From Concerned Women for America ( CWA)
Girl Scouts’ Stumble Boosts Christian-Based American Heritage Girls 3/30/2004
By Martha Kleder
Planned Parenthood connection raises questions about GSA’s priorities.
What started as a local boycott of Girl Scout cookies in Waco, Texas, has blossomed into a nationwide investigation into the connection between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.
At the same time, the Christian-based American Heritage Girls (AHG) is picking up new members and troop leaders thanks to the controversy.
“We are Christ-centered, not spiritually principled (GSUSA’s words), and that makes a huge difference,” American Heritage Girls founder Patti Garibay told CWA. “Just since the article in the March 22, 2004, USA Today, we have had 800,000 hits to our Web site, over 400 requests for information through the Internet, along with countless phone calls to our office, and we have been dealing with this issue for several weeks before that story ran.”
Garibay added that AHG now has 2,800 girls enrolled and 450 volunteers across 22 states. Since this renewed attention on the Girl Scouts’ unwholesome alliances, Garibay says, Heritage has seen an increase in membership interest.
“We have 25 pending troops right now, and in just two days we have sent out 15 information kits. Those kits, which begin the troop charter process, have to be purchased, so that indicates serious interest,” she added.
But while those contacts are boosting AHG ranks, Garibay says they are far from joyful.
“We have also been doing a lot of counseling,” she added. “People are just heartbroken to learn of these activities between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood. However, this is really nothing new.”
Girl Scouting’s secretive alliance
The alliance between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood appeared at first to be limited to the Bluebonnet Council of Girl Scouts in central Texas. It has since been revealed that the close association is nationwide and reaches to the top of the Scouting organization.
Girl Scouts CEO Kathy Cloninger admitted on NBC’s Today Show that many troops have alliances with Planned Parenthood and that those relationships would continue.
Across the nation the alliances have taken many forms:
• In Waco, Texas, the Bluebonnet Council places the national Girl Scout logo on posters for Planned Parenthood of Central Texas’ annual summer sex-education seminar for fifth to ninth graders.
• That Council also gave a “woman of distinction” award last year to the executive director of Planned Parenthood of Central Texas.
• Nevada’s Frontier Council Web site advertised a March 20 feminist conference featuring Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt and a workshop on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered issues.
• In 2003 the Girl Scouts of Connecticut honored a Planned Parenthood official for her outstanding work in promoting “healthy practices” in local troops.
• The Girl Scout leadership manual gives visits to health clinics like Planned Parenthood as an acceptable option for Brownie troops. Brownies are for girls six to eight years old.
These are just a few of the ties uncovered by Jim Sedlak of Stop Planned Parenthood International (STOPP), an American Life League affiliate. On April 5, STOPP plans to release a report, available on-line, listing all 315 councils of Girl Scouts of the USA, and their affiliation with Planned Parenthood.
“The alliance between the two groups is definitely supported at the highest levels of Girl Scouting,” Ed Szymkowiak, STOPP’s national director, told CWA. “But one thing that has stood out in the investigation is just how local an issue this is. We have had councils that said they do not affiliate with Planned Parenthood, we have had councils that have refused to answer the question and still others have said they do not now, but will not rule out the possibility.”
“One council executive director told us that there is nothing prohibiting a local troop leader from initiating such a relationship, even if the area council has no connections to Planned Parenthood,” he added. “Parents really need to watch this issue on their local level.”
Similar dilemma sparked AHG’s founding
Controversy has followed the Girl Scouts for some time. The Cincinnati, Ohio-based American Heritage Girls was formed in 1995 after “flexibility” was adopted within the Girl Scout promise, allowing girls to replace the word “God” with concepts of their own choosing.
Garibay says that was just one of many changes she witnessed.
“This issue about ties between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood is nothing new,” she said. “We saw the same thing 10 years ago in our area that the folks in Waco just discovered. To this day, the Girl Scouts continue to align themselves only with pro-abortion groups. So, I was not surprised when The Waco Tribune ran an article indicating that the Girl Scouts USA had not apologized for the affiliation, but simply backed away to end the bad press.”
Along with the abortion culture, the Girl Scouts also tacitly endorse lesbianism as an acceptable lifestyle.
“And it was in 1994 that then-Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders made positive comments about lesbian Girl Scout leaders,” Garibay added. “We regularly hear from folks across the country about lesbian activity within their local troops or regional councils.”Other efforts include a push to de-feminize the program by removing badges for all traditionally feminine or domestic-related pursuits and replacing them with career-focused activities.
The Girl Scouts have also taken steps to remove as many references to faith as possible from the program.
From the Girl Scouts of the USA Web page “Girl Scout Beliefs and Values,” the national organization makes clear that its chief value is a “spiritual”-based diversity. Leaders receive the following instructions:
• Even if your troop is all of one faith, the Girl Scout meeting is not an appropriate place for prayers and hymns. Girl Scouts is not a religious organization.
• Help girls to be sensitive to all spiritual beliefs when picking readings for ceremonies, or songs for around mealtime. The songs and readings chosen can celebrate similarities as well as differences in beliefs. Avoid references to “God” as being a specific deity.
“Prayer is now banned at Girl Scout meetings,” said Garibay. When I was a Scout, you would at least say a brief prayer of thanks before snack time, or sing Christmas carols in December, but not anymore.”
The purge of religion has been taken a step further, Garibay says. Even living out your own faith has become taboo.
“People are now being asked to step down as troop leaders because they, personally, are ‘too religious,’” she said.
American Heritage Girls: A growing option
“When developing American Heritage Girls, we wanted to make sure that Christian values would remain at the core,” Garibay said. “We took the advice of my friends in the Boy Scouts, and we stay away from all government or United Way funding. [Editor’s note: About 60 United Way chapters have withdrawn support of the Boy Scouts over the Scouts’ refusal to allow homosexual troop leaders or members.]
“We operate on a charter system, so that the chartering organization owns the troop. We charter to churches and Christian schools, so that the AHG troop operates just like any other ministry under their wing.
“We require that all troop leaders sign a statement of faith,” she added. “But the girls who attend are not required to. All girls are welcome.”
If you would like more information on American Heritage Girls, either on troops in your area or starting one at your church or Christian school, visit the American Heritage Girls Web site.