We’re all familiar with the Girls Scouts of America, an organization that aims to help girls develop valuable life lessons and skills, build confidence, and value academic, social, and emotional intelligence.
But you may not be familiar with Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, who last week expressed his disapproval of the Girl Scouts of America for their open support of sexual and reproductive rights and of the LGBT community. In a letter issued to fellow clergy members, Carlson announced the disbanding of the Catholic Committee of Girl Scouts and in its place the formation of a Catholic Committee for Girls, effective immediately. Carlson claims that the national organization is teaching the wrong lessons to young girls.
So what exactly has the Girl Scouts done that is so “wrong”? Last July, the organization refused a pledge of $100,000 because the donor stipulated that the gift was not to be used to support transgender girls. Instead, the group began a “Girl Scouts is #ForEVERYGirl” campaign, which quickly raised more than $300,000. And let’s not forget the Girl Scouts of America’s membership and support of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), designed to help young girls all over the world develop their potential for leadership and supports community development, women’s health, and education. The organization also teaches girls and young women to take charge of their future, including when it comes to sexual and reproductive health.
In his letter, Archbishop Carlson points out all of the contradictions of the Girl Scouts of America when it comes to Christianity. He urges parents to not let their daughters participate in this “ungodly” organization and goes as far as advising members of his community to not buy Girl Scout cookies.
And in case you are wondering, no, Archbishop Carlson does not take any issue with 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,” he states in the same letter, “As it stands now, the charter system in place with the Boy Scouts of America allows each parish to have governing control over the leadership, curriculum and activities of the troop.” What this means is that for many boys, sexuality, gender, and reproductive health are not being discussed in any way beyond or inconsistent with what the bible teaches.
The Archbishop’s opinion of the Girl Scouts seems to have had no effect on their success or on the minds of the people of St. Louis. In fact, at their annual fundraiser last week, the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri raked in more than $350,000, a new record high for the group.
This community, just like many communities around the country, has seen the wonderful work that comes from the Girl Scouts of America. Girl Scouts alumnae have a higher college graduation rate than nonmembers, make up 70 percent of women in Congress, have greater employment opportunities, have been shown to maintain healthier relationships, and tend to be more active in their community. St. Louis didn’t need their Archbishop to define their morality; they came to the right conclusions on their own. This is just another example of how religion is not only unnecessary for moral development, but can actually unravel its natural development.