John Jalsevac

The great Girl Scouts cookie debate: should we give Girl Scouts a second chance?

John Jalsevac
John Jalsevac
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January 18, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Cathy Ruse’s article yesterday urging pro-life and pro-family advocates not to buy Girl Scouts of America (GSA) cookies, both because of the organization’s ties to Planned Parenthood and an overall “progressive” agenda, has ignited quite the debate. Not only is the article LifeSiteNews’ most read article of the week, it has also drawn an enormous amount of commentary, both supportive and critical.

Lots of readers agree that GSA’s ties to Planned Parenthood disqualify its cookie initiative from receiving support, while others argue it’s unfair to tar the whole organization with the actions of some GSA bureaucrats and councils, pointing out that the pro-abortion activism doesn’t necessarily (and often doesn’t) filter down to many of the individual troops, which still do a lot of good. One impassioned reader wrote:

I am a Girl Scout leader and I can attest to the fact that I have never heard of any comments about pro-choice or abortion rights from my council or anyone else in the organization and this is certainly not talked about with the girls. We are an all volunteer organization and there are some people that have made mistakes with certain topics, but we are not all that way and certainly do not all support abortion.

The first thing worth noting is that Cathy didn’t say Girl Scouts should get no support at all, but confined her remarks to the cookie sale, pointing out that most of the funds don’t even go to the local troop (troops receive as little as 10% of the profit). Instead, they fund Girl Scout councils or the head office, where the problems originate. 

Hence the question that immediately occurred to me after reading Cathy’s article was, would it be all right to directly support your local girl scout troop, in lieu of buying cookies?

But the whole thing might remind some of the “fungibility” problem we see in the Planned Parenthood tax-funding debate: even though they are technically forbidden from using our money for the objectionable stuff (i.e. abortions), any support at all means we’re freeing up money for the organization to do those things we disagree with. Some might say this is what funding any part of GSA amounts to as well.

However, I’m not sure I buy that, since Girl Scouts isn’t a business the way Planned Parenthood is: it’s an organization with largely autonomous troops, with the character of the individual troops largely determined by volunteer troop leaders and the girls in the troop. The direct financial relationship between the cookies initiative and the GSA hierarchy is obvious: but I see no such relationship when giving money to a local troop. Will such money end up at the head office, and ultimately at Planned Parenthood? It seems unlikely.

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In fact, to me there might be a valid argument that getting involved with and supporting your local Girl Scout troop is a good way to protect it from some of the nonsense coming from head office. Of course, if you know that the leadership of your local troop is already taking its cues on social issues from head office, then it might be better not to support that troop, and to support an alternative, unless it looks like there is some hope for change in the troop.

My fear is that in this case the “spotlight fallacy” may be at work: that is, we may be judging the whole organization based upon a few high-profile instances of pro-abortion activism by a small, if powerful, segment of the organization. But just because the GSA leadership is promoting abortion rights at the UN doesn’t mean that your local troop has in any way contributed to that initiative. 

Hence, the question seems to come down to just how systemic the rot in GSA is. Is it so widespread that the whole organization is compromised, or is it contained enough that we can work in good conscience with the good sections, ensuring that no anti-life rot enters into them, and perhaps pushing the rot further back?

A 2004 survey conducted by STOPP International gives us some information on this question. That survey found that around 25% of councils who responded to the survey said they were partnering with Planned Parenthood in some way. That’s a considerable number. However, only 65 out of 249 councils responded to the survey, leaving the vast majority of them unaccounted for. And keep in mind that these are councils rather than individual troops, which are even more numerous. 

Personally, I would like to see more information before I make up my mind about GSA. I absolutely condemn the anti-life actions that have been performed in GSA’s name by its members, and I condemn any partnership of any kind with Planned Parenthood, but I must ask, is there still some way that we can in good conscience support GSA, or is it beyond hope?

What do you think?

Some links with more info about Girl Scouts’ anti-life activism:

100 Questions for Girl Scouts

As noted in the Girl Scouts and Pro-Abortion WAGGGS section, GSUSA also supports abortion rights through their membership in, substantial funding of, and close relationship with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), which aggressively promotes accessible, affordable and safe abortions.

Girl Scouts partner with Planned Parenthood:

On March 5th [2004] Kathy Cloninger, CEO of the Girl Scouts of America, appeared on NBC’s “Today” show to discuss the boycott.  … Cloninger explained that Girl Scouts of America addresses the challenges girls face in today’s world, including issues regarding sexuality and body image.  She then added, “We partner with many organizations.  We have relationships with our church communities, with YWCAs, and with Planned Parenthood organizations across the country, to bring information-based sex education programs to girls.”

 

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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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