A Girl Guides group who wants to continue using the longstanding promise to ‘love God’ are facing expulsion from the national association.
Under new Guide rules, girls can only promise to “be true to myself and develop my beliefs”, rather than “to love my God”.
The 37th Newcastle Guide Unit who wants to give girls the choice of using either the traditional promise or the new version – has been told their membership will end on 31 December.
Glynis Mackie, who has led the group for over 25 years, says the move “is an example of faith being sidelined in society”.
“They are trying to force us out of Girl Guiding with no process”, she commented, adding: “The girls are really incredibly angry and they just want their voices to be heard”.
“This is the first substantial change to the promise in the 103-year history of the Girl Guides”, she added.
The change to the promise, which has faced criticism in the media, sparked 839 official complaints.
Mackie says she wants the girls to “have a choice”, but that a letter from the organisation on the issue was “surprisingly aggressive”.
“I imagine changing the pledge was intended to include more people, but what it is actually doing is excluding those who have faith”, she commented.
Gill Slocombe, the Chief Guide, said: “Girl guiding is extremely sorry to hear of any Guide group leaving our organisation.
“By changing the wording of our promise, after an extensive consultation with over 44,000 people, we have opened our arms to welcome even more girls and adults – of all faiths and none – who will benefit from all the fantastic things we do in girl guiding.”
The new Guides’ promise has previously been criticised as “stubborn, self-important and faintly aggressive”.
Writer and TV presenter Victoria Coren said the phrase “be true to myself” does not mean anything, but carries a suggestion of something “utterly individualistic”.
And commentator Melanie Phillips said the Guides’ change was “nothing other than secular totalitarianism”.