The Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, is parting ways with Girl Scouts USA, saying the group is “no longer a compatible partner” in promoting the Catholic lifestyle.
The decision was announced by Kansas City Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann on Monday.
“With the promotion by Girl Scouts USA of programs and materials reflective of many of the troubling trends in our secular culture, they are no longer a compatible partner in helping us form young women with the virtues and values of the Gospel,” Naumann wrote.
No meetings, no cookies
Girl Scout troops are often hosted by and affiliated with area churches. According to Naumann’s statement, parishes were given the option of phasing out troop meetings on their premises “quickly,” or allowing Scout members to “graduate” over time and not replacing the flock.
The decision is not a surprise: The Kansas City Archdiocese in particular has voiced concerns for years that the Girl Scouts has in one way or another supported voices and organizations that run afoul of traditional Catholic sensibilities. In January, the Archdiocese announced it would forbid Girl Scout cookie sales on Catholic school and parish properties following the 2016-2017 school year.
Naumann cites the membership Girl Scouts USA has within the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, arguing the umbrella organization has ties to International Planned Parenthood. He also cites feminists Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem as examples of counter-Catholic “role models” that the Girl Scouts promotes among its members.
The Girl Scouts responds
The Girl Scouts, seemingly in specific preparation for these kind if claims, has an FAQ on its website that clarifies its position on things like abortion and planned parenthood.
“Girl Scouts of the USA does not have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood,” it reads.
As for its relationship with the world association, the organization Naumann sites as being affiliated with International Planned Parenthood, the Girl Scouts has this to say:
“The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) comprises 145 member organizations that promote mutual understanding and cross-cultural opportunities for girls around the world. Girl Scouts of the USA is one of the 145 member organizations… GSUSA does not always take the same positions or endorse the same programs as WAGGGS.”
The Girl Scouts also calls itself a “secular organization” that openly supports the “case-by-case” inclusion of transgender members and celebrates non-Christian faiths.
This rift has been simmering between the Kansas City Archdiocese and the Girl Scouts for years. In 2014, the Archdiocese released a summary of concerns raised over the compatibility of the Girl Scouts and their parishes. The concerns, voiced by a variety of sources including parents and parishioners, date back to 2008.
An alternative Scout group
In his latest letter, Naumann suggests the American Heritage Girls as an alternative to the Girl Scouts that is a “much better fit” with the values of the Archdiocese. The Heritage Girls defines itself as “the premier national character development organization for girls 5-18 that embraces Christian values and encourages family involvement.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Girl Scouts has not responded to the Archdiocese’s decision.