St. Louis Archbishop voices opposition to Girl Scouts

Catholics should think twice before indulging in a box of Thin Mints, according to the St. Louis archbishop, who said the church disagrees strongly with some of the Girl Scouts' values.

In a letter to priests, followers and scout leaders, Archbishop Robert Carlson said the behavior and views of one of America's oldest, secular youth organizations run at odds with the teachings of the Catholic church -- in particular, the Girl Scouts' support for transgender rights and homosexuality.

“Girl Scouts is exhibiting a troubling pattern of behavior and it is clear to me that as they move in the ways of the world it is becoming increasingly incompatible with our Catholic values,” Carlson's letter read in part. 

"While Catholics are called to treat all people with compassion and mercy, we must at the same time be mindful of whom we allow to teach and form our youth and the messages they present," he wrote in the letter dated Feb. 18.

"Girl Scouts is exhibiting a troubling pattern of behavior and it is clear to me that as they move in the ways of the world it is becoming increasingly incompatible with our Catholic values."

— St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson

Carlson also voiced his opposition in a statement on the archdiocese’s website, pointing to a number of concerns he had over the Girl Scouts' actions. He claimed, for instance, that the organization recently refused a gift of $100,000 that was pledged with the stipulation that it "wouldn't support transgender girls."

"Since the funds were designated this way, Girl Scouts declined the gift and instead used the national media attention to raise over $300,000 with the tagline that Girl Scouts is 'for every girl,'" the website said.

St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson

St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson (Archdiocese of St. Louis)

The archdiocese also said troops in Utah have recently been formed exclusively to reach out to transgendered youth and that the Girl Scouts celebrated the historic Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage on its Instagram and Twitter accounts.

In voicing his opposition, Carlson called for pastors who allow troops to meet on parish property "to conduct a meeting with troop leadership to review these concerns and discuss implementing alternative options for the formation of our girls."

He also disbanded the Catholic Committee on Girl Scouts and instead formed a Catholic Committee for Girls Formation that will "be charged with ministry to all girls in various organizations."

The St. Louis Archdiocese also addressed the celebrated Girl Scout cookies. Its website included a question-and-answer section, advising Catholics on how to confront the differences between the church and the scouts.

"Can I still buy Girl Scout Cookies?" reads one section.

"Each person must act in accord with their conscience," the archdiocese said. "Here are a few things to consider when making your decision: There is a licensing fee attached to each box of Girl Scout cookies produced, paid to GSUSA."

Licensing fees paid to Girl Scouts of America on all trademarked Girl Scout items (cookies, Girl Scout curriculum books and badges, ice creams, coffee creamers, etc.) amounts to millions of dollars every year, according to the archdiocese, which claims on average only 10 to 20 percent of the total cookie revenue remains with the troop selling the cookies.

Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri serves over 43,000 girls with the support of over 15,000 adult volunteers in the City of St. Louis and 28 surrounding counties in eastern Missouri.

The organization responded to Carlson, saying in a statement, "Although Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri has enjoyed a history of cooperation with the Archdiocese of St. Louis for almost 100 years, over the past several years, you may have become aware of issues expressed by the Archdiocese of St. Louis regarding Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

"Although we are a secular organization, we greatly value our long-standing partnerships with religious organizations across many faiths," said Bonnie Barczykowski, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri CEO.

"I am grateful for what you do each and every day as parents and leaders of these young women. I am here to support you and your girls. We are honored that you choose Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri," she said, Fox affiliate KTVI-TV reported.