THE Guide Association has launched a consultation on whether to
drop the traditional promise that asks girls to swear allegiance to
God and the Queen. The Association says that an increasing number
of girls "struggled" with the wording.
When they join as Guides, Brownies, or Rainbows, girls have to
promise: "I will do my best, to love my God, to serve the Queen and
my country, to help other people and to keep the Guide law."
The Chief Guide, Gill Slocombe, said this week: "The promise is
Guiding's beating heart - it's the core expression of values, and
the common standard that brings everyone in Guiding together. Over
the past few years, we have heard from more and more girls and
leaders who struggle with the wording, particularly in interpreting
what it really means to girls today.
"Girlguiding UK is committed to retaining a promise that is in
line with its original principles, but we know it's crucial that
girls and young women understand and believe in the words they
The Guide Association is not an explicitly Christian
organisation, although its values are rooted in Christian values of
love and service to others. The consultation, which opened last
Friday and continues until 3 March, is open to anyone in the
general public, as well as members of the organisation.
It offers a range of options that respondents can rate under
headings of "Like a lot", "Like", "Don't like", and "Dislike a
lot". The mention of God could be replaced with a promise to
"search for the spiritual value in my life", or "serve the Highest
Truth and Love faithfully at all times". Alternatives to the
reference to the Queen include "be useful to my country" and
"engage myself with responsibility in the community I live in".
The National Secular Society has been campaigning for the Guides
and the Scouting Association to drop the mention of God from the
promise, arguing that it excludes some children (
News, 26 October).
The Scouts last year launched a consultation to ask their
members and the wider public whether a non-religious version of
their promise should be developed. This consultation ends on 31
The review of the Guides' promise has been initiated by its new
chief executive, Julie Bentley, and follows complaints from two
families with no religious faith, who wanted their children to
become Guides, but objected to the oath. Their cases were taken up
by the National Secular Society.
Last year, Girl Guides in Australia dropped their allegiance to
both God and the Queen, agreeing instead to serve their community
and be true to themselves (News, 20
The chief executive of Christian Concern, Andrea Minichiello
Williams, said this week: "I think it is a great sadness when you
lose that ethos: you lose what you believe in and the organisation
ends up meaning nothing.
"Girlguiding values, like serving others, have their roots in a
Christian outlook. But if you sever the roots, then the fruit will