Archbishop Strongly Cautions Church About Girl Scouts’ Support for LGBT Inclusion and Other Issues

Archbishop Robert Carlson

The archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri, issued a strong warning against the Girl Scouts because of their support of a variety of issues, including LGBT education and inclusion.

In a letter addressed to priests, laity, and scout leaders, Archbishop Robert Carlson said Girl Scouts USA’s “position on and inclusion of transgender and homosexual issues are proving problematic.” (You can read the entire letter here.)

U.S. culture, Carlson wrote, is “becoming increasingly intolerant of a Catholic worldview regarding these issues.”

In addition to opposing the Girl Scouts’ support of LGBT issued,  Carlson also cited the organization’s association with groups such as OxFam and Amnesty International which support contraceptive and reproductive rights for women. He also criticized the Girl Scouts’ promotion of feminist leaders Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem as role models.

Carlson noted:

“We must stop and ask ourselves — is Girl Scouts concerned with the total well-being of our young women? Does it do a good job forming the spiritual, emotional, and personal well-being of Catholic girls?”

Problematic LGBT-related actions by the Girl Scouts, according to the Archdiocese’s website, include rejecting a $100,000 donation stipulating it “wouldn’t support transgender girls” and some Girl Scout chapters’ choice to welcome transgender girls without notifying other parents. The Girl Scouts’ social media channels are also cited for celebrating marriage equality’s legalization in the U.S.

Carlson’s letter criticized both Girl Scout USA and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts’ He also said the archdiocese would be monitoring how the Boy Scouts of America will be implementing their new policices allowing gay scouts and leaders.

While not formally barring 4,000 St. Louis-area Girl Scouts from church property, the archbishop asked pastors to discuss these concerns with local Scout leaders and consider alternative scouting organizations which are explicitly Christian. He did disband the century-old Catholic Committee on Girl Scouts.

Bonnie Barczykowski, CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Scouts “greatly value” partnerships with religious organizations, and was confident faith communities, including Catholic ones, would continue supporting the Girl Scouts. Barczykowski cautioned against Catholics bringing up this dispute with the scouts themselves, saying any such confrontations “would be unacceptable.” On that last point, the Archdiocese agreed.

Julie Mudd, a Catholic parent whose daughter attends Catholic schools and will be enrolled in the Girl Scouts upon entering kindergarten, criticized the archbishop’s letter:

“I think they are too focused on other people the Girl Scouts may have some associations with rather than what our local girl scout chapters are actually doing. . .I think it all comes down to the fact they are threatened by anything that puts females in a leadership position.”

After reading Archbishop Carlson’s letter, I wanted to reflect back his own questions to him. Is he really concerned with the “total well-being” of young women? Does endorsing discrimination and acting punitively against an organization which actually does a good job forming the capacities of Catholic young women help or hurt these girls?

The Archdiocese of St. Louis did get one thing correct in this controversy over the Girl Scouts. Their webpage about the scouting controversy states that “[e]ach person must act in accord with their conscience” when it comes to buying the organization’s famous cookies. If your conscience is clear on this issue, you can find out where to buy cookies near you by clicking here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

6 Responses to Archbishop Strongly Cautions Church About Girl Scouts’ Support for LGBT Inclusion and Other Issues

  1. JOHN HILGEMAN says:

    Just had some thin mints tonight that I bought to support the local Girl Scouts group. The circle around the people and groups that are “acceptable” to RC bishops is getting smaller and smaller. Too bad.

  2. Thomas says:

    A few days ago, Girl Scouts were selling boxes of cookies outside my grocery store. I declined the cookies but gave them a $5 donation. Now I wish it had been more. Why does the USCCB and its members insist on demonizing and demeaning?

  3. Loretta Fitzgerald says:

    I’ve never purchased Girl Scout cookies. Thanks for the link as I know exactly where they will be this weekend for my purchase. When will the Church learn that when they say “don’t” we do. Like Elizabeth Johnson’s book, The Quest for the Living God, flew off the shelves after the Church condemned it.

  4. S Phillips says:

    I will compose a letter to the dear Bishop. It will say that the Bible is wrong on these matters. God created people to be gay and every other variation. Just like we all have various shapes and sizes due to billions of combinations of genetic material and the actions in the womb of hormones and other influences, so we have sexual variation. The people in Biblical times knew none of this. They thought God breathed life into a baby at birth or that when the baby moved in the womb it was then a person. The Jewish faith allows abortion before then because it is written in their scriptures. Because of science we know that life begins at conception. Because of science we now know that people are created gay or trans or bisexual by God. They do not choose it, they just are. For the Church to shun them in any way is a sin against God’s creation. The hierarchy needs to address this fast. We the people, for the most part, get it. Our loved ones are being hurt badly by this and it causes many to leave the Church. The days of intimidation and promises of hell fire are gone. An educated public is far ahead of the dinasauric Catholic hierarchy.

  5. Friends says:

    I don’t say this lightly, but for this Archbishop to be wearing the Crucifix of Jesus, while espousing such an exclusionary and judgmental narrowness of mind — an attitude redolent of the Scribes and Pharisees whom Jesus Himself constantly condemned — is perilously close to a sacrilege. Yes, those are very harsh words. But I’m open to receive other readers’ opinions: what do our members believe Jesus Himself would say to this man, regarding his rash mistreatment of these vibrant and beautiful young Children of God?

  6. Will says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how culturally tone deaf some of the church hierarchy continue to be. This story has been quite widely reported in the gay blogs and press – and just one painful glance at the comments section shows how stupid this letter was. For most people out there, ‘Catholic clergy + Scouts’ has just one ugly resonance. So an Archbishop attacking the Girl Scouts for being too inclusive is just setting up for the usual stereo-typical anticatholic punchline about child abusing priests…

    As well as being intolerant and divisive, this is also pastorally incompetent and counter-productive. Just hopeless…

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