Tue, 7 Mar 1995 20:32:14 -0500
Message forwarded for Elizabeth Grimsley
E.GRIMSLEY [MUNCHKIN] at 18:16 EST
VERY VERY LONG POST concerning the proposed amendment!
sent to SMMEYERK@AOL.COM and Sylvia M. Kapp 76043.1170@COMPUSERVE.COM
for those who know how to send a message to Girl Scouts-L, feel free to pass
Dear Dr George Lathrop and Sylvia Kapp,
I read the posting about the proposed amendment.
I was at the GSUSA national conference and was present throughout the
debate about the change in the Promise (even though I was not a delegate).
Here are some of the arguments that were presented at the conference, plus a
few of my own impressions of the "mood" of the delegates.
Most of the objections in the amendment proposal in your post were covered i
the debate about the change and considered by delegates (if you had been
elected to be a delegate at the 1993 GSUSA convention, or even attended the
convention as a non- participant, you would already know this however). Ther
were numerous changes proposed and voted on according to Roberts Rules of
Order (Roberts Rules at its finest!). All aspects and "what if's" were
discussed to the nth detail and each delegate was aware of the implications
their vote. The discussion and the vote was scheduled for a whole afternoon
session because of its controversy and everyone was prepared to go into
another day of debate if necessary.
1) The great niece of Juliette Gordon Low spoke up and reminded the
delegates that her g-aunts intent was that GS was for ALL girls.She
interpreted this to mean that they should be made welcome REGARDLESS of the
families personal beliefs.
2) People of the Buddhist religion do not believe in one God. Not being
able to personalize the Promise for their beliefs made them feel alienated.
3) There was an amendment proposed that would limit the substitutions to
appropriate words. The proposer, however, could not define the terms
"appropriate words" or "appropriate religions". There are a lot of Christian
churches who believe that ANYTHING other than absolute faith in Jesus Christ
is NOT appropriate or acceptable. As far as "cult" possibilities - please
define a cult. I'm sure that a lot of people thought years ago (and some
today) that the Mormon religion is a cult.
4) There was concern by one delegate that some girls would be from
"negative" religions and substitute words that many feel inappropriate (such
as "Satan"). Then another delegate got up and stated that if there were such
girl, she wanted that girl in her troop - because in no other place besides
Girl Scouting would she learn the values of RESPECT, HONOR,SERVICE, LEADERSH
etc. - her parents weren't teaching it, the schools can't and her religion
wouldn't but GIRL SCOUTS WOULD!
5) A Senior Girl Scout stated that she had been at an international event
and at the end of the event, all participants closed with the Promise. She
stated that the differences between the countries of the "GOD" word
strengthened the group and showed how many things they can have in common
while still maintaining their diversity. She said that having this in a troop
would only make it stronger and more meaningful, as it was for her.
6) NONE of the Senior Girl Scouts who were delegates for their council
spoke out against the change.
7) The change allows for Girl Scouts to substitute "Jesus Christ",
"Yahweh", "The Trinity", "Allah", and other words for "GOD" that have more
meaning to the individual. I see this as a strength and not as a negative
thing. Wouldn't it be great if girls, because of knowing about these
differences in their troop, NEVER utter such phrases as "G_ D_Jews", etc ??
8) There was no change in the WRITTEN version of the Promise,nor was it
ever proposed that there would be a change.
a) One delegate stated that she was from "Bible Belt territory" and
relied heavily on the support of the churches for their GS membership. She
stated that GS even acknowledging that girls could say that there was someone
beside "GOD" would be considered blasphemy by some of the churches and that
they would have a difficult time maintaining girls in GS if they didn't have
b) Another delegate from California got up and stated that,according to
CA law, Girl Scouts was a tax-paying organization and, if the amendment was
NOT passed, lawyers were already lined up to file discrimination lawsuits.
c) Although both of these views were expressed, the feeling in the room
was that the members should not bow to outside pressure, from either side, i
making their decision. EVEN if it meant that the organization would be the
subject of lawsuits.
10) The amendment, I believe, was initiated by a council with a heavy
Native American population who wanted to recognize their heritage,not a
council who proposed it out of fear.
11) There were microphones set up for delegates to speak for and against
the proposal. Each side was recognized fairly and each speaker was rigidly
held to a time limit (their mike was turned off if they went over).There was
ALWAYS a long line of delegates waiting to speak for the proposal but not at
the "against" mike.
12) It was repeatedly stressed by many members that Girl Scouts should no
take over a parents role and decide what their religious beliefs should be.
The Girl Scouts is NOT a religious organization but STRONGLY supports the id
that religion is an important aspect of each girl even though it maintains
that it is not the position of the Girl Scout organization to define religio
13) Members of the Islamic religion had a booth to emphasize the fact tha
they were satisfied with the promise at it was currently written.
14) There is no restriction on a church, synagogue, etc.sponsoring a troop
composed of girls from their membership - thereby eliminating the problem of
LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST
The voting on this change was done by secret ballot of all the delegates. Th
was requested to protect the privacy of delegates who feared retribution fro
others in their council for their vote.
The vote was OVERWHELMINGLY IN FAVOR of the change (4 to 1, I believe).
After the vote was announced, the session was closed with the reciting of th
Promise. This allowed, for the first time, people who are of different belie
to feel that they were not excluded because they believed in a religion that
did not used the word "GOD". The feeling of unity in the room is impossible
If I am selected as a delegate for my council at the next convention, I will
vote against this proposal to revoke the amendment - and allow individual GS
to substitute a word that personalizes the promise. I believe that changing
back would be a slap in the face to many girls and parents in this country a
personally offensive to me.
I am a believer in the Christian religion and I try to follow all of its
principles in my decisions. One of the principles I follow is to respect
others and, in turn, their beliefs. I don't recall one instance in the New
Testament that Jesus did not welcome all people at his sermons,even if the
listener did not believe. One of the most familiar parables is one that he
told was about a member of another religious belief - the good Samaritan (Lu
10:29-37). Shouldn't I follow his example and not turn away from someone eve
if I do not agree with the other persons beliefs? And shouldn't I use the
principles of my religion and my leadership skills as a daily
example of my religion so I can help girls learn that there can be good in
all people even though their beliefs are different?
I would rather have girls in a troop I lead that have a deep faith in their
religion and its beliefs, even if different than my own, than girls/parents
who only do lip service. I would love to live in an area that was more diver
in religions so I could teach my girls and, hopefully, reduce misconceptions
about people who have different beliefs than themselves. As we become a more
global society, we need to increase understanding among groups not create
Elizabeth Grimsley, E.GRIMSLEY@GENIE.GEIS.COM
GS volunteer and mother of 2 Girl Scouts
currently on the slate for Council Board of Directors and hopefully, counci
delegate for the 1996 GSUSA convention ****************
They say that money talks, but all mine says is goodby.
`[1;36;44mRainbow V 1.12.6 for Delphi - Registered
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City