The Girl Guides have nothing to do with religion and they never have done

Anyone feeling nostalgic for the old wording of the Girl Guides' oath should remember the real joy of guiding is in meeting new friends and learning new skills

Share
Related Topics

The latest change to the wording of the Girl Guides’ “Promise” is the 11th in the organisation’s 103-year history. The last time was in 1994 and I don’t remember it making the headlines, but, as an ex-Guide, I can see why the decision to drop “love my God” in favour of a more inclusive Promise “to be true to myself and develop my beliefs” is causing quite a stir.

The good thing is that the announcement has put Guiding back on the agenda, and if removing any reference to religion means more girls adding to the 550,000 who are already members, then I am all for it. Guiding is such a brilliant thing for any girl to get involved in. And modern guiding – “the ultimate feminist organisation”, according to its head Julie Bentley – strikes me as a fantastic antidote to celebrity culture.

Personally, I don’t recall in my Guiding years in the 1980s that it was the Promise to God that put my non-Guide friends off joining. It was more the uniform and seemingly nerdy activities that prevented them from even considering it, let alone making a Promise. The fact that make-up wasn’t allowed and that we hardly ever got to mingle with the boys in the local Scouts probably left many of them thinking, what was the point? I certainly don’t remember a single friend outside of Guides saying that it was any religious reference made them think twice about donning the uniform.

I wasn’t from a religious family, and for me Guides wasn’t about religion. And I doubt it has been for any girl who has guided since. Guides was about meeting new friends from different backgrounds and from outside of school, learning new skills, working towards badges, joining in community activities and fundraising. My memories are of a lot of laughing and the annual camping trip where the only chance for a shower all week was on the day we visited the local town’s swimming baths. It wasn’t regarded as a Christian organisation even if to love or serve God had been part of the movement since it began in 1910.

Guides gave you the confidence to try new skills in a safe and caring environment, with recognised rewards in the form of badges for different activities. It might sound corny but we had shared goals – a social code of conduct, not a religious one. Helping old ladies across the road isn’t anything to do with religion but a sense of community. That’s what mattered then, and that’s what matters now.

I’ve always been in favour of girls joining the Guides but then again I guess I was rather nerdy and super-keen, and I was sad when I had to leave when I reached the age of 16. God never bothered me.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Syrian refugee 'Nora' with her two month-old daughter. She was one of the first Syrians to come to the UK when the Government agreed to resettle 100 people from the country  

Open letter to David Cameron on Syrian refugees: 'Several hundred people' isn't good enough

Independent Voices
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Could Ukip turncoat Amjad Bashir be the Churchill of his day?

Matthew Norman
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project