RSS
4 other times the Girl Scouts have been demonized by the religious right
Pastor Kevin Swanson's accusations that Girl Scout cookies support lesbians and communists is only the latest bizarre accusation
 
You sure you want to buy cookies from such "a wicked organization"?
You sure you want to buy cookies from such "a wicked organization"? (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Every time you eat a Thin Mint cookie an innocent, adorable Girl Scout becomes a radical, communist lesbian.

That's at least what some members of the religious right would like you think. Despite the fact that Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, and Laura Bush have all served as honorary leaders of the Girl Scouts, social conservatives have made those pesky cookie-fundraising, female-empowering troops a prime target.

Most recently, Pastor Kevin Swanson this week used his show, His Generations Radio, to denounce the Girl Scouts as "a wicked organization" whose "vision of America is antithetical to a biblical vision of womanhood." He urged listeners not to incur the Almighty's wrath by buying Tagalongs and Do-Si-Dos, saying, "I don't want to support lesbianism, I don't want to support Planned Parenthood, and I don't want to support abortion. And if that be the case I'm not buying Girl Scout cookies."

While Swanson's remarks are certainly some of the wildest charges ever directed at the century-old organization, there are many others. Here are four other times the religious right perplexingly made the Girl Scouts their punching bag.

Kathryn Jean Lopez's rant in National Review
In the days leading up to George W. Bush's election in 2000, Lopez decided to ignore the horse race and go on an epic, 1,400-word-plus tirade against the Girl Scouts in National Review for their "ongoing feminist revolution."

What is most perplexing of the many odd accusations she makes against the Girl Scouts is the way she cites mainstream, positive attributes as evidence of a radical agenda. For example, she writes that then-executive director of the Girl Scouts, Marsha Johnson Evans, "had a 29-year career in the Navy, during which she earned the title of rear admiral, only the second woman to ever do so" — and that is apparently a bad thing, since it's somehow connected to the shadowy "Clinton military."

She also chides the Girl Scouts for "help[ing] organize Earth Day celebrations," and being given "Ms. Fix-It" badges for "learning how to fix a leak, rewire an electric appliance, or re-caulk a window." Apparently, teaching girls how to perform simple tasks that were considered the exclusive realm of men during the Eisenhower administration qualifies as an "ongoing feminist revolution."

That time the Girl Scouts participated in a United Nations conference
In 2010, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts participated in the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, a women's rights initiative that is about as harmless as it sounds. But with the U.N. being a bugaboo for all kinds of extreme-right causes, many in the religious right began spreading myths that the Girl Scouts were distributing Planned Parenthood brochures to "push promiscuous sex on girls," as Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Council claimed.

In reality, "none of the girls in attendance or their chaperones ever saw the brochure," Amanda Marcotte reported at Slate. Also, as the Girl Scouts state on their website, they "have no relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood." However, that has not stopped Ruse from accusing them in the Washington Times of being "aggressively pro-abortion."

Speak Now: Girl Scouts
No, Taylor Smith did not write an ode to Girl Scouts (yet). In 2011, two Texas sisters, Sydney and Tess Volanski, created a blog called Speak Now: Girl Scouts to expose the "corrupt behavior" of their former scouting ways. They, too, perpetuated the myth about Girl Scouts distributing Planned Parenthood pamphlets.

The Volanskis became darlings of the religious right. Unfortunately for them, their evidence would be a lot more credible if it hadn't been revealed that their mother, Christy, had been pushing a "Make the Girl Scouts Clean Again" Facebook group and speaking against abortion on Christian radio shows long before her daughters' website.

Bob Morris' refusal to honor the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts
No one outside of Indiana (and probably not even most people there) had heard of Morris, a state representative from Fort Wayne, until he decided to take a stand against the least controversial political resolution in American history: Celebrating the centennial anniversary of the Girl Scouts. His reasoning? The Girl Scouts' models are "feminists, lesbians, and communists," he declared in a letter printed in the Indiana Journal Gazette. He continued:

The fact that the Honorary President of Girl Scouts of America is Michelle Obama, and the Obamas are radically pro-abortion and vigorously support the agenda of Planned Parenthood, should give each of us reason to pause before our individual or collective endorsement of the organization. [Indiana Journal Gazette]

Morris did not realize that every First Lady is the honorary president, including, as mentioned above, Republican ones. For a good measure of crazy, he added that "abundant evidence proves that the agenda of Planned Parenthood includes sexualizing young girls through the Girl Scouts." He later apologized for his tone, but said he would not support the resolution because "my conscience would not allow me to support an organization that supports Planned Parenthood."

Pretty sure the Girl Scouts don't miss his endorsement.

 
Emily Shire is chief researcher for The Week magazine. She has written about pop culture, religion, and women and gender issues at publications including Slate, The Forward, and Jewcy.

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week