Girlguiding UK Drop God from Promise

So, girls joining Brownies and Guides in the UK will from September no longer have to pledge their devotion to God. The move comes after a consultation found that Girlguiding UK required a new promise to more explicitly include girls of non-Christian faiths or those who are non-religious.

Girl Guide NeckerchiefThe current Girlguiding UK promise sees girls vow to ‘love my God, to serve my Queen and my country’, whereas the new promise – which will be adopted across the organisation from September 2013 – drops the reference to God for the first time since the Guiding movement began in 1910 and will instead see girls promise to ‘be true to myself and develop my beliefs.’

Chief Guide Gill Slocombe said that:

‘Guiding believes in having one promise that is a clear statement of our core values for all our members to commit to. We hope that our new promise will allow all girls – of all faiths and none – to understand and feel proud of their commitment.’

She also said that the Guiding movement has always been somewhere where girls can develop their ‘beliefs and moral framework’ and noted that Girlguiding UK were aware that some people found the existing promise confusing and that it even discouraged girls and volunteers from joining the organisation in some cases.

The consultation, which took place earlier this year, involved nearly 44,000 Girlguiding UK members and non-members and caused a degree of controversy among some – including the Church of England – who believed the changes to be unnecessary or to go against the original values of the Girlguiding movement. However, many have welcomed the changes – The British Humanist Association (BHA) responded to the consultation saying:

‘We welcome the fact that the new promise is about personal integrity and ongoing and active self-reflection both of which sit well alongside a sense of responsibility to others and to the community.’

I personally think that this is a really interesting and bold move from Girlguiding UK. Whilst I can see why organisations such as the Church of England have raised objection, frankly their stance on women as an organisation is not progressive (women bishops, anyone?) and I actually think that the time is probably right to make these changes and move the organisation forward in terms of its inclusivity.

Another interesting point with regards this story is the UK Scout Association announced its own consultation with regards the scouting promise last year, from which a consultation has not yet been drawn. This act from Girlguiding UK seems to me to be a case of the equivalent female organisation making a bold, progressive stance – related to one of their most historic elements – in order to potentially open their opportunities up to a wider range of young women. I think this is a really good move.

Photograph by Gabrielle Ludlow.


4 Responses to “Girlguiding UK Drop God from Promise”
  1. Sheepless says:

    It’s good to see the Guides becoming more ethical. Up to now, they’ve assumed that some of their members reciting the oath would cross their fingers and not really mean all of it, and what kind of lesson is that for kids? By secularising it, they’re aiming to make it genuine for all their members. That can only be a good thing.

    • Jeanette says:

      Agreed – the girl guides should definitely drop the reference to God (and, in my book, the Queen too). They can still promise to help others and do their duty. There should be no place for enforced religious superstition in organisations like this. They can freely practise whatever belief they hold in the privacy of their home or church. Organisations should be secular.
      This offers an important positive space for girls to have fun and achieve without the pressures of society such as religion which offers such a negative view of the role of women.

  2. Steve Jones says:

    How come they’re still allowed to be “girl guides” when the cubs and scouts had to give up being boys only for political correctness? I don’t get it.

  3. Clearwood says:

    My daughter loves the Brownies, and she had no problem ‘swearing an oath’ of loyalty to God and the Queen to take part. Hypocrisy is a vital part of growing up and being British, and I believe that my daughter now knows that ‘swearing an oath’ is just a meaningless ritual of no significance. Is that a good thing? Playing with a lot of other little girls on a Monday evening certainly is. I think God and the Queen should keep out of it.

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