The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas is severing ties with Girl Scouts of the USA based largely on a misunderstanding of their ties to Planned Parenthood and their suggestion that Gloria Steinem could be a role model for girls.
The Kansas City Star reports that on Monday, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann released a statement asking that pastors of the Archdiocese start transitioning Girl Scout troops out of church spaces and to refuse to promote them in church newsletters. There is also a ban on cookie sales. Naumann encouraged religious leaders to push the congregation towards American Heritage Girl troops, an alternative to the secular Girl Scouts that was founded in 1995.
Naumann’s biggest complaint is against the organization’s ties to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, an international group that Naumann says donates a million dollars a year to Planned Parenthood. Many people reading this will say, “Good for them,” but the actions of WAGGGS have little to do with the decisions made by organizers of Girl Scouts of the USA, and accusations of their collusion with PP have been a headache in states across the country, according to the Washington Post.
In their FAQ on social issues, the Girl Scouts explain that their membership with WAGGGS is “akin to the United States’ relationship with the United Nations.” They don’t necessarily agree with everything the organization does, but their connection affords many opportunities for travel and positive interaction with other Scouts around the world. They also say no money from cookie sales or membership dues go towards paying the fees for WAGGGS.
But it isn’t just a tenuous connection to support for women’s health that has Naumann’s robes in a bunch. In general, he takes umbrage with “programs and materials reflective of many of the troubling trends in our secular culture” and the education at GSUSA:
Margaret Sanger, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem are frequently held up in materials as role models for young Scouts. These as well as many other “role models” in the GSUSA’s new manuals and web content not only do not reflect our Catholic worldview but stand in stark opposition to what we believe.
GSUSA has apparently edited some of its materials in response to complaints from the Archdiocese, but Naumann says that “it is disturbing such an intervention” was necessary. He continued, “We prefer to partner with youth organizations that share our values and vision for youth ministry, not ones that we have to monitor constantly to protect our children from being misled and misinformed.”
What sorts of activities have the Girl Scouts been up to? According to former Scout leader from the area, Maria Walters, they’ve been led in all sorts of hellfire directions:
Walters said her parish has had a Girl Scout troop for at least 25 years.
“They’ve done a father-daughter dance that has been a huge success,” she said. “And they do service projects at Children’s Mercy, animal shelters, battered women’s shelters, the Ronald McDonald House and projects around the parish.”
Supporters, like Deacon Dana Nearmyer, the archdiocese’s director of evangelization, say that the change will be as gentle as possible, phasing them out over several years.
“We’re trying to make it as pastoral and gradual as we can,” Nearmyer said, “There’s no malice at all.”
Boys Scouts are still welcome in the parish.