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This Week in God, 3.5.16

What's the best way for a Girl Scout troop to sell more cookies? As one Missouri troop found, it apparently involves harsh criticism from an Archbishop.
Girl Scouts sell cookies in New York, Feb. 8, 2013.
Girl Scouts sell cookies in New York, Feb. 8, 2013.
First up from the God Machine this week is a Catholic archdiocese in Missouri, which went after the Girl Scouts in a way that backfired rather spectacularly.
About two weeks ago, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson raised a few eyebrows when he urged priests to sever all ties with Girl Scout troops, insisting the girls' group promotes values that are "incompatible" with church's teachings.
"We must stop and ask ourselves -- is Girl Scouts concerned with the total well-being of our young women?" Carlson wrote in a letter. "Does it do a good job forming the spiritual, emotional, and personal well-being of Catholic girls?" The message went on to accuse the Girl Scouts of "exhibiting a troubling pattern of behavior."
As proof, the Archbishop pointed to the Girl Scouts' partnerships with Amnesty International and women's health groups that support access to contraception.
Of course, if the goal was to weaken support for the Girl Scouts, it appears the church leader did them an enormous favor. The Associated Press reported this week:

The Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri has raised a record amount of money at its annual fundraiser, a week after the Archdiocese of St. Louis suggested that local troops shouldn't be a part of its parishes. Spokeswoman Aurrice Duke-Rollings says the organization's event Thursday in St. Louis netted more than $350,000 from 500 guests as they enjoyed a variety of desserts inspired by Girl Scouts cookies.

The conservative campagn to drag the Girl Scouts into some kind of culture war comes up from time to time. In 2014, some Fox News personalities called for a Girl Scout boycott; in 2012, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops complained about the group's partnerships; and a little further back, 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.
For the American mainstream, however, Girl Scout support does not appear to be waning, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson's concerns notwithstanding.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer is apparently intervening in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, joining Ted Cruz on Monday for a campaign rally in Mississippi. The state's GOP primary is Tuesday.
* This should be an interesting case: "A Sikh combat soldier has filed suit against the U.S. Army for forcing him to undergo special testing before granting him a religious accommodation for his beard and turban. Capt. Simratpal Singh, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a decorated veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, says that Army authorities ordered him to report for three days of helmet and gas mask testing."
* This seems like a potentially problematic posture: "A top Mormon leader made some eyebrow-raising claims about the gay community during a visit to Chile last week. During a Feb. 23 meeting, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) Elder David A. Bednar claimed that he and his fellow Mormons 'do not discriminate' against gay and lesbian members because 'there are no homosexual members of the church,' Raw Story first reported."