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How Girl Scout cookies got caught up with abortion and gay rights

The US religious right is boycotting Girl Scout cookie sales, costing the organization millions of dollars
Girl Scout cookie sales are a picture of US childhood innocence, but have been caught up in controversy thanks to the religious right.
Photo by Drmies.

The one place you’d hope the abortion battle would not be waged is with the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA).

Girl Scout cookies are a ubiquitous symbol of the organization and an American staple like apple pie. They have made nearly $700million (€500million) in sales since 1999.

So the idea they have helped fund abortions at Planned Parenthood is unfathomable.

But with religious right activists fishing for another fallacious assertion to try on the American public, this one unfortunately has legs.

And the religious right has dubbed their anti-abortion battle ‘cookie-cott’ imploring Christians to rebuff beguiling bright-eyed little Girl Scouts selling the organization’s pro-choice cash cow.

But the abortion issue is their ploy to hide their misogyny and homophobia cloaked as a moral imperative to protect the unborn fetus.

‘The individualism of feminism has been devastating to this country. I’d say you ought to say “NO” to the Girl Scout cookies, too,’ Swanson told Right Wing Watch.

‘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.’

Proof of their claim is the hire of Krista Kokjohn-Poehler in October 2013 as the organization’s chief girl experience officer. What outrages them is that Kokjohn-Poehler’s is not only a lesbian but also a married one, having joined her surname with her spouse’s.

‘Now I have another good reason not to buy Girl Scout cookies. Not only are the cookies bad, but so is the lesbo girl experience officer. What the hell is the message here? Experience this girl, you might like it?’ an anonymous person wrote on the right-wing Breitbart.com.

With Kokjohn’s job responsibility to ‘serve as the chief of girl innovation and be the expert on and organizational voice for girls,’ notorious vile-mouthed talk show host Rush Limbaugh criticized the Kokjohn-Poehler’s hire as evidence of an ‘all out jihad’ on American values.

GSUSA position statement makes it a point to stress the organization recognizes the rights of and welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

But the religious right not only has a problem with lesbians, they also have a problem with little girls who are selling cookies now but might one day grow up and be this nation’s future reproductive justice advocates, for being indoctrinated by GSUSA’s leftward leanings. And they have a problem with female elected officials who advocate a woman’s right to choose.

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, is a reproductive justice advocate.

Sebelius voted to make contraceptives available to everyone and she vetoed the notorious 2008 Comprehensive Reform Abortion Act which prevented a woman from obtaining an abortion, even where it may be necessary to save her life.

So, too, was Texas State Senator Wendy Davis sort-of reproductive justices advocate before she flip-flopped on the limited late-term abortion ban to woo red-state voters.

But Davis’s switch wasn’t swift enough to avoid cookcott.com’s sleight of hand in ensnaring her in their anti-abortion propaganda.

‘The Girl Scouts recently commended pro-abortion politicians Wendy Davis and Kathleen Sebelius as worthy role models for our children. In response, we’re asking you to boycott Girl Scout cookies in 2014.’

Although the GSUSA national headquarters has emphatically denied they are in bed with Planned Parenthood or their affiliates, Religious Right opponents continually contest the organization doesn’t want to own up to the fact that their local Girl Scout councils, and teen subsidiaries are.

Sadly for the Girl Scouts, this is becoming in many ways a losing battle with the religious right. They have successfully generated a decline in local cookie sales in states across the country, a lost, to date, of over a half million members, and $4.9million (€3.6million).

And according to Gallop the country, surprisingly, is leaning more and more to the right: ‘Conservative Americans (40%) outnumbered both moderates (35%) and liberals (21%).’

Underneath this bogus claim by the religious right that GSUSA is a pro-abortion organization is merely a right-wing zealot resistance toward modernity and the inevitable changes it brings.

For example, in 1917 when the first African American Girl Scout troop was founded many of the ancestors of today’s religious right protested just as they are now over the inclusion of LGBT Scouts.

The training ground for a ‘biblical vision for womanhood’ for little girls that Swanson and Buehner advocate is the Christian-based alternative to GSUSA – the American Heritage Girls (AHG) founded in 1995.

Not surprisingly, right-winger Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, supports AHG, too.

‘American Heritage Girls is a wonderful faith-based alternative to the Girl Scouts. It promotes a life- honoring culture, stresses the importance of service and espouses values that clearly delineate right from wrong,’ King stated in AHG’s February press release.

But the right’s notion of right is rooted in a religious form of misogyny and homophobia that it’s even hard for their women to rise out of.

Empowering little girls with confidence and self-belief ensures us of a future generation of strong women as role models. And if purchasing boxes of Girl Scout cookies assist them along the way that’s the least any of us can do. 

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