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Focus on the Family has met the devil's handmaiden, and guess what? She's dressed up like a Girl Scout.

In the January issue of its public policy magazine, Citizen, the Colorado Springs Christian ministry -- known for its virulent opposition to homosexuals and feminism -- published an article entitled "The Cookie Crumbles." Author Kathryn Jean Lopez warns readers that the 89-year-old Girl Scout organization has surrendered to politically correct social forces, including embracing lesbianism and rejecting God.

Lopez insists the girls' group supports affirmative action in the military, gender equity in sports programs and that members' mothers include -- get ready -- known participants of the Million Mom March.

"The Girl Scouts' leaders hope to make their youthful charges the shock troops of an ongoing feminist revolution," Lopez warns.

The underlying message is that, unlike the Boy Scouts' decision to evict gay scout leaders from their ranks, the Girl Scouts has not opted to enforce a similar rule with lesbians. But Sherry Goldston, the public relations manager of the Girl Scouts Wagon Wheel Council, is bewildered. The Girl Scouts, she points out, doesn't tolerate inappropriate behavior, period. "There's no sexuality in the Girl Scouts."

Lopez also claims that the Girl Scouts have not rejected God but have made him an "optional" part of their oath.

The Girl Scout Promise states: "On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law."

However, if a member is a Muslim or a Buddhist or some other religion, then she can use the appropriate substitute in place of "God," Goldston said. "As Muslims and others move into the country, we want them to feel comfortable," she explained.

A version of "The Cookie Crumbles" originally appeared in the October 23, 2000 issue of the ultra-conservative National Review, and Focus reprinted it just in time for the Girl Scouts' annual cookie sales drive.

But despite a few nutty calls, Goldston said, cookie sales -- whose proceeds benefit scout programs like sending girls to camp and first aid training -- are up two percent this year in the Pikes Peak region. (If you haven't ordered this year's batch, you can call 597-8603, ext. 70.)

"We have had people call the office and say they weren't going to buy any cookies because we support Planned Parenthood and lesbianism and on and on, and it's just crazy," Goldston said. Still, "most people have been astonished about this. It's like motherhood, apple pie and, you know, the Girl Scouts."

Even Focus must have since realized the article was extreme. Since the publication, online viewers can no longer access the story in the ministry's archives. And that's too bad, because though it attempts to be deathly serious, the piece is truly a classic among conspiracy-laden parodies.

Case in point: Lopez indignantly notes that Girl Scouts no longer focuses solely on stitching doilies and tea cozies. "Girl Scouts now can earn the 'Ms. Fix-It badge' for learning how to fix a leak, rewire an electrical appliance or recaulk a window, and the 'Car Care' badge for checking fluids, filling tires to the proper pressure, and performing checks," the article warns.

"Our feeling is, if [the girls] want to learn how to knit tea cozies, that's terrific, but some like other options, like learning how to fix a car," Goldston responded.

It's a little ridiculous that the venerable Girl Scouts organization must now try to defend itself. After all, locally, Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace is a lifelong member of the Girl Scouts. Imagination Celebration creator Mary Mashburn is a Girl Scout, as is nationally recognized educator Nancy Salzman, City Council member Judy Noyes, and last year's Southern Colorado Chamber of Commerce's Business Leader of the Year Renita Wolf.

A national study conducted by Louis B. Harris and Associates shows the following statistics about Girl Scout members:

87 percent do not feel pressured to have sex

90 percent do not feel pressured to use alcohol

92 percent do not feel pressured to smoke

96 percent avoid drugs

98 percent do not experience teen pregnancy

The Girl Scouts' mission statement is: "To inspire girls with the highest ideals of character, conduct, patriotism and service that they may become happy and resourceful citizens."

You'd think Focus on the Family President James Dobson would embrace that kind of clean living.

But apparently, the threat of feminism, lesbianism, and the notion that us delicate little ladies might learn how to fix a flat tire and conquer a man's world are just too much for the child psychologist/ national father figure to bear.

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