Guides to drop God from ‘Promise’

IN THE GANG: Some of the Guides in the cast of the Wyre Gang Show, at Thornton Little Theatre.
IN THE GANG: Some of the Guides in the cast of the Wyre Gang Show, at Thornton Little Theatre.
0
Have your say

For more than a century, Girl Guides have quoted the ‘Promise’, pledging their devotion to God.

But now the phrase ‘to love my God’ has been dropped - leaders say in an effort to include non-religious youngsters and those of other faiths.

Instead, girls joining the UK organisation will now be asked to promise to ‘be true to myself and develop my beliefs’.

Hilary Cooper, who covers South Yorkshire as Chief Commissioner for Girlguiding in the North East of England, said: “It was decided, after a long period of consultation with 44,000 members of the public, that the mention of God might feel as though it were excluding some people.

“Girlguiding is not a faith-based organisation and, though it was never our intention that ‘God’ refer to a particular God of a particular faith, we can see how it could be considered a bit narrowing.”

A mention of vowing to love or serve God has been included in the Promise since the Guides began in 1910, though this isn’t the first time it has seen some re-writes.

“It’s the twelfth,” said Hilary. “The original Promise has seen a lot of changes over the years as times have moved on and we’ve adapted to stay current.”

The last change, in 1994, saw ‘my duty to God’ changed to ‘love my God’.

But while it was decided God was out this time, the Queen was very much in.

“There was a powerful feeling for keeping a reference to the Queen,” said Hilary, who joined the Brownies herself 50 years ago and has remained actively involved with the organisation ever since.

The Promise has also seen the words ‘serve my country’ changed to ‘serve my community’ after it was found younger members found the idea of working in their own areas easier to grasp.

Chief Guide Gill Slocombe said: “We thought it was important to have one Promise that was a clear statement of our core values, one all our members could commit to.

“We really hope our new Promise will allow all girls - of all faiths or none at all - to understand and feel proud of their commitment.”

Mike Gravillen, secretary of Sheffield’s Humanist Society, told The Star he welcomed the news.
“This is something we’ve campaigned for a long time,” he said. “It seemed obvious to us that, at some point, they’d have to take it out - it’s just common sense.”
For Mike it is a move that also brings some personal relief.

“My granddaughter Grace was in the Brownies when she was in primary school, and was asked to leave because she didn’t want to attend the church parades as she didn’t believe,” he said.

“She was told she was doing her duty to her Queen, but not to her God, which was painful and confusing for such a young child. I applaud this latest development.”

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, added: “We wholeheartedly welcome the progressive step Girlguiding have taken to make their movement genuinely open to all.

“We welcome the fact 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.”

The new Promise will be in effect from September 1.

THE OLD PROMISE

I promise that I will do my best:

To love my God,

To serve the Queen and my country,

To help other people

and to keep the Guide Law.

THE NEW PROMISE

I promise that I will do my best:

To be true to myself and develop my beliefs,

To serve the Queen and my community,

To help other people

and to keep the Guide Law.