Cut Ties to Girl Scouts, St. Louis Archbishop Urges
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Feb 27, 2016 at 12:01:25 PM EST
Thanks to the attack on the Girl Scouts by  St. Louis' Archbishop Carlson, inquisitive area Catholics want to know: `Can we still buy the cookies?'

Not everyone would elevate it to a matter for serious concern, but St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson's latest broadside takes the cake, and maybe even the cookies. According to numerous reports, including a piece by Jen Hayden, in late-February Carlson issued a letter to area "Priests, Scout Leaders and Faithful of the Archdiocese," warning them against falling prey to ... wait for it ... the Girl Scouts USA, and the parent organization of GSUSA, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).


Archbishop Carlson's letter is loaded with accusations against the Girl Scouts, many of them repeats from previous conservative-initiated  anti-Girl Scout campaigns, many of which go back more than a decade  ( e and h-war-on-cookies-evangelicals-attack-girls-scouts-usa). The letter strings together a Church Enemies list that includes Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan (nice to see her name resurfacing), Amnesty International, Oxfam and others.

According to the Archbishop - who was appointed by Pope Benedict, and is known as being basically conservative both politically and theologically -- a long-term investigation by the Archdiocese of St. Louis, along with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, found:

  1. WAGGGS' continued promotion of contraception and "abortion rights" on behalf of its girl members, the majority of whom are minors

  2. Financial contributions from GSUSA to WAGGGS, based on number of registered GSUSA members

  3. GSUSA resources and social media highlight and promote role models in conflict with Catholic values, such as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.

  4. Organizations that GSUSA promotes and partners with are conflict with Catholic values, such as Amnesty International, Coalition for Adolescent Girls, OxFam and more. This is especially troubling in regards to sex education and advocacy for "reproductive rights" (i.e. abortion and contraceptive access, even for minors)

Part of the Archbishop's letter reads:

"In addition, recent concerns about GSUSA and their position on and inclusion of transgender and homosexual issues are proving problematic. Our culture is becoming increasingly intolerant of a Catholic worldview regarding these issues. While Catholics are called to treat all people with compassion and mercy, we must at the same time be mindful of whom we allow to teach and form our youth and the messages they present."

"Girl Scouts is exhibiting a troubling pattern of behavior and it is clear to me that as they move in the ways of the world it is becoming increasingly incompatible with our Catholic values. We must stop and ask ourselves -- is Girl Scouts concerned with the total well-being of our young women? Does it do a good job forming the spiritual, emotional, and personal well-being of Catholic girls?"

The letter closes with: "Effective immediately, I am disbanding the Catholic Committee on Girl Scouts and instead forming a Catholic Committee for Girls Formation that will be charged with ministry to all girls in various organizations. While continuing to serve our Catholic girls involved in various scouting programs, this committee will also reflect our ongoing commitment to educating and forming all young women.

"I am aware that many of our young women are active in Girl Scouts and any action taken against the organization affects them first. To aid in this process, the Catholic Youth Apostolate is available to offer assistance in helping your parish. They are continuing to strategize new Catholic formation programs to address the spiritual, emotional and personal well-being of all Catholic girls."

No stranger to right-wing attacks, the Girl Scouts "have a website ( explaining that they are not actually a lesbianism-conversion-abortion-orgy group and they heavily emphasize that being religious is perfectly normal in Girl Scouts, and that they even have a badge to reward girls who undertake religious study," Salon's Amanda Marcotte recently pointed out ( t_missive_in_the_creepy_sexualized_right_wing_war_on_the_youth_gr oup_comes_from_a_st_louis_archbishop/).

In response, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri CEO Bonnie Barczykowski, said by email that the organization "has enjoyed a history of cooperation with the Archdiocese of St. Louis for almost 100 years. Although we are a secular organization, we greatly value our long-standing partnerships with religious organizations across many faiths."

The National Catholic reported pointed out that "Barczykowski said Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri serves more than 43,000 girls with support from more than 15,000 adult volunteers."

The Archbishop's letter also took a swipe at Boy Scouts of America wondering "in which direction this once trusted organization is now headed."

Interestingly, in recent years just about every time a conservative religious figure or organization condemns the Girl Scouts, millions of people come to their aid in what is one of the most tangible means of support; buying more boxes of Girl Scout Cookies than they would usually buy.

I suppose that all parishes currently hosting troops will have to kick the troops off of the premises. I suspect that there will be other free venues that will host (provide a meeting room for) existing troops - public schools, Protestant churches, etc. I suspect that this will do nothing more than annoy the parents / troop leaders, and that actual membership won't change. The proposed replacement cited in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article was "American Heritage Girls", which is a conservative Evangelical organization meant to compete with Girl Scouts and to prepare girls to be wives and mothers. In other words, not much fun. Cooking, sewing, and Bible study are all very well, but girls want more variety.

by NancyP on Mon Feb 29, 2016 at 11:49:01 AM EST
is the organization I think it is, it's far worse than just preparing girls to be "wives and mothers"... the last time I heard that organizational name, it was in connection with the Assemblies of God and even the N.A.R. (and connected to the Royal Rangers/Missionettes organizations) - maybe a "stealth" front organization such as described by Dogemperor.  

I don't remember the specific context but it seems that there was some sort of connection.

I also have a vague memory of encountering the name somehow with the "Quiverfull" movement... but don't quote me on that.  (Maybe someone in that movement started out in AHG and went downhill.)  It might be worthwhile for someone to explore those possible connections.  The bottom line is that I doubt that they would encourage young women to have their individuality or to seek more than being a brood mare and pew warmer (and servant to the church as well as their family).

I wish that the Girl Scouts had sugar-free cookies we could eat, I'd buy some just to support them.

by ArchaeoBob on Wed Mar 02, 2016 at 01:32:01 PM EST

The American Heritage Girls is an organization that was intended for girls belonging to conservative Evangelical / fundamentalist families, particularly homeschoolers, Quiverfull, etc. The emphasis is on womanly submission to men. As I said, it doesn't sound like a normally raised Catholic girl would find anything fun about this, and I think that the Archbishop might be surprised to find out that a lot of the adults are likely to believe that Catholics are going to hell, and that the likely upshot of Catholic girls joining the organisation will be the leaderships' attempted sheep-stealing of the girls to AoG or other flavor of highly conservative Protestantism.

by NancyP on Thu Mar 03, 2016 at 11:24:15 AM EST

Thank you for sharing the opinion. gmail account login

by tadobre on Fri May 18, 2018 at 01:43:53 AM EST

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