Episcopal Activism: Girls Scouts of the United States

As the Girl Scouts of the United States (GS-USA) celebrates its 100th anniversary, it struck The Motley Monk as somewhat odd to read in the Washington Post that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) would be launching an official inquiry into the organization.

“Surely something’s awry here,” The Motley Monk thought as he read the headline in the Washington Post.  “They’ve certainly got bigger fish to fry than this.”


Well, it appears, this official inquiry is extremely important.

So, what’s the big problem?

The inquiry is to be conducted by the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.  In a March 28, 2012 letter sent to his fellow bishops by the Committee’s Chairman, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne, IN, the Committee will be examining the  Girl Scouts’ “possible problematic relationships with other organizations” and  various “problematic” program materials that conflict with Church teaching.

According to a Visiting Fellow in Catholic studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Mary  Rice Hasson, GS-USA has not been responsive to its critics and has been “whitewashing” programs and policies that contradict church teaching.  Hasson said:

They just repeated the Girl Scouts’  denials.  Families’ concerns were minimized or  ignored.

A collision  course is probably a good description of where things are headed.  The leadership of the Girl Scouts is reflexively liberal.  Their board is  dominated by people whose views are antithetical to the teachings of the  Catholic Church.

GS-USA argues that the concerns raised by Catholic critics are recycled complaints that GS-USA has denied repeatedly and categorically.  GS-USA spokeswoman, Michelle  Tompkins, said:

I know we’re  a big part of the culture wars.  People use our good name to advance their own agenda.

For  us, there’s an overarching sadness to it.  We’re just trying to  further girls’ leadership.”

GS-USA maintains that it has no partnership with Planned Parenthood, and doesn’t take positions regarding sexuality, birth control, or abortion.  However, GS-USA is a member of the 145-nation World Association of Girl Guides and Girl  Scouts (WAGGGS) which does maintain that girls  and young women “need an environment where they can freely and openly discuss issues of sex and sexuality.”  WAGGGS also has called for increased access to condoms to protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Critics allege that GS-USA materials contain links to groups such as Doctors without Borders, the Sierra Club and  Oxfam which support family planning or emergency  contraception.  In addition, EWTN has alleged that an International Planned Parenthood  brochure was made available to girls attending a Girl Scout workshop at a 2010 United Nations event.  The brochure—“Healthy, Happy and Hot”—advised young  people with HIV about how to engage in so-called “safe sex” and to lead sexually active lives.  Lastly, GS-USA offers a patch honoring the Hispanic labor organizer Dolores Huerta, who received an award in 2007 from Planned Parenthood.

The Girl Scouts’ Delores Huerta Patch


It’s estimated that 25% of the 2.3M GS-USA members are Catholic.  If the complaints being lodged against the organization are accurate, the USCCB should be concerned that these materials may be making their way into parish-based Girl Scout troops and investigate whether that’s happening.

It may not be all about selling cookies.

The Motley Monk asks: Why should the bishops not be inquiring into GS-USA?



To read the Washington Post article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:

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  1. What a shame that this investigation has become necessary. Growing up in Baltimore in the 50’s I was a member of my parish’s Brownie and Girl Scout troops. Scouting supported the values of our society: hard work, altruism, respect for the dignity of all, an appreciation other cultures, self motivation, physical fitness, patriotism, and virtue. Merit badges encouraged us to explore interests, develop skills, and feel satisfaction in achieving a goal. It promoted kindness, confidence, and self esteem.

    It seems scouting still supports the values of our society, many of which are no longer Christian values.

  2. Girl Scouting in America in 2012 has a huge quality control issue that the organization simply hopes will go away.

    If you are lucky enough to have your duaghter involved in a troop where the leaders remember Scouting in the 50’s and 60’s, your duaghter’s leader may just go against all of the “stuff” Journey books, pull out her old GS handbooks and commit organizational treason to provide your duaghter with the experience CFS recalls.

    If your daughter’s sponsoring organization is a Catholic school or parish, your duaghter’s leader may just make sure that the Girl Scout experience reflects some of that Catholic identity.

    Understand though, that to do this, your daughter’s leader has to review and edit all of the current GS material, do battle with inane bureaucrats in the Girl Scout organization and — all the while — explain to fellow parishioners that she is not in league with Satan. All of this because some of us remember what Girl Scouting was supposed to be about and are foolish enough to think that we can make a difference.

    For the past ten years, every time I raised a concern that GS was not being inclusive or supportive of Catholic beliefs and went up the chain of command in Girl Scouting, the powers that be would point to the association with NCYFM and tell me that all was okay. Effectively “shut up and go away”. Every time I would talk to NCYFM, the answer would be that they were in dialog with GS and that everything was okay. Effectively “shut and go away”.

    Personally, I am delighted that the bishops are willing to undertake this investigation. If their conclusion is that Catholics of good faith should distance themselves from Girl Scouting, I will welcome it. If the conclusion is fight on, I will do my best.

  3. The Shaw family is comprised of sons. All were Boy Scouts. We saw no evil in the Scouts.

    A Boy Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. No liberal qualifies. He does not meet any of the aforementioned. That’s likely the motivation behind ministries of truth vicious attacks against the BSA.

    Anyhow, no more GS cookies.

  4. There are at least two Christian-based girls’ organizations that I know of that present themselves as alternatives to the Girl Scouts.

    The best known and best organized is American Heritage Girls, which is set up very similar to the Girl Scouts with troops, merit badges, etc. Most groups are affiliated with evangelical Protestant churches but in browsing their website I found at least two groups in the Chicago area and one in the St. Louis area that are affiliated with Catholic parishes. For more information visit http://www.ahgonline.org/

    The other is the Little Flowers Girls Club, an explicitly Catholic, loosely organized group that caters to homeschooling families. They follow a 3- to 4-year curriculum of sorts based on education in various virtues and are geared toward girls ages 5 to 10. My daughter and I belonged to one of these groups for a time and enjoyed it because it was very informal. More information can be found here: http://www.eccehomopress.com/Little-Flowers-Home.html

  5. Also worth noting:

    — In May 2011 Bp. Thomas G. Doran of Rockford, Ill. endorsed formation of American Heritage Girls troops in parishes of his diocese and appointed a diocesan priest as an official chaplain for that purpose.

    — The BSA and AHG have a “mutual support” agreement whereby troops may share resources and organize joint activities. It appears that the Boy Scouts have more or less adopted AHG as their official “sister” organization for all practical purposes.

  6. The GSA leadership has been in the grip of radical feminists for at least 20 years. I’m pleased to hear that somebody is finally noticing. By the way — the last thing in the world that it’s about is helping the girls have fun. Not according to the leadership, anyway. It is all about power — and leftist sexuality. And I do believe they edited the word “God” out of their pledge …

  7. I have had 2 sons in the Boy Scouts, each of whom advanced to Life Scout (1 giant-step short of Eagle). I was an Assistant Scoutmaster, but primarily a counselor for Ad Altare Dei and Pope Pius X (Catholic religious recognition programs offered to Boy Scouts) for 10 years. I have always been impressed by the Boy Scouts’ focus on character and service. It is real and it is effective. (Unfortunately, I did not see such focus in the Venturing program offered by the Boy Scouts.) I have seen many fine young men flourish with the Boy Scouts.

    My daughter was in Girl Scouts for a few years but dropped out. I saw nothing in the Girl Scouts program that was comparable to Boy Scouts.

    It is unfortunate that people assume that the Girl Scouts is ‘the girls version of Boy Scouts’. They are related by name but by little else.

  8. “It is all about power — and leftist sexuality. And I do believe they edited the word “God” out of their pledge …” My mother bought a ton of Girl Scout cookies. My daughter sold cookies at a truck stop for five hours one Saturday. Then she learned that the troop got 10%. I would have donated $10.00 for all the sweat. Hawking cookies is not a learning experience. Girl Scouts has become equal to Hitler’s Youth Corps, indoctrinating the captive audience of minor children without their parents knowledge. Thank God for the USCCB keeping vigilance on the purity of our youth.

  9. Please pray that the USCCB has the courage to make the correct decisions regarding the future of girls. The GS Journey program actually has PORN such as a girl spraying her crotch and spreading her hands and saying welcome to paradise gentlemen. Last clip in this drug, homosexual, violent sex and mock of Our Lord is a clip that says…You’ll be catching the Lords balls. God is compared to Karl Marx. This filth can be found in the Journey book for 4th and 5th grade girls on page 27 of Agent of Change. Parents have trusted the NFCYM and Bob McCarty to be an oversight of the GS. What a mistake that has been as the GS were given a green light for their liberal,progressive,feminist agenda. Girls are told on page 25 of the Journey book Media to go to MEDIA MATTERS for their facts about issues. What??? Next page tells girls that is they in fact are a girl of a different religion,race,ethnicity or SEXUAL IDENTITY??? This subtle push to lesbianism is very clever and who they now are. The end can never justify the means and therefore no Catholic girl can be a mbr. of the GS. Please pray for the courage that the USCCB will need to get the correct decision made. In the NFCYM a GS can be found on the board. Fox in the hen house so to speak. Lots of info for discerning parents such as http://www.100questionsforthegirlscouts.org http://www.honestgirlscouts.com http://www.speaknowgirlscouts.com wwwgirlscoutswhynot.com Parents are the true vicars of their children and must make themself aware of what the GS have become. He who controls the youth of our country controls the country. They are well aware of their agenda and goal. How many know that….Between an agreement of Janet Napolitino and GSUSA Michelle Tompkins that all girls are mbrs. of the YOUTH CORP??? Be afraid, be very afraid. Good parents and morality are stumbling blocks to PP. Girl Scouts wants us to accept the unthinkable and to in fact embrace it as perfectly normal. They have awakened the parents and prayers will carry us through.

  10. It’s such a shame what has happened to the GS. My grandmother was a scout and a troop leader, back in the “good old days”. My mother was a scout and troop leader. I was a scout. By the time I came along (end of the 70’s-80’s) things had already changed and I was even as a child uncomfortable with some of the things I was hearing. I dropped out before high school. I have three daughters and over my dead body will they be involved in the GS. Kudos to the Boy Scouts for sticking to their guns.

  11. @Elaine Krewer

    There are two more options you forgot.

    Challenge Clubs (age 11-16 / often classed more as youth ministry but similar to Girl Scouts)

    K4J (younger, about 5-12 / generally marketed as co-ed but there is no rule saying you can’t do just girls and I have seen it done)

    Disclaimer: I have written stuff for Conquest Clubs which is the male version of Challenge.

  12. The Bishops are WAY behind, but better late than never. GS-USA has been run by extreme feminists who promote the culture of death for many years. They ALWAYS start with indoctrinating the children – schools, GS, etc. The Boy Scouts are constantly under pressure to give in to the spirit of the times.

  13. I have been a Girl Scout Leader for 20 years now. starting with my daughter’s troop (she was in it for all 13 years), I have also held positions as Organizer, Event Co-ordinator, Council Delegate, Master Trainer and Task Force Committee member for re-writing/updating Outdoor Education training for leaders. Yes, the program we knew up to 4 or 5 years ago was a good program IF the troop had good leaders. RE: Mike Tefft – your daughter did not have the type of leader she should have had – however any parent can step up and be a co-leader within the troop – so Mike–should have gotten involved and your daughters troop would have been better. The sphere that I am in is a Catholic parish within the Archdiocese of Chicago. I also serve on my parish council, at the deanery meeting, and a few parish functions. IF you want the program to reflect your morals and values (and the Catholic Church) you must step up and involve yourself as a parent and as a Catholic. IF you are dissatisfied with an organization that your believe has value but might be going the wrong direction, then it is our responsiblity to step in and right the wrong. Due to changes in the last few years I have resigned from being a GS coucil delegate and leader trainer (I still train Outdoor Ed)and have told them why I resigned – because the programming is going in the wrong direction. I have since stood on a soapbox at service unit meetings in defense of the original values Juliette Low started with her first troop in Savannah. I believe if she saw the new badge books and the “Journey” books that have come out this past year – she would spin in her grave. I have pointed out to the multitudes that the new books are not required – they are one option – and use your best judgement – all while enforcing the option of religious medal programs available or constructing your own program from old badge books. I have recently started a multi-level age group Girl Scout troop in our parish to focus on the good programming that exists with Girl Scouts while omitting the new liberal garbage that is coming out of GSUSA. I also denouce the relationship with the council’s relationship with United Way since they have dubious connections. It comes down to our God-Given free will. Look at what the good Girl Scouts has to offer-leave the rest behind – use common sense. To be a Girl Scout all you have to do is except the Girl Scout Promise and Law (and $12 registration fee) and RE: Tony Esolen: God has not been taken out of the Promise – there is merely an allowance for other faiths to substitute “Allah” etc. and back to Mike Tefft: Girl Scouts is not the same as Boy Scouts – it never has been – to those who only understand Boy Scout programming – yes there are some similarities but the pedegogy of boys is different than girls and Girl Scouts programming if used in the correct way and with common sense is just as valuable to girls as Boy Scouting is to boys. Again – bottom line is the involvement of the parents and the parents/family involvement within their church. One of our 1st graders last week answered the question (when discussing gs law – respect authority) – who is the most important authority person you know —-the answer given: Jesus. There you have it.

  14. If you do a little research on the internet you will find these sites among others. It is true that not every Girl Scout group is a partner of Planed Parenthood or uses its sex education materials but some do.

    Watch this video
    This is Planned Parenthood’s program for sexual education

    UN, Planned Parenthood Push Sex Rights for Ten-Year Old Kids

    Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood – YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppX6oXCmHF4
    33 sec – Oct 24, 2011 – Uploaded by GirlScoutsWhyNot GSUSA CEO Kathy Cloninger confirms the partnership between Girl Scouts and Planned …

    Girl Scouts Distribute Planned Parenthood Sex Guide at UN …
    http://www.infowars.com/girl-scouts-distribute-planned-parenthood-sex-…- Similarto Girl Scouts Distribute Planned Parenthood Sex Guide at UN …Mar 11, 2010 … Planned Parenthood (NEW YORK – C-FAM) The World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides hosted a no-adults-welcome panel at the …

    Girl Scouts Why Not. http://www.girlscoutswhynot.com/ Girl Scouts admits relationship with Planned Parenthood. Girl Scout CEO Kathy Cloninger admits to a relationship between Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood …

    Pro-life Waco

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