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Girl Scouts caught in a culture war (again)

<p>Conservatives' antipathy towards the Girl Scouts used to be found on the fringes.</p>
Girl Scouts caught in a culture war (again)
Girl Scouts caught in a culture war (again)

Conservatives' antipathy towards the Girl Scouts used to be found on the fringes. In 1994, for example, James Dobson's Focus on the Family published a memorable attack on the Girl Scouts, insisting the group "lost their way" after the Scouts made a religious oath optional for membership.

I can't find it online anymore, but back in 2005, Amanda Marcotte had a great item about various paranoid voices on the right, complaining about "radical lesbian feminists" having taken over the Girl Scouts. [Update: Amanda wrote about this last year, too.]

Culture-war criticism of the Girl Scouts appears to be intensifying. The religious right keeps targeting the group; some Republican policymakers have done the same; and now the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is getting in on the act.

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. The Scouts, who have numerous parish-sponsored troops, deny many of the claims and defend their alliances.The inquiry coincides with the Scouts' 100th anniversary celebrations and follows a chain of other controversies. [...]Some of the concerns raised by Catholic critics are recycled complaints that have been denied by the Girl Scouts' head office repeatedly and categorically. It says it has no partnership with Planned Parenthood, and does not take positions on sexuality, birth control and abortion."It's been hard to get the message out there as to what is true when distortions get repeated over and over," said Gladys Padro-Soler, the Girl Scouts' director of inclusive membership strategies.

Michelle Tompkins, the Girl Scouts' spokesperson, told the AP, "I know we're a big part of the culture wars. People use our good name to advance their own agenda.... For us, there's an overarching sadness to it. We're just trying to further girls' leadership."

Apparently, that's a problem.

It's worth appreciating just how common this is. As recently as December, Fox News went after the group quite a bit, and CNN contributor Dana Loesch not only lamented the "moral decline" of the Girl Scouts, she also suggested conservatives should stop buying their cookies as a form of political protest.

Comedy Central recently responded with the appropriate derision: "Don't be fooled by those cute little outfits or merit badges. The Girl Scouts aren't just selling you a pack of cookies -- they're selling you a pack of lies, with a light coating of toasted coconut communism. Why do the Girl Scouts teach survival skills? It's clearly an attempt to build some kind of liberal tween militia. Volunteering and 'helping' others? Just another strategy to mobilize the working poor and other key Democratic voting blocs."

This was, in case it's not obvious, sarcasm.

While much of the mainstream likely considers Girl Scouts as American as moms, baseball, and apple pie, the culture warriors don't seem to care.

(Image: Pam's Pics/Flickr)