Girlguiding is not and never was a Christian Organisation

On reading the Daily Mail Online this morning I came across the following article:

Girl Guide group told to ditch God or be expelled

And this has lead to my views on the matter coming to the forefront of my mind once again. As I start to write this post I’m unsure if my purpose is to give the opinion of a Christian Leader who embraces the new Promise. Or whether to give a little more detail from the inside about what Girlguiding in modern day is like for those with no experience, or whether to just mock articles like this and the misinformed comments it produces.

I’ve spent the past few hours reading about the backlash Girlguiding has received since 44,000 people were consulted on the wording of the Promise and a phrase was changed.

For those of you unfamiliar with Girlguiding the phrase ‘To love my God’ was changed to ‘To be true to myself and develop my beliefs’.

In the lead up to this consultation there had been much talk on the Internet about Girlguiding discriminating against atheists via the Promise. You couldn’t make it without promising to love a God. This didn’t sit well with many atheist adult members who were required to make the promise to become a full adult leader. There was also an influx of articles about 7 year olds being turned away from Guiding and Scouting as they had no God they believed in to love:

Atheist Family upset over Brownie Promise Claim

Athesist schoolboy, 11, banned from the Scouts as he refuses to pledge allegiance to God and Queen

So it was no surprise that a consultation was announced to get the views of members and non-members alike on the Promise.

I took the survey and gave my opinions, of which I am open in saying that as a Christian I opted for the ‘develop my beliefs’ option. I realise there are many more atheists in modern day UK compared to when the organisation was launched in 1910 and don’t understand why the values we hope to instil into girls should be stopped at those with a belief.

But despite the change Girlguiding now receives backlash again from within its own community. Like the initial article above, some units want to keep the old Promise. The leaders are trying to be reasonable by giving their girls the option of the two promises but this will go against one of the five Girlguiding essentials – ‘To commit to a common standard’. The Promise has always been that ‘THE’ Promise, there can only be one. The only change that had ever been allowed was to replace the word ‘God’ with their faith’s own word for God e.g. ‘Allah’. But every member makes the same Promise, so this pick and choose option would not be supported.

Christian organisations have also criticised the move:

God and country ditched in Guides and Brownies’ promise

Christians ‘should applaud’ Girl Guide unit over religious Promise stance

Girl Guides ‘should not be allowed to use church premises’

Though I do not understand their judgement. It seems that Christian organisations had the misbelief that Girlguiding was also a Christian organisation  but as quoted from the ‘Outcome of the Promise Consultation FAQ’:

Do these changes mean that Girlguiding is no longer a Christian organisation?
Girlguiding is not and never has been a Christian organisation. Girlguiding is open to all girls and adults, whether they follow a specific religion or not. Spiritual development is part of the Girlguiding programme, but this is not limited to one or any specific religion, or indeed any religion.’

Outcome of the Promise Consultation FAQs – For those of you who may have other questions

So where does this leave leaders who wish to continue with the old promise? They have the choice to embrace the new Promise and can continue using the same Promise activities they have always used under the new wording or they can disband as a Girlguiding unit and rebuild their own organisation. As a blunt statement that sounds negative but if Girlguiding is not what they believed it was then why not start something new?

I feel this is just the start of a much longer article but I will break down my thoughts into some further posts. I would like to give my findings on how Girlguiding is perceived from the outside and I would like to go over some of the above articles in more detail to show the misconceptions of Girlguiding. Plus a final post about the joys I have had through Girlguiding and some of the amazing moments I have shared with the girls, because despite all the backlash and misconceptions we mustn’t forget what Girlguiding is really all about.


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