Archbishop Robert Carlson won’t be stocking up on Thin Mints and Do-si-dos this year. He’s on a one-man crusade to rescue Catholic girls in the St. Louis Archdiocese (former home to ecclesiastical fashion icon, Cardinal Burke) from the corrupting influences of Girl Scouting.
Having read the Archbishop’s letter, I’m quite certain it isn’t Catholic values that are incompatible with Girl-Scouting (as he claims), but the values of a man who fears that which he cannot control: skilled, confident, self-sufficient women.
Let’s glance at a few of Girl-Scouting’s accomplishments over its 100-year history in the United States to decide for ourselves whether the Archbishop disbanded the Catholic Committee on Girl Scouts to protect the well-being of Catholic girls, or something else.
However you slice it, Girl-Scouting boasts an impressive record of preparing girls to live exemplary lives. Take a look at these numbers:
- Seventy-five percent of current female senators are Girl Scout alumnae.
- Fifty-three percent of women currently in the House of Representatives are Girl Scout alumnae.
- Five of the six current female governors are Girl Scout alumnae.
- Every female secretary of state in U.S. history is a former Girl Scout: Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Clinton.
Of course, you’d have to believe that women belong in high-profile leadership roles to value the above points.
How about business? It looks like Girl Scouting has that covered too:
- More than half (52%) of women in business are Girl Scout alumnae.
- Older women in business are more likely to have been Girl Scouts as girls; sixty-one percent of businesswomen age 65 and older are Girl Scout alumnae, as are 56 percent between the ages of 45 and 64.
- More than half (57%) of Girl Scout alumnae in business say that the Girl Scout Cookie Program was beneficial in the development of their skills today.
Again, if female empowerment isn’t a value the Archbishop holds dear, it would be quite easy to dismiss these statistics as inconsequential.
STEM anyone? Opportunities for girls to explore science, technology, engineering, and math are made possible in Girl Scouting by partnerships with AT&T, Lockheed Martin, and NASA. Interestingly, more than 20 NASA career astronauts were former Girl scouts, and the first woman to spacewalk, Dr. Kathryn Sullivan was, you guessed it, a Girl Scout.
Girl Scouting can even take credit for having been ahead of its time in 20th century America. Efforts began to desegregate scouting in the 1950s, causing Dr. Martin Luther King to identify Girl Scouting as “a force for desegregation.”
But, maybe forward-thinking isn’t the Archbishop’s cup of tea.
While the benefits of Girl Scouting may not be obvious to the Archbishop, one hopes he’s aware that the Girl Scouts, in addition to the innumerable growth opportunities it offers, also affords girls the chance to earn religious recognition awards developed and administered by their chosen faith community. The Roman Catholic Church currently offers seven of them.
At the end of the day, it’s lay Catholics who decide if their daughters join the Girl Scouts, not the Archbishop. If the Catholic girls of St. Louis are going to benefit from Girl Scouting, they’ll have to join troops outside of the Church, because the Archbishop has closed that door (why does that sound familiar)?
Buy cookies, my friends.