It has emerged young Guides members are not being invited to thank God during grace, under guidance being issued to leaders in a bid boost inclusivity.
While acknowledging that it “may be traditional to say or sing grace before a meal” during a residential event, the advice urges leaders to consider “how this might make members who are from a different faith, or have no faith, feel.”
It recommends: “If you’d like to say something before a meal, try to think of a statement that doesn’t make reference to any particular god or faith.
“For example, ‘let’s all take a moment to show gratitude for this food and to remember how fortunate we are to have this meal’.”
The idea was dismissed by one member of the Church of England’s General Synod governing body as “absolute nonsense”.
Alison Ruoff also told the Mail on Sunday: “The Guides are being very foolish in trying to whitewash Christianity, and they must not.”
Concerning singing, the ‘Including all faiths at residential events’ guidelines suggest lyrics to faith-based songs could be altered out of consideration for members who follow a different religion.
Chief executive Julie Bentley told the Mail that Girlguiding has “always been open to girls of all faiths and none” and the charity had revised its advice in light of changes to its pledge.
The Promise states: Although we may have different languages, cultures and beliefs, each member makes a commitment to do her best… to develop her spiritual side – whatever she believes or cares about, and to respect the beliefs of others.
Formerly known at the Girl Guides Association, Girlguiding was founded in 1910 by Christian couple Lord Baden-Powell and his wife Olave.