When many parents think of Girl Scouts, they imagine young girls in uniform selling Thin Mints and Tagalong cookies – not learning about stone labyrinths, world peace, global warming, yoga, avatars, smudging incense, Zen gardens and feminist, communist and lesbian role models.
But that’s exactly what many of 2.7 million Girl Scouts will learn about with a new curriculum called “Journeys” released last year.
Patti Garibay spent nearly two decades in Girl Scouts – six years as a girl member and 13 years as a volunteer. She was also a recruiter, camp coordinator and area delegate winning outstanding leader and volunteer in both councils in which she served. In Garibay’s words, she “bled green.”
But in 1993 when Girl Scouts USA decided to make God optional in its program at the national convention in Minneapolis, an idea known as “Proposal 3: Flexibility in Spiritual Wording,” Garibay chose to leave the organization.
“I had always used Girl Scouts as part of my life’s ministry, modeling my faith while serving girls,” she told WND. “However as this change became policy, mandates were made against Christmas caroling, praying at meetings and singing hymns. I had a true moral dilemma and felt that I could not uphold the GSUSA’s rules and remain a Christian never denying my Lord.”
In the Girl Scout curriculum, the organization’s promise now includes an asterisk with the following disclaimer:
Girl Scouts of the USA makes no attempt to define or interpret the word “God” in the Girl Scout Promise. It looks to individual members to establish for themselves the nature of their spiritual beliefs. When making the Girl Scout Promise, individuals may substitute wording appropriate to their own spiritual beliefs for the word “God.”
Garibay said it appears that Girl Scouts has taken a stance toward religion – the religion of the New Age – despite its proclaimed secular scouting program. WND asked Girl Scouts USA spokeswoman Michelle Tompkins if the organization is shifting its focus toward a New Age agenda.
“No, Girl Scouts isn’t headed into a New Age direction,” she said. “We’re just looking for new ways to get through to girls.”
WND reviewed the following books in the Girl Scouts’ new “Journeys” curriculum:
‘Amaze: The Twists and Turns of Getting Along’
In “Amaze: The Twists and Turns of Getting Along,” girls from the sixth to the eighth grade will read a quote from Buddha and be encouraged to explore mazes and stone or dirt labyrinths – symbols rooted in pagan mythology and popular within the New Age movement as meditation tools.
They will be briefly introduced to Polish poet Anna Swir, known for her feminist and erotic poems, and Jane Addams, an ardent feminist and pacifist who received a Nobel Peace Prize.
The text features a quote from Harriet Woods, former president of the National Women’s Political Caucus – a bipartisan group that endorses pro-abortion female candidates who run for public office.
To cope with bullying, girls as young as 11 are encouraged to “take a peace break,” make a Zen garden, take martial arts, do yoga and visit a website to learn the sun salutation poses.
The book features a strong emphasis on feminism and world peace, concluding with the following message:
Life is a maze. Navigate its twists and turns and you’ll find true friendships, meaningful relationships, and lots of confidence to boot. So, go ahead, enter the maze. The goal is peace – for you, your world, and the planet, too.
Garibay said, “Placing an asterisk by the word ‘God’ in the Girl Scout promise in an effort to be tolerant, yet promoting Eastern mysticism through Zen gardens and Buddha writings hardly seems tolerant to those who believe in Christianity.”
In the next age group, for teens in the ninth and tenth grades, girls are taught about wage disparities between the sexes, and a lack of assets and senior management positions held by women.
“Girltopia” poses the questions, “When women don’t earn enough, what happens to their children?” and “How could everyone help create a Girltopia?”
Asked what the purpose of including a message of inequality served in the Girl Scout curriculum, Tompkins explained:
It’s to show girls what’s going on in the country and have them be part of the dialogue. A lot of girls just aren’t aware of what’s going on. I think that specific topic might be new this year, but in the broader scheme of things, it’s not that new. I’m sure it’s something that came up in the 1920s as well. Girls Scouting has been around since before women had the right to vote, so I’m sure these discussions were always part of this.
The text praises Renaissance author Sir Thomas More for his book “Utopia,” Mary Cavendish for her book “A New World: The Blazing World” about a utopian kingdom and 24-year Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood and feminist author Sheri S. Tepper for her novel, “The Gate to Women’s Country.”
“Girltopia” encourages girls to “let songs inspire you,” and as some examples, it provides lyrics to songs such as “Independent Women, part 1″ by Destiny’s Child; “Hammer and a Nail” by the Indigo Girls – an “out” lesbian rock band; and “Imagine” by John Lennon. The curriculum also asks girls to create an avatar “to represent the ideal you in Girltopia” and features “Wild Geese,” a short poem by lesbian poet Mary Oliver.
“This book was so depressing that I don’t know what I would have done as a teen reading it,” Garibay said. “The sense of hopelessness abounds in ‘Girltopia.’ The positivity, the enthusiasm and the vigor of youth is completely destroyed by data found to further the Girl Scout USA’s feminist agenda. It plants seeds of despair and hopelessness in today’s girls.”
“Girltopia” also features a section on ethics and asks, “What are your ethical standards based on?” Girls must check all of the following answers that apply:
Whatever does the most good and least harm
Whatever treats everyone as fairly and equally as possible
Whatever is best for most people in the community
Whatever is consistent with your character
“Although not everyone shares the same sense of personal ethics, most people in the world have many ethical principles in common,” it states.
“The hollow toll of moral relativism is throughout these books,” Garibay said. “The girls are left up to their own ‘feelings’ in making decisions. This is not age appropriate for girls, nor is it what girls want to be forced to do. They want to know right from wrong.”
‘Your Voice Your World: The Power of Advocacy’
When teens reach their junior and senior years in high school, they begin a Girl Scouts curriculum called “Your Voice Your World: The Power of Advocacy.” It encourages young women to begin “raising their voices as advocates” and follow the examples of other young people who are speaking out on causes such as global warming, universal health care, racism and child poverty.
One question asks, “What policies is our city putting in place to combat global warming?”
Teens are then asked to generate a list of causes they are passionate about. One example suggests girls “propose new environmental protection laws for waterways in your state.”
The text encourages Girl Scouts to take their ideas and list steps necessary to accomplish goals on advocacy charts. It provides the following suggestion for a cause:
I worry about all the waste in using plastic bags and how their use in my community contributes to global warming. One example is the supermarket – do we really need to be using all those plastic bags?
Girls are encouraged to read the bottom of each page to discover a “Voice for Good,” or female advocates who are meant to be role models. Of more than 50 women listed, only three are women who are known for their faith: Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman and Mother Teresa. Their religions are only briefly mentioned, if at all.
Many of the female role models mentioned are feminists, lesbians, existentialists, communists and Marxists. Examples include:
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: labor leader, activist, feminist, founding member of ACLU and chairwoman of the American Communist Party
Luisa Moreno: labor leader, social activist, member of the Communist Party, married to delegate of the Socialist Party of America
Simone de Beauvoir: existentialist, French author of feminist books including “The Second Sex,” key player in France’s women’s liberation movement
Rigoberta Menchu: Guatemalan activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner who joined Marxist guerrilla movement
Emily Greene Balch: writer, feminist, recipient of Nobel Peace Prize, pacifist who campaigned against U.S. involvement in World War I, former editor of The Nation
Billie Jean King: retired tennis champion, sued for palimony by lesbian girlfriend while she was still married, first prominent professional athlete to come out as homosexual
Billy Jean King (photo: Stanford University)
Ethel Mary Smyth: English composer, lesbian, leader of the women’s suffrage movement, member of Women’s Social and Political Union
Ethel Mary Smyth
Jeanette Rankin: first woman elected to the House of Representatives, R-Montana, pacifist who voted against U.S. entry into World War I and World War II, founding vice-president of American Civil Liberties Union and founding member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Carrie Chapman Catt: feminist politician, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, founded the League of Women Voters, anti-war activist
Frances Perkins: teacher and U.S. secretary of labor from 1933 to 1945, first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet, helped write New Deal legislation including minimum-wage laws, allegedly had lesbian relationship with Mary Harriman Rumsey
Rachel Carson: marine biologist and nature writer, author of “Silent Spring” (1962), spurring a nationwide ban on DDT, inspiration from book led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, reported to have had lesbian relationship with Dorothy Freeman
Barbara Jordan: member of House of Representatives from 1973 to 1979, first black woman to deliver keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 1976, supported Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 requiring banks to lend to poor and minority communities. The Houston Chronicle reported Jordan had lesbian partner of more than 20 years named Nancy Earl
Martina Navratilova: former World No. 1 women’s tennis champion from Czechoslovakia who fled communism, came out openly as a lesbian and admitted to having crushes on other female tennis players, spoke before the National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights, was 2000 recipient of National Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign
Shirley Chisholm: member of the House of Representatives from 1969 to 1983, feminist, first black woman elected to Congress, first major-party black candidate for president of the United States, founding member of the National Organization of Women, helped pass Title IX, homosexual advocate
Pauli Murray: feminist, lawyer, writer, poet, teacher, ordained priest, author of the 1950 book “States’ Laws on Race and Color,” founder of the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, co-founder of the National Organization for Women.
Betty Friedan: feminist writer on Girl Scouts’ board of directors, best remembered for 1963 book “The Feminine Mystique,” primary founder and first president of the National Organization for Women, founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus, strong opponent of abortion laws, founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League, or NARAL, active in Marxist circles, spoke in favor of homosexual “rights”
Dolores Huerta: co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association with Cesar Chávez, directed the UFW’s national grape boycott, serves on boards of People for the American Way and Feminist Majority Foundation, spoke in favor of “gay” and lesbian rights, marched in GLBT parades, served as Human Rights Campaign board member
Bette Midler: singer, actress, self-proclaimed advocate for “gay liberation movement”
Other “Voices for Good” include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – a former Brownie and Girl Scout – and TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey.
WND asked Tompkins why Girl Scouts USA has chosen to focus on lesbians, radical feminists and controversial figures as role models instead of other significant female pioneers.
“There was a council of people who worked on the ‘Journeys.’ They tried to figure out who would be profiled,” she said. “It came out from lots of discussions. I think the change the world message has been part of Girl Scouts since the beginning. It’s not a radical agenda at all.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – former Girl Scout
She continued, “I think the concept of change is incredibly radical, but it’s about making the world better and being conscious and respecting authority. There was a wide cross-section of women mentioned in the ‘Journeys’ that came about from the discussions.”
Readers will find very few men in the book, with the exception of a brief mention of Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations.
“Men are not seen favorably but, rather a force to diminish and avoid,” Garibay said. “It alarmed me that women of faith were only mentioned in these few cases despite their many contributions. Not one pro-life woman was mentioned, nor was a missionary or conservative public figure.”
Tompkins said she doesn’t know why there are only three women of faith mentioned, but she said, “Girl Scouts isn’t a religious organization, so that could be part of it.”
She continued, “I would imagine we keep everything open when it comes to faith. I know no doors are ever shut with us. It’s sort of like the way that God can never be taken out of the Girl Scout promise and law – in writing.”
“Your Voice Your World” finishes by encouraging teens who are bitten by the “advocacy bug” to pursue some of the following careers:
ambassador, congressperson, artist, filmmaker, labor union organizer, fund raiser/grant writer, lawyer, lobbyist, mediator, professor, public affairs officer, researcher, religious leader, senator, web master, blogger, journalist …
Tompkins told WND a new “Journeys” book will be arriving this month called “It’s Your Planet, Love It.” She said the text has a strong environmental focus.
As WND columnist Jane Chastain reported, at the 51st Girl Scout National Council Session and Convention last year, the organization did away with its traditional flag ceremony and the playing of the National Anthem. Flags of all nations were brought in to the tune of “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire.
The Girl Scouts also made headlines in recent years after it refused to adopt what it called “a discrimination policy” against homosexual leaders.
In a 2000 National Review Online editorial titled “The Cookie Crumbles,” author Kathryn Jean Lopez cites the 1997 book “On My Honor: Lesbians Reflect on Their Scouting Experience.” She said it is “filled with coming-of-age stories sparked by gay encounters in the Girl Scouts.”
“On My Honor” includes an essay titled “All I Really Need to Know About Being a Lesbian I Learned at Girl Scout Camp.” Lopez reported that “staffers writing in the book claim that roughly one in three of the Girls Scouts’ paid professional staff is lesbian.”
According to news reports, Planned Parenthood has also had some involvement with Girl Scouts in recent years.
In Waco, Texas in 2004, a Girl Scout council cosponsored a sex education program with Planned Parenthood and honored PP Executive Director Pam Smallwood.
On NBC’s Today Show in 2004, Kathy Cloninger, CEO of Girls Scouts USA, admitted that it “partners with Planned Parenthood across the country to bring information based sex education programs to girls.”
In response to the interview, American Life League’s STOPP International surveyed 350 councils to ask if they had any involvement with Planned Parenthood. While 80 percent refused to answer, 17 councils reportedly admitted to associating with Planned Parenthood, and 49 said they don’t.
Garibay told WND Girl Scouts USA is not the same program most women remember.
“Originally scouting was about citizenship, service and life skills,” she said. “The founder, Juliette Lowe, wanted girls to do their duty to God and their country. She encouraged girls to activate, not meditate. Now the Girl Scouts want to move into self-discovery and lobbyist training.”
An alternative to Girl Scouts
“I realized it was no longer my mom’s Girl Scouts,” she said. “We thought we would have a little alternate scouting group for our daughters here in Cincinnati, Ohio. Word got out, and we started getting calls from across the nation from people asking to be a part of it.”
Garibay founded a group called American Heritage Girls in 1995, and she has encouraging news for families who do not want to participate in the Girl Scouts’ new direction:
“Do not despair. There are still some scouting organizations holding onto traditional values,” she said.
Now the organization has 8,000 members and is growing rapidly – by more than 20 percent in the last year. American Heritage Girls has also started a Trailblazer program that allows girls who are not in troop areas to be members and work on establishing their own troops. American Heritage Girls has expanded internationally, with troops in Japan, Germany and Italy.
American Heritage Girls’ mission is to build women of integrity through dedication to service, spiritual growth, servant leadership, goal setting through merit badge and advancement opportunities and teamwork through its outdoor program.
American Heritage Girls
Parents won’t find an emphasis on New Age spirituality, radical feminism, homosexual role models and combatting global warming at American Heritage Girls. Garibay said she has a higher goal for her troops.
Instead, she said, “Girls in AHG learn about their God-given gifts, their identity in Christ and the importance of seeking His will for their life.”
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