Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Do it for the Children. Really.

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Oct 13, 2010

The current issue of Life Issues Connector, published by Dr. John Willke’s Life Issues Institute, is devoted to the Girl Scouts. That organization has long since been co-opted by the larger secular culture, and is now a leading supporter of secularism, sexual self-expression, contraception, and abortion. Seeing the Connector exposé made me wonder if I was wrong in taking for granted that everybody already knows this.

There are still some excellent Girl Scout troops around, but they are becoming increasingly rare in the face of the relentless push for a feminist, sexually-liberated culture from the highest levels of the organization. The Girl Scouts have made God optional, they shamelessly promote reproductive rights, they have some ties with Wiccan groups, and they have strong ties with Planned Parenthood. Many relevant details can be found in Willke’s article, The Girl Scouts: Promoting a pro-abortion agenda.

This information isn’t new; I’m hoping you were already aware of it. If you weren’t, it is something you need to know. And if you were (or are now), it is something you need to act on. There are some four million girls in the Girl Scouts. The annual membership fee alone brings over $30 million into the national organization’s coffers. Contrast this with 12,000 members in a new and growing group called American Heritage Girls, which is now organized in 38 states and three countries. AHG has Evangelical roots, I think, and it stresses Judeo-Christian values. Its coffers are obviously much smaller. I mention it not to recommend it, as do both doctors J. C. Willke and James Dobson, but simply as a counter-cultural example and a step in the right direction.

Far better for Catholic girls, of course, would be a specifically Catholic version of the same thing, if one can refer to anything genuinely Catholic as a mere “version”. The point is that the whole gamut of fun and wholesome activities really ought to be grounded in an authentic Catholic spirituality, and especially in the Eucharist itself. I’ve noticed Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops associated with various Catholic parishes and schools. Unlike their female counterparts, the Boy Scouts are fighting hard to retain their original Christian and patriotic identity, and it is possible to imbue local troops with a Catholic spirit without having to resist the blandishments and threats of the national organization. But this is hardly thinking outside the box, and with respect to the Girl Scouts, at least, it is by now absolutely essential to think outside the box.

Most of what is best in scouting occurs on the local level. The boys and girls don’t really care how much money the organization has, or how many kids are part of it in Timbuktu. This is something that the right people can organize easily in local parishes and dioceses. It doesn’t even need to go national or international unless or until it gathers some steam. Think small; think close-knit. Think songs around the campfire.

Somebody—or a significant group of somebodies in various places—ought to be a natural fit for developing a really successful Catholic “scouting” program, with all the attractive and exciting possibilities that young people can find in exploring nature, learning practical skills, becoming more self-reliant, and enjoying what we call the great outdoors. Pick appropriate men and women saints and name separate boy and girl branches of the organization either after these saints or, even better, after something drawn from their stories. Not St. George’s Dragons, probably, and certainly not St. Lucy’s Eyes. Perhaps St. Bernard’s Shots? No, better not. But a naming contest would be a great idea, and might generate some initial buzz.

Grace perfects nature without, if I might be so bold, making a dreary pious point out of it. So you have to avoid “St. Francis’ Little Flowers” for the boys, but just plain “Little Flowers” (after St. Thérèse of Lisieux) would be a fine name for the first level in the girls program. Whatever the names, the Catholic spirit should effortlessly permeate everything and make it better. We can take great ideas from anywhere, but there is never a need to imitate. This is what building a Catholic culture is all about, and here we have a neat, manageable, and truly joyful significant cultural project. Maybe we can make some real, tangible strides if we get serious about doing it for—and with—the kids.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: marianjohn7861 - Oct. 20, 2010 2:49 PM ET USA

    Catholic Daughters of the Americas (founded by the Knights of Columbus) has its "version" of girl scouts. It is Junior Catholic Daughters. Lately there is a new program, initiated here by the Health Department: "Girls on the Run". They meet after school to "prepare for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living". A friend whose discernment I respect said she would run away from it as far as possible. (elements of New Age, values clarification, some classic brainwashing techniques).

  • Posted by: - Oct. 16, 2010 8:50 AM ET USA

    Thanks for this info. My young grand-daughter, having had a girl-friend whose mom drove them to the G.S. activities, lost her ride and ability to get to them when the friend sent disturbing emails to my grand-daughter and my daughter therefore pulled her out of the G.S. I agreed with my daughter as this friend was the only way for my little one to get there. I especially agree thanks to your article about what the G.S. represents in these times. The friend's email called her a lesbian.

  • Posted by: Paul - Ave Law '07 - Oct. 14, 2010 1:05 PM ET USA

    Are there any good English language resources concerning the "Catholic scouting" movement in France and other European countries? I often see pictures and references to them in the context of Chartres and other pilgrimages.

  • Posted by: The Sheepcat - Oct. 13, 2010 11:57 PM ET USA

    What you're calling for sounds like the Federation of North-American Explorers (FNE). It is affiliated with the Union Internationale des Guides et Scouts d'Europe - FSE (and not with Scouts Canada, the Girl Guides, or the like), which has been recognized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Oct. 13, 2010 7:38 PM ET USA

    I was not aware of all this, my own girls having long since passed the age. Does this mean I have to stiff the little girls at their tables outside the supermarket?