Catholic bishops' newest target: Girl Scouts of America
The nation's cutest cookie pushers are the subject of an "official inquiry" by the bishops' Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.
Seattle Times staff columnist
The Little Rascals had the "He-Man Woman Haters Club." We've got The Catholic Church.
Just a few weeks after the Vatican started looking into the activities of the umbrella group representing some 57,000 American nuns, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) showed it had smaller fish to fry: The Girl Scouts of America (GSA).
The nation's cutest cookie pushers are the subject of an "official inquiry" by the bishops' Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, according to National Public Radio.
The bishops are suspicious of some of the scouts' program materials, and relationships with groups that conflict with church teaching. (The Girl Scouts are a secular group, but many troops are church-based.)
The USCCB doesn't like that the Girl Scouts have connected with groups like Doctors Without Borders, the Sierra Club and Oxfam International, because they support family planning and emergency contraception, the report said.
It doesn't like that the Girl Scouts belong to the 145-nation World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, which supports girls and women having "an environment where they can freely and openly discuss issues of sex and sexuality."
It doesn't like that one troop in Colorado welcomed a transgender Scout.
Nor does it like that when Girl Scouts CEO Anna Marie Chavez was featured in Marie Claire magazine, Scouts were directed to the magazine's home page, which includes the promotion of a sex-advice column.
That's rich: U.S. bishops getting so uptight about sex, when in 2004, a survey by the John Jay School of Criminal Justice found that 4,392 American priests were alleged to have sexually abused young people in their pastoral care.
Where was the outrage and inquiry then? Why weren't they as suspicious then as they are now?
If the bishops order Catholic girls to leave the Scouts, it could fold the organization's tent for good. Membership already has been dropping off, and the Girl Scouts estimate that one-fourth of their 2.3 million members are Catholic.
What a nice way to mark the Girl Scouts' 100th anniversary: Make them part of the continuing War on Women.
Think I'm being paranoid? Hysterical? Whatever else women are when they're right and you can't think of a decent comeback?
Then consider this: On the same day that the news broke about the bishops going after the Girl Scouts, we learned of a Phoenix high-school baseball team that backed out of the championship game because there was a girl on the opposing team.
Apparently, playing against females is against the beliefs of the good Catholic boys at Our Lady of Sorrows. They took one look at Mesa Preparatory Academy's second-baseman, Paige Sultzbach, and forfeited the game.
Walked away. From a championship game. Because of a girl.
There are, however, a few small signs of encouragement.
On Monday, President Obama made his sole commencement speech at the all-women Barnard College in New York City.
Maybe he knew we needed a little extra encouragement, what with our unequal pay, the dismantling of our reproductive rights, the church's out-of-nowhere attacks on nuns and, now, Girl Scouts.
"We are better off when women are treated fairly and equally in every part of America," Obama told the graduates, "whether it's the salary you earn or the health decisions you make."
Just the day before, on Mother's Day, the St. Joseph's Parish on Seattle's Capitol Hill distributed buttons supporting the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
"I Stand With the Sisters," the buttons read.
I pinned one to my purse.
Maybe the Girl Scouts need to design and distribute a badge to its troops for fighting this War on Women.
It could be the face of Gloria Steinem, or a "W" with a red line through it.
Nicole Brodeur's column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or email@example.com.
About Nicole Brodeur
My column is more a conversation with readers than a spouting of my own views. I like to think that, in writing, I lay down a bridge between readers and me. It is as much their space as mine. And it is a place to tell the stories that, otherwise, may not get into the paper.
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