The new Girl Guide Promise is wonderfully British
The new Girl Guides Promise has gotten rid of God and country. You can hear people in the shires coughing into their cornflakes all the way from central London. It has political correctness gone mad all over it. As with most political correctness gone mad, it is undoubtedly A Good Thing.
The demand to "love God" has been replaced by a promise to "be true to myself and develop my beliefs". Girl guides will be asked "to serve the Queen and my community" instead of "the Queen and my country".
It's a master class in good bits of the British personality. As the eleventh change to the Promise, it shows that even a quintessentially traditional organisation can be open to change. It shows a relaxed attitude to continuity, a confidence sufficient enough to change with the times without worrying about losing your identity. When Britain is at its best, it has the same confidence.
Many young girls growing up in Britain today have different religions and very many will have none. It was inappropriate and coercive for them to have to lie, to others and themselves, to partake in an activity which had nothing to do with religion anyway.
In the early 90s the "duty" to God was replaced by the "love" towards God. That was a pleasant change, a mark of a kinder country. We forget now, but we used to call them the 'touchy-feely' 1990s. That touchy feelyness has become entrenched in our culture. Sometimes it grates – like when schools give up on achievement because of how it will make others feel – but generally it is a mark of a nicer country. This is merely a continuation of that process.
Notice that the Queen stays. You can get rid of anything in Britain, God and country included, but not the Queen. Critics of the monarchy are gearing up for her departure, certain that we will be more open to republican arguments under a presumably hapless King Charles. They face the same problem Scottish nationalists did at the Olympics, when the 'Scolympians looked extremely comfortable draped in the union flag. The people love the monarchy. They want it. It offers permanence and continuity as everything else changes. The fact it can remain while such robust cultural changes take place shows it is no hindrance to the creation of a modern, progressive society and might even make it easier to secure.
The removal of the word "country" is entirely fitting. The Girl Guides are not a patriotic club. It is a place for young girls to do activities and get involved in their community. The focus on the community reflects the unfussy, unsentimental practicalities of the British character.
One more thing: They replaced God with something lovely. Usually, the stripping away of religion leaves something drab and official in its place. I've always felt that way at registry weddings, which seem short and harshly unceremonial. But here, it was replaced by the promise to "be true to myself and develop my beliefs".
Yes, it sounds a little cheesy, but it is a genuinely admirable sentiment. It is a fine message to send to children.