For the second time in fourteen months, a bishop in the Catholic Church has severed ties with the Girl Scouts over connections between the organization and Planned Parenthood. Kansas City archbishop Joseph Naumann has directed the archdiocese to end sponsorship of Girl Scout troops and shift resources to American Heritage Girls instead, which more closely align with Christian values. Naumann’s decision follows a similar move in St. Louis in February 2016, and a 2014 USCCB decision to allow bishops the latitude to determine whether Girl Scouts present a problem in formation:
Saying that Girl Scouts is “no longer a compatible partner in helping us form young women with the virtues and values of the Gospel,” the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas is severing ties with the organization and switching its support to a Christian-based scouting program.
“I have asked the pastors of the Archdiocese to begin the process of transitioning away from the hosting of parish Girl Scout troops and toward the chartering of American Heritage Girls troops,” Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann said in a statement released Monday.
“Pastors were given the choice of making this transition quickly, or to, over the next several years, ‘graduate’ the scouts currently in the program. Regardless of whether they chose the immediate or phased transition, parishes should be in the process of forming American Heritage Girl troops, at least for their kindergartners, this fall.”
At issue is not just the formation within the diocese, but within the troops themselves. The Girl Scouts insist that they have no direct ties to Planned Parenthood, but their parent organization does — a situation that prompted the USCCB review in 2013-14. Girl Scouts literature also heralds the work of PP founder (and eugenicist) Margaret Sanger, but the organization claims it’s only for her “leadership qualities”:
Naumann said he is troubled by materials that highlight the roles of women such as birth control activist Margaret Sanger and feminist writers and activists Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem. A local representative of the Girl Scouts told NPR that these women and many others have been celebrated because of their leadership qualities.
The archbishop’s letter also states that Girl Scouts of the USA “contributes more than a million dollars each year to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS), an organization tied to International Planned Parenthood.”
However, on its national website, the Girl Scouts says it “does not have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood.” The organization says it pays membership dues to WAGGS and compares the relationship to the one between the U.S. and the U.N.: “The United States may not agree with every position the UN takes, but values having a seat at the table.”
Well, yes, but that’s because the UN is a diplomatic forum that — for better or worse — has eclipsed bilateral and direct diplomacy. It’s a grossly imperfect and corrupt organization that nevertheless exists to prevent wide-scale world war, which is why we still keep our seat there. Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, exists to abort babies — a mission that’s entirely incompatible with Catholic teachings, and should have nothing to do with the Girl Scouts anyway.
And what exactly were Sanger’s “leadership qualities,” anyway, other than promoting abortion for population control and eugenics?
If the Girl Scouts want to promote abortion with their dues, that’s their choice. Those dues come in part from troops partnered with Catholic dioceses, though, and the dioceses can also choose to stop participating in that funding. Naumann has come under fire for that choice, but Crux’s Helen Alvaré calls it a “sane, balanced conclusion” — and that criticism comes from an “abortion-centric” blindness to religious liberty that eclipses the good of the girls involved:
Also, face the fact that the scientific literature about women’s happiness, freedom, educational success and family stability is coalescing around the conclusions that women are much better off if they take sex seriously, understand its natural links with marriage and kids, delay sex at best until marriage, practice a faith, and avoid non-marital parenting, abortion and divorce.
In fact, more than a few experts believe that the “paradox of women’s declining happiness” (in an era of so much “freedom”) is linked to the new sex and marriage markets in which women’s actual preferences are dismissed in favor of sexual expression – unlinked to marriage or kids – as the greatest good.
Why is it such a problem when religious folks, or anyone, take this science seriously? When they take girls’ formation seriously?
The answer, according to so many media outlets and self-described feminists, is that abortion and contraception rights should rank above women’s actual, measured, experienced, well-being. That’s the case to the point that these groups refuse to accept private, religious groups’ refusal to spend their own money or time on either.
Put another way: There is a free market for social clubs for girls and teens. Girl Scouts has decided to cater to the progressives and pro-abortionists; American Heritage Girls has decided to cater to everyone else. There seems to be no problem here, other than Girl Scouts losing some market share in both clubs and cookie sales. That’s not the Catholic Church’s problem to solve.