Catholic Bishops to Investigate Girl Scouts

June 4, 2012; Source: AlterNet (Religion Dispatches)

The Catholic Church is taking it on the chin in some quarters for how it is expressing is displeasure with charities that might be seen as being friendly to issues such as gay marriage, access to contraception or abortion rights. According to this Religion Dispatches piece by Mary E. Hunt, a Roman Catholic theologian and co-founder/co-director of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual in Silver Spring, Md., the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops “is having a ‘Saturday Night Live’ moment…by choosing to investigate the Girl Scouts of the USA.”

Do the practices, policies, and beliefs of the Girl Scouts run counter to the tenets of the Catholic Church? The investigation appears, according to Hunt, to be focused on the “supposed connections (of the Girl Scouts) with groups that support reproductive justice.” This isn’t the first investigation by the Church recently looking at Catholic organizations. Recently, an immigrants’ rights organization lost its Diocese funding after being part of a coalition that included another group advocating for gay marriage. On the national stage, the Vatican ordered a “doctrinal investigation” of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious—the organization representing approximately 80 percent of American nuns. However, the nuns’ group is a Catholic organization, whereas the Girl Scouts are not.

According to Hunt, sex education isn’t a big thing in the Girl Scouts, and its connection to groups providing information on contraception and abortion rights is through Internet links. The trigger for the Girl Scouts investigation? Hunt says it was a Colorado troop’s acceptance of a transgender child.

It’s not clear where the investigation of the Girl Scouts will end up. Has Girl Scouts USA reacted to the Church investigation, whether focused on the transgender child in the Colorado troop or more general concerns about the organization’s relationship with groups advocating reproductive rights? Hunt suggests that we will get a sign when more than 100,000 Girl Scouts and family members come to Washington, D.C. on June 9th for their “Girl Scouts Rock the Mall” event, with their new theme song, “Ignite.” Here is the chorus:

Girl Scouts, Ignite a dream, ignite your hope,

Ignite the world on fire it’s love!

Starts with a spark, a flame in your heart,

Until the world’s burning bright, we’ll ignite!

I-g-n-i-t-e, Girl Scouts! I-g-n-i-t-e, Girl Scouts!

Will the bishops have their own chorus in response? –Rick Cohen

About

Rick Cohen

Rick joined NPQ in 2006, after almost eight years as the executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). Before that he played various roles as a community worker and advisor to others doing community work. He has also worked in government. Cohen pursues investigative and analytical articles, advocates for increased philanthropic giving and access for disenfranchised constituencies, and promotes increased philanthropic and nonprofit accountability.

  • Susan

    Seriously? More like a Monty Python moment (“No one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition!”) The Catholic Church has no other world issues to focus on where they could actually be a force for good, rather than the PR nightmare they are fast becoming?

  • Rhodsie

    Perhaps it was just the transgender issue but I doubt it.

    In 2004, Girl Scout CEO Kathy Cloninger references a relationship with Planned Parenthood (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppX6oXCmHF4&feature=related) although the Girl Scouts web site denies it. In addition, Nancy Pelosi specifically stated in response to a question about the Girl Scouts relationship with Planned Parenthood that “they have relationships with many organizations” and that she thinks it [I]is[/I] very valuable. Finally, web sites like http://www.100questionsforthegirlscouts.org/100/ certainly leave room for question.

    All in all, I would say the Catholic Church, being that it is, you know … the Catholic Church … certainly has enough fodder to investigate. The disturbing trend over the last four+ years of “if we say it enough, people will believe it” may be at play here and I doubt seriously that the Catholic Church really cares much about ‘taking it on the chin’ when it comes to the basic tenants of their faith. Would you?

  • Susie

    Is there a followup to this article from over a year ago? What did the bishops conclude? It is a scandal that the Church is still sponsoring and holding up this organization as worthy of our Catholic daughters (and use of church property). My parish will not let us start a Little Flowers Girls Club (Saint and Virtue study CATHOLIC girls club) because it is supporting GSA. I need the Bishops to speak up on this matter!