HARDLY a week goes by without the dreadful Andrea “Mini-cello” Williams sounding off about some outrage or other perpetrated by the godless against her precious Christianity.
Her latest bout of hand-wringing comes in the wake of an announcement that Girlguiding UK has launched a consultation that could lead to significant changes to the Promise Guides are expected to take when they join.
In what the Telegraph describes as “one of the most controversial shake-ups in its 102 year history”, the organisation may ditch any mention of God and the Queen from the Promise guides have to make.
Currently, Guides promise to do their best, love “my God”, serve “the Queen and country” and keep the Guide law.
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”.
It would be the first major reform for the Guides, which boasts more than half a million members, to be initiated under Julie Bentley, its new Chief Executive.
The former head of The Family Planning Association who took over in November ruffled feathers when she described the Guides as:
The ultimate feminist organisation.
Bentley spent five years campaigning to change abortion laws in Northern Ireland, resisting opposition to the UK’s 24-week termination deadline, and pressing for mandatory sex education in schools.
When she was appointed to head Girlguiding UK a collective shudder ran through many religious bodies, which lined up to declare that “this sex-peddling liberal would destroy innocent girlhood and turn a treasured institution into a hotbed of promiscuity.”
Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, said:
The Girl Guides is an organisation which should protect girls from these sorts of pressures.
And Jill Kirby, a social policy author, declared:
One of the reasons why girls want to join the Guides…is that they can escape from sex and television culture.I would have hoped that anyone leading the Guides would understand that. I don’t believe Ms Bentley does.
In a statement, the organisation said:
The Promise is guiding’s beating heart – it is 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 is crucial that girls and young women understand and believe in the words they say.
The consultation, which closes in March and is open to non-members as well as members of the organisation, offers a range of alternatives.
Alternatives to the reference to the Queen include “be useful to my country” and “engage myself with responsibility in the community I live in”.
We know from listening to our members that some people do find some parts of the oath challenging and when members do make that oath we want them to mean and believe it.
On learning of the consultation, Williams from Christian Concern said:
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.
Last month, the Scout Association announced it had also launched a consultation to see if its members would support an alternative Scout Promise for atheists, who are unwilling to pledge a “duty to God”.
And last year the Girl Guides in Australia dropped their allegiance to both God and the Queen, agreeing to serve their community and be true to themselves instead.
The Guides’ consultation will close on March 3.