Thursday, February 13, 2014

UK Girl Guide troop which refused to drop 'God' from their oath win their fight after being threatened with closure

Girl Guides who were told to adopt a new promise which omits God or face being axed from the organisation have won a reprieve after they were told no further action would be taken.

The 37th Newcastle Guide Unit were warned that they had to comply and start using the new oath which does not mention religion and instead sees members swear to be true to themselves and develop their beliefs rather than love their God. 

The group, which meets at Jesmond Parish Church, received a letter from the Girl Guide's chief commissioner in the North East saying their membership to the organisation would end on December 31 last year unless they used the new promise.

However, Guide leader Glynis Mackie, who has led the troop for more than 25 years was told last month that the threat has now been lifted and a compromise will be found.

The 55-year-old, who works as a solicitor by day, is delighted there has been a change of heart as her members were upset that the group might have been forced to close.

Mrs Mackie has been a Guide leader for the past 25 years is delighted there has been a change of heart and that a compromise can be found

'It has been tough on them - some of them would have had to register with another group if we had been shut down. 'New members have been without a proper uniform for weeks because I’ve had to honestly tell them that they may have to join another group soon.

'I am so pleased to have pushed and made a fuss over this, I was not going to let them close us down quietly.  'There have been many sleepless nights and tears shed. I feel completely churned up.  'I have given a huge part of my life to the Guide Association. I am very proud of my girls for supporting me in it.’

In 2012, the Guide Association announced plans to revise the wording - which the 37th Newcastle Guides welcomed as they have Muslim girls as members, and non-believers in their ranks.

And in September last year, the troop received a letter outlining the changes to omit religion from the oath.

But Mrs Mackie, who has two daughters, one of who leads a Rangers group, was not willing to force her members to adopt the new pledge.

She said: 'A lot of people have made the argument that the Girl Guides are not a Christian group, and I accept that, but we are a group based on faith.  'We cannot build a group which welcomes those without a faith while pushing out those who do.'

'I see parallels with the legal world. In a courtroom, you have the right to swear on the Bible, or to opt not to have the religious dimension.  ‘But to be denied the choice of pledging to serve God is just wrong. Instead of becoming more inclusive, it is excluding people who do believe, and for whom the religious aspect is an important part.

Not only was Mrs Mackie against the move to a new oath but so too were several of the groups members, including 16-year-old Eleanor Thomson.  Speaking at the time she said: 'We haven’t done anything wrong. The ridiculous thing is that we have done what the Guide Movement has always taught us to do — stand up for our principles.

'But that is suddenly wrong, apparently. It’s ridiculous. It would actually be funny if it wasn’t so serious.’

Parents of the girls also received letters informing them of the situation saying there were other Guide units nearby that their children could attend.

Lindsey Letts got her letter just days after her daughter Hannah, 13, received her Baden-Powell Award - the highest accolade a Guide can receive.  ‘The timing was astonishing', she said.  'We had this wonderful ceremony and then we were told the unit was being closed. None of it makes sense.

'We’re told the girls are being encouraged to develop their beliefs. Well, Hannah has made it very clear she has a Christian belief, and wants to be able to express that.'

Following the letter last month a meeting was set up between the association, the group and parents.

It was at the meeting that Glynis and the group were told that no further action would be taken, and that they would not under any circumstances be expelled from the association.

A Girlguiding spokesman said: ‘Girlguiding has suggested a way forward that does not change the wording of the Promise or compromise Girlguiding’s commitment to having one Promise for all girls.  ‘Discussions are continuing with the group.’

The Girl Guiding movement was founded in 1910 by Agnes Baden-Powell, the sister of Robert Baden-Powell, who had formed the Scouts three years earlier after girls 'gatecrashed' the first boy scout rally at Crystal Palace in 1909.

According to the Girlguiding website, the promise is at the heart of guiding and gives a purpose to life.

It is also thought that several groups in Northern Ireland were also consulting on whether to refuse to endorse the new pledges.


American lugers' anger at Canadian equal rights video that says their sport has 'always been a little gay'

American lugers have lambasted an equal rights video that shows two spandex-clad athletes rocking back and forth on a sled with the message that the Olympics 'have always been a little gay'.

Christian Niccum, who competes in the doubles luge, called the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion video 'ridiculous and sad', while teammates agreed joking about their sport was old news.

The 33-second video shows two men in a sled at the start of a luge track thrusting in slow motion before they push off while 1980s hit 'Don't You Want Me Baby' plays.  'The Games have always been a little gay,' the tagline says. 'Let's fight to keep them that way.'

The video, which was created in response to Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws, has been an online hit - totting up more than 4.6 million views in a week. But Niccum is not so taken by it.

'It's a gross misrepresentation of everything,' the 36-year-old three-time Olympian told Reuters. 'All of it seems like a lie to me...  To compare sports to sexuality is ridiculous.

'When we were kids I didn't get on the doubles sled thinking, well it never even crossed my mind, that "oh, this is gay". You think of like, wrestlers, football players, or whoever, "oh it's male on male contact so something is going on". It's just sportsmanship. When did we come so sexual about everything?

'Kids don't think that way and now they're having commercials and promoting that this is the way sports are. I just think it's too bad.

'It made me really think when I was a kid. Those types of thoughts never crossed my mind and now they are promoting diversity using our sport.  'I don't think it's fair for people that do have same sex attraction that they are using sport to promote their lifestyle. It's not that way at all. To make those comparisons, I think it's sad.'

In luge, one team member lays on top of the other as they navigate the sled through a series of turns.

Another American, Preston Griffall, added to the New York Times that most doubles lugers understand they are a target for jokes.

'We’re two dudes, laying on top of each other in spandex,' he said. 'Of course people are going to make fun of it.'

But he added, 'in sports, what we're doing is a completely different issue than what they're talking about. We’re competing here. I'm not going to look too deeply into it.'

Another American, Matthew Mortensen, said that making fun of the luge is old news.  'For some reason,' he said, 'whether it's Jimmy Kimmel or Conan O'Brien or anyone, doubles luge is always the target. It's never about football players taking a snap or whatever. We've heard all this stuff before.'

Niccum's riding partner, Jayson Terdiman, added that he had never heard a good doubles luge joke.

The Sochi Games are taking place amid protest from gay rights activists, who condemn Russian legislation passed last year banning the promotion of gay propaganda among minors.

Leader Vladimir Putin said the law is designed to protect young people but he has said that gay people would not face discrimination in Sochi.

CIDI founder and CEO Michael Bach said on his organization's website that it launched the video because 'the discrimination in Russia is unacceptable'.

'As an organization, we want to show our support, especially for the athletes competing at the Olympics in Sochi,' he said.


Overzealous Heathrow security officials 'confiscate' Toy Story cowboy Woody DOLL'S miniature gun

British authorities are as moronic as America's TSA

With his trademark cowboy boots, cute waistcoat and red neckerchief, little Woody from Toy Story hardly looks like an imposing figure.

But the cowboy doll was apparently branded a terror risk at Heathrow Airport – because it was holding a miniature six-shooter.

A bemused air traveller has claimed on a social networking site that the figure was examined at Heathrow by security staff - who then subsequently confiscated the doll’s tiny firearm.

The traveller, who backed up their claim by posting online a photo of Woody being impounded, said: 'I have travelled the world with Toy Story’s Woody, taking pics for my son.

The photo has caused hundreds of comments on the Reddit website, with many users branding the security services as overzealous.

One user, called Groonz, commented: 'I'm just imagining what it would be like if he tried to hijack an airplane with that small gun. People squinting looking at his hand.'

Another person, with the username dudeinsha, wrote: 'Pathetic. What happened to common sense?'

And Reddit user Spiritol Jaguar, referring to Woody’s famous catchphrase about snakes when someone pulls his string, added: 'Did they find the snake in his boot?'

The dolls are not normally sold with a gun, so it is unclear where the weapon originated.

Heathrow Airport refused to comment on the matter and but said that security rules are drawn up by the Department For Transport.

A spokesperson for the Department For Transport said: 'We do not comment on specific incidents or details of our security regime.

'Airports and airlines can use their discretion to remove any item being carried in hand luggage when they believe it may be perceived as a threat.'


Superficial history from the BBC

I watched the latest episode of Jeremy Paxman's documentary about the First World War last night. In the past, I've complained about his slapdash approach to history, so my expectations weren't high. He focused on 1917 – surely one of the most epoch-making years in human history – and I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that of all the seismic events he could have covered, Paxman chose to tell us about Alice Wheeldon, who was locked up for allegedly plotting to kill Lloyd George. Of all the injustices meted out to human beings in 1917, her fate – 9 months in prison followed by compassionate release on grounds of ill health – has a good claim to be bottom of the list.

It was also pretty depressing that Paxman felt the need to tell a BBC audience that Lloyd George was "the British prime minister". The worst moment came when he told us about Germany's submarine campaign to starve Britain into submission. Naturally, Paxman left out the reason why this ruthless effort failed. Listening to him, you might think it was because lots of people started digging allotments. The real reason, which got only a fleeting mention, was that Britain adopted the convoy system. For the first time in the age of steam, merchant vessels were given permanent protection by warships.

The admirals, incidentally, were unanimously against introducing convoys. Lloyd George, who had never been to sea in his life, had the good sense to overrule them. Because of this, the U-Boat stranglehold was broken and Britain saved from defeat in 1917. That is a story of eternal relevance: sometimes leaders must have the self-confidence to ignore expert advice. Rather than go into this, Paxman preferred to tell us how lots of women started ploughing fields.

All of that was to be expected. The most revealing flaw was the way that Paxman talked about the government's effort to sustain public "support for the war". He continually used phrases like "pro-war" and "support for the war".

In reality, I doubt if anyone in Britain between 1914 and 1918 would have considered themselves a "supporter" of the First World War. They backed the war effort and they believed that resisting Germany was essential. But that is something quite different.

Most British people regarded the war as an abomination which had been forced on Europe by German aggression. Perhaps they were wrong, but that is a separate issue. The point is that describing this position as "pro-war" is facile. You might as well say that the Russian people who fought Hitler's invasion in 1941 were "pro" the Second World War. Of course they weren't. They were "pro" resisting the aggression which had brought the conflict upon them.

Paxman is taking the debate of our own time – about whether to be "pro" or "anti" the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – and imposing it on the Britain of a century ago. Put simply, he is being ahistorical. Which is a bit of a shame since he's meant to be presenting a history documentary. He really should stick to being rude to politicians.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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