Girlguiding should retain references to God in campfire songs, says Christian group

(Photo: Girlguiding)

Girlguiding is being urged to remember its Christian roots after suggesting that references to God be removed from traditional campfire songs sung by Brownies.

Brownies is the branch of Girlguiding for younger girls aged seven to 10. 

In a since deleted blog post, the organisation suggested that song lyrics be rewritten to make "references that have been hurtful to people ... inclusive for everyone". 

In one example cited in the article, the original lyrics of Brownie Bells read as, "Oh Lord, our God; Thy children call; Grant us thy peace; And bless us all; Goodnight."

These were changed by one Brownie group to say, "Time for the end, our meeting's past, Brownies is great, time flies so fast, goodnight. I'm a Brownie, you're a Brownie, Brownies all around the world. Goodnight Brownies everywhere."

A spokeswoman for Girlguiding said it was "important we consider elements of our heritage that may not illustrate our values and ethos of today, and how they may be excluding girls or volunteers from taking part fully or feeling truly welcome".

The Christian Institute suggested the changes would not promote inclusion but leave Christian members feeling less welcome.

The Christian Institute's Deputy Director CiarĂ¡n Kelly called on Girlguiding leaders to respect the roots of the organisation, which was founded in 1910 by Robert Baden-Powell on Christian principles.

"The Girl Guides and Scouts should remember that their founders, Robert Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes, were motivated by their faith," said Mr Kelly.

"Erasing their past and our traditions do not promote greater inclusion, or diversity. Quite the opposite.

"The many Christian members of the Girl Guides will certainly question how welcome they really are. I hope they reconsider this decision."

In 2013, Girlguiding changed the Brownies and Guides pledge to remove the promise to serve God. Instead, members pledge to be "true to myself and develop my beliefs", and serve their "community" instead of their country.