Girlguiding groups in the U.K. have been told to avoid thanking God before meals in an apparent attempt to boost inclusivity within the organization.
In an official advice posted on the Girlguiding U.K. website, leaders were told to leave out references to God when praying before meals to avoid offending non-Christians and atheists.
Although the guidance noted that it “may be traditional to say or sing grace before a meal,” it asked Guide leaders to consider “how this might make members who are from a different faith, or have no faith, feel.”
“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,” the guidance stated, according to Premier.
“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,'” it added.
Daily Mail noted that the official advice also asked leaders to avoid singing of songs with “faith-based” lyrics around the campfire.
The new guidance has been denounced by former Guide leaders, including General Synod member Alison Ruoff, who said the idea was “absolute nonsense”
“The Guides are being very foolish in trying to whitewash Christianity, and they must not,” she added.
Girlguiding’s chief executive Julie Bentley explained that the organization has always been accepting of “girls of all faiths or none,” and that the new guidance on praying before meals and singing was updated as part of the changes that it has made to its pledge.
In 2013, the organization announced that Guides will no longer promise to serve God, but pledge instead to be “true to myself and develop my beliefs.”
Girlguiding had also drawn criticism late last month after it announced that teenage boys who identify as female will be able to share showers, changing rooms and toilets with girls on camping trips.
Leaders were reportedly advised not to inform parents if their daughters will be required to share showers and other facilities with boys.
Left-wing feminist campaigner Julie Bindel expressed concern that the move “signifies the end to girl-only space and the safety of girls in single-sex organisations.”
The announcement came after it was revealed in January that the organization has allowed boys who identified as girls to become Guides for the first time.
While the organization has no official ties to any religion, its values has been generally recognized to be Christian, and many of its leaders are said to be Christians who hold meetings in church halls.
Girlguiding, formerly the Girl Guides Association, was founded in 1910 by Christian couple Lord Baden-Powell and his wife Olave.