Thursday, May 10, 2012

Prayer and being the squeaky wheel

This Wednesday, Miss E had her first "cross-over" girls scout meeting. Previously only her Daisy troop had met and in the evenings. This was after school with the 4th grade Juniors group. It was a celebration of sorts, to welcome the girls into Daisy's and they all got Junior "big sisters" which is kind of awesome. Overall I LOVE Girl Scouts. It has done a lot for my girl toward helping her get to know other kids at school, combating some shyness and just being comfortable in her wonderful skin.

As we were driving home she said "we said a prayer before we ate". What? I asked her what she meant and the conversation went like this:

Miss E: "like at Grandpa Randy's house."

Me: "Oh. Christians do that to give thanks for their food and while we do not, since we aren't Christian, I don't think it's ever a bad thing to be grateful for your food so I don't mind sitting through it as long as I don't have to do it all the time. Did you mind?"

Miss E: "No, i just kind of sat there. I thought only boys could do that"

Me (feeling more confused now): "Well, every family is different, I think some take turns, some sing, some say it all at once and some only have the boys do it. Why did you think that?"

Miss E: "Because only Grandpa Randy does it at their house"

Me: "Well, I guess that's just the way they've chosen to do it. Did all they girls know the prayer?"

Miss E: "All the juniors did but not all the Daisys."

Me: "Well, maybe it was just a one time thing."

Honestly, she didn't seem too bothered by the whole thing, but then again she wouldn't. I was a bit shocked, the Girl Scouts is not a religious organization but they do allow individual troops to make decisions about prayers at meetings and using the word God in the Girl Scout pledge. Our troop has never done it before so I'm thinking it's something this other group does. Maybe it was a one time thing? I don't know. It's hard for me to know the correct way to address it.

On one hand, Miss E of course is free to make her own decisions about religion WHEN she gets old enough to truly understand the complexities of it. She is not at that age yet. On the other hand, I'm sure she will go to have dinners with people who pray before they eat, as to her grandparents, and she needs to be respectful. But the difference is, in those situations she will be in someone's private home. Not sitting in the school library. I really don't think it's fair to force all the girls to sit through a prayer for a religion that only some of them adhere to. It only makes the ones who don't feel like outsiders, which I think is counter productive to the cohesiveness Girl Scouts promotes.  Peter, of course, didn't want me to say anything until I asked him this:

"Imagine a Christian girl going to a non-religious school where half the kids are Religion X (hindu/Buddhist/ muslim/ jewish/ etc). Now imagine a school group of them sitting down for snack and having them all say a Religion X prayer and the Christian kid having to sit through it. Do you think the Christian community would stand for that?"

To which he, who grew up in that culture, emphatically agreed that no, that would never be stood for and in fact there would be a huge amount of out-cry about it. But here were are with MY daughter having to sit through, feeling like an outsider, a prayer for a religion that we don't adhere to and that is not a fundamental tenant of the group she is a part of. I don't think that is fair or right. But what to do about it?

This brings me to the complexities of the situation. Our leader is fighting her second battle with cancer and I don't want to add to her plate. It was a meeting unlike any others they have had so maybe it was a one-time thing. I'm not willing to go through the training and step up to be a Girl Scout leader so to a certain extent I feel like I need to go with the flow. Overall, it was a learning experience for Miss E and we have decided to wait and see if it happens again and then talk to the leader. I think I'm going to try and go to the next meeting as well so if I have to say something it will be first-hand information. But my goodness, we moved here to get away from this kind of crap and I'm kind of annoyed that I have to deal with it at all.

*I'm not sure I even need to put this but I want to re-iterate that I am not anti-religious. We have our own strong and educated beliefs about the world but I wouldn't dream of saying that someone else can't have theirs. I just want our schools and school groups to be ideology free so ALL children may be included, regardless of family situation. 

*Also, I took pictures of chickens today. It was kind of a debacle. 

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