Britain’s Girl Guides Drop Oath to God

For more than 100 years, Britain’s Girl Guides — the equivalent of American Girl Scouts — took an oath to “love God and serve the King/Queen.” But on Wednesday the movement announced it would scrap its oath to God in an attempt to broaden its appeal and attract children from secular, nonbelieving families, the Religion News Service reports. The controversial shake-up is seen by some as the biggest in the Girl Guides’ history. Beginning in September, all new members who make the promise to be good and useful citizens will pledge an oath to “be true to myself and develop my beliefs” and “to serve my Queen (Elizabeth II) and my country.” Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, says the decision to remove God from the oath of loyalty is wrong. “These values have their roots in a Christian outlook,” she said. “Taking ‘God’ out of the promise denies the history and foundations of the movement without offering anything in its place, with the result that the organization will lose its distinctive ethos and end up meaning nothing.” But Chief Guide Gill Slocombe said the new promise was decided after a consultation involving nearly 44,000 people. She said the reference to God sometimes “discouraged some girls and volunteers from joining,” adding that the new wording would help the organization “reach out to girls and women who might not have considered guiding before, so that even more girls can benefit from everything guiding can offer.” The Girl Guides in Australia dropped their allegiance to God and the Queen last year, agreeing to be true to themselves and their communities instead. Girl Scouts in the United States promise to “to serve God and my country,” as do the Boy Scouts of America.

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