Christian Girl Guide troop agrees to adopt secular Promise

Published 27 August 2013  |  
(Photo: Girlguiding UK)

A Girl Guide troop that vowed to stick to the original religious Promise has backed down after a meeting with senior leaders.

The Daily Mail reports that representatives of the St Paul's troop in Harrogate met senior leaders of Girlguiding UK at the weekend to discuss the stand off.

The troop had refused to adopt the new secular Promise, which omits the original pledge to love God and is due to come into effect on 1 September. 

However, a complaint was made by volunteer Jem Henderson, 28, after she was told by pack leader Hazel Mitford that the troop would be "sticking with the previous Promise".  

Henderson said the move "excludes me and any other atheist girls from the troop, or asks us to lie when making the Promise, something that surely goes against the principles of the Guides".

St Paul's Girl Guides, which meets at the local United Reformed Church, had the support of the former Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali, who said he hoped "many others" would adopt a similar stance.

Premier Christian Media chief executive Peter Kerridge also wrote of his strong support for the unit in The Times.

"This sorry scenario represents yet another attack on Christianity in a Christian country by an increasingly militant Secular element, intent on erasing God and Christ from society," he said.

"Christianity is a way of life and the corner stone of many of our respected institutions – including the Scout movement and Girl Guides.

"It welcomes everyone and anyone as brothers and sisters in the eyes of God but must not submit to pressure to dilute or delete its fundamental principles."

The Daily Mail reports that the St Paul's unit has now agreed to adopt the new Promise following the meeting between leaders, with Mrs Mitford saying she would not instruct members of the troop to follow the old or new oath.

"It's for the girls to decide what they choose to do," she said.

"Girlguiding is saying, 'Yes they will make the new promise,' but the way that the girls explore their own spiritual journey is up to them, it's not dictated by anybody else really."

Girlguiding's Chief Guide Gill Slocombe said: "We always want to support our leaders and we spent some time talking with the Harrogate volunteers about the new promise and supporting them to understand it is intended to embrace all girls, those with a faith belief and those without.

"As a result they decided they would be able to start using it as planned from September 1."

Henderson welcomed the outcome, saying: "I think it's more important that all girls get included in Guides than just the ones that have religious affiliation."

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