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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Not Walking the Talk

I recently took "Train the Trainer" to become a Girl Scout trainer of other leaders. We were told that we need to include a Pluralism exercise in each of our trainings, and that leaders in turn should include similiar activities in their troops.

GSUSA's definition:

Pluralism: A system that includes individuals from groups differing in basic background experiences and cultures. Pluralism allows for the development of a common tradition while preserving the right of each group to maintain its cultural heritage. It implies mutual respect.

The head trainer said twice that while we need to be aware and sensitive to the girls, GS is a spiritual organization. We've already been told that when the girls say the GS Promise, they can subsitute their own word for "God" or leave it out. Yet Christianity is everywhere in this organization. Once I was asked to lead a grace and I quietly declined, and the woman asked why. When I said that I didn't do graces, she stared at me before moving on to ask someone else.

Over the last few days on a leaders listserv that I'm on, there has been a raging debate over an unofficial award given as a 'thank you' to leaders and other adult volunteers called "Green Angel".

Some Non-Christians were offended by being offered a religious symbol. Some Christians were offended because it seemed to trivialize a religious symbol. Others pointed out that not all definitions of "angel" in the dictionary were religious. Others accused others of being too PC. Others said that they were being insensitive. Some said that they hadn't thought of these viewpoints before. And into the mix were fragrance-sensitive people who were give scented candles and soaps, diabetics who were given candy and cookies, etc. Some were clearly educated by the conversation; unfortunately others clearly didn't get it and went away angry.

Just last night at the end of the year Leader Dinner we had a little bit of this mess crop up. A co-leader of third grade Brownies was lamenting that a Muslim girl wasn't allowed to be in the troop because the troop meets in Trinity Lutheran. The girl was in for one year as a Daisy in Kindergarten, but the father stopped it after that because of the religious nature of the building (and the Promise didn't help, either). This leader said that she showed photos of the girl having a great time at troop meetings to the parents. She said "and there weren't any religious symbols in the photos at all!" To which I asked "which room do you meet in, 'cause the one we meet in has religious things all over it." "Oh, but you couldn't see any of that in the photos."

Hello? Anyone there? geeeez.

I then said that the church had religious material and symbols all over the place, in the rooms and the hallways. She said that she supposed so, but she didn't notice.


Then the Service Unit Director said "it's ONLY a meeting place!" I took a breath and said "but to them it IS important where it is. You have to understand where Muslims are coming from, religiously and culturally. Remember that they view Christianity as an invading organization, going all the way back to the Crusades and continuing today with Christian volunteers in Africa and Asia taking bibles and prosletizing to those they went to help."

Both of them had looks on their faces that told me that I wasn't getting anywhere, so I quit. Our Hemlock Field Director had been nodding as I spoke, but she didn't speak up (she's newly assigned to us, and is still learning what CH is all about).

So, I'm pretty frustrated this morning. These women are supposed to be my friends, they know that I am not Christian, but apparently it isn't convienent for them to actually follow GSUSA's directive to be pluralistic.

If it wouldn't hurt the SO, I would be sorely tempted to join the PA Nonbelievers.


At 12:41 PM, Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

It would hurt the SO, and perhaps end up hurting the kiddies at school too. So maybe you can hold off on joining that group.

The SO has been very good about the kiddies attending our church. Beyond "good."

At 12:50 PM, Blogger dddragon said...

Yeah, I know. I try not to be too radical. Besides, the Nonbelievers can be too hardcore for me at times.

At 8:54 AM, Blogger AP3 said...

It's weird -- I commented on this blog before, but it's not showing. Oh well. Yes, the mixing of Christianity with GSing is obnoxious.


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