The Girl Scouts have been the topic of much discussion among conservatives lately, and it's pretty much been determined that the little badge-wearing ladies are tiny minions of terror who run around spreading sexxxy liberal propaganda. Well, thank God, now the Catholic Church is getting involved and has decided to investigate the Girls Scouts organization for all their sinful ways—and, no, unfortunately we're not talking about the sinful deliciousness of Thin Mints.
In what is the highest-level and most legitimate attack on the Girl Scouts organization yet, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will launch an official inquiry into the group. They're concerned that various program materials used by the Scouts have been offensive to the Catholic faith and that the Girl Scouts have affiliated themselves with other unsavory groups. God, first the Vatican came for the nuns, and now the bishops are coming for the Girl Scouts. It's almost tempting to think the Catholic Church has a problem with women…
Naturally, the Scouts, who are a secular organization but who have a number of troops sponsored by parishes and many members who are Catholic, have denied any wrongdoing—but why should we believe anything the 100-year-old institution says, when we can turn to Google and find a few shreds of very unconvincing evidence that they're up to no good?
The Girl Scouts can't be totally surprised by this latest attack, since they've been the subject of numerous exceedingly ridiculous "scandals" lately. The most public symptom of this came from Bob Morris, the Indiana State Representative who wrote an absurd open letter claiming that he'd gone on Google and found disturbing evidence that the Girl Scouts have a "close strategic affiliation" with known evil-does Planned Parenthood. (They do not.) But there have been many other conservatives who've taken issue with the Girl Scouts, over the Planned Parenthood connection and over things like the fact that they've allowed transgender girls to participate. Yes, including everyone—how positively unchristian.
This inquiry by the bishops will retread some of that same territory and probably blaze some new, freshly horrible trails into the dark heart of the Girl Scout organization. It will be conducted by their Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and will probe the Scouts' "possible problematic relationships with other organizations," along with investigating "problematic" materials used in their programs. This is part of a broader effort by the bishops to inspect outside groups that have ties to the church.
So what exactly is the Church's problem with the Girl Scouts? One of the biggest worries is that the Girl Scouts of the USA are a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (which is made up of scouts from 145 nations). WAGGGS has said that young women "need an environment where they can freely and openly discuss issues of sex and sexuality," and it has also promoted access to condoms to prevent the spread of disease. Gasp! Naturally, conservatives, including Catholics, feel that GSUSA should renounce WAGGGS, but they have so far refused. Anna Maria Chaves, the CEO of the Girl Scouts, says,
Our world is becoming smaller and our young people need to have those opportunities to engage with their peers from around the world. But simply being a member does not mean that we will always take the same positions or endorse the same programs as WAGGGS.
Well, apparently it does in the eyes of many conservatives, who are unwilling or unable to understand that it is possible to be a member of an organization without subscribing to 100 percent of its beliefs—that's particularly rich given the number of Catholics who regularly use birth control, but I digress.
Some of the other complaints have to do with the fact that the Girl Scouts also deign to mention such organizations as Doctors without Borders, the Sierra Club and Oxfam in their materials. Why is this a problem? Besides the fact that they're out there helping people, which is clearly diametrically opposed to the stated mission of Christianity. It's, of course, because they support family planning and/or emergency contraception. It's upsetting, I know. If you need to take a moment to collect yourself, go right ahead.
Another major complaint is related to a brochure entitled "Healthy, Happy and Hot," which was created by International Planned Parenthood Federation and designed to give advice to young people with HIV on how to lead safe, active sex lives. The brochure was available at a Girl Scout workshop that was part of a United Nations event in 2010, which caused a lot of people to freak the fuck out. The Girl Scouts have said they had no knowledge of the brochure and weren't involved in handing it out, and yet they're somehow still blamed. Looks like they need to work on earning that mind-reading badge so they can avoid future incidents like these.
Yet another scandalous event occurred when a Girl Scout blog suggested that girls read an article about Anna Maria Chavez—who is Catholic, bee tee dubs—in Marie Claire. The blog had the nerve to link to the Marie Claire home page where visitors found tons of scandalous things, including a sex advice article. Oh, the horror! But seriously, are you kidding me? Are Girl Scouts now forbidden from standing at the grocery store checkout when shopping with their mothers? They should be, to protect them from all the salacious material one finds in the pages of
the Devil's periodicals.
If you want to hear a real doozy, take a listen to Jody Geenan who has been a troop leader in Wisconsin for 14 years. She has three daughters who were all Girl Scouts, and she spoke to the Washington Post about her complaints. You see, the program materials the Scouts have been using in recent years don't sit well with her. For example, they had the gall to offer a patch that honored Hispanic labor organizer Dolores Huerta. That was a problem for some Catholics because Huerta was the recipient of an award from Planned Parenthood in 2007. If you're holding something heavy, now would be a good time to slam it down on the table and yell "What is wrong with these people?" But as petty and small as these concerns might seem to some of us—especially considering how much the Girl Scouts get right and how much good they do—Geenen is worried about the future of the organization: "I love the Girl Scouts. But it can't remain the way it is." Actually, it probably can, but that's a discussion for another time.
So back to the bishops. They've launched this investigation, but where does that leave the Girl Scouts and their leadership? Some of them are understandably frustrated. Gladys Padro-Soler, who has the unenviable task of being their director of inclusive membership strategies, says, "It's been hard to get the message out there as to what is true when distortions get repeated over and over." One can only imagine. But mostly it's just upsetting to the women who work hard to make the Girl Scouts work. Spokeswoman Michelle Tompkins says,
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.
Well, that might be your first mistake right there, since the Catholic Church isn't historically known for promoting leadership by women. Anyway, the Girl Scouts have actually been quite amenable over the years to working with the Church on any issues that arise, and they've made accommodations in the past. Let's hope the bishops will calm down once they've got all the information—which, it bears repeating, will show that GSUSA has absolutely zero connection to Planned Parenthood and is not perpetrating evil left and right.
However, if the inquiry comes back with a negative finding, it could have a serious effect. The Girl Scouts say that about a quarter of their youth members are Catholic, and if they all up and left on the bishops' recommendation that could be a substantial blow to the organization's already declining membership. It is possible that if the bishops don't like what they find, they could spur a migration over to the American Heritage Girls instead, which you may remember is a lovely "Christ-centered" group which offers all of the fun of the Girl Scouts without any of the dark sexual corruption and Godless learning. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the bishops are satisfied with what they find and don't decide to subject a generation of young Catholics to spending time with the American Heritage Girls—since their cookies probably suck.