr-13 22:06:50

For those of a religious persuasion, there is the alternative definitely church based Boys Brigade and Girls Brigade. Therefore, there is no need to have church involvement in Scouts/Guides imo.

ImpatientOne Tue 23-Apr-13 07:56:47

teacher I don't understand your post at all...

When you say all groups are church based who is making this so? Although we meet in a church hall we spoke to the vicar about 10 years ago to explain that we would not be attending services and we negotiated a compromise. This mainly involves us paying for the hall and the church being allowed to say they have Brownies there and that's the end of it.

I'm not sure what you are expecting to change as even if the promise consultation changes the 'love my God' this wont necessarily change your local practices which are nothing to do with GirlGuiding!

Sorry if this comes across a bit harsh but no-one in Guiding - including the leaders - should be bullied into religious worship.

Give me your commissioners details and I'll have a word grin

teacherandguideleader Tue 23-Apr-13 18:31:19

Basically it's a very religious area - a lot of our girls attend church anyway and many are in the choir. The other leaders are also church goers and there are often joint ventures between the church and guide/scout groups. I choose not to take part in any of the 'religious' based activities and wish there was no affiliation.

I know the religious side to our groups is nothing to do with Girlguiding as an organisation, it's just my area that is like it (I was previously part of a non-religious group).

Ps - I'm not bullied into religious worship - I simply don't go (and to be fair no one has ever said anything about it to me). I just hate that parents feel the need to apologise for their children not being able to attend the church parades sad

ImpatientOne Wed 24-Apr-13 07:45:44

Thanks for the reply teacher you've done well to stick with it where lesser mortals would have failed! It sounds hard work sad

I moved one of my groups a few years ago after the church became unbearable - I had taken over from a leader who told me that she ran an activity afternoon after church parade as 'they wouldn't come' otherwise angry I had random church peeps popping in when Brownies was on and I was definitely put under a lot of pressure. The Brownies did attend 1 service when I was leader but the vicar did a long sermon about leprosy which was completely inappropriate so I moved the pack to another location. Luckily I was commissioner at the time so I could approve the location change! grin

FullySwindonian Wed 14-May-14 01:17:34

For all the people declaring they don't send their children to church based activities, how do you overcome the school issue? As all schools were founded on religious principle, they teach Christianity at primary level, and most schools,celebrate Christian festivals as part of their curriculum, which includes understanding worship practice. Not forgetting the annual nativity play..

PatriciaHolm Wed 14-May-14 10:54:17

Fully, different schools approach it differently. Ours takes the "daily worship" very lightly, in fact I'm pretty sure they largely ignore it! And RE is taught as education not indoctrination, and they cover the worlds religions. So whilst I don't take my scouts to church (other than the remembrance parade, not service) I have no issues with school in that area. If I did I would remove them from the worship bits, if I felt they bordered more on the indoctrination side.

Chocotrekkie Wed 14-May-14 11:05:14

Our brownie pack receives a large" donation" from the local church each year.
they are then "encouraged" attend 6 services a year.

It means that they can give the girls experiences like theatre trips etc they wouldn't be able to do otherwise as a lot of the parents just couldn't afford to pay for it.

Not sure I agree completely but then I am ok with my kids going to church - i do take them sometimes

Salvo1 Wed 15-Jun-16 09:21:01

part of the Brownie promise is to think about their faith.
Our group (which is church sponsored) invites the girls to 4 church parades a year to do this. We are sensitive to those of other faiths or none. We recognise that non belief is a faith act in itself.
Of the parades One is harvest in which we think about being grateful for all we have. One is prize giving (the church gives attendance prizes to all the girls (for their attendance throughout the year. One is at Christmas (advent toy service) giving to others and the last is Mothering Sunday, family themed recognising those who nurture us. All in all we aim to give the girls information on which to make informed choices about faith.
Attendance is expected but not bullishly enforced. Our group would not be able to function financially without the support of it's sponsoring. Attending encourages the congregation who support the group financially and in many other ways.

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