Girl Scout cookies: To buy, or not to buy?

| February 5, 2014 | 11 Comments

In the last few years there have been a growing number of pro-life organizations that have been speaking out against Girl Scouts and their ties to a pro-abortion agenda. Internet resources have been distributing information citing connections with Planned Parenthood and calling for a boycott on cookie sales.

While there isn’t a definitive answer here, this does become an issue of moral judgment with many factors. Who would have thought that buying cookies would require moral deliberation? But who ever said being Catholic was easy!

In discerning this Girl Scouts issue, it is important to look at facts and to know your terms. Here is a primer:

• GSUSA – Girl Scouts of the United States: the Girl Scouts organization in the United States. Web page:

• Girl Scout Council – The local representation of leadership. Our archdiocese falls under Girl Scouts River Valleys:

• WAGGGS – World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, a voluntary international organization consisting of 145 countries. GSUSA is a member of WAGGGS

• Girl Scout Troop – The local representation of your Girl Scout group. These are divided by age levels —  Daisies, Brownies, Juniors etc.

Fact, fiction and fuzziness

When looking to the best interest of the girls under your care or deciding whether to support Girl Scouts by purchasing cookies, be aware that some of the Internet resources supporting a ban on cookie sales are based on partial truths or broad accusations. As the pro-life community, when we perpetuate false or fuzzy accusations, we lose credibility to our cause. In some internet reports the work of WAGGGS and Girl Scouts USA are cited as the same entity, or an individual troop’s wayward practices are being portrayed as the norm for all Girl Scout troops. We need to be careful not to malign organizations based on association. Much good comes from our local Girl Scout troops, yet there are grave difficulties in the larger organization. We need to be vigilant without being vigilantes.

The WAGGGS international organization does promote curriculum on human sexuality that is problematic for Catholics of conscience. GSUSA is a member of WAGGGS; yet, the names and the organizations are not interchangeable. One might think of GSUSA’s membership in WAGGGS similar to the United States being a member of the United Nations. Does that mean we shouldn’t buy cookies?

As noted there is much good that comes from our Girl Scout groups. Many of the points of concern arise from GSUSA’s current policies, which allow each council and troop to proceed in any way it feels moved. In some cases, that may mean a troop in California may attend a Planned Parenthood sponsored event. Parents of girls involved in Girl Scouts should be active advocates for their girls. Better yet, they should become Girl Scout leaders. The same freedom that allows individual troops to attend unacceptable events also allows our Catholic girls the freedom to do service projects for the crisis pregnancy centers, work on Catholic faith-based badges or study the horrific problems of the “one-child-only” policy in China.

Should your daughter be a Girl Scout? Should a parish let Girl Scouts sell cookies after Mass?

That decision needs to be based on thoughtful consideration. We make these decisions every day. As good parents we decide what comes into the living room. Some families believe that the bad stuff on TV or the Internet outweighs any good and they choose to not have a TV or a computer in their home. Other families choose to closely monitor such things and teach their children to make sound decisions. We need to respect the judgment made by other parents and our pastors of our parishes when they choose to either support or not support Girl Scouts and cookie sales.

To buy or not to buy…

The decision to purchase Girl Scout cookies becomes an area of prudential judgment on each individual’s conscience. With a prudential judgment, we can agree or disagree on the best way to move forward. Some people may choose to purchase cookies and others may feel the association is too close for comfort.

Everyone has the right to make those decisions based on their discernment and morally formed conscience with the guidance of our priests and Bishops. Does purchasing cookies create a direct line to participating in an immoral act? Our bishops are continuing to look at this issue and are vigilant about guiding us, but there are so many variables. If your troop is taking field trips to Planned Parenthood, then yes, I wouldn’t buy cookies to support that. But that is why we need to know our facts.

If you choose to purchase Girl Scout cookies, why not send a post card to the GSUSA for every box you purchase asking them to change their policies. (See the example and address below.)

In the past few years, GSUSA has changed some policies and removed problematic curriculum from their handbook and web resources. Who knows, with millions of boxes of cookies sold each year, a postcard campaign like this could move them to further action to restore the trust of this century-old institution.

Wilson is respect life coordinator for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ Office of Marriage, Family and Life.

Postcard example:


I am supporting our local Girl Scouts by buying cookies.  I do, however, have concerns with GSUSA and their association with WAGGGS and their resources on human sexuality.  I ask that GSUSA discontinue membership in WAGGGS. I also would like to see standards put into place by GSUSA that restrict individual troops from associating with organizations that support abortion. Girl Scouts has historically promoted strong Christian values, and allowing individual troops to drift from those values discredits what has been an institution I could trust.   

                        Sincerely, ______________________

Mailing address:

Girl Scouts of the USA
420 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10018-2798

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Category: Commentary

  • courtney

    or just buy the cookies because they’re heaven squished into little cookie form

  • Damian

    I hope you’re also writing postcards to the factory farm corporations that produce the inexpensive meat, poultry and dairy you buy, like that .99 cent carton of eggs, urging them to institute humane growing methods. Do you know the conditions under which the animals that supply your meat, poultry, and dairy are raised and slaughtered? How are the workers treated?

    Do you know the working conditions under which the fruit and vegetables you buy are grown? Are workers paid a fair wage? Are children employed? The next time you buy a tomato out of season, do you send a donation to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida, to help them eliminate modern-day slavery in the US agricultural industry?

    And each time you buy an article of clothing made “over seas” – Bangladesh, for example – do you write a postcard to the manufacturer urging them to pay garment workers a living wage, ensure safe working conditions, and allow workers’ right to collective bargaining?

    • Sharon Wilson

      Thank you Damian, I believe we all should be aware of where our money goes and make decisions on our well formed conscience. That is the point of the article. The post card idea is just that – an idea.

  • Frank

    Here is a flyer with good information and a link to more.

    • Sharon Wilson


      This flyer is one of those with the broad sweeping accusations that are hard to dissect that I point out in my article. Example: In the first bullet point it states the GSUSA “pointed to” Wendy Davis…. Upon investigation, this originated when USGA re-tweeted a news article including a conversation among a panel of women discussing who they would choose as woman of the year. Posing to girls – the question “Who would you add to this list?” Note, the top person listed in the original news article was Malala Yousafzai the advocate for education for girls in Pakistan. Here is the original news article that was re-tweeted with the question.
      That doesn’t quite equate with endorsing Wendy Davis, but for some it may be a reason to not buy cookies. My point is – know your actual facts.

      • lra

        Broad sweeping accusations? Pardon me? What about Kathy Cloninger, former CEO of GSUSA, who admitted on NBC Today show in 2004 that GS councils partner with Planned Parenthood across the country to bring sex education to girls. She has never retracted that statement. That is not hard to dissect. Sounds like you are looking for a reason to exonerate the Girl Scouts. If they wanted to highlight Malala Yousafzai as woman of the year, they would and could have singled her out. They chose not to for a reason. They support women like Wendy Davis. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put two and two together.

  • tschraad

    The slippery slope paradigm. Using this logic, Catholics would be doing their faith a favor by using Planned Parenthood as their health clinic. As long as you do not use the abortion/contraceptive portion of the clinic, your support should not be questioned. Then wearing a Planned Parenthood tee shirt should also be okay.

    Any appearance of support for any organization that “allows their mission to be clouded” should not be supported. Not buying cookies sends a strong message that something is not working. Then maybe if they are good business people, they will change. Do not buy cookies until they clean up their message.

  • finishstrongdoc

    GSUSA is selling off its properties to pay for the huge salaries, bonuses and retirement checks of administrators. The top level leaders at GSUSA are driven by a modernist agenda that send out the message “If it’s new, it’s good, if it’s old, it must have been bad, because why do we have to change if the old was good?”

    Girls are used as props for ads promoting modernist agendas. The media slants stories about GS which insinuates or openly states that anyone who opposes GSUSA’s modernist agenda is a hater and a hick.

    In some cases, Girl Scouts are taken to state capitols or even the nation’s capitol and are used as photo op props to move legislators in a modernist direction in their lawmaking.

    In the end, when a body gets sick and dies, it’s relatively unimportant what killed the body; the body is dead. What is important after a death is to find out how to avoid death for others. Spiritual death can come on slowly, just like any bodily illness. But dead is still dead.

  • Lin Chan

    Okay, I’m trying really hard right now not to laugh. Girl Scouts of the USA could care less if you were to pay postage and complain with a postcard as long as you continue to support their $790-million-per-year cookie empire! I realize the writer is trying to “take the high road” and give a benefit of doubt, but if you want hard, cold facts, consider these: 1) EVERY Girl Scout member contributes financially to the WAGGGS feminist pro-abortion agenda whether they want to acknowledge it or not; 2) EVERY Girl Scout assumes they are SUPPOSED to celebrate World Thinking Day by gathering donations for the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund (JLWFF) which supports WAGGGS DIRECTLY (no cookie-laundering here); and 3) DESPITE GSUSA’s forked-tongue excuses that cookie earnings stay in local Regional Councils, MOST COUNCILS DONATE TO GSUSA, WAGGGS and/or JLWFF USING THEIR COOKIE PROFITS and GSUSA itself MAKES DIRECT DONATIONS TO WAGGGS and JLWFF using COOKIE ROYALTY FEES from the bakers. As my significant other once said, they’re just taking money from one pocket and putting it into the other when GSUSA claims all the payments they make to WAGGGS comes from an “investment account”. That’s how stupid they think we are. Where did the seed money in those investment accounts come from? Cookie royalties? Donations? Membership fees? Truth is calling you, Sharon Wilson, if you have ears to hear and eyes to see.

  • Ron

    1. “I believe we all should be aware of where our money goes and make decisions on our well formed conscience.”

    The article above doesn’t help to form the conscience. To do that, facts are needed so a direction cab be chosen. What we’re provided with is, “With a prudential judgment, we can agree or disagree on the best way to move forward. Some people may choose to purchase cookies and others may feel the association is too close for comfort.”

    If we can’t get conscience formation from the Catholic Church, where will we get it?

    2. “We need to be careful not to malign organizations based on association.”

    I can be jailed for being associated with someone who is drinking and driving. But we let people off the hook for associating themselves with others who murder babies. I don’t understand this logic. How heinous does an act have to be before an association becomes intolerable?

  • tamaraz

    I hope no one is reading this on a computer with parts made in China, since they promote abortions much more forcefully than Planned Parenthood does.