The Girls’ Brigade was started by a Miss Margaret Lyttle in 1893* in Dublin, Ireland. Given the history at the time, it was a protestant organization for girls in a country where over 90% were Roman Catholics. Today, it is interdenominational, but it would be safe to say it is still a predominantly Protestant organization. (*The Boy Scouts were founded later in 1908 and the Girl Guides came into being later).
Four Mothers are Shocked
Four mothers were shocked when a scripture lesson involved listing these sins in order of how they displease God: murder, theft, homosexuality and adultery. The girls placed homosexuality at the bottom, but they were told the next week that all the sins were equal and distasteful to God.
Homosexuality and the Girls’ Thinking
Whether the girls were aware to it or not, all the ‘other’ sins are against neighbour – the taking of a life, the taking of property and the taking away of a vow. All three sins directly negatively on another person. Homosexuality is a born sexual orientation.
Northern Ireland and Discrimination
Protestants and Catholics are sick of any form of discrimination. Religion and politics have divided this country for too long. Too many lives have been lost. It is now a time to heal. And no doubt, this is the reason for the mothers’ complaints. Discrimination against gays leads to violence and deaths. Furthermore, it is repugnant to use the Bible to spread hatred – Jesus was about love.
The Brigade’s Two Nights of Christian Teachings
It was a religious course compiled to help guide young Christian girls within the Girls’ Brigade in their spiritual development.
However, the content and delivery of the course has led to a bitter row between the Girls’ Brigade and the mother of four of its members, as well as a complaint to police. The controversy first erupted in January when teenage GB members in Ards (Northern Ireland) were asked to place a list of ‘sins’ in order, from the worst to the least.
Included in the list were murder, theft, homosexuality and adultery. When two of the girls placed homosexuality at the bottom of the list they were told by a leader that all of the ‘sins’ were equal in the eyes of God and that people who sin should seek God’s forgiveness.
The lesson was repeated the following week with a younger group aged between 11 and 14.
The mother of four GB members, three of whom were involved in the lessons, said her daughters were left “very upset and angry” that homosexuality was not only classed as a sin, but that it was “equated with murder”.
She wrote a letter of complaint to the GB, saying:
“Surely as a parent, I should have been advised in advance that these topics were going to be discussed and afforded the opportunity to consent beforehand?
I would also be keen to establish what training was given to the leaders, prior to delivering such sensitive topics to a group of children within this most impressionable age group.”
The Newtownards woman raised concern in her letter “regarding the potential impact this lesson might have upon a child who may be struggling with their own sexual identity, especially since this is not uncommon within this age group”.
She added: “I am fearful that the lessons being taught may have the very real potential to not only cause them confusion but could, potentially, be extremely harmful to their development and general wellbeing.”
She also asked for assurance that “no other girls will be subjected to this”.
“Furthermore, in my view it is tantamount to inciting hatred,” she added.
The GB spokesperson stated: “I have had many sleepless nights worrying that any parent would see the GB as ‘bigoted’ and ‘inciting hatred’ and ‘in breach of human rights legislation’ as a result of an exercise that we could have designed better.
“I would like to appeal to your generosity to understand that we are simply trying to do our best to help girls explore what the Bible says, that we sometimes make mistakes but that our overwhelming desire is for the physical, educational, emotional and spiritual development of girls in GB.”
paula: I think the volunteers need to take theology lessons. The bible needs to be set against a background of history. Kids are intelligent and they are able to research the topic of homosexuality. When they find out that psychological institutions world-wide state that homosexuality is not a disease, mental problem or perversion and that it cannot be reversed – then they know that it is a matter of people being heterosexual, bi-sexual or homosexual. They know that discrimination of any kind is wrong.
Latest: Spokesperson for Brigade now states that this did not happen.