The new godless Girlguide promise is “divisive and hurtful” and should be scrapped, churches in Northern Ireland have said.
Meanwhile a Church of England vicar in Newcastle has said the Girlguides sponsored at his church will continue to use the old promise.
In September, Girlguiding UK officially introduced a new secular promise, replacing “to love my God” with “to be true to myself and develop my beliefs”.
The vast majority of Girlguide groups in Northern Ireland meet in church buildings.
The Methodist, Presbyterian and Church of Ireland denominations have joined together to voice their “deep concern” about the move.
An online petition urging Girlguiding Ulster to reinstate the old promise, and make an atheist pledge optional, has already been signed by more than 1000 people.
Andrew Brannigan, who is head of a youth department in a Church of Ireland diocese, is urging more church leaders to join the campaign.
He said: “Unless churches act now, this new Promise and all the threat that it is to our partnership with Guides, will be here to stay.”
He also said the Chief Guide has written to Guiding leaders saying they were already setting in place financial help for groups wishing to leave churches that ‘no longer support them’.
Peter Hitchens said in his Mail on Sunday column it was “splendid news” that the Church of Ireland is “flatly refusing” to accept the new God-free promise.
Revd David Holloway, vicar of Jesmond Parish Church in Newcastle, heavily criticised the new promise, saying it goes against the charitable object of Girlguiding which includes a commitment to help girls develop spiritually.
He also said that Church of England law forbids “vain” or “rash” promise making, and so for his church to endorse this pledge could be illegal.
TV presenter and writer Victoria Coren said the move by the Girlguides seems a “mean trick to play” on churches that allow their halls to be used for Brownie and Guide meetings.
A Girlguides group in Harrogate is also refusing to stop using the old promise, and has been backed by Bishop Nazir-Ali.
He said this group and others who wish to continue to use the original promise should be allowed to do so.