Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Membership slides as Girl Scouts controversy continues

Who are Girl Scouts role models?
Girl Scouts have undergone what they describe as a "complete transformation" starting in 2003 in order to make their programs and image more relevant to a diverse population. 
However, that transformation may have accelerated rather than slowed the tide with defectors citing the growing liberalism. Membership has dropped over 20 percent in the last decade with no end in sight.
"In trying to be more relevant, they've gone too far the other way," said Cheryl Brown, former CEO of a Girl Scout council in Arkansas.
Pro-life organizations agree.  Over the past weeks, many national pro-life organizations called for a national “cookiecott” of Girl Scout cookies, claiming that the Girl Scouts USA promotes a pro-abortion ideology.  GSUSA emphatically denies it and especially any connection to Planned Parenthood.
However, as early as 2004, then-Girl Scout CEO Kathy Cloninger confirmed in a Today Show interview that Girl Scouts works with Planned Parenthood nationally. “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,” said Cloninger.
Cloninger reconfirmed as much in an interview at Harvard in 2007: “And I feel like we cannot be the nation’s expert on girl issues without dealing with how issues of sexuality affect the girls of this nation. We believe parents are part of the discussion, but girl scouting needs to be part of education and discussion as well.” of Texas says it was asked to check the accuracy of the claim that GSUSA promotes “pro-abortion women as icons for our children to emulate.” It concluded that Girl Scouts does not simply because the Girls Scout guide does not specify “any woman’s activism per abortion as a reason for singling her out.”
That logic is nonsense.  Holding up women as role models while hiding their history as abortion leaders only makes the selections dishonest, not unbiased. 
American Life League—the nation’s oldest Catholic pro-life group—and other pro-life organizations did not get it wrong. Unfortunately, the bigger story may actually be worse.
ALL double-checked its own facts and found that, of the 11 women discussed with the PolitiFact writer, 80-89 percent are not just pro-abortion, but celebrated pro-abortion leaders.
GSUSA selections include Betty Friedan, the founder of NARAL Prochoice; Pauli Murray, a founding member of the radically pro-abortion NOW; Rosa Parks, a past member of Planned Parenthood’s Board of Advocates, and two women (Hillary Clinton and Dolores Huerta) who won the Margaret Sanger Award “for leadership, excellence, and outstanding contributions to the reproductive health and rights movement.”
When asked about the imbalance, Kelly Parisi, spokeswoman for the New York-based Girl Scouts, said, “We’re not trying to be balanced because we’re not trying to promote a political agenda. We don’t vet these women based on their political beliefs.” She continued, “We are a nonpartisan, nonpolitical organization.”
Some critics say that is just parsing words.
“The Girl Scouts’ ‘no position’ means it is perfectly happy to promote well-known abortion rights activists as role models like Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Geraldine Ferraro (and on and on) as long as that woman has done some other good deed alongside her advocacy for the right to kill innocent children in the womb,” says Christy Volanski, a former troop leader whose two ex-scout daughters founded the website”
She continued, “It does not mean they refrain from engaging in these issues; it means they are totally ‘indifferent’ to the sanctity of life in the womb and the dignity of marriage. And I find that very sad.”
Parisi’s also stated that the Girl Scouts “believe [abortion] is a private matter for girls and their families.”  That is not only at odds with Cloninger, it does not address why local troops openly work with abortion advocates and providers.
According to the Catholic News Agency, “The Girl Scouts have filled their national leadership team and board of directors with unwavering ideologues whose careers, nonprofit work, and philanthropic choices reflect a hefty commitment to liberal causes—same-sex marriage, gay and lesbian rights, abortion rights, comprehensive sex education, and ‘girl power’ feminism.”
Parisi is an example: Prior to GSUSA, she was vice president of marketing and communications for pro-abortion Ms. Foundation for Women.  MFW lists “reproductive rights and health” as a top priority. While there, Parisi reportedly channeled her outrage “at women's inequality and gender injustice” that she saw daily and was proud of her work in MFW helping Planned Parenthood to attack Susan G. Komen.
GSUSA’s current $393,000 CEO, Anna Maria Chavez, who succeeded Cloninger in 2011, has long been associated with pro-abortion politicians and policymakers.
GSUSA’s tack to the social left also includes an “all inclusive” policy that contains “insistence on being a voice for all girls, regardless of their . . . sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
Deb Taft, chief development officer at GSUSA, serves on the national board of governors for the Human Rights Campaign, the biggest gay lobby in the nation. She chaired HRC’s 2010 and 2011 New England Gala Dinners.
But put aside GSUSA leadership associations— if GSUSA is neutral on abortion, how can it refuse “to allow pro-life advocacy to count towards badge work” but “reproductive health” advocacy is specified as meeting GSUSA leadership program objectives?
GSUSA is the largest member and therefore a $1.4 million financial supporter to WAGGGS, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Guides   WAGGGS  wants “To rapidly improve the status of the girl child… especially on sexual and reproductive health and rights.”
Once again, GSUSA dismisses the association as meaningless.
The more one looks at the fundamental transformation of the Girl Scouts, the more it looks like another fundamental transformation that is not what most Americans bargained for.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

'Radicalized’ Girls Scouts of America triggers national cookie boycott

The leadership of Girl Scouts of America, once a trusted purveyor of American values, has been moving to the left for over a decade. However, GSUSA’s local and national growing partnership with abortion industry leader Planned Parenthood has raised the ire of local and national pro-life leaders to the point that they are now calling for a boycott of the iconic Girl Scouts’ annual cookie sale.

“I am offended that the Girl Scouts honor pro-abortion activists like Wendy Davis and Kathleen Sebelius and hold them up as leaders to be emulated by our young women and girls,” said John Pisciotta, director of Pro-Life Waco, who is spearheading the effort.

Wendy Davis is the pink-shoed legislator in Texas who (unsuccessfully) filibustered new health regulations in Texas that would disallow abortions of preborn babies after 20 weeks and would also require doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles—in case surgical abortions go wrong.

A National Journal poll shows that a plurality of Americans support a 20-week ban.

Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary and former governor of Kansas, is so extreme in promoting abortion that her own bishop of the Catholic Church took the extraordinary measure of banning her from receiving the Church’s highest sacrament, Holy Communion.

Radical social movements strive to infiltrate organizations trusted by the opposition and convert them into proxies for their own agenda. Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger did it with her “Negro Project” that used trusted black leaders like Mary McLeod Bethune, W. E. B. DuBois, and Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. to promote contraception and abortion as bettering the plight of poor blacks. In reality, the Negro Project was, from the start, largely based on eugenics. It was indifferent to the needs of the black community and more concerned with unchecked black fertility.

Today, we have what some might call Planned Parenthood’s “Girl Scout Project.” From local councils to senior leadership, GSUSA is becoming heavily involved in promoting what Judie Brown, president of American Life League, calls the contraceptive mentality—sex without conscience or consequence.

The organization offers dozens of links to events hosted by or promoted by local councils connected to pro-abortion advocacy. For example, on page 41 of the GSUSA publication Your Voice Your World, girls are encouraged to explore such organizations as the Population Council, a group that works internationally to increase access to abortion.

Many pro-family and pro-life groups feel GSUSA has been radicalized by liberal progressives and can no longer be trusted with the shaping of young girls.

“The Girl Scouts were once a trusted organization dedicated to character building in young girls and women. Now, GSUSA is abusing that trust,” said Brown. “Most parents and grandparents remain painfully unaware that GSUSA has introduced so-called ‘family planning’ ideology in its curriculum and promotes groups like Planned Parenthood to our daughters and granddaughters.”

In 2011, in the Denver Catholic Register, Denver Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley observed that, in the last year, a growing number of parents and youth ministers have shared concerns with him over the Girl Scouts’ alignment with groups advocating abortion.

Conley urged parents to review the GSUSA and World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. He said the exercise “may be a sobering experience” when families see the organization’s approach to “sexuality, ‘choice,’ and reproductive issues.”

For example, GSUSA participated in a United Nations workshop in 2010 where the Planned Parenthood sex education pamphlet Happy, Healthy, and Hot was distributed. The pamphlet instructs young girls not to think of sex as “just about vaginal or anal intercourse.” Rather, the pamphlet says, “There is no right or wrong way to have sex. Just have fun, explore, and be yourself!”

Two former Girl Scouts, Tess and Sydney, left the organization after eight years and created the website Speak Now: Girl Scouts after becoming aware of GSUSA’s involvement in the Girls Only Workshop at the United Nations. They stated:
Leaving Girl Scouts was not a casual, easy, or convenient decision. Girl Scouts was a huge part of our lives that included a bond with our best friends. . . . While we recognized the many good things about Girl Scouts, we had to ask ourselves: Will we stand for our beliefs, for the dignity of life, the sanctity of marriage, modesty, purity? Or will we remain true to Girl Scouts? We cannot see any way to truly do both.
“Girl Scout USA (GSUSA) is quick to assure concerned members that the national level of the organization has no partnership with Planned Parenthood. But GSUSA fails to disclose further relevant information,” says Christy Volanski, the mother of the two former Girl Scouts, and a former Girl Scout member and troop leader herself.

Volanski points to GSUSA’s membership in the Coalition for Adolescent Girls, “a collaboration of about 40 organizations, in which GSUSA joins international abortion provider Marie Stopes and many other pro-abortion organizations to address global issues affecting girls. The coalition’s agenda specifically advocates for abortion-related care and comprehensive sex education for adolescent girls.”

Is GSUSA hiding its abortion agenda? A search of the GSUSA website for the word “abortion” yields no results. However, a search for “family planning” yields four pages of results.

In addition, the GSUSA curriculum promotes pro-abortion icons like Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, and Betty Friedan, founder of NARAL, as role models to be emulated by Girl Scouts.

So what about the cookies?

According to Volanski, the GSUSA will try to assure you that all the proceeds from cookie sales stay local to benefit girls in their community. In reality, GSUSA makes millions of dollars each year through licensing fees paid by the baker.  

Moreover, while the girls themselves keep, on average, approximately 15 percent of the purchase price, the local councils—that introduce girls to a pro-abortion worldview—keep the lion’s share of the profit from cookie sales.

Combining Planned Parenthood with the Girl Scouts may prove to make a bitter cookie.

Paul Rondeau is the executive director of American Life League.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Teen pregnancy rate drops 45.7 percent when Planned Parenthood leaves town

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A study across the Texas Panhandle, using government statistics from 16 counties, found that the teen pregnancy rates among 13-17-year olds from 1994 through 2010 showed dramatic declines even as Planned Parenthood Federation of America facilities in the region shut down—dwindling from 19 family planning facilities to zero.
For decades, PPFA has publically maintained that it serves a key healthcare role for the American public by educating teens on “safe sex,” providing contraceptives, and reducing pregnancies. The breakthrough study titled “A Longitudinal Analysis of PPFA and Teen Pregnancy in the Texas Panhandle” refutes that claim. Found within a meta-analysis of Planned Parenthood, the report states that the teen pregnancy rate “reached its lowest point in recorded history two years after disaffiliation of the last two remaining facilities.”
The study analyzed data obtained from the Texas Department of State Health Services, Vital Statistics Annual Report, Table 14B, for the years 1994 through 2010:  “In 1996, the year before opposition to Planned Parenthood began, the average teen pregnancy rate in the 16 counties where Planned Parenthood operated facilities was 43.6 per 1,000 girls aged 13 to 17. By 2002, the rate had dropped to 28.6. In 2008, the year the last two Planned Parenthood facilities disaffiliated from PPFA, the teen pregnancy rate was 27.2. And in 2010, two years after the Texas Panhandle became Planned Parenthood-free, the teen pregnancy rate had fallen to 24.1.”
The raw data gleaned from government files shows that with a teen population stable at about 13,000, the actual number of teen pregnancies fell from an average of 544 per year in the five years before Planned Parenthood started closing its doors to an average of 373 in the last five years.
PPFA’s fact sheet, Reducing Teen Pregnancy, proposes to reduce the quantity of teen pregnancies through a number of initiatives. To that end, it calls for initiatives that:
• Incorporate responsible, medically accurate sexuality education and information in the schools and in the media.
• Incorporate improvements in funding for and access to family planning services.
• Incorporate youth development programs to improve the life options of impoverished teens.
PPFA scorns abstinence-based education and praises the Obama administration for effectively defunding it: “In 2009, recognizing that evidence-based sex education programs were effective in promoting sexual health among teenagers, the Obama administration transferred funds from the community-based Abstinence Education Program and budgeted $114.5 million to support evidence-based sex education programs across the country.”
The report does not specifically claim that PPFA presence in a community actually drives up teen pregnancy. The report simply states “The Texas Panhandle statistics show conclusively that neither access to Planned Parenthood ‘reproductive healthcare’ clinics nor PPFA ‘evidence-based, comprehensive sex education’ is a necessary component in reducing the teen pregnancy rate.”
However, when pressed on this point, Jim Sedlak, a recognized expert on PPFA and vice president of American Life League—the organization that underwrote the five-part meta-study in which the Panhandle report is contained—did point to Planned Parenthood’s business model. 
“Based on the retention rates that Planned Parenthood published routinely until the mid-1990s, it consistently lost 43 percent of its customers annually. Today, PPFA is a $1 billion business,” said Sedlak. “The only demographic big enough to furnish that many new customers every year is teens and young adults who engage in frequent sex. Planned Parenthood can make millions on preaching safe sex. It goes broke on abstinence.”
Under Obamacare, Planned Parenthood was first in line to start receiving funds for the comprehensive sex education program—funds totaling $375 million.
The PPFA fact sheet also claims that “influential minorities promote unrealistic, abstinence-only programs and parental consent requirements . . . an unrealistic emphasis is placed on preventing adolescent sexual behavior which overlooks the fact that sexual expression is an essential component of healthy human development for individuals of all ages.”
Planned Parenthood argues that comprehensive sex education, including an introduction to homosexuality and all its variations, must start in kindergarten. From kindergarten through college, Planned Parenthood promotes sexual rights, sexual freedom, and even dangerous sexual acts such as anal sex and fisting.
To see where this philosophy leads, one need only look at International Planned Parenthood Federation.  It promotes “sexual rights” for people under 18 years of age, even as young 10.
While PPFA decries the spread of HIV/AIDS it simultaneously fights for laws protecting homosexuality and against laws requiring people who are HIV positive to disclose that information to sex partners.
IPPF argues that laws requiring disclosure of the potentially lethal infection to a new sexual partner violates of the sexual rights of the HIV infected person.
So, does PPFA promote “reproductive health” or just peddle sex?
One thing for sure: to Planned Parenthood, sexual pleasure is more important than life itself.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Media distorts Pope's remarks on homosexuality

A reporter asked Pope Francis about a Vatican monsignor named Battista Ricca who allegedly engaged in homosexual relationships years ago while living in Latin America. Pope Francis answered simply, “If a person is gay and accepts the Lord, and has good will, who am I to judge them?” While the words of Pope Francis are accurately reported, the implications made by gay-friendly media are false.

The only news is that Pope Francis’ remarks exposed the long-standing lie propagated  by gay activists and proxies in the media that the Catholic Church hates homosexuals (and women).

The media is heralding a new Catholic Church where gay priests are accepted and gay “brothers and sisters” are not marginalized. Unfortunately, the media glossed over the critical qualifiers “accepts the Lord and has good will.”

In Christendom, accepting Christ and being of good intent carry expectations.  In the fullest sense, this means rejection of sin and avoiding the near occasions of sin, which by extension also means rejection of active homosexuality in all of its forms and implications.

So what, then, is the media (dis)missing? Sexual sin is still sin. As the Holy Father went on to confirm, “The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem . . .  they’re our brothers.”   The Catholic Church teaches acceptance of sinners and forgiveness of sin; not acceptance of sin.

The media routinely exploits the meaning of a simple statement, includes 'facts' that cannot be checked, or exaggerates conclusions from research when it benefits its LGBT friends.

A 1993 study by Dean Hamer and his colleagues claimed to find evidence of a gay gene. Proof of this gene’s existence was splashed across front pages and covers of major media nationally, partly because it buttressed the civil rights arguments that homosexuality is innate, like race or gender. The media stories went much farther than even Hamer claimed. But when George Rice, a neuroscientist at the University of Western Ontario, refuted Hamer’s findings completely, nary a word was reported.

Over the years, it has been common for a gay-friendly media to mention in a report, as a matter of fact, that some foreign culture or ancient society not only sanctioned but elevated homosexuality as divine. Before 9/11, some activists went so far as to claim that Islam embraced homosexuality.

Hard to believe today, but in the Golden Age of Hollywood, conservatism reigned. That didn’t stop Home Box Office from making the "documentary" The Celluloid Closet. The producers purported to document that, even in  ultra-conservative Hollywood in the 1950s and early 1960s, movies were "coded" with subtle homosexual shadings and nuances.

When pressed by the Television Critics Association, the producers admitted they had no documentation—no director's notes or producer's memos—to support their theory. Nevertheless, the “documentary” aired in 1996 leaving the audience with the impression that icons like John Wayne, Charlton Heston, and Doris Day winked at homosexuality—maybe even approved.  In essence, celebrity endorsements.

Even respected evangelicals like Dr. Scott Lively fell into the latest trap. “Previous popes have shown mercy to homosexuals by acknowledging that mere temptation to sin is not itself sin,” Lively said in an e-mail alert. “But, Francis seems to have crossed a critical theological boundary and affirmed homosexuality as a legitimate basis for defining one's identity.”

Many may identify with Lively’s slippery slope concern.  For decades, gay activists have worked hard to undermine the moral authority of churches by painting orthodox Christianity as a homosexual hating primeval obsolete backwater.

The LA Times reported, “Pope Francis made surprisingly conciliatory remarks about the role of gay people in the Roman Catholic Church and his willingness to accept them uncritically, touching off a worldwide debate over how big a shift the new pontiff was endorsing.”

But, the pontiff endorsed nothing new nor crossed a theological boundary.  Matthew 7:1 is still in force: “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Pope Francis simply reminded us (and the media) of the boundary between discerning sin and judging it.

Susan Milligan at U.S. News writes, “It was a startling comment, even though it didn't really represent any change in policy. . . .  Francis could have just reiterated the Catholic Church's outdated and unkind attitude towards homosexuals.”

Perhaps many in the media would be less startled in the future if they dedicated more time to understanding and objectively reporting on the teachings of the oldest and largest Christian church in the world rather than demonizing them for political purposes.

Friday, July 26, 2013

"Imposing your faith" on others: The big lie of our time.

From the blogosphere to mainstream media to the halls of Congress, the war cry of social progressives for decades has centered on the separation of church and state.  They claim that (primarily) Christians force their faith on others if they support laws to limit abortion, stop the redefinition of marriage, or defend recognition of God in public places or documents.  This is the biggest and most dangerous political lie of the century.

The underlying premise of this political propaganda is that conservatives who hold a Christian worldview deserve no right to vote, speak, or petition the government. Voters may be informed by secularism, humanism, or even communism—but not Christianity. 

Like 1984 or Brave New World, many in government and the media are purveyors of good-think and bad-think.  They see Christian beliefs as impediments to ‘progress,’ to conformance with new manmade freedoms that are morally blind or at least incoherent.

When progressives fail to silence a believer, they try to discredit or destroy him or her by comparing Christians with the Taliban, or theocracies that oppress religious freedom.  By protecting freedom of conscious for over 200 years, America became the longest free democracy in human history.  America never became a theocracy.

Scare tactics do not have to make sense, just the news. 

Discussing this insidious lie now is not about the next election or any election.  Discrediting faith, and the faithful, creates a vacuum for progressives to fill every day.  That has consequences every day.

For example, progressives are obsessed with promoting sex as freedom: contraception, abortion, and hedonism coupled with disassociating sex from morality, procreation, marriage, parenting, and the family.  In schools, in government, in the marketplace of ideas, they see “antiquated” Christian values as the enemy.  The fallout, no matter how astounding, is ignored.

National Fatherhood Initiative finds “there is a ‘father factor’ in nearly all of the social issues facing America today…. over 24 million children live apart from their biological fathers. That is 1 out of every 3 (33%) children in America. Nearly 2 in 3 (64%) African American children live in father-absent homes. One in three (34%) Hispanic children, and 1 in 4 (25%) white children live in father-absent homes. In 1960, only 11% of children lived in father-absent homes.”

Yet, our president remains cocksure that more of the sickness is the cure:  Obamacare mandated funding of abortion and comprehensive sex education is exploding to the tune of about $3.375 billion over three years. 

None of this creates families or protects children or liberates women.  Skyrocketing billions of dollars for food stamps, welfare, and “reproductive health” are symptoms, not the cure. 

Alexis de Tocquville visited America in the 1830s.  When he reflected on America’s great democratic experiment in Democracy in America, he observed that American institutions of government depend for their existence on certain “habits of the heart.”  These habits are not government inventions but rather certain civic and religious associations.

He wondered what would happen to American democracy when these civic and religious associations, these habits of the heart, these core principals, no longer exist or are valued.

The great Czech playwright-philosopher Vaclav Havel provides an ominous glimpse.  He describes the “culture of the lie” in his essay, The Power of the Powerless.  It was penned in 1978 during the era of the Iron Curtain and “eliminating all expressions of nonconformity”.

“The complete degradation of the individual is presented as his ultimate liberation; depriving people of information is called making it available; … the repression of culture is called its development; … banning independent thought becomes the most scientific of world views; … the lack of free expression becomes the highest form of freedom… Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future.”

Individuals need not believe all these mystifications, but they must behave as though they did…. They need not accept the lie. It is enough for them to have accepted their life with it and in it.”

Will we accept life with and in the lie?