British Girl Guides scrap oath to God, keep the queen

LONDON (AFP) - Britain's Girl Guides movement said on Wednesday it was scrapping its oath to God in an attempt to broaden its appeal, although members will still pledge allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II.

The voluntary organisation, which boasts half a million members as part of a 10-million-strong global movement, has unveiled a new version of "The Promise" after a three-month consultation.

From September, guides will pledge "to be true to myself and develop my beliefs" rather than "to love my God".

And they will promise "to serve the queen and my community" instead of "to serve the queen and my country".

"We hope 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," chief guide Gill Slocombe said in a statement.

The Promise was last updated in 1994.

Australia's Girl Guides last year scrapped oaths to God and the queen, choosing instead to "be true to myself" and "serve my community and Australia".

The Girl Guides Association was formed in 1910 under the leadership of Agnes Baden-Powell, the sister of Robert Baden-Powell who founded the Scouts, a voluntary organisation for boys.

The Scouts in Britain are also looking into the wording of their Promise, including how to accomodate people who do not believe in God, and a decision is expected next month.

"We do not plan to change the core Promise but to offer an option for those who are without faith but wish to be part of the Scout movement," a spokesman said.

There are an estimated 10 million members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, from 144 countries, all sharing the same basic principles and values encouraging the self-development of young women.

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