The leader of the Catholic Church in St. Louis, Mo. is taking a strong stand against the Girl Scouts of America, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, because of its support for transgender scouts and other LGBT issues.
Writing to his flock that parishes should find alternatives to the troops, Archbishop Robert Carlson stopped short of kicking the 4,000 scouts in the region off church property but he did announce he has disbanded a committee that served as a liaison between the organizations for the past century.
“Their position on and inclusion of transgender and homosexual issues are proving problematic,” Carlson wrote.
“Girl Scouts is exhibiting a troubling pattern of behavior and it is clear to me that as they move in the ways of the world it is becoming increasingly incompatible with our Catholic values. 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?”
One mother of a future Daisy who herself was a scout and her own mom was a den leader told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that to her, the letter shows church leaders feel “threatened” by women in any form of leadership.
And in addition to citing such important feminists as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan as “role models in conflict with Catholic values,” Carlson wrote that he was also concerned about the GSA’s association with Amnesty International, Coalition for Adolescent Girls, and OxFam. “This is especially troubling in regards to sex education and advocacy for ‘reproductive rights’ (i.e. abortion and contraceptive access, even for minors),” he wrote.
His letter on the archdiocese website sparked debate on Facebook, where many churchgoers defended the scouts and criticized the archbishop. One wrote, “I’m pretty sure my kid will be accepted into heaven as a girl scout.” Another declared they would move their daughter to American Heritage Girls, an alternative group.
There is also a FAQ page, where chief among the questions is whether it’s okay to continue to buy cookies from the scouts.
The church’s answer is: “Each person must act in accord with their conscience.”
Bonnie Baczykowski, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, expressed disappointment in an email to the newspaper Friday but said she believed the cookie sales campaign would continue to be supported by the parishioners in the St. Louis archdiocese, if not its leadership.
The website does agree on one point with the Girl Scouts, however, and it is that these issues are for parents to discuss, and advises parishioners not “debate these issues with individual girls who are selling cookies.”
“Confrontations with our girls would be unacceptable,” Barcyzkowski emailed the newspaper. “The concerns expressed by the Archdiocese of St, Louis involve adult issues and are not appropriate to discuss with children.”
Carlson is calling on pastors whose churches host girl scout troop meetings on parish property to meet with scout leaders “to review these concerns and discuss implementing alternative options for the formation of our girls.”
And while he was at it, he also slammed the Boy Scouts of America, writing he was unsure “which direction this once trusted organization is now headed” since it began allowing gay troops and gay scout leaders. That decision spurred some churches to cut ties with the BSA.
Read the letter from Archbishop Carlson here: