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Girl Guides defend decision to remove God from Promise

The decision to drop references to God from the Girl Guide Promise is receiving criticism from numerous groups. Girl Guiding UK is changing the wording claiming it was confusing and stopped some girls signing up.

Gill Slocombe, Chief Guide said:

"We knew that some people found our Promise confusing and that it discouraged some girls and volunteers from joining us.

"We hope that the new wording will help us reach out to girls and women who might not have considered guiding before"

Instead of reading: I promise that 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 new promise states: I promise that I will do my best: To be true to myself and develop my beliefs, To serve the Queen and my community, To help other people and To keep the (Brownie) Guide law.

Catholic former MP Ann Widdecombe has been giving her reaction to Premier's Paul Hutton.

The decision came about following a consultation which took in the views of almost 44,000 people. It concluded that different wording was needed to include all girls, of all faiths and none. Research for Girl Guiding UK recently found 37% of girls do not believe in a god. The Evangelical Alliance has voiced its disappointment with the decision.

Director of Advocacy Dr Dave Landrum said:

"Given that faith is growing across the world - while secularism is in decline - the organisation will be out of kilter with the values of the majority of young people in the future.

"No doubt the Girls' Brigade will be the main beneficiary from this erroneous decision, because as the growing popularity of faith schools attests, parents will often seek to provide religious rather than secular humanist values for their children."

But not everyone is against the change. Canon Sheila Bamber, Canon Provost at Sunderland Minster, has been involved with the Girl Guides since she was eleven and still volunteers today.

She gave her thoughts to Premier's Marcus Jones on the News Hour.

The move has also been welcomed by the National Secular Society.

Campaigns Manager Stephen Evans said:

"The introduction of one secular Promise for all is a hugely positive and welcome development. "By omitting any explicit mention of God or religion, Girlguiding has grasped the opportunity to make itself truly inclusive and relevant to the reality of 21st century Britain.

"The new wording now provides a meaningful Promise for all guides and potential leaders, whatever their religious beliefs - and sends a clear signal that the organisation is equally welcoming to all girls. Many Girl Guide groups are linked to churches with many Christians leading them."

A Church of England spokesperson said:

"The research shows that guide groups are made up of girls of all faiths and none.

"But it's worth remembering that churches up and down the country will continue to sponsor and provide a home for Guiding groups and other uniformed organisations.

"Church congregations will also continue to provide many volunteer leaders and weekly helpers for the groups."

Chloe Bond leads a group of Brownies (younger version of Guides). She tells Premier's Maria Toth this won't stop her sharing faith.

The new Promise will take effect from 1st September.

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