The Girl Guides of England, the British equivalent to the U.S.’ Girl Scouts, have modified their membership pledge to accomodate atheist members and prospective members, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
“We knew that some people found our Promise confusing on this point and that it discouraged some girls and volunteers from joining us,” Chief Guide Gill Slocombe told the AP. “We hope that 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.”
According to the British newspaper the Sun, the Guides’ pledge will now ask members to “be true to myself and develop my beliefs,” replacing the phrase “to love my God,” which was adopted in 1994. Slocombe said to the AP that the organization received responses from 44,000 members after issuing a call for consultations on changing the pledge.
The Guides, which were founded in 1910, also issued a slight change in their pledge of service to Queen Elizabeth II, replacing the phrase, “to serve my queen and my country” with a promise to “serve the queen and my community.”
Andrew Copson, head of the British Humanist Association, told Huffington Post UK his group felt the new pledge put members’ personal integrity on equal ground to responsibility to their communities.
“We wholeheartedly welcome the progressive step that Girlguiding have taken today of making their movement genuinely open to all, including the large number of girls and young women who don’t believe in any God,” Copson said to the Post.
Founded in 1910, the Guides currently have 546,406 members, who are split into four separate sub-groups serving members ranging from 5 to 25 years of age.
[Image: Girl Guides in Brixam, Devon, UK in 1944, via Wikipedia Commons]