Girlguiding: Religious members can mention God in promise

(Photo: Girlguiding UK)

Christians have responded positively to confirmation from the Girl Guides this week that religious people will be able to make reference to God in their promise. 

The Girlguiding movement has released a statement maintaining its commitment to having "one Promise for all", but said that new Girl Guides with a faith would be able to say the new secular promise with the addition of the phrase "In the presence of God I make my Guide promise".

Last year, Girlguiding UK decided to replace the pledge "to do my best and to love God", which had been in the promise since the organisation was set up over a hundred years ago with an entirely secular promise.

The Church of England General Synod urged the movement to rethink this change, after voting overwhelmingly this week in favour of a motion asking that Girlguiding UK to allow women and girls to promise to love God when enrolled.

A few days later, the organisation agreed to allow members to profess a commitment to God in a statement preceding their promise, if they so wish.

However, Girlguiding added: "To be clear, this is not an alternative Promise or additional line within the Promise. Rather it is a distinct personal statement, separate to our Promise. This approach maintains one Promise for all within Girlguiding.

"There has been no change in that position.

"There is no set script for Leaders or girls for Promise celebrations and so IF a member chooses to do so it is permissible for her to provide the context of her own belief before making our Promise.

"Whilst the majority of members are comfortable with the wording, we recognise that a small minority of people want a way to specifically acknowledge their commitment to God within their guiding life."

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland welcomed the decision to allow references to God to remain.

The Right Reverend Lorna Hood, who publicly expressed her disappointment over last year's decision to drop God from the promise, has thanked the movement for its change of heart.

"Last year I expressed my sadness that a promise I made as a Girl Guide many years ago was to be removed.

"In Scotland, having spoken about this issue in many places I have visited as Moderator, it became clear to me that those with faith in the Girl Guides are not in the minority but, in fact, make up a substantial number of those in the organisation.

"I understand that the Girl Guides want to be open to all members. There are many young girls of faith who can now enhance their membership of this fine organisation by incorporating their belief in God when making the promise," she concluded.