Then a year and a half ago my daughter wanted to join scouts, and I checked; there aren't actually any religious requirements to join and the Girl Scouts do not actually see themselves as a religious organization. They do not have any religious teaching, and defer all religious education to the hands of the child's own parents and/or congregation. Based on that, I figured it was safe to enjoy the benefits of Girl Scouts. I let her join, and she's been happily selling cookies and making crafts ever since.
I didn't think there was anything wrong with it, so while I didn't exactly put an announcement in the church bulletin, I didn't conceal it either. I wasn't entirely expecting the reaction when news began to get around. Oh, sure, some people are supportive, but generally very quietly. I can see why the support has been more quiet and private; but more on that in a minute. Meanwhile, I have been made the undoubted target of a Bible study on "fellowship" -- by which, in a way only our group could manage, the study does not mean "brotherhood and bonding with fellow Christians", but "why we should dissociate ourselves completely from anyone who is not in 100% agreement about all doctrine and most practices, including Scouts".
The Bible study has been drawn up by one of our younger elders. It is not at all up to the usual standard I expect for a Bible study. It is occasionally mocking or insulting. For example, when discussing concerns that Girl Scouts mention "duty to God" but are fine with people of all faiths, the Bible study puts it that it could be "Buddha, Allah, 'Heavenly Father', your particular voodoo spirit, or the little green man that visits you late at night". That came across as mocking, and seemed out of place in a Bible study. I think some of the rhetoric in the study is over the top. The verse "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?" was brought up in this study, as if joining scouts is tantamount to losing your soul for worldly gain. (Really, the cookies aren't quite that good ... though maybe the Thin Mints. My daughter is mostly into the friendship and companionship with other girls her age, and they actually didn't make her sign away her soul in exchange. I think she benefits from it. It's why we're there.) The grand finale of the Bible Study is priceless.
Maybe it will take years, but what will you do on that future day if your child comes back to you and says, "Why did you let me do that? Why did you let me lie about God? Why didn't you stop me?"It's hard to know whether to object more to the false accusation or to the emotional blackmail, or whether they're both missing what is, to me, the ultimate point: the Scout organization doesn't teach religion or have a profession of faith, and leaves all such in the hands of the parents and/or congregation.
I don't often use this blog just to vent, and please pardon me for trying your patience like that now. I just need to be able to discuss this with my head on straight when it comes up again -- and it will. Sunday night's Bible study was -- what, four or five on one against me. I stayed calm and level-headed -- not easy to do with "Why did you let me lie about God" on the table. Interestingly, that segment of the quote was carefully skipped by the study leader, wife of the elder in question. I wonder if she realized that accusation was inappropriate and at least bordering on bearing false witness, or whether she actually agreed but knew we were out of time & wouldn't have a chance to sort through that can of worms.
To the best of my knowledge, with the research I've done, the concern seems to be based on a misunderstanding / misperception of the nature of Girl Scouts. I hope to pursue it from that angle. One of the ladies in the study has been reaching out in friendship to me, but still thinks Scouts must be a risk of spiritual harm to my daughter and is completely on board with the need for us to leave Scouts.
My thoughts on my daughter's spiritual well-being are these:
- Odds, if we stay in Scouts, that she would come to believe that "your particular voodoo spirit or the little green man who visits you at night" is equal to God: something around 0%.
- Odds, if we have to leave the church because the church as a whole decided that the scouts actually teach such a thing, that her trust in the general decency, sanity, and good judgment of Christians will take a hit: I don't have a number, but I bet it's closer to 100%.