Catholic Church Lashes Out at 'Feminist' Girl Scouts --- What Would The Pope Say?

girl scoutsFew people would dream of accusing the Girl Scouts with corrupting our children, but that's exactly what the Catholic Church of St. Louis is doing -- and the long-standing youth group is having none of it. (Spoiler alert: This has nothing to do with those sinfully delicious cookies.)


On Thursday, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson released a letter to local priests, Scout leaders and community members, criticizing Girl Scouts USA's position on such issues as gay rights and feminism, with particular focus on the organization's membership in the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (which, according to Carlson, promotes birth control and abortion). Carlson also took issue with Girl Scouts USA for supposedly promoting such feminist icons as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan as “role models” and for supporting international human rights groups including Amnesty International that, he says, “conflict with Catholic values.”

“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,” Carlson wrote, asking priests in his diocese to reconsider their ties with local troops -- which, considering how many girl scout troops meet in parish halls, could mean that a whole lot of merit badge seekers might soon be in need of new locations for making potholders and tallying up Samoa sales.

But in a statement, a spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts argued against the notion that anything the group stands for conflicts with the teachings of the Catholic Church -- or any church, for that matter:

“Girl Scouts is a non-political, non-partisan organization," she said.

"Building girls' leadership skills is a non-political, non-partisan agenda.”

“Girl Scouts of the USA looks forward to extending our longstanding relationship with faith-based organizations, including the Catholic Church and Catholic communities, throughout the country,” the statement read.

“As the preeminent leadership development organization for girls of every faith and background, we remain committed to building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”

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I'm pretty sure that's a mission even Pope Francis would get behind! And as someone who was raised Catholic, I'm also pretty sure there are few people of true faith who would find anything wrong with that agenda. Unfortunately, as with so many other organized religions, Catholicism does have a history of being rather less-than-feminist. Because it's the feminist bit that seems to be what Carlson really has a problem with, here, and I think it's because he's afraid. He's afraid of a generation of empowered young women growing up to think for themselves. After all, women who think for themselves are bound to question things; namely, those aforementioned less-than-feminist practices of the Catholic Church.

I'm glad the Girl Scouts are publicly disputing Carlson's claims, because there are a lot of people out there who would just take his word as Gospel (no pun intended) and write off the Girl Scouts entirely. 

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That would be a shame, because Carlson's concerns are ridiculous, antiquated and offensive, of course. And, you know, as Jesus said, "Thou shalt not make innocent children in cute uniforms suffer because of your misogynistic hangups." Okay, he didn't say that -- as far as we know -- but you get the point. Here's something he really did say: "Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such."

Sounds like he'd be down with the Girl Scouts to me.


Image via Jen/Flickr

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