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A Girl Scout on Girl Scouting (And the Bishops)

by Christine Miranda, Communications Intern

When I was nine, I was a Girl Scout. Clad in the trademark green sash, I sold cookies outside grocery stores and sang songs by summer campfires. Like most things from elementary school, scouting didn't stick with me for long, but I did retain my fair share of homemade crafts and fond memories. (My mother, a veteran Scout, and her mother, currently one of 800,000 adult Scout volunteers, saw to that.)

Amid the recent sea of headlines about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Girl Scouts of the USA surprisingly became the latest addition to the list of apparent church adversaries. Announced in May, the USCCB is investigating claims that the GSUSA has ties with Planned Parenthood and is otherwise affiliated with a liberal agenda.

Though the GSUSA enjoys favorable public opinion and mainly garners media attention because of its addictively delicious Thin Mints, the Scouts do provoke the occasional conservative critic. Last winter, the historic decision of the Colorado Girl Scouts to insist a local troop welcome a transgender girl provoked backlash and demands for a cookie boycott from anti-LGBT groups who had already long disliked the organization's openness to all women and girls regardless of sexual orientation.

The GSUSA, which this year celebrates its 100th anniversary and boasts a membership of 2.3 million girls grades K-12, has set the record straight, standing by its inclusive policies but denying sensationalist rumors. While local troops have the discretion to tackle "sensitive issues" with parent permission, the accusations that the Girl Scouts scandalize young children with provocative materials is untrue and bizarre, not to mention played-out; the concerns cited by the USCCB attempt to revive isolated controversies from 2004 and 2010 that have since been addressed and dismissed.

The baseless nature of the inquiry by the USCCB is almost as ridiculous as the fact that the Catholic Bishops have taken it upon themselves to police a secular organization to begin with. Though the GSUSA cultivates a faith-friendly atmosphere and local troops frequently cooperate with religious groups, it is not a Catholic institution. About one quarter of Girl Scouts do identify as Catholic, but that hardly makes the USCBB the supreme authority on how the GSUSA should operate.

Since the Bishop's criticisms are clearly unfounded and make use of trite anti-feminist rhetoric, it may seem a silly topic to focus on. However, considered in tandem with the USCCB's current effort to undermine the Leadership Conference for Women Religious and its "radical feminist themes," the attack on Girl Scouts becomes part of patronizing trend that seeks to discredit programs that empower women to be independent leaders. That is not "religious freedom". That is fear of strong women. Women who work together, be it to sell cookies or sing songs or make the world a better place.

Which, incidentally, is what Girl Scouting is all about.

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Comment from: maxxum [Visitor]
“... ridiculous as the fact that the Catholic Bishops have taken it upon themselves to police a secular organization to begin with.”

“... it is not a Catholic institution.”

“... About one quarter of Girl Scouts do identify as Catholic, but that hardly makes the USCBB the supreme authority on how the GSUSA should operate.”

Would this be anything like a non-religious institution trying to dictate policy to religious organizations? It is a little disingenuous when you try to reverse your own arguments.

For those that are wondering what this is all about, I had to search the web for the ‘other side’ of the story.

What seems to be happening is that some (unknown number) of parents were concerned with some of the GSUSA affiliations, namely Planned Parenthood. That the girls are being fed political agendas, are being used as political tools, and in some cases are being used in social experiments (transgender associations). Since the GSUSA in many places around the country use churches and religious sites to promote themselves or for their functions, the Bishops felt they had a right to investigate. Their argument was essentially that since the GSUSA use their [religious] property they must know what that organization represents. The concerned parents were simply the catalyst to the investigation.

I think it’s perfectly acceptable that private organizations have a say in what goes on on their property and what message(s) are given there. For instance, I do not expect N.O.W. to begin posting conservative viewpoints on their main site - though I think it would serve them tremendously to have a more open mind.

As far as transgender kids, I have already stated my feelings on the matter in a previous post, but I will summarize here. I would feel very nervous about sending my thirteen-year-old daughter to a sleepover with a transgender boy for many reasons. Besides the lack of any real (nonpolitical) science, the confusion, possibility of shenanigans, moral implications and mental issues I just don’t think it is in my family’s interest to be involved in that situation. Every major science institution that has looked into it seems to agree on a few things, something went awry, either or both physically and mentally in these children. However, I would not presume to dictate what the GSUSA can and cannot do in most cases and would simply not enroll my daughter in their organization if it did not represent my or my family’s moral views.

As it stands, I do like the GSUSA albeit with a few reservations. I also like when they come visit us at the VA to give out free cookies!
07/12/12 @ 12:26
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Comment from: sarahoreilley [Member] Email
Maxxum--you are good! again the point that needs to come home to NOW is the Catholic church has absolutely every right to look into who is in their buildings & what that organization is doing. The Catholic church has an obligation to reports its findings to its flock. But the funny thing is so many non-Catholics care what (we) Catholics are doing because we have power in numbers. Every organization whats high numbers. even NOW. and I love the Catholic church that says "woman are absolutely blessed, holy & worthy of our praise." I dont get that from NOW. I had friends in GSUSA but i still think it is stupid that all these kids organizations have sleep overs. real unnecessary. There is absolutely alot of immoral stuff that happens between girls "exploring" their sexuality. I would rather see an organization that supports saving oneself for marriage. Planned Parenthood is mostly about not being a parent, pills, death and anti-women stuff. But if a woman wants to be un-female that is the place for it, good resources for transgendered & questioning etc. The values @ PP are mostly anti-Catholic; the church is trying to protect & honor its females. I hope GSUSA will keep up the good will & change their tune if they are being housed in (my) Catholic Church. I have taught classes (on various topics) and most have a Catholic, christian or secular manual. GSUSA should flex! or they too will lose numbers.
08/09/12 @ 19:54
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Comment from: dangerdyke [Member] Email
In case no one has noticed, America is not yet a theocracy. Catholic Bishops have no authority outside of the church. This is a textbook example of why the Founders of America insisted on a complete separation of church and state.

If they want to have a voice in secular (especially political) affairs, then, at the very least, the church needs to lose its tax-exempt status. No religion (cult) has any business trying to legislate my life.
08/28/12 @ 23:50
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Comment from: fr. basil [Member] Email
To respond to a post such as yours "dangerdyke" may be futile. But I believe your comment about the Catholic Church needs to be responded to. You said that the Church "needs to lose its tax-exempt status" because (presumably having a 501 c3 status) "no religion (cult) has any business trying to legislate" your life. Well then, following your logic, N.O.W. and other organizations which carry a tax exempt status--which, by the way, happen to work politically and legislatively--should also lose their tax-exemption status.
I happened to find this fact about N.O.W.:
1.Planned Giving Options | National Organization for Women
www.now.org/planned-giving.html
Planned giving is a tool that allows you to extend your commitment to women and girls ... NOW is tax exempt, but membership dues and donations are not tax ...
2.National Organization for Women
https://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/5996/donate_page/contribute
NOW is a non-profit, tax-exempt membership organization working politically and legislatively to ... National Organization for Women, All rights reserved.
3.National Organization for Women - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Organization_for_Women
The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest feminist ... leave rights in employment and in Social Security benefits, tax deduction for home and ...
Why should women trust NOW, PLANNED PARENTHOOD, or any other organization which only tells one side of the story?
You see, the Catholic Bishops not only know both sides of the story and the public lies regarding what has been termed "women's reproductive rights," and abortion as "women's health care," they are good enough to tell it. And (excuse me) THANK GOD they do tell it. There is no other orgainization on the planet (yes...it is full of sinners, I know! I know.) that has the moral voice and the scope of authority, and the universality to tell the world what contraception and abortion truly does to destroy women, men, children, and families. Politics aside, you know in your heart the bishops are correct to warn everyone of the adverse consequences to children who are exposed to some of the things many in leadership of GSUSA are doing.

And for your information and lest there be any doubt about this fact: priests and bishops pay state and federal taxes.

God bless you. I would like to offer the following for your benefit.
Fr. Basil
www.180movie.com
Also: http://www.directionforourtimes.org/wp-content/uploads/docs/HS%20Abortion%20Body.pdf
09/02/12 @ 01:05
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