Girlguiding UK are consulting the public on whether the Girlguiding Promise should be changed to “make it more meaningful to girls and women.”
The launch of the consultation follows a similar move from the Scout Association, which is also consulting the public on possible changes to the Scout Promise.
Girls make the Promise when they join the Guides, which includes the vows to “love my God” and “serve the Queen and my country.” The Promise is seen as “guiding’s beating heart” and a point of unity for members.
New leader, new reforms
It will be the first major reform under the Guides’ recently appointed chief executive Julie Bentley, who described the organisation as “the ultimate feminist organisation.”
Ms Bentley is a prominent campaigner for abortion and was previously head of the Family Planning Association.
Some alternatives put forward to replace the reference to God in the Promise are “to search for the spiritual value in my life” and “serve the highest truth and love faithfully at all times.”
The potential changes follow two cases of families who wanted their children to become Guides but objected to the oath. The cases have been taken up by the National Secular Society, which “exists to challenge religious privilege.”
Losing the ethos
Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, argues that any change to replace or erase mention of God dilutes the ethos of the organisation and erodes its identity.
She said: “I think it is a great sadness when you lose that ethos, you lose what you believe in and the organisation ends up meaning nothing.
“Girl guiding values like serving others have their roots in a Christian outlook. But if you sever the roots then the fruit will shrivel.
“This is a microcosm of our national crisis of identity. The Christian gospel has been one of the foremost influences in the development of British life, culture and institutions.
“Yet we are seeing continuous attempts to deny this history and eradicate any traces of Christian influence in public life. There needs to be recognition that Christianity is not just a private thing but is for the public good – and demonstrably so”.
You can still respond the Scouts consultation here.