Monday, February 29, 2016

What is wrong with the Girl Scouts? Next on FOT

Recently Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis has garnered a lot of media attention by sending a pastoral letter listing concerns he, and the Church, have with the direction the Girl Scouts of America are heading. His letter raises several concerns such as how appropriate
Brian Miller
is it for Catholic schools to support Girl Scout troops considering some of the ways the scouts are undermining Catholic teaching.

Joining us Tuesday will be Brian Miller, executive director of the Catholic Youth Apostolate of the Archdiocese of St. Louis to discuss some of these concerns. Recently Mr. Miller posted a lengthy article on the archdiocesan website listing some of the reasoning behind the concerns the Church has with the Girl Scouts. Below is an edited portion of that post, which can be read in its entirety here:

In “Renewing the Vision,” the US Bishops’ framework for Youth Ministry, we read: “All ministry with adolescents must be directed toward presenting young people with the Good news of Jesus Christ and inviting and challenging them to become disciples” (page 10).
The Catholic Church has long partnered with scouting organizations to achieve this end. Though traditionally the scouting programs we have partnered with have been secular organizations, the Church has worked to foster relationships with these organizations and institute Catholic faith programs to be offered alongside these secular programs. Though the perception is often that these religious programs are offered through the particular scouting organization, the reality is that they are offered by Catholic organizations as supplemental to the scout program itself.
Scouting has been a valuable resource for teaching leadership skills and life skills for many of our youth. We have seen great fruits from our Catholic Scouting programs throughout the years. Unfortunately, concerns have been continuing to surface over the content within some of these programs, particularly within Girl Scouts. As our culture becomes increasingly secular, we need to look closely at any secular organizations with which we are partnering with and entrusting the formation of our youth.  As parents and as Church, we have a sacred duty to help our children learn the faith and ultimately to help them get to heaven.
Due to these ongoing concerns, on 2/18/2016 Archbishop Carlson issued a letter of concern regarding Girl Scouts. You can read that letter here. In November 2014, the Catholic Youth Apostolate issued a similar letter. You can read that here.
Below is a more detailed listing of the ongoing concerns with Girl Scouts and their international parent scouting organization, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). Also available are resources for alternative programs and letters you can send to help Girl Scouts hear your voice on this important issue.  Please know that we are here to serve the youth and youth leaders of the Archdiocese in any way that we can.  Thank you for your commitment to aiding us in living our mission: To help all young people hear the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, to help them actively respond to the Gospel message and to enthusiastically participate in the mission of Jesus Christ and His Church.
Ongoing Concerns
The relationship between Girl Scouts and WAGGGS
Girl Scouts USA is one of the founding members of WAGGGS. GSUSA is also the largest member organization of WAGGGS, contributing somewhere around 25% of the total population of the membership. As an organization, WAGGGS is well known to be an advocate for sexual and reproductive rights, even for youth.  We often hear the term “reproductive rights" from these organizations, and it can be somewhat ambiguous; what these groups are really advocating for is access to abortion and birth control. WAGGGS delegates often include members of GSUSA.  WAGGGS states on their website that they speak on "behalf of their nearly 10 million girl members".   Certainly, WAGGS does not represent its Catholic girl members in this regard.
As the largest member of WAGGGS, we would ask GSUSA to use their lobbying power to put an end to this sad and misguided advocacy.
Transgender and Homosexual Concerns
There is an ever growing concern about GSUSA and their position on transgendered youth. Recently Girl Scouts gained national media attention by refusing a gift of $100,000 that was pledged with the stipulation that it "wouldn't support transgender girls". Since the funds were designated this way, Girl Scouts declined the gift and instead used the national media attention to raise over $300,000 with the tagline that Girl Scouts is "for every girl."   
Troops in Utah have recently been formed exclusively to reach out to transgendered youth. Internal policies in Girl Scouts has even suggested that some parents and troop leaders should not be informed if there is a transgender child in their troop. While we are firm in our conviction that all girls should have access to leadership and formational programs, we believe that the invitation of young boys living socially as girls into these programs is not healthy for the boy or the other girls in the troop.
Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri has posted a "statement of inclusivity" explaining their policy of how to welcome a transgender child into your troop.
On Instagram and Twitter, Girl Scouts recently celebrated the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage as one of their top moments of 2015.
While GSUSA claims they do not take a stance on these issues, it is clear that their actions would suggest otherwise. These progressive issues are becoming more and more central to the Girl Scout message. By promoting our local Girl Scout troops to our young women, we
are helping them forming an allegiance to an organization that is becoming increasingly incompatible with Catholic values. As Girl Scouts continues to increase their presence on social media in an effort to reach young women, we are saddened that what our young women will often find is in conflict with our Catholic faith.
Questionable Partnerships
Girl Scouts has often found themselves in questionable partnerships and sponsorships. Many of these are related to organizations that advocate for birth control, sex education, and abortion access, even for minors. Such partnerships include relationships with Coalition for Adolescent Girls,, Amnesty International, Population Council, and many more. While GSUSA has stood by some of these partnerships, others have been have been suspended after complaints from concerned parents and partner organizations. While we are grateful that GSUSA has listened on certain occasions, one cannot help but wonder about the culture of an organization that repeatedly engages in such partnerships.
Curriculum Concerns
In their curriculum, Girl Scouts often highlights role models that are not consistent with Catholic values. They honor many pro-abortion politicians and activists, and they highlight organizations that advocate for reproductive rights, such as many of the organizations listed above. While there are many positive aspects to the Girl Scout curriculum, ensuring that our youth are not exposed to these questionable organizations and ideals requires a level of vigilance that is unfortunate.
Are we the only ones with these concerns?
There are numerous other originations that are researching and issuing letters of concern regarding Girl scouts. Below is a sampling of some of these organizations:
·         The Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) investigated the Girl Scout organization and shared numerous ongoing concerns. The results are listed here.
·         Additional individual dioceses are sharing concerns with their laity as well, including the Archdiocese of Kansas City, KS. Their concerns are listed here.
·         Bishop James Johnston, formerly of the Diocese of Springfield Cape Girardeau issued a letter of concern that can be found here.
·         Bishop Michael Sheridan of the Diocese of Colorado Springs issued a statement regarding Girl Scouts this fall. It can be found here.
·         Missouri Right to Life has researched the issue as well and published their concerns here.
·         Several articles have been published in the National Catholic Register detailing ongoing and upcoming concerns with the Girl Scouts in regards to Pro-Life concerns, cookie sale concerns, and transgender concerns.
While we are disappointed in recent changes to the leadership policy of Boy Scouts of America, our concerns are not yet at the same level as the concerns we are presenting here in regards to Girl Scouts. As it stands now, the charter system in place with BSA allows each parish to have governing control over the leadership, curriculum and activities of the troop. This same control is not possible with the current Girl Scout charter system.
So join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll Tuesday at 9 a.m. (Central) on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on The program will be re-broadcast at 9 p.m.
Faith on trial is sponsored by Attorney Rick McConville, Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 515-453-1055; Confluence Brewing Company – off the Bike Trail just south of Grey’s Lake, 1235 Thomas Beck Road where there is live entertainment in the tap room every Thursday, and Rob denHartog, Wealth Management Advisor at Northwestern Mutual Life, NW corner of 128th Street and Hickman Rd, 515-210-4472.

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