Something most Americans never think about throughout the year is the Girl Scout organization. However, around this time of year when their favorite flavor of G.S. cookies are finally delivered, many Americans have warm thoughts about the Girl Scouts if for no other reason than those scrumptious treats. In St. Louis Missouri, the Catholic Archbishop spends a lot of time thinking about the Girl Scouts, but not because of their lovely cookies, and not because the organization’s mission is to help “build young women of courage, confidence, and character who work hard to make the world a better place.” No, the Archbishop spends a lot of time thinking about the Girl Scouts as an organization and “its increasingly troubling pattern of behavior.”
The St. Louis area must be a veritable crime-free, upscale Utopia because the Archbishop’s job of “working to make the world a better place” does not entail addressing poverty, educational opportunities or criminal justice reform. It is not that those issues are non-existent; they are very clear and ever-present in and around the St. Louis area. However, for Catholic Archbishop Robert Carlson those social issues pale in comparison to the really serious threats facing St. Louis’ area families; Girls Scouts that are “incompatible with Catholics’ core values.”
To stop the Girl Scouts from destroying America, or at least the little part of America where Archbishop Carlson presides, he sent out a letter to area churches, priests, and parishioners warning them to beware the pressing evil that is the 21st Century version of Girl Scouts of America.
Archbishop Carlson wrote,
“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?”
If the Archbishop had spent a tiny fraction of the time reading the Girl Scouts of America’s mission statement as he had worrying about whether or not the Girl Scouts toe the Catholic line, he would not have to ask a ridiculous question like are “Girl Scouts concerned with the total well-being of young women.” And, oh by the way Archbishop Carlson, there is one little issue many fathers would like to clear up immediately; none of those Girl Scouts are “your” celibate-self’s young women. That statement reveals the Church’s patriarchal mindset that women, young or old, are the clergy’s property to control. That may have been the order of the day during Dark Age Europe, but this is 21st Century America.
Apparently what has Archbishop Carlson exercising his ‘religious freedom’ to issue a warning about those dangerous Girl Scouts is because the organization “advocates for sex education and a commitment to reproductive rights.” Since the organization is full-on evil for teaching young women about how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases, the Archbishop demands oversight of individual Girl Scout troops to bring them into compliance with Catholic dogmata.
Since the Archbishop is “the man” in the St. Louis area that sees the inherent evil in the Girl Scouts organization, he felt a pressing need to alert pastors in the area that he,
“Takes all of these concerns very seriously. Therefore, I am asking each pastor that allows Girl Scouts on parish property to conduct a meeting with troop leadership to review these concerns and discuss implementing alternative options for the formation of our girls. Our primary obligation is to help our girls grow as women of God. Several alternative Catholic or Christian organizations exist and I ask that you offer one of these programs instead of Girl Scouts.”
With about 4,000 Girl Scouts in the St. Louis area, it was no surprise that many parents, including those whose daughters attend Catholic schools, were not amused at the Archbishop’s warning and threats. They are definitely not happy according to Julie Mudd of St. Louis,
“They are too focused on other people the Girl Scouts may have some associations with rather than what our local girl scout chapters are actually doing. It all comes down to the fact they are threatened by anything that puts females in a leadership position.”
Ms. Mudd is correct, of course, but it is much more than the Church’s spiritual fear of women in leadership positions, it is fear of losing control. Nothing frightens patriarchs more than an organization dedicated to helping young women and girls “cultivate courage, confidence, and character to make the world a better place.” In fact, on the Archdiocese website it informs Girl Scout troop leaders to seriously evaluate all elements of the GS program to ensure it fulfills its duty to “form our young women into Catholic women of God, and begin to look at alternatives that will form their young women into good Catholic women of god;” whether they are Catholics or not.
The website even counsels concerned Catholics asking “can I still buy the cookies” that each person must act in accord with their own conscience. But, only after each Catholic fulfills their duty to form their consciences and learn about the issues. The Archdiocese listed “the issues” on the website with a few important things every Catholic with the “right” conscience will consider when making their decision to buy, or not buy, those luscious Thin Mint cookies.
“There is a licensing fee attached to each box of Girl Scout cookies produced, paid to GSUSA that amounts to millions of dollars every year. Also, several other Archdioceses and Christian organizations issued separate warnings to severe ties with the Girl Scouts such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Missouri Right to Life has conducted comprehensive research into the Girl Scout issue and published their concerns as well.” Finally, the Archdiocese noted that the National Catholic Register published several articles “detailing ongoing and upcoming problems with the Girl Scouts in regards to pro-life, cookie sale, and transgender concerns.”
It is somewhat surprising that while the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, is addressing income inequality and climate change, American Catholics are addressing what they regard as the threat of Girl Scouts not being “formed into good Catholic women.” The real issue is about “the church,” including the evangelical right, exerting control over women and inculcating into them that their duty as “good Catholic women” is to birth children without pause and not grow up to be women of courage, confidence, or character because neither the Catholic nor religious right patriarchs will be able to control them.