Christian girl guides are revolting; vow to kick a new god-free pledge into the long grass

A GROUP of Christian Girl Guide and Brownies leaders risk being expelled from the movement after publicly refusing to drop God from their traditional promise.

According to this report, a group of leaders from Harrogate, North Yorks, have signalled that they plan to defy the leadership and continue to use the old pledge when the groups meet in their church.

The organisation announced earlier this year that it is to replace its traditional pledge with a new wording, removing references to “God” and “country”. In one of the biggest changes in the movement’s 103-year history, the promise to “love my God” is to be scrapped and replaced with a pledge to “be true to myself” and to “develop my beliefs”.

A stock picture of a happy group of UK girl guides

A stock picture of a happy group of UK girl guides

The group’s patriotic commitment to serving their country is also to be changed to a pledge of allegiance to the “community” in the new promise which comes into force on September 1.

It provoked controversy in some quarters but Gill Slocombe, the Chief Guide, said the new wording should make it easier for the organisation’s 550,000 members to make the promise with sincerity.

Hazel Mitford, who runs the Guide group at St Paul’s United Reformed Church, in Harrogate; Jayne Morrison, the Brownie leader and Alison Ellison, who runs the Rainbow group for younger girls, announced that they will encourage all girls and leaders in their groups to continue to use the original promise.

In a joint letter with the church’s minister, published in the Harrogate Advertiser, they voiced “dismay” at the change and insisted the movement should keep “God at its core”.

But Jem Henderson, a volunteer leader, who is an atheist has accused the women of forcing her to take the old promise, against her conscience.

She is being supported by the National Secular Society, which campaigns against religion in public life. Last year the group successfully won a legal challenge against the use of prayers before council meetings, triggering a national debate about the role of faith in modern Britain.

Miss Henderson, who describes herself on her blog as a “post punk, feminist poet”, said:

The pack leader’s insistence on keeping the old promise excludes me and any atheist girls from the troop, or asks us to lie when making the promise, something that surely goes against the Guiding principles. This demonstrates that the new promise is just for show, and that the Guiding movement, at least in Harrogate, is still excluding people from secular walks of life.

Mrs Mitford declined to commen tbut her letter sets out the women’s stance.

The spiritual aspect is recognised in girlguiding and ‘God’ has been part of the promise since it was founded. The divine is fundamental to everything it stands for. No one need join Girlguiding, so removing the reference to God in the interests of inclusivity removes much of what we stand for.

The letter added:

Girlguiding has God at its core and anyone who has issue with this is free to start their own organisation.

A spokeswoman for Girlguiding confirmed that only the new pledge will be recognised and signalled that the rebel leaders could eventually be forced out if they did not comply.

The members decide to take the promise and to commit to Guiding values, they need to absolutely sure that they believe those values and if they cannot they need to consider their membership of Guiding. It is not September yet so we will cross that bridge when we come to it. We will be working closely with local guiding to make sure that all our members understand what the new promise means to them.

And she insisted:

There will be no alternative promise as our members made very clear in the consultation that there would be one promise for all.

Hat tip: Pete H and BarrieJohn


62 responses to “Christian girl guides are revolting; vow to kick a new god-free pledge into the long grass”

  1. AgentCormac says:

    I look forward to the day when all churches (and their halls) have been turned into places of enlightenment – places where children can actually revel in the possibilities afforded to them by being sentient human beings; places where they can actually celebrate the joy of living rather than spending their days being brow-beaten into cowering before some brutal, judgemental and imaginary deity who just wants to make their lives a bloody misery.

    When that day comes debates like this will, thankfully, finally, have become moot points.

  2. Daz says:


    All my life, I’ve been hearing representatives of the mainstream churches telling me that their particular churches are more than just places of religious worship; they’re part of, and supporters of, the wider community. Now you want to bring it down to nothing but finance?

    But okay…

    What costs will these churches incur by allowing the Guides the use of their halls, now that the Guides aren’t swearing to God, that they didn’t incur before?

  3. Tom80 says:

    I can only speak for where I worship. We cost the running of the Hall at £18 per hour. This includes Insurance (Public Liability etc, heating, lighting, cleaners-It has to be cleaned- and someone to lock & Unlock. We arrived at this figure by knowing what we pay over a year to run the hall and then by the hours it is used. Actually the £18 is slightly less than the actual hourly cost. We compare our fees with those of other halls in the area, not Church run, and they come out at more than ours.

    It does not matter who is using the hall, that is the cost of running it for the time in use. If a Church group uses it at no cost then that £18 has to be found from somewhere and in effect it comes from the money the congregation put on/in the collection tray at every service.

    All Churches wish to support the wider community, of that I am sure, but we still have to pay the “Gas Bill” (for want of a better term) and if an organisation using a Hall is no longer seen to pay any service to God, regardless of how small the connection was before, it is a bit difficult to present the accounts to the congregation at the end of the year and tell them they have subsidised a the hall for the use of an organisation which has removed all reference to God.

    I have tried to explain this as best I can, Hope you understand what I am getting at.

  4. barriejohn says:

    Tom: You must be the most anally retentive visitor that this site has ever had. Heaven forbid that your church should ever GIVE anything to the local community!

    Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

    Can’t think who said that offhand.

  5. Tom80 says:


    We do give to the local community, and the overseas community: Last year we raised about 3K for the local Childrens hospice , and on going we collect for a local food bank.

    But why should we or any other Church allow an organisation to use our premises for nothing, when they have no connection with the Church.? Leicester has a “secular Hall”.Would they allow a Church to use it for services at no cost?

  6. Matt+Westwood says:

    “But why should we or any other Church allow an organisation to use our premises for nothing, when they have no connection with the Church.?”

    There is nothing in the law, morals or social ethics that says the Church shouldn’t be allowed to do what you like with its premises. But if you believe that it will do anything but increase the already considerable contempt and despite that people have for Christianiy as an organisation, you’re an even more stupid bunch of cunts than anbody could ever have believed.

  7. Angela_K says:

    @Tom80. Instead of evicting the Guides – as suggested by the frothing at the mouth bigots like Melanie Phillips of the Daily Mail – why not levy a charge to cover the cost of running these halls, rather than childishly ban them for not recognising a god? I remember my brother’s Scout troop had to pay for the use of a church hall.

  8. Tom80 says:


    Exactly the point I have been making in the my last posts.

  9. Daz says:

    Tom, you appear to miss my point.

    Churches have been giving the Guides free use of their halls in an apparent spirit of community. This has cost them X-amount of money. The cost, regardless of what oath the Guides swear, will, presumably, still still be X-amount. How does this change of wording turn “Supporting the Guides is worth our “loss” of X-amount” into “Supporting the Guides is not worth our “loss” of X-amount”?

  10. Jim says:

    Jem Henderson can begin their own ‘freethinkers’ or ‘secular’ Guide group if they cannot make a pledge with sincerity. I would respect them for that. But no, they must insist everyone (and every institution) must change for them. ‘It’s all about me’, it seems?

  11. Matt+Westwood says:

    @Jim: Oh dear me, another persecuted whinger.

    So because youths with conscience and a rational outlook on life are not prepared to compromise their principles and make an oath to what is at best an outmoded superstitious concept and at worst a non-existent imaginary non-existent being, such people should be disallowed from belonging to a fine traditional youth club with great respect within the community which is able to provide a solid underpinning to one’s emotional and intellectual maturity? Such people should be told to bugger off and play somewhere else, we don’t want such nasty little people in our fine club.

    Which is how it has been up till now. But, hip hip horray, not any more! Your club has now pledged to allow these revolting godless sprogs in, and you and the rest of your persecuted minority are just going to have to suck it up! HAAA-ha!

  12. Janice says:

    How about removing the tax bursaries & other gov’t funding from this church and use it for secular groups. Seeing as they believe all this money is for their “God Fearing” congregation only, then perhaps they should get their funding only from this congregation.
    (that should last them two weeks or so…) That’ll change their tune, fast. Any organization that accepts tax writeoffs, etc. and also excludes members of their society should be charged with some sort of hate crime. EVERYONE’S tax dollars are at use here. Not just the god fearing.