Bishops v Girl Scouts

It’s turning into a “you’ve got to be kidding” day. One “you’ve got to be kidding” after another.

What now? The notoriously vicious US Conference of Catholic Bishops is pitching a huge fit at the Girl Scouts.

Long a lightning rod for conservative criticism, the Girl Scouts of the USA are now facing their highest-level challenge yet: An official inquiry by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

An official inquiry? What does that even mean? What standing do the US bishops have to inquire officially into the Girl Scouts? What business are the Girl Scouts of theirs?

At issue are concerns about program materials that some Catholics find offensive, as well as assertions that the Scouts associate with other groups espousing stances that conflict with church teaching.

So what? So what so what so what? How is that any of their business? Why are they inquiring into it? Why do they think they get to tell people what to do? Why is it anything to do with them if the Scouts associate with other groups espousing stances that conflict with church teaching?

This is making me frantic, it’s so presumptuous and intrusive and theocratic. Whatever next? An official inquiry into bloggers? Atheists? Publishing? Public schools? Everything?

Why do they think they have any jurisdiction at all? Who exactly do they think they are? And who do they think we are? Their subjects?

The new inquiry will be conducted by the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. It will look into the Scouts’ “possible problematic relationships with other organizations” and various “problematic” program materials, according to a letter sent by the committee chairman, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne, Ind., to his fellow bishops.

It’s none of their business. It’s none of their business, it’s none of their business, it’s none of their business.

Girl Scout leaders hope the bishops’ apprehensions will be eased once they gather information. But there’s frustration within the iconic youth organization — known for its inclusiveness and cookie sales — that it has become such an ideological target, with the girls sometimes caught in the political crossfire.

“I know we’re a big part of the culture wars,” said the Girl Scouts’ spokeswoman, Michelle Tompkins. “People use our good name to advance their own agenda.”

“For us, there’s an overarching sadness to it,” Tompkins added. “We’re just trying to further girls’ leadership.”

I feel murderous. I want to make the USCCB a universal pariah. I want the bishops and their “conference” to be hated by every human on the planet except the pope. I want them to have to stop being bishops and get jobs picking cotton instead.

Mary Rice Hasson, a visiting fellow in Catholic studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank in Washington, accuses McCarty [executive director of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry] of “whitewashing” Girl Scout programs and policies that struck some Catholics as counter to church teaching.

“They just repeated the Girl Scouts’ denials,” Hasson said. “Families’ concerns were minimized or ignored.”

Hasson is pleased that the bishops are launching their own inquiry but is skeptical that further rifts can be avoided.

“A collision course is probably a good description of where things are headed,” she said. “The leadership of the Girl Scouts is reflexively liberal. Their board is dominated by people whose views are antithetical to the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

Jesus christ. They really do think they get to tell everyone what to do. They think they get to have “official inquiries” into whether or not some people are liberal and have views antithetical to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

I wonder who Mary Rice Hasson thinks she is. Doesn’t she realize she’s a woman? What’s she doing being a fellow at a think tank, and accusing people of things, and saying things? That’s not “complementary.” She’s denying The True Nature of Woman. The bishops aren’t going to let her into their club no matter how much accusing she does.

Ugh. I have a bad case of Catholicismophobia at the moment.




  1. 'Tis Himself says

    I suspect the Girl Scouts are guilty of three things:

    1. Teaching girls they have worth. This is contrary to the RCC’s misogynist worldview.

    b. Telling girls about sexuality, including contraception and even abortion. This is contrary to the beliefs of elderly, male, professional virgins.

    iii. Not having penises.

  2. A. Noyd says

    “For us, there’s an overarching sadness to it,” Tompkins added. “We’re just trying to further girls’ leadership.”

    Oy, well, that right there ain’t gonna sit well with a lot of people. Especially not with an organization where leaders are required to have wangs and be all manly ‘n’ shit.

  3. crowepps says

    Back in the ’50s, the Catholic Church gave parishioners a list of movies they weren’t allowed to go see, a list of books they weren’t allowed to read, a list of music they weren’t allowed to listen to, and put certain local businesses off limits. And, of course, not only did their hospitals tell people what kind of medical care they were allowed to have, they pressured doctors who were Catholic to do the same thing.

    Yes, they really truly do believe that everybody has to do things their way, and they are doing their absolute best to resurrect the power they think they are entitled to whereby they will be able to order the government to enforce their will.

    They have every intention of doing whatever they can to get even with those uppity women whose whining and complaining cut off their access to the little boys. How DARE they presume to tell PRIESTS they can’t do whatever they want?

  4. felix says

    Perhaps they could have a joint inquiry along with the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice and those nice men from Jerusalem who demand that women stay on the right side of the street.

    What’s it all about? Does God Hate Women?

  5. says

    An official inquiry? What does that even mean? What standing do the US bishops have to inquire officially into the Girl Scouts? What business are the Girl Scouts of theirs?

    Attention: I am hereby announcing an official inquiry into the US bishops.

    We’ll be covering a fair bit of ground in this one, so I naturally expect their various holinesses will clear their schedules for the next few months, make some time, come and submit properly and with due meekness and obeisance to our questioning.

    …I assure you it’s more in sorrow than in anger, of course. But we’ve been hearing disturbing reports that they’re a buncha comically presumptuous old dickheads with delusions of grandeur who desperately need to be force-fed their own mitres, so, naturally, we’re going to have to get to the bottom of this thing all formal-like.

    We are also, of course, in the spirit of public inquiries the world over soliciting questions from the public beforehand. Please feel free to provide such in this thread. Note, however, in the interests of avoiding duplication, that we already have the following on our list:

    — Honestly, who the fuck do you jokers think you are?
    — No, seriously, who the hell asked ya, ya ridiculous, senile old coots?
    — Did anyone rattle your chain? No? Then why the hell are you barking? We’ve a rolled up newspaper right here, gents, and we’re not afraid to use it.

    (/… thanking all of the bishops for their cooperation in advance, of course.)

  6. Erp says

    b. Telling girls about sexuality, including contraception and even abortion. This is contrary to the beliefs of elderly, male, professional virgins.

    Note that this is up to the local unit and only after getting parental permissions.

    The bishops don’t have as much power over the Girl Scouts as they do over the Boy Scouts (in the latter since various catholic churches charter troops the church representatives have a direct voice in council and national). They can make life difficult for the Girl Scout by refusing to allow Catholic churches to provide space or funding for any Girl Scout troop or event (church halls make convenient free meeting places in many areas); they can drop their youth religious emblem program for Catholic Girl Scouts (but that will mostly hurt them since all the Girl Scouts officially do is permit girls to wear the emblem on their uniform); they can criticize the Girl Scouts in the press. If they want to get really nasty, they could excommunicate Catholic girl scouts (at least adult members or parents).

  7. says

    Well the more they do their best to resurrect the power they used to have the more we have to make it hot for them. Hot hot hot hot hot. The glare of unwelcome unadmiring unaffectionate unimpressed secular attention.

    Hello, bishop. What are you doing, bishop. Put your hands where we can see them, bishop.

  8. felix says

    I think the Girl Scouts should admit their sins and make amends. Perhaps they could adopt the hijab as previously favoured by (men for) women in the Catholic church.

  9. scott says

    “Families’ concerns were minimized or ignored.”

    I am so fscking sick of hearing “family” this and “family” that from these clowns. I have a family too, and we’re sick and tired of these bishops sticking their big-hatted beaks where it’s none of their business. How much you want to bet that our concerns will be “mimimized or ignored”?

  10. Trebuchet says

    Thank you for not saying “Girl Scouts of America”, which unfortunately seems to show up more often than the correct name. My mother worked for the organisation for many years and that would drive her up the wall.

    You don’t specify what it is the bishops object to but I’d guess it has to do with being accepting of lesbians and transexuals. The GSUSA have been ahead of the curve in that area for a long time. At least half of my mother’s co-workers were gay, although necessarily in the closet at that time.

  11. katkinkate says

    I think the Girl Scout movement should cut all ties to the Catholic Church. They’ve no right to make demands of an organisation that isn’t their’s. What a bunch of dicks.

  12. Robert B. says

    The Catholic Church is opening an “official inquiry” into someone who they say offends Catholics and conflict with Catholic teaching? Does that scare the unholy flying fuck out of anyone else? They used to have a name for this shit. It started with I and ended with millions of dead people. Like Jews, or folks who bathed too often and therefore must have been Jews, or anyone with too much money and not enough friends who they could wrongfully accuse so as to take their wealth. The people they took were, as a rule, tortured, killed, and burnedAnd the USCCB wants to take that history, the shadow of that horror, and aim it at millions of little girls?

    What a bullying gang of evil old men.

    (I work at a store that sells Girl Scout supplies – uniforms and some of the pins and patches. When you say “Girl Scouts” I think of adorable little human beings, with faces, who I see every day. I am furious and terrified. I know it’s all bluster and bullshit, that the bishops can’t really do anything, but I can’t help it. You should see those proud little girls.)

    (At least two of my coworkers are Catholic. They’ve never mentioned why they’re Catholic, but right now I’m tempted to ask them.)

  13. Robert B. says

    Sorry, incomplete edit. I meant to write: “The people they took were, as a rule, tortured, killed, and burned, and if they were good and obediently confessed, it would happen in that order.”

  14. Kiwi Dave says

    Apparently, someone in the USBCC can’t distinguish between ‘official’ and ‘officious’.

  15. Pierce R. Butler says

    Let me FTFY, USCCB:

    An official inquirysition by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    You’re welcome!

  16. says

    The better to be angry, where can I find the original story? I don’t see a link.

    Now to go show this to my former Girl Scout wife.

  17. mikee says

    I think the Girl Scouts of America should have an enquiry into the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    I mean seriously they have just as much right to do it as the Bishops do.

    I’m just surprised that they aren’t trying to stick their noses into the Boy Scouts. Or perhaps they Have other plans for Boy Scouts?

    Nosy, interfering old pervert protectors!

  18. says

    NathanDST, there is no “original” story per se; it’s an AP wire story, which means it’s published concurrently by whichever subscribing publications think it’s relevant to their readers, with varying degrees of editing, depending mostly upon how lazy the respective publications are.

  19. jamessweet says

    Wow, this is really, really shitty. I also hate how gloat-y they are over their past bullyings:

    In other instances, the scouts have modified materials that drew complaints — for example, dropping some references to playwright Josefina Lopez because one of her plays, “Simply Maria,” was viewed by critics as mocking the Catholic faith.

    The federation’s executive director, Bob McCarty, praised the Girl Scouts for willingness to change some program content.
    “I don’t think any of this material was intentionally mean-spirited,” McCarty said. “I think a lot of it was lack of attention.”

    What the FUCK. Lopez is a playwright best known for a coming-of-age play and movie called Real Women Have Curves which is about young women dealing with the tension between traditional and modern ideals, and she is a great role-model for young girls. One of her early plays (about a similar topic, by the way) apparently treats the Catholic faith — which appears to be Lopez’s own faith, by the way — with just enough irreverence to make some Catholics get all pearl-clutchy. SO. WHAT. It’s not even like GSA was telling people that Simply Maria (the play in question) was great and they should see it and go laugh at Catholics, they were simply talking about Lopez as a role model. This is just total BS.

    NathanDST, there is no “original” story per se; it’s an AP wire story,

    I think by “original story”, people simply meant the thing Ophelia was quoting from. She never linked to it.

  20. Timid Atheist says

    I’m just surprised that they aren’t trying to stick their noses into the Boy Scouts. Or perhaps they Have other plans for Boy Scouts?

    Considering the boy scouts have constantly rejected GLBT people and are way more rigid and more conservative than the Girl Scouts are, I’d say the Bishops are more than okay with the boy scouts. Also, they’re boys, they get more privileges than girls in the eyes of these bishops.

  21. says

    Trebuchet, according to the article, what the bishops object to is utterly 1) remote and 2) trivial petty none-of-their-business stuff to do with some group with a table at an event some Scouts attended having a pamphlet that included a mention of contraception. Robert B, I think it’s funny that you asked if this scares anyone else. Hell yes it scares me! I thought I made that pretty clear. :- )

  22. Gregory in Seattle says

    I expect this “investigation” is to see if GSA is too “sinful” and “immoral” for churches, Catholic schools and other wholely owned subsidiaries of the Vatican to associate with. If this turns out to be the case, parishes, Catholic schools et al. will be ordered to sever all ties. Presumably, this is more desireable than trying to take it over, as they (jointly with the LDS) have done with the BSA.

  23. lordshipmayhem says

    The USCCB has as much standing to make an official inquiry into the Girl Scouts as the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints has of launching an inquiry into whether the USCCB is upholding the tenets of the FCLDS.

  24. says

    Well quite. It seems like a new level of presumption and universal bossiness (but that could be just my ignorance of precedents). Why would they even expect the Girl Scouts to refrain from associating “with other groups espousing stances that conflict with church teaching”? Why would they expect the Girl Scouts to pay any attention to Catholic “church teaching” at all? Are they now going to be demanding that everyone pay attention to “church teaching”? Just outright total unapologetic attempted takeover? Franco lives?

  25. Mr. Mattir, MRA Chick says

    What’s with Catholics figuring they should get in other people’s lives unasked? Until recently, we associated with a Boy Scout troop sponsored by a local RCC parish. Most of the kids were not Catholic. We’re humanistic Jews. Our Crazy Catholic Neighbor™ gave the Spawns numerous lectures on how to be Jews, none of which were either solicited or delivered in my presence. And most of his ideas were stupid and wrong, even from the Jewish theist perspective.

    I am still a Boy Scouting volunteer, but mainly so that there is someone who will stand up for kids who are being bullied. Not every gay kid, or even every kid who gets labeled as gay, has a choice about whether to do scouts. I want there to be an adult around who is an ally – none of the good Christian scoutmasters stepped in when a kid was bullied to tears a few years back, presumably because it was about Teh Ghey and the kid therefore deserved it.

  26. John Horstman says

    I want to make the USCCB a universal pariah. I want the bishops and their “conference” to be hated by every human on the planet except the pope. I want them to have to stop being bishops and get jobs picking cotton instead.

    The really disturbing part is that the (still mounting) evidence of a decades-long child-rape ring hasn’t already resulted in this. If systematically enabling clergy to rape the most vulnerable members of the population they’re nominally supposed to be protecting and guiding isn’t enough to turn people against the USCCB, I’m not sure what is. Why anyone still finds them relevant with respect to anything is beyond me.

    But, yeah, my reaction to the article was basically the same: so what? Let them inquire all they want – their opinions shouldn’t matter to anyone.

    Also, the article misrepresents the position of the GSUSA on the use of “god” in their pledge – it can be substituted with something else OR omitted entirely.

  27. says

    Maybe a petition or collection of signatures demonstrating our support of GSUSA’s policies as a balancing force? I know the petition thing seems done to death but it worked so well in the case of Starbucks vs NOM and JCPenny vs One Million Moms.

    Should I start one?

  28. Paul W. (OM) says

    I think I can understand the issues of “Official”ness and jurisdiction here.

    An official enquiry by an organization is just one that is explicitly authorized by the authorities of the organization, making it explicit that it’s not some rogue element doing the inquiring, that they do want the inquiring done, that they have a reasonable degree of confidence in the inquiry, and that they think it’s important enough to say so.

    I have no problem with that.

    I don’t have a problem with jurisdiction either. Their jurisdiction is whatever they say it is, for people dumb or deluded enough to take their “authority” seriously.

    It makes sense for them to be worried about stuff that affects Catholic girls and their Catholic values, and to investigate and report their concerns to their sheeple.

    I think that the Girl Scout leadership should return the favor, raise the stakes, and launch and Very Goddamned Official Inquiry into the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, making it very explicit why it’s not clear that being a Good Catholic is a good thing for Girl Scouts.

    In particular they should explain that they’re launching a Very Goddamned Official investigation because they’re Very Fucking Concerned about the USCCB in particular—there is excellent evidence that the USCCB systematically promotes anti-woman attitudes and has even been involved in a worldwide criminal conspiracy to harbor and protect child rapists, thus ensuring that the raping continues.

    That is an issue well within the jurisdiction of the Girl Scout leadership.

    They should make it clear and Very Fucking Official that every Catholic girl scout and her parents ought to be concerned as to whether Catholic bishops and priests are a danger to her psychologically, morally, and physically.

    Seriously, they should.

    At this point most US Catholics don’t take the bishops’ Official Pronouncements any more seriously than they do the Girl Scout leadership’s. (E.g., the overwhelming majority use birth control.)

    I’d like to see that conflict come to a head, and I’d especially like to see the bishops stick to their guns and say that Catholic parent mustn’t let their girls be Scouts because the Scouts aren’t anti-birth control.

    That would be awesome. If forced to choose, a whole lot of Catholics would choose Scouts over Catholicism. And a whole lot more would be royally pissed at the bishops for even trying to make them choose, especially over subjects where they think the bishops are just crazily wrong.

    But really, what would mainly happen is that Girl Scouts and their parents would just go elsewhere for scouting, and not tell their priests—or tell them and count on the priests not doing much of anything about it.

    It would just further erode the bishops’ appearance of authority and make them look like the crazily presumptious impotent old sexist kooks they are. Cool.

  29. sithrazer says

    And who do they think we are? Their subjects?


    …the geek in me can’t help but think that maybe this is the RCC version of civil war reenactments, only of the spanish inquisition instead. Except they’re actually using loaded muskets. >.<

  30. Erp says


    Also, the article misrepresents the position of the GSUSA on the use of “god” in their pledge – it can be substituted with something else OR omitted entirely.

    The official policy is that something must be substituted as a scouting promise is suppose to have three duties (to oneself, to God [interpreted very broadly so as to include Buddhists] and to country); this is a requirement from the international organization, WAGGGS. Unofficially, omission is probably allowed. Canadian Guides went a different way and have “to be true to myself, my beliefs and Canada” in their promise.

    BTW they are being attacked in part for connections to WAGGGS because of WAGGGS support of empowering girls to make decisions about their own bodies (e.g., being allowed to know about birth control). I did a little check on the WOSM (the counterpart international organization that the Boy Scouts of America belong to [originally WOSM was male only and WAGGGS female only though many orgs within WOSM are now co-ed]). Those world jamborees that WOSM puts on ever four years are quite upfront about the use of condoms. For instance in the participants’ handbook for the latest jamboree in Sweden:

    “If you are considering having sex, condoms are
    the best way to protect yourself against infec-
    tions and pregnancy. These are available from
    the Health Centres or can be purchased from
    the pharmacy on Four Seasons Square.”

    And it is not just Sweden, the world jamboree in Thailand in 2003 handed out free condoms. I look forward to the bishops’ investigation of the BSA for its connections to the WOSM. (Admittedly the BSA has not had to worry too much about the pregnancy risk at their own jamborees yet since 2013 is the first time venturers [the only youth part of BSA that is co-ed] will be allowed [and given that a consensual sexual relationship between two seventeen year old boys is inconceivable, I doubt they worried too much about sexually transmitted diseases at least on paper]).


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