British Girl Guides drop oath to God, South Africans keep theirs'

(Photo: Reuters / David Moir)A gardener adjusts the arm of the floral clock in the Princes street gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland June 10, 2010. The clock has been arranged to celebrate the centenary anniversary of the Girl Guides.

South Africa's Girl Guides Association will keep their oath to God after the British Girl Guides decided to drop the oath causing a furor for some people in the United Kingdom.

The British Girl Guides announced that from September new members would no longer take an oath "to love God and serve King/Queen."

Chief Guide Gill Slocombe said, "We hope the new wording will help us reach out to girls and women who might not have considered guiding before, so that even more girls can benefit from everything guiding can offer."

Girlguiding UK said on its website that the decision followed an in-depth consultation earlier in the year to make the movement more relevant.


"The wording of the Promise that our girls and volunteers make when they join the organisation is to be updated to make guiding truly open to all girls and women, and to create a space where those of all faiths and none can find a

Britain's Telegraph newspaper reported that Anglican Bishop of Bradford, the Rev. Nick Baines, who accused the Guides of "evacuating the Promise of meaning and filling it with vacuous nonsense."

New members will promise to "be true to myself and develop my beliefs" and "to serve my Queen and my country."

Members take the oath once they are accepted into the Guides and repeat the oath whenever a new member is accepted into the Girl Guides.

Rosemary Swemmer, the director for the Girl Guides in South Africa, believes that the promise "to do my duty to God" is still relevant to South Africa.

She also pointed out that South Africa's Constitution made provision for all versions of God.

Swemmer also explained that each nation's oath was different and was based on the ethos of the country.

Britain's National Secular Society said it has long argued that a secular Promise, without reference to religion, is the most appropriate way forward.

Stephen Evans, campaigns manager at the National Secular Society, said: "The introduction of one secular Promise for all is a hugely positive and welcome development."

The Girl Guides movement was established in Britain more than 100 years ago after Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, decided that girls could not belong to the same organisation as boys.

Girl Scouts in the United States promise to "to serve God and my country" as do the Boy Scouts of America.

After the World War II, Britain's monarch, Queen Elizabeth II her late sister Princess Margaret were regularly seen in the blue uniform of the Girl Guides.

In a growing trend away from religion more than 14 million people in England and Wales told the census-takers in 2011 that they had no religion.

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