The Republican War on the Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts Logo 1If you need to know what’s wrong with American conservatism in the early 21st century you have only to look at their view of the Girl Scouts. You would think that legislatures would want to honor the 100th anniversary of an organization like the Girl Scouts but empowering women isn’t exactly what the patriarchal GOP is about. Even worse from their standpoint is an imagined connection between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood. The end result is that anyone seeking to empower girls and women is radical.

Whoever thought the Girl Scouts would be presented to America as pariahs? But they are; as Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney writes,

But some religious conservatives see something very different: representatives of a dangerous, secular organization that aggressively promotes abortion and quietly encourages paganism, homosexuality and other alleged social ailments.

If only! Since when did the Girl Scouts become required to align themselves with 21st century Republican political theology?

There is plenty of evidence for this attitude from all over the country. We can start with a fellow from the city I recently escaped (Heathen sanity and soul intact), Rep. Bob Morris (R-Fort Wayne). Morris became opposed to the idea of honoring the Girl Scouts because he did a very dangerous thing: he looked at the Internet and did what so many people do: believed what he read.

That’s a big mistake. Don’t even believe me. I’ve said this often enough in many contexts. Look it up yourself. Go to the sources I use and form your own opinion. Find other sources I did not use. Open your mind, challenge your assumptions, and try to get to the facts on the ground.

But Morris didn’t do this, probably because of selective exposure, something directly linked to the authoritarian mindset dominating the Republican Party. Chris Mooney wrote about this the other day, noting that psychologist Robert Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba concludes that authoritarians, “maintain their beliefs against challenges by limiting their experiences, and surrounding themselves with sources of information that will tell them they are right.”

Morris, being of this authoritarian mindset was predisposed to believe the rumors he heard about the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood and he found the evidence to affirm the correctness of his prejudices. As he admits, “After talking to some well-informed constituents, I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing.”

The thing is, he could as easily have found evidence that his “well-informed” constituents were not so well informed at all. But he didn’t look for this evidence. He wasn’t interested in it. He was interested only in evidence that supported his existing prejudices. What self-respecting conservative can admire uppity girls who think they are a good as boys? Pat Robertson sends the message these patriarch-minded conservatives want to hear: “you know big man, you are the boss.” Not the wife. Not the woman.

In a letter to fellow lawmakers, Morris wrote that,

[A]bundant evidence proves that the agenda of Planned Parenthood includes sexualizing young girls through the Girl Scouts, which is quickly becoming a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood instructional series and pamphlets are part of the core curriculum at GSA training seminars. Denver Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley of Denver last year warned parents that “membership in the Girl Scouts could carry the danger of making their daughters more receptive to the pro-abortion agenda.”

He claims the Girl Scouts ” promote homosexual lifestyles” and study “feminists, lesbians, or Communists” as role models while ignoring those with a religious background, citing a noted sensationalist tabloid, World Net Daily, whose journalistic standards are on a par with those of the National Enquirer. On the basis of some very poor research he warns against “extend[ing] legitimacy to a radicalized organization.”

The St. Timothy Catholic Church in Chantilly, Virginia, now says it will not allow the Girl Scouts to use their church as a meeting place or to wear their uniforms on church property (including the St. Timothy School next door). A spokesperson for the diocese released a statement that reads in part: “Every pastor in the diocese has the responsibility to determine how best to use their parish facilities, consider the requests of outside groups, and reconcile such requests with the needs and mission of their parish community,” and according to the diocese, “the pastor did not believe the National Girl Scouts membership to the World Association of Girl Guides & Girl Scouts aligned with the message of the church, stemming from a perceived connection between WAGGGS and Planned Parenthood.” In other words, if the Girl Scouts do not toe the Catholic doctrinal line, they’re not welcome. The Catholic News Agency goes so far as to claim, “The Girl Scouts (GSUSA) has yet to refute even one piece of documented evidence” and concludes that “sponsoring churches like St. Timothy–are right to protest the deception and pull their girls out of the organization.”

In Washington State, Hans Zeiger, a Republican candidate for the State House of Representatives wrote,  before hurriedly taking down this and other of his comments and many other extremist diatribes so he could run for office,

[T]he Girl Scouts allow homosexuals and atheists to join their ranks, and they have become a pro-abortion, feminist training corps. If the Girl Scouts of America can’t get back to teaching real character, perhaps it will be time to look for our cookies elsewhere.

Also taking up this cry was Rep. Wess Keller of Wasilla, who seems to prove the old Biblical cry, “Can anything good come out of Wasilla? Keller, like Morris, was predisposed to dislike the Girl Scouts and for the same reasons. It was not difficult for him to also find affirmation of his prejudices so he pulled a Morris and blocked what should have been a routine resolution in the state legislature to honor the Girl Scout’s 100th anniversary.

This is what Keller had to say to the resolution to honor the Girl Scouts:

“I’m sure you are aware of the information that’s floating around the internet, and I’d like to give you the opportunity to respond to your connection, the Girl Scout connection, with Planned Parenthood and the activist role in that — is there a connection? Is there not? Frankly, I haven’t looked into it but I see it’s out there.”

Like Morris, he didn’t even do a cursory search for actual evidence. He simply trusted what he had heard “floating around.”

The Girl Scouts responded as you would expect: with the truth. Morris had written to his fellow lawmakers that,

The Girl Scouts of America and their worldwide partner, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), have entered into a close strategic affiliation with Planned Parenthood. You will not find evidence of this on the GSA/WAGGGS website—in fact, the websites of these two organizations explicitly deny funding Planned Parenthood.

The reason they deny such funding is that such funding is a myth, the product of fevered conservative imaginations, as the Girl Scouts made clear in their response:

“We take no position on the subjects of birth control or abortion and we believe these topics are best discussed between girls and their families. Neither Girl Scouts of USA, nor Girl Scouts of Alaska has a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood.”

It should come as no surprise to Morris that he was the only member not supporting the resolution in Indiana. He might have drawn some conclusions from that if he were more open-minded, more willing to challenge his pre-conceptions and prejudices.

Morris did end up apologizing for his words, but at the same time stands by them. In his letter he said:

“I realize now that my words were emotional, reactionary and inflammatory. For that I sincerely apologize … I certainly should not have painted the entire Girl Scouts organization with such a wide brush.”

As for his lack of evidence, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reports him as saying, that  the “letter was intended for his legislative colleagues, which is the reason for ‘the lack of research and evidence it contained,'” and that “Had I known this letter would have gone to a wider audience, I would have cited further evidence for my position.”

Yes, because your fellow legislators certainly shouldn’t be made aware of actual facts before they act, only the fruit of your fevered imaginings.

Republicans really don’t know how to make things better with their apologizes. They only make them worse. And that, sadly enough, is in keeping with their resolutions and speeches and op-ed’s and legislation. Bogeymen are everywhere: enter the specter of George Soros! Glenn Beck’s The Blaze righteously objects to a 2010 Girl Scouts of the USA publication about the media, claiming to expose the Girl Scouts for pointing to Media Matters for America to clear up media disinformation. I suppose Beck wants impressionable young girls to trust FOX News instead. So now the Girl Scouts are doubly damned – they want girls to grow up as empowered human beings and they want them to avoid right-wing propaganda. For a Beckian organization to call anyone else “less than objective” is amusing to say the least.

The real reason there is a war on the Girl Scouts is because there is a war on women and if you go after women you have to go after the “hatchlings” as well. As infamous former Methodist minister and missionary Colonel John Chivington said before slaughtering Native American children at Sand Creek in November 1864, “Nits make lice.”

And that seems to be the issue here: if you let little girls grow up feeling good about themselves, empowering them as genuine human beings and not breeding stock for Republican men, you let them grow up as radicalized feminists, meaning “females who they think they’re people too.”

American conservatism can’t have that, so the Girl Scouts have to go. Enter the American Heritage Girls, a wholesome “Judeo-Christian” focused organization, the fate, says Morris, of his own daughters.

30 Replies to “The Republican War on the Girl Scouts”

  1. This isn’t the first time this has happened, either. During the McCarthy era, the Girl Scouts were branded as Communist-sympathizers for:

    A. Teaching the Bill of Rights
    B. Teaching about the United Nations
    C. Teaching the equality of races and nations
    D. Teaching girls about female leaders of all kinds,a tendency denounced as promoting immorality, but really
    E. Teaching girls the kind of skills and self-worth that would make them uppity and independent, which in the psychobabble of those days was called, “leaving them unprepared for their adult role”.

    On the one hand, it’s discouraging to see the troglodytes haven’t changed. On the other hand, it’s encouraging to note that apparently, neither have the Girl Scouts.

  2. …”The real reason there is a war on the Girl Scouts is because there is a war on women…”

    We/I/you have it all wrong as we are not looking through the eyes of our ‘heritage’; this is “code.
    THIS IS A WITCH HUNT!!

    We’re not looking at or reading these fundamentalist true intent or source of authority…burn the witches
    as their coven has power.

  3. One more example of the conservatives having to turn everything to religion. The Girl Scouts do not teach religion therefore they must be of some type of individuals that conservatives hate.

    Why does religion have to be forced into everything? Why do our conservatives in the Republican Party so closely resemble the Islam religion? Why do Catholics have to dress their women in the same manner that Islamic women dress?

    I would rather see a young man and woman grow up with some broad knowledge of the world they live in as opposed to only the twisted religion the conservatives live by.

  4. “Witch” is a word that comes from “wit”, and it basically means “a woman who knows too much”. Yep, Girl Scouts grow up to be those. Burn ’em all!

  5. This is the continuing assault on women, albeit young women, from the Christo-Fascist regime. It is beyond appalling and a glimpse into the theocracy that awaits Americans if Dominionists are not stopped. It is not about any perceived relationship GSA has with Planned Parenthood. It is about the religious right dictating their agenda and Mosaic Law tenets to every person in America. Of course they have an alternative to GSA, just like their alternative to the Constitution; the Ten Commandments. Utterly sickening.

  6. There is another reason, at least with Evangelicals. They have their own program called Missionettes and Girl Scouts, in their fevered sick minds, takes away from that membership. So……they want to be able to “indoctrinate” girls in their own philosophy. And that is submission to men overall.

    That is why you have these zombie girls and women who believe in creationism, the virgin pact, abstinence only approach to sex, marriage and a houseful of kids on and on.

    In speaking about Evangelicals it is my responsibility to differentiate. Dominionists, Quiverfull, Charismatic and Opus Dei Catholics and Fundamentalists would be the most visible. It is hard to lump them all as Evangelicals when you know some Evangelicals who are perfectly normal.

  7. You are right I can tell from the terms you use, you have read a great deal. They(Dominionists) have mastered the tactic of being “like a thief in the night” and have been building their organizations over the years. It is only in the past 8 years or so that deep investigations of these people have been done. I can tell you from my perspective I had a lot of scary late at night experiences when I could not wait for sunlight. These people are that scary for the rest of us who would not follow their doctrine.

    They have infiltrated the armed services and SCOTUS how easy would it be to run a coup on the United States government? Then all the people who are deniers would be asking “why didn’t you warn us?

  8. I have worried about that same thing. Evidently, Dominionist indoctrination is all but a necessity for whoever means to make a career in the Air Force, and it goes pretty far up in the other branches, too. I know of one young man, a member of an Eastern Orthodox congregation, who is getting harassment his fundamentalist Protestant buddies don’t get. General McChrystal was removed from his post for far graver reasons than merely having badmouthed Joe Biden in front of a reporter. Needless to say, it’s a very serious lookout if Romney wins the next election, but it may be even grimmer if he loses. We could wake up to find the figleaf of democracy gone and you know what thrust in our faces. I am not easy.

  9. Oh I have no illusions if they cannot achieve what they want through the Oval office they will work through congress, military and SCOTUS. You and I are on the same wavelength for sure.

  10. The young man in question has just been denied leave to attend Eastern Orthodox Easter services, while comparable leave is granted without question to his evangelical buddies. Anyone familiar with the Eastern Orthodox Church knows the Easter celebration goes on all day. They told him he should be content with vespers.

  11. As one who went to Catholic school for 12 years and was a girl scout at one of those catholic schools all I learned was sewing, cooking, how to set a table those things good Catholic girls need to learn to be good wives and mothers. These people are insane to think that the girl scouts are an evil entity. Stuff we thought was decided now is sensationalized and it only makes the conservatives look stupid and ignorant.

  12. From our point of view, there is little difference. The history of evangelical missionaries is one of some of the worst atrocities and abuse of native peoples to be found. I will grant that maybe I should say with one or two exceptions, that applies to ALL “Christian” missionaries. Even the RC church is guilty of selling slaves (early 1900s, Native Americans in California) and the more conservative, the worse they treated natives.

    I also think dividing the different groups out is a big mistake. If you look at them from the standpoint of the damage they do to people, they are all almost the same (and that includes the groups that are fundamentalist but don’t force it on outsiders).

    The divisions within dominionism are more of an academic point and have little real difference from the standpoint of what will happen to the Other.

  13. I was a boy scout in the late 60s and early 70s, and I remember how we were “encouraged” to be active in the church (the troop was rather religious in nature). The only good thing is when we went camping, church on Sunday morning wasn’t a big issue and it was a relief to not have to listen to an hours-long BORING sermon.

    I also remember how political the scouts actually were, and quit when I was denied merit badges I’d won (and thus advancement to Star Scout). The popular boys shot right on through and were honored with “Order of the Arrow” and things like that. Oh, and as an adult and after learning about my own heritage (Native American – something the scouts glorified and tried to imitate), I learned just how much they’re hated in many areas – because in spite of all of their “codes of honor” and all that, they were the worst pack of thieves and destroyers to be found. They actually tore a cowskin down from a re-created house we had set up in a county park (during an Order of the Arrow meeting or camp or whatever), and they also stole a ceremonial staff from inside the tent of one of our people. That is a common complaint regarding the Scouts (and especially the Order of the Arrow) according to people from different tribes that I’ve talked with.

    I even (later) ran into a boy who claimed to have been made a member of my tribe, by someone who held a “naming ceremony” for the Order of the Arrow (he also claimed to be an Eagle Scout). From his description, it was pure bullshit and the person wasn’t even from my tribe. The whole group was going around claiming our heritage from what he was telling me – I told him that was stealing our heritage and identity, and he didn’t like it one bit.

    The scouts are like a lot of things about this country – the promise is good, but the reality doesn’t always match up to it. I find it ironic that the dominionists don’t like the scouts and have their “alternative”… but then, for them EVERYTHING centers on their form of religion and anything not so centered is evil. Like what you experienced, I’d think the fact that the scouts reinforced societal norms (even if they weren’t) would be something they’d appreciate.

  14. The hard right is good at turning everything they touch into crap, no matter how positive or wholesome it is. It’s obvious that they don’t like independent, strong girls or women.

  15. Between this an Alan West, it seems the Republicans have progressed a bit in some areas: from the bad ol’ days pre-depression to the bad ol’ days of the McCarthy era. This is progress?????

  16. I didn’t know that. Thats why most of the “witches” were wise women, old women, herbalists, who knew the female secrets such as ways of contraception and abortion. Thanks!

  17. From what I’ve seen, I’m not sure they’ve read the 10 commandments. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor” doesn’t seem to “compute”.

  18. Fascinating article. I wish I had kept my old handbook. I was a scout throughout the 50s. Of course, I was obvious to all the politics.

  19. Read “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood and see how prescient it is. Keep in mind that it was originally published in 1985.

    If you have only seen the movie or think you can “get it” by watching the movie, you can’t. It lacks the depth and clarity that is in the novel. It’s also a very good read. I’ve had several copies over the years that I read and passed on, always asking for the recipient to pass it on as well. It is the biggest reason the Dominionists scare the piss out of me – sometimes to the point of anxiety attacks.

  20. The Dominionists hate the Boy Scouts because the Mormons have completely taken over that organization. They run it just like the Dominionists run their Missionettes and alternate organizations.

  21. An interesting point – the “symptoms” for having witchcraft in the area are very suspiciously like those of ergotamine poison, according to the program “Secrets of the Dead”. That program is pretty good as far as their science, btw – better than most (except Nova, National Geographic, and a few others).

  22. “But it’s a CHURCH, it can’t be THAT BAD!”

    That is a quote I used to hear all the time 5 and more years ago – at least monthly. Then people started hearing about dominionism from other sources and are starting to listen. Some now are actively participating in the fight against theocracy.

    When we FINALLY got the start of a paper trail for the things they’ve done to us (in that instance, racist hate graffiti spraypainted in front of our mailbox), the cops did their best to dissuade us from having them write up a report. The essence of their argument was that it obviously had to been kids playing a prank (racist graffiti a prank – including the n-word?) but when they asked me who would do that, I told them about the other in-the-night things that had happened to us, including the dominionists going to my parents and threatening them. Their response was along the lines of “But those are CHURCHES, they can’t be THAT BAD!”

    The officer in charge wasn’t going to write it up, but since another officer promised that they would, she had to go along.

    I might add that when I mentioned the sorts of churches that were involved in the threats, they called them “crazy”. But they could not wrap their heads around a church being connected to things like arson, poisoning of pets, and vandalism and that was the actual basis of their opposition to documenting it. (I might add that I told them that we are American Indian, but it blew right past them even though the graffiti was racist in nature and the only graffiti in the area.)

  23. The argument I once heard was that non-Christians and people who didn’t go along with them weren’t the neighbors talked about in the Bible.

  24. In this area, the scouts are associated with conservative churches, often steeplejacked ones.

    One of their regional leaders living in this area once advocated murdering gays by stoning them – in my presence. I kept my mouth shut because of the situation, but I was thinking about all of my LGBT friends when he said it, and how wrong he was.

  25. Hmmmm, I wonder if there is a Republican Party Merit Batch that Republicans can earn in their War on the Girl Scouts, a skirmish in Republicans’ War on Women, or some type of “battle medal” that Republicans can wear proudly on their War on the Girls Scouts chest?

  26. Ooooops, I must have been thinking of a “batch” of Girl Scout cookies. That should read Merit Badge, although come to think of it, I might have gotten it right the first time, Merit Batch. They wish.

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