In the latest example of a high-ranking Catholic prelate who hasn’t gotten the memo from Pope Francis that the culture wars are over, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson is urging parishes in his diocese to cut ties with the Girl Scouts because the organization is “increasingly incompatible with Catholic values.”
And what could members of the 100-year-old girls service organization be doing that has so alarmed Carlson? Are Brownies dissing Jesus by making Christmas trees out of old Reader’s Digests? Is someone taking that Campfire badge a little too seriously (I swear it was an accident—and my sister’s eyebrows did grow back)?
No, what has Carlson concerned isn’t anything specific Girl Scouts or Girl Scout troops in St. Louis are doing. His concerns include a rehash of charges against the national Girl Scouts organization ginned up by conservatives associated with the Ethics and Public Policy Center and given credence by an “investigation” by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. These charges boil down to the organization’s membership in the World Association of Girl Guides and Girls Scouts (WAGGGS), which, according to the bishops, advocates for “so-called ‘sexual and reproductive health/rights’.”
Conservatives are also upset because some local Girl Scout troops form relationships with local Planned Parenthoods around sex ed programs, although the national organization takes no position on abortion or contraception.
And in the latest affront to all that is right and holy, the national Girl Scout organization recently refused a $100,000 donation because it came with the stipulation that none of the money go toward any activities involving transgender girls. That’s right—the Girl Scouts are being criticized by a leader of the Catholic Church for refusing to discriminate against a child.
In fact, Carlson seems to have a bee in his bonnet about “transgender and homosexual concerns.” Among the diocese’s other concerns are a possible Girl Scout policy that “suggested that some parents and troop leaders should not be informed if there is a transgender child in their troop,” and the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri posting a “statement of inclusivity” explaining how to welcome transgender children.
Oh, and someone at the national organization tweeted favorably about the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, as well as about Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.
As to the big moral question here—can I buy Thin Mints?, the archbishop has treated the question with all the theological seriousness it deserves:
Each person must act in accord with their conscience. It is also our duty to form our consciences and learn the issues.
Carlson has disbanded the Catholic Committee on Girl Scouts and replaced it with a Catholic Committee for Girls Formation, which will soon, undoubtedly, be offering “Happy Homemaker” and “Barefoot and Pregnant” badges.