UK Girl Guides leaders advised not to say grace before meals to avoid offending non-Christians

Girl Guides leaders in the United Kingdom have been reportedly advised against saying grace before meals to avoid offending non-Christians and atheists and were instead told to use a statement that does not pertain to any faith.

(REUTERS / Mansi Thapliyal)A schoolgirl (C) prays before having her free mid-day meal, distributed by a government-run primary school, in New Delhi July 5, 2013.

The controversial guidance urged leaders to consider the feelings of non-Christians and those who have no faith. When it comes to singing, the leaders were advised to alter the lyrics of faith-based songs in the name of inclusivity, Premier relayed.

"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 Girl Guides leaders were told. "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.'"

Church of England General Synod member Alison Ruoff criticized the advice to Girl Guides as "absolute nonsense" and told the Mail that it seemed the organization was attempting to "whitewash" the Christian faith. Girlguiding chief executive Julie Bentley, on the other hand, told the publication that their group was always open to atheists and girls from all kinds of faiths.

The former Girl Guides Association also sparked controversy late last month after advising leaders that transgenders could share showers and toilets with female members. They should also be allowed to share tents and cabins with girls, The Daily Mail reported.

The new policy was announced after the organization changed its rules to permit transgender girls who were male at birth to also be part of the group. In the advice posted on the Girlguiding UK website, the association explained that using gendered facilities "can cause anxiety."

Another reason why the new policy had sparked controversy was because the parents of young Guides would not be automatically informed if their daughters were sharing showers, toilets, and rooms with a transgender. Critics warned that the new guidelines could threaten the safety and privacy of the girls.