Girl Scouts

Boys will be boys and now girls will be Boy Scouts. Any holy ghosts in this 'historic' news?

Boys will be boys and now girls will be Boy Scouts. Any holy ghosts in this 'historic' news?

This is huge news. Historic even.

At least that's how major news media outlets characterized the Boy Scouts of America's decision to accept girls.

To read accounts by national newspapers such as the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, most everybody greeted this gender-friendly development with enthusiasm -- with the notable exception of the Girl Scouts (a separate organization not excited about the looming competition).

Is there a religion angle to this story? Several of them, in fact? (You think?)

Believe it or not, the question of how faith-based groups so prominent in Scouting -- think the Mormons, United Methodists, Roman Catholics, Southern Baptists, etc. -- reacted to his change was conspicuously absent from the coverage I read. That's strange since about 70 percent of Scouting units are sponsored by religious groups.

Religion ghosts, anyone?

The lede from the New York Times:

The Boy Scouts of America announced plans on Wednesday to broadly accept girls, marking a historic shift for the century-old organization and setting off a debate about where girls better learn how to be leaders.
The Boy Scouts, which has seen dwindling membership numbers in recent decades, said that its programs could nurture girls as well as boys, and that the switch would make life easier for busy parents, who might prefer to shuttle children to a single organization regardless of gender.
“I’ve seen nothing that develops leadership skills and discipline like this organization,” said Randall Stephenson, the group’s national board chairman. “It is time to make these outstanding leadership development programs available to girls.”
The decision was celebrated by many women, but criticized by the Girl Scouts, which said that girls flourish in all-female groups.

The closest the Times gets to the holy ghost is right here:

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Why do some Catholics oppose the Girl Scouts? The Kansas City Star leaves out lots of details

Why do some Catholics oppose the Girl Scouts? The Kansas City Star leaves out lots of details

It’s no more Thin Mints, Trefoils or Do-Si-Dos for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City -- which is cutting all ties to the Girl Scouts, whose troops often meet on church property.

The Kansas City Star tried to explain it all in the article I’ll be dissecting below.

Before that, I do want to mention that my daughter is in her second year of Girl Scouts here in Washington state and she sold 132 boxes of cookies this past winter, which is pretty good for someone who did it door to door instead of having her mommy strong-arm fellow employees (which is what goes on in some families).

Plus, I was part of a troop in Connecticut many moons ago. I had to slog through the snow to sell cookies. Those have jumped from $4/box to $5 this year, of which the local troop only gets a fraction.

So what is going on in Kansas City. It appears that, these days, Girl Scouts is more of an ideology than an after-school activity for some folks:

Saying that Girl Scouts is “no longer a compatible partner in helping us form young women with the virtues and values of the Gospel,” the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas is severing ties with the organization and switching its support to a Christian-based scouting program.
“I have asked the pastors of the Archdiocese to begin the process of transitioning away from the hosting of parish Girl Scout troops and toward the chartering of American Heritage Girls troops,” Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann said in a statement released Monday.
“Pastors were given the choice of making this transition quickly, or to, over the next several years, ‘graduate’ the scouts currently in the program. Regardless of whether they chose the immediate or phased transition, parishes should be in the process of forming American Heritage Girl troops, at least for their kindergartners, this fall.”

As I scanned through the rest of the article, there was no mention of how many girls or troops this involves. How many troops meet at local Catholic churches? We’re not told.

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#DUH — Key to Boy Scouts story is located in pews, pulpits and debates on doctrine

#DUH — Key to Boy Scouts story is located in pews, pulpits and debates on doctrine

When I was growing up in Port Arthur, Texas -- certainly one of the most racially divided cities in America -- one of the primary forces for change was the Boy Scouts of America. My father was the pastor of an inner-city Southern Baptist congregation and working with children in the neighborhoods around our church was one of his priorities.

As you can imagine, some of the people in church pews in the late 1960s didn't share his perspectives on that issue. My father did what he could.

Thus, there was a simple reality: Look at a church's Boy Scouts troop and it told you quite a bit about the leadership of that church, as opposed to the policies of the Boy Scouts.

That's why I was interested, to say the least, in the following passage in the recent Washington Post story about the remarks by Boy Scouts of America President Robert M. Gates in which he urged the organization to reconsider its ban on openly gay Scout leaders.

... Steeped in tradition as they were, the Boy Scouts often struggled to handle change. Though the Girl Scouts formally banned segregation of its troops the 1950s -- prompting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to call the group “a force for desegregation” -- the last Boy Scout troop wasn’t integrated until 1974, according to NPR. ...

And unlike the Boy Scouts of America, from the beginning the Girl Scouts declared themselves to be “non-sectarian in practice as well as theory.” In 1993, when a prospective member protested the phrase “serve God” in the Girl Scout Promise, the organization ruled that members could substitute whatever phrase fit their beliefs. The Girl Scouts have never had a policy on homosexual members and have admitted transgender members since 2011.

The Boy Scouts, on the other hand, have long been inextricably tied to tradition and religion. The Scout’s oath pledges boys to “do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” A 2011 study of messaging in the Girl Scout and Boy Scout handbooks found that the Boy Scouts handbook relied on “organizational scripts” rather than autonomy and critical thinking, promoting “an assertive heteronormative masculinity.” Meanwhile, more than 70 percent of all troops are chartered to faith-based organizations, most of them Christian.

It doesn't take a doctorate in gender studies to find good and evil in that paragraph.

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Modern Girl Scouts for a modern age: What about God, country and great outdoors?

Modern Girl Scouts for a modern age: What about God, country and great outdoors?

The red numbers in a recent Associated Press report on the life and health of the Girl Scouts are pretty blunt. It's rare, these days, to see these kinds of crunch paragraphs right at the top of a report -- literally.

For the second straight year, youth and adult membership in the Girl Scouts has dropped sharply, intensifying pressure on the 102-year-old youth organization to find ways of reversing the trend.
According to figures provided to The Associated Press, the total of youth members and adult volunteers dropped by 6 percent over the past year -- from 2,994,844 to 2,813,997. Over two years, total membership is down 11.6 percent, and it has fallen 27 percent from a peak of more than 3.8million in 2003.
While the Girl Scouts of the USA have had an array of recent internal difficulties -- including rifts over programming and serious fiscal problems -- CEO Anna Maria Chavez attributed the membership drop primarily to broader societal factors that have affected many youth-serving organizations.

In other words, how do you keep them down on the farm (or at a campground) digging in the dirt (even when the goal is to earn environmental badges) after they have seen edgy fashion sites on their smart phones and tablet computers? 

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