Coren: New Guides’ promise ‘individualistic jargon’

The new Girlguiding promise which removes reference to God is “stubborn, self-important and faintly aggressive”, according to writer and TV presenter Victoria Coren.

The new phrase “be true to myself” does not mean anything, but carries a suggestion of something “utterly individualistic”, Victoria Coren said in a piece for The Observer newspaper.

Earlier this year, the Girlguiding movement decided to adopt an atheistic promise for the first time since it began in 1910.


One Guides group in Harrogate has already said it will continue to offer the old promise to “love my God”.

The group received the backing of Bishop Nazir Ali, who said they should be supported in this to show that the new oath isn’t “just a back door to secular totalitarianism”.

Victoria Coren said the new pledge seems a “mean trick to play” on churches that allow their halls to be used for Brownie and Guide meetings.


She said it was “forcing them to choose between continuing to house an organisation that has publicly severed its link with what they stand for, or withdrawing the space and leaving local children with nowhere to gather”.

She also said the oath brings “selfhood looming into the foreground, reducing the rest of the world to passers-by who benefit or suffer by mere coincidence as the individual dream is followed”.

The presenter questioned what kinds of debates and meetings led to this “hollow clump of Californian couch jargon”.


Victoria Coren looked back at her own childhood and mused that her bad behaviour could have been excused if she followed the new promise.

She said, “Every bit of acting up through resentment, impatience, temper, boredom or sadness was “true to myself”.

Columnist Melanie Phillips recently branded the oath as “secular totalitarianism” and said it is now “actively discriminatory” towards Christians.

She said the move by Girl Guiding UK appears to be “just a crude and shallow attempt by the Guiding establishment to rebrand itself as modern, by dumping timeless values”.

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