Girl Guide group wins fight to keep "God" in promise
A Girl Guides unit, which was threatened with expulsion for refusing to remove "God" from their promise, have won their battle to remain in the Guiding Association, reports Christian Concern for our Nation.
Last year, the 37th Newcastle Guide Unit, which meets at Jesmond Parish Church, was told by Girl Guiding UK that their membership would be withdrawn if they refuse to adopt the new secular oath.
But last month, Guide leader Glynis Mackie, who has led the group for more than 25 years, was delighted to learn the threat had been lifted and that no further action will be taken.
“We just think it’s fantastic that we have won our battle, they were trying to force us out with no process and only three weeks’ notice, the girls were really upset,” she said.
“It has been tough on them - some of them would have had to register with another group if we had been shut down.”
Last year, Mrs Mackie received a letter requesting they adopt the new oath, which removes references to ‘God’, but she refused to force her members to compromise.
She added: “We cannot build a group which welcomes those without a faith while pushing out those who do.”
“I see parallels with the legal world. In a courtroom, you have the right to swear on the Bible, or to opt not to have the religious dimension.
“But to be denied the choice of pledging to serve God is just wrong. Instead of becoming more inclusive, it is excluding people who do believe, and for whom the religious aspect is an important part.”
A Girlguiding spokesperson said: “Girlguiding has suggested a way forward that does not change the wording of the Promise or compromise Girlguiding’s commitment to having one Promise for all girls.
"Discussions are continuing with the group.”
After the Guide Association announced plans to revise the oath, which replaces the promise to ‘love my God’ with a pledge ‘to be true to myself’ and ‘develop my beliefs’, Girl Guiding UK admitted that it had received over 800 complaints.
16-year-old Eleanor Thomson, who is one of several members of the group, who opposed the changes said: “We haven’t done anything wrong. We have done what the Guide Movement has always taught us to do - stand up for our principles.”
Meanwhile, the Church of England General Synod this week approved a private members motion that "this Synod believe that girls of all ages in the Girlguiding Movement should not suffer discrimination but be able to continue to promise to love God when enrolled."
Speaking in the debate Alision Ruoff, who tabled the motion, said: “It seems to me to be absolute discrimination against the girls and their leaders.
“I am only asking that the girls and their leaders be accorded choice when making or renewing their promise.”