The Girl Scouts, Cookies, and an Archbishop. Fr. Z opines.

The Girl Scouts have gone crazy, which was predictable.  Too bad.


His Excellency Most Reverend Robert Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis has cautioned the faithful under his charge about involvement with the Girl Scouts.  Material has been posted on the archdiocesan website.

Of course one of the questions at this time of year will be…

Can I still buy Girl Scout Cookies?

Each person must act in accord with their conscience. It is also our duty to form our consciences and learn the issues. Here are a few things to consider when making your decision:

There is a licensing fee attached to each box of Girl Scout cookies produced, paid to GSUSA. Licensing fees paid to GSUSA on all trademarked Girl Scout items (cookies, Girl Scout curriculum books and badges, ice creams, coffee creamers, etc.) amounts to millions of dollars every year. (See: Does any of the money from cookie sales go to Girl Scouts of the USA?) On average, only 10-20% of the total cookie revenue remains with the troop selling the cookies. (See: How can I be sure that Girl Scout Cookie Program revenue supports the local Girl Scouts in my community?)

We echo the statement of Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, that it is important not to debate these issues with individual girls who are selling cookies.  These conversations must “remain among adults”.

I’ll say this.

I won’t buy their cookies.  Ever.

Also, I would never think of explaining why to one of the girls selling them.   “No thanks.  Not today”, is enough.  I might to an aggressive mother apart from the kids.  There are a bunch of them with the bairn array in my local grocery store.  I get to walk past them often.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Our Catholic Identity, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Drill. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. xgenerationcatholic says:

    Why would anyone want overpriced processed junk like that anyway? Never bought a box in my life.

  2. Mary Jane says:

    I will not buy Girl Scout cookies. There are tables set up currently at my local grocery store…I hate having to walk by them. I do not explain anything to the girls who ask if I would like to make a purchase; I just keep walking and say something like, “Oh I’m sorry I can’t today”. I have never been approached by a GS parent…the idea of that sounds spooky.

  3. StabatMater says:

    Sadly, our bishop highly endorses both GSA & BSA. Wants every church & school in the archdiocese to have troops. And, yes, he has been presented all the facts by numerous people. But since the leaders on our local Catholic Council for GSA are such “faithful, pro-life women” we don’t have to worry about anything at the local level, according to His Excellency. Yet he claims we should sever all ties with any company that is not pro-life. Oh, the hypocrisy! Even if GSA was not in cahoots with Planned Parenthood, its feminist agenda alone is poison to our young girls. Just look at a book, the patches, and the women presented to be exemplified.

    The fact that their cookies are delivered during Lent is an obvious sign of demonic influence!! (LOL Or at least anti-Catholic sentiment.) I haven’t eaten a single GSA cookie in 15 years. (Peanut Butter was my fave!) A friend told me about an identical knock-off for sale at Big Lots for a fourth of the price that can be enjoyed year-round outside of Lent.

    Take the time to give your daughters a Little Flowers group, or something of the sort, that promotes authentic Catholic femininity. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed her years in ours, and it helped detox me of all the feminist influence of my public education of the 80’s.

    Offering prayers of thanksgiving for Archbishop Carlson and even more for his continued courage!

  4. APX says:

    As one who has done more than her fair share of door-to-door fundraising selling stuff as a child to fund my marching band travel costs, I would try to find out if there was a way to donate money directly to the girl scout’s troupe. Selling cookies sounds like highway robbery at 10% back to the troup. That way everyone wins.

    [Or not give to them at all.]

  5. majuscule says:

    A few years ago I mentioned the “problem” with the Girl Scouts to a mom at church whose daughter was a GS. The mother was active with the troop and said they didn’t have any activities or distribute anything having to do with PP.

    It may be so that certain troops don’t. But the fact that such a small amount of the money goes to the local girls is enough to keep me from buying the cookies from anyone.

    We often have coffee after Mass and this time of year sometimes Girl Scout cookies magically appear on the refreshment table. This might present a good teaching moment!

  6. DD says:

    I no longer buy the cookies. If there is an opportunity, I do take one of the moms aside and explain why. Probably, though, if the troop is composed of older girls, they should know the reason as well. This is a sad state of affairs since my old days as a Scout leader.

  7. SanSan says:

    Finally. It’s taken years to get the Catholic Parishes on board. We still have a long way to go. Thank you Father Z for speaking out.

  8. Anthony says:

    The Girl Scouts’ unfortunate alliance with Planned Parenthood is the reason we’ve stopped buying Girl Scout cookies several years ago.

    Since I really don’t want to start fights or get into arguments with any of the parents, a simple “No, thank you.” is our only answer.

    However , in the unlikely event we were to be confronted by an “over-aggressive parent” (and it hasn’t happened yet), I would simply ask the person to speak with me privately and explain my reasons. Presumably, that would be the end of it.

    But, in addition to not wanting to fund evil… have you looked at the ingredient list?
    They are full of unhealthy ingredients that I just don’t need to be ingesting…
    That, in and of itself, should be enough to scare people away…

  9. ckdexterhaven says:

    Back when I bought Girl Scout cookies, my faves were the Samoas, a sugar wafer topped with coconut, caramel and chocolate. Nabisco basically sells the same cookies at the supermarket. Same with the lemon coolers. None of the other GS cookies are worth talking about. Just sayin’.

  10. StabatMater says:

    Yes, they border on toxic. But every few years a little cheat-eating is inevitable!

  11. Kathleen10 says:

    I dunno, those mint cookies were pretty good.
    When I was a little girl, I was a Brownie, than “flew up” to be a Girl Scout. It allowed me to go to New York City, something I would never have been able to do with my family. I saw the Rockettes! Talk about widening your ten year old horizon. I imagined possibilities.
    I read that big, blue handbook again and again. So many interesting things, and GSA encouraged us to be good citizens, respectful to others, considerate.
    It was pre-feminism for little girls, before children were viewed by the left as droids who need to be programmed. Children were actually left alone to be kids or were taught a solid morality and pretty much the entire culture agreed on what that looked like. Some people like to say “oh things weren’t all that good then, you just remember it that way” but I totally disagree. It was better. Way better, especially for children.
    I wouldn’t have my child in that organization now for anything. I also won’t buy the cookies.

  12. Sri_Sriracha says:

    The planned parenthood connection is a myth, at least on the organizational level. However, individual councils have affiliated with planned parenthood, so it would be good to ask if you were thinking of buying cookies or involving your daughters.

  13. chris_R says:

    I have not bought any for years — once I found out what the real motivations are. “Reproductive Rights” go hand-in-hand with trying to steer girls away from being mothers. They don’t want girls to become mothers. As one feminist I talked to once said, “one day we will have cloning and have no need for men or mothers!” This culture has been brewing for at least the past 40 years. The sad part? Nearly every woman that I dated long ago never had children, barren wombs — careers but no children. It reminds me of the Stations where Christ meets the women … “Weep not for me, but for your children, for the day will come when they will worship the barren womb and pull mountains down upon themselves.” Or something like that. I’m afraid we’re at that point. Woe to us!

  14. Sri_Sriracha says:

    I should also point out that cookie sale proceeds stay completely with the local council/troop. None of it funds the Girl Scouts on the national level. The troop gets 10 percent, the bakery gets 5%, and the rest goes to the council. My daughter is a girl scout, and I have the data on hand. Our troop and council have no affiliation with planned parenthood or any other abortion provider.

  15. KateD says:

    Some wonderful moms at our Catholic school encouraged my daughter to join a number of years ago. So we went out and got all the gear. She was so excited…and then the place called to say her book arrived. I took it home and started reading and nearly fell off my chair! Then they called to say they were taking my daughter to a church of some other denomination to swear an “oath” during the “ritual”….and I couldnt go…and we couldn’t see the text in advance!

    We quietly begged off….citing a sudden realization that we’d over commited in too many things….at the places with the people.

    It is a relief to have this all being made public.

  16. TomD says:

    @ Sri_Sriacha: “I should also point out that cookie sale proceeds stay completely with the local council/troop. None of it funds the Girl Scouts on the national level. ”

    From the article above: “There is a licensing fee attached to each box of Girl Scout cookies produced, paid to GSUSA. Licensing fees paid to GSUSA on all trademarked Girl Scout items (cookies, Girl Scout curriculum books and badges, ice creams, coffee creamers, etc.) amounts to millions of dollars every year.”

    While the direct funds from the sale of cookies may not go to GSUSA at the national level, according to the article, there are licensing fees, which proceed from each box sold, that do go to the national level, money that supports relationships with advocacy groups that the Church considers deeply problematic. The sale of cookies at the local level results in money, in this sense indirectly, for the national GSUSA. Is this not correct?

  17. myfivefish says:

    @Sri_Sriacha, the good Archbishop never mentions Planned Parenthood, so why are you? There are so many other documented concerns — please prayerfully consider his guidance, it was not made lightly or in haste I can assure you, and he faces a hostile response alone among those tasked to shepard our Church and our youth. He is at the top of my prayer list!

  18. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    We stopped buying them years ago. A simple ‘No thanks’ suffices.

    Why does APX want to give money directly to the troupe? I thought GSA was the problem, not the bakers they contract with.

  19. Dimitri_Cavalli says:

    This is one of many examples of long-standing organizations and institutions that are taken over by a faction, which then entrenches itself in power, and then moves the organization into a hard-left mission. The new leadership then dismisses any criticism as “personal attacks,” “censorship,” or orchestrated from wealthy, right-wing “outsiders.”

    At times when the organization could lose support or funding, especially from a Catholic source, the leadership complains of “intolerance” or asks why their organization just “can’t work together on common goals despite their differences.”

  20. Semper Gumby says:

    My brother’s family also no longer buys GS cookies, they make homemade thin mints from recipes found on the web, and those cookies are most excellent.

    The Register just posted an article on this topic, haven’t read it yet.

  21. benedetta says:

    For leadership skills, for learning valuable and wholesome and marketable skills, socialization, project based activities requiring teamwork, I like to recommend 4-H in lieu of girl/boy scouts. I think 4-H has remained largely wholesome and prepares boys and girls in developing important leadership skills without sermonizing elitist or totalitarian secularist agendas, and this kind of selling stuff to fundraise generally doesn’t have that sort of crucial place. 4-H tends to encourage creative thinking, problem solving, and independently or with a small group seeing a project through from start to finish, projects that actually end up being useful and marketable, and skills acquired which one can use for one’s whole life long.

  22. ChesterFrank says:

    Everything stated here makes sense. I won’t buy the cookies either. Originally I stopped buying them because so little of the money went to the local people. Now I wont buy them because they sound like another anti-catholic political advocacy group wrapped in an enthusiastic, youthful, and smiling package. I wonder though, what would take the place of GS as they are so organized. A commenter suggested a “little flowers” group that seems like a good choice but I have never seen them mentioned in a church bulletin or diocesan publication. Its tough competing with Girl Scouts. They are so visible , organized , advertised, funded and promoted.

  23. vfree53 says:

    I’ve seen the Snopes item. It’s a response to rather sensationalized tweets, etc., about cookie earnings going to PP. The answers there and on the GSUSA FAQ on the topic are over-specific, stating that troop cookie earnings don’t go to PP.

    That’s irrelevant. The fact is that every trooo contributes to GSUSA,C and GSUSA belongs to the World Assn of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. GSUSA and WAGGGS advocate for sexual health education (including LGBTQ agenda items) and reproductive rights directly opposite of what the Church teaches.

    It’s what Girl Scouting (and Boy Scouting) has become that is the problem.

  24. vfree53 says:

    The sooner we abandon the narrow issue of “where does the cookie money go, the better.” GSUSA’s licensing royalties from cookie sales are substantial, and directly related to the numbers sold by the troop. But … put that aside.

    — Girls support their troops with dues. — Troops support GSUSA.
    — GSUSA promotes “sexual education” and “reproductive health” agenda items contrary to Catholic teaching with a portion of their income from all sources with the organization.
    — GSUSA supports World Assn of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts that also advocates social and sexual agenda items contrary to Catholic teaching.

    See how that works?

  25. andia says:

    We have several troops selling, I don’t buy and I try not to engage. HOWEVER there is one troop of older girls who are extremely pushy about it and will block your way and question you as to why if they “corner” you… I have no hesitation about telling 13-16 year old who demand reasons adults want to keep their own money, why I object to buying them. I try to be respectful, but if they “ask” I answer.

    In addition to the PP controversy, this is also an issue

  26. Johanna says:

    If you like the cookies, you could take the money that you would have spent, and order yourself a box of truffles made by the monks at Holy Transfiguration Skete. Best truffles in the world. Bet they would go really well with some Mystic Monk Coffee, too.

  27. Susan G says:

    In response to Dr Edward Peters:

    Girl Scout Troops are entirely in charge of their own money. Each girl pays an annual membership fee to the organization as a whole, but any donations made to the troop would be unlikely to be passed on to the national level. They would be used for truos, service projects, activities, etc. The only thing they could be used for that would go to the national organization would be if it were used to purchase badges or other merchandise.

    I was a Girl Scout from 3rd through 12th grade. Upon graduation from high school, I bought a lifetime membership. Then a few years later, I started reading about the connections with Planned Parenthood and such. The thing I find so odd, however, is that as a high school student, I was frustrated by the quality of the tasks. They seemed to have entire switched from the original philosophy of the organization which had an emphasis on survival and homemaking and basic skills to just being a social club. It was belittling of the female sex, not empowering. The Girl Scouts of the 1920s were a cool group! A girl would have learned a lot of valuable skills… how to care for wounds, cook meals, sew, balance a budget, care for children, care for livestock, raise a garden. In the 1990s and 2000s, these valuable skills were no longer encouraged by the natonal organization. That said, local troops are in charge of their own activities, so some still do put a lot of focus on those skills. But as a whole, it seemed largely headed in a generic focus on “equality” and “girl power” rather than genuinely empowering girls by teaching them valuable skills.

    Needless to say, I regret that lifetime membership choice. And I do not buy cookies. I also don’t donate to the girls, as my experience attending and then having friends who worked at the summer camps were highly less than favorable.

    It was once a good organization. It hasn’t been for quite some time.

  28. StabatMater says:

    I started a Little Flowers group with homeschoolers when my daughter was 5. People moved, etc we “re-started” 3 times before we finally got it moving forward. We were the only one in the area. It is a very simple program, and mothers can make it more involved depending on what works/doesn’t work for the participating families. That is the beauty of authentic femininity- in accommodating to the needs of those in your care.

    The pastor who was the spiritual director of our HS group knew he wanted GS out of his parish, bishop would never allow it. There were 2 nuns trying to hold the school together who seethed with jealousy everytime our little girls in khaki skirts & pretty blue sashes and their Blue Knight brothers joyfully participated in a rosary march. Then they started bringing on the GS who otherwise we’re invisible except to sell cookies after Mass during Lent.

    11 years later there are Little Flowers groups in our local homeschool groups, in private homes, and even in 2 Catholic schools in the area. As Catholics we need to stop whining about everything we cannot participate in in this neo-pagan culture, and get back to the basics of virtue and valor with our own resources and the work of our hands. Stop playing the games of corporations and the education cartel. When we realize that Catholics have always done it better, more nobly, in truth and courage, regardless of the numbers, the funding, or the bells & whistles, we will begin to take back the souls of our children. No cookies necessary!!!

  29. KAS says:

    AMERICAN HERITAGE GIRLS should be the go-to for the Bishops. The statement of faith of the group contains nothing a Catholic cannot accept– they are not anti-Catholic– and the theology of the religion component is expected to follow the theology of the Church hosting the troop.

    This means it can be a CATHOLIC to the core group for girls. The organization is pro-life.

    Just be sure you don’t just put your girls in ANY AHG troop because the theology depends on where the troop is hosted. We have one here that is so deeply anti-Catholic on the web site of their community that it was easy to see, but you did have to go to the church web site and read their statements of faith to know it.

    I keep suggesting it at our parish.

  30. KAS says:

    To follow up– if the Bishops really cared, than rather than merely cautioning and suggesting, they might choose an alternative to back and promote!

    If our Bishop said to change over to AHG, there would be a move over to AHG. And that would be a good thing. AHG has some wonderful stuff to it.

    American Heritage Girls (AHG).
    TO Quote from their site:
    “American Heritage Girls is a Christ-centered leadership and character development ministry. The following Statement of Faith applies to all American Heritage Girls Charter Organizations and Adult Members.

    “We believe that there is one Triune God – Father; Jesus Christ, His one and only Son; and the Holy Spirit – Creator of the universe and eternally existent. We believe the Holy Scriptures (Old and New Testaments) to be the inspired and authoritative Word of God. We believe each person is created in His image for the purpose of communing with and worshipping God. We believe in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Who enables us to live Godly lives. We believe that each of us as an individual is called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength; and collectively to love our neighbors as ourselves. We believe God calls us to lives of purity, service, stewardship, and integrity.” ” [they define some terms too at: ]

    I need a girls group for my girls. GS needs to be dumped for being FOR that which is against us. THIS, if the Bishops urged a change, would be wonderful.

  31. ck says:

    “Why would anyone want overpriced processed junk like that anyway? Never bought a box in my life.”

    Let’s be fair, thin mints and somoas are really good. That said, it’s not worth buying these cookies from a satanic organization. Satan really knows how to tempt.

  32. Anthony says:

    Responses like the one from StabatMater make me clap and jump for joy!

    Just so incredibly resourceful! Awesome! Outstanding!

    Well done, dear lady! Well done!

  33. None for me either, thank you, even after a Lenten fast. I’ll save my money for the American Life League, the Latin Liturgy Association, or some other worthy charity.

  34. Steve says:

    Here’s an option: Our troop is through a Catholic Church. We brought this issue forward, and the all of the families agreed to stop selling the cookies. The families will make up the money lost from the sales through other means.

  35. Absit invidia says:

    Their lousy cookies are overrated. The girls selling them are sweet kids, but their leadership has a twisted social agenda that they are unfortunately exploiting these kids with. BSA same thing. Too bad the top leaders of these outfits have needlessly shoved these organizations into the gutter of the perverse. They have no business meddling in social experimental decadence. Only the kids suffer and us watching them unravel.

  36. NancyP says:

    Something that has not been mentioned here is that an individual Girl Scout troop is not allowed to do ANY other fundraising if the troop does not sell cookies. Nothing. I’m not even sure the troop could accept a donation (I was a leader, before I realized where GSA was heading). The only alternative would be asking parents to pay outright for all troop activities, but, in low-income areas, this would be a hardship for some families. GSA must make a lot of money off those cookies – why else would the central organization make a rule like this?

    (For those that argue that selling one box could count, you are correct, but the amount of training (troop leader and cookie mom) and paperwork (GSA loves those forms!) is not worth the hassle. Trust me.)

    When I was a Girl Scout, I loved the program. I learned useful skills that I could use even at age 9. (Set a table, write good letters, enjoy nature study, read and talk about books…I still have my Junior handbook, too!) Camping, hiking, meeting other Girl Scouts and learning to make friends were great experiences.

    When I was a leader, however, I was very disillusioned by the constant changes in the programs, badges/awards, materials girls were required to buy and, of course, WAGGGS’ stance on reproductive issues. I discovered that leaders of troops in economically disadvantaged areas got around the high cost of program materials by illegally photocopying the books and handouts. (I’m a writer – I am not a fan of copyright violation – but I do understand how hard it was for the leaders to ask each girl to spend $7 or more per quarter for yet another Girl Scout book.) I was not sorry when my Scouts began to feel that the program had no relevance for them (it didn’t – it was all about bullying and self-esteem, and our troop of homeschoolers had no problems with bullies and no self-esteem issues that their parents could not help them resolve). Our troop drifted apart, and I didn’t try to stop that process.

    I am surprised, honestly, that it has taken this long for a U. S. bishop to speak out, although I am glad he did. The associations that concern him have been common knowledge for years.

  37. robtbrown says:

    Some time ago there was a split in France. Now there are Les Scouts de France (Catholique) and Les Scouts d’Europe (seculaire). Les Scouts de France would often come to Fontgombault and camp for a few days.

  38. StabatMater says:

    Thank you, dear commenter. You have no idea the details of my battles, and your kind words are very encouraging to press on when I am one very tired woman! LOL

    When we started homeschooling the Catholics in our support group whined & complained about all the resources to which we don’t have access. (Watered-down, expensive Catholic schools abound here.) I began repeating it, “And priests can’t openly support us because of the bishop… it’s all so political.. the bishop won’t let us use buildings…” Whine, whine, whine! My godmother looked at me and said, “Take your place in history and stand.”

    And so I have. There are still plenty of families whining about what homeschoolers are “entitled” to. There are many more caving & putting kids back in school regardless of the fact that our bishop says Common Core is the law of his diocese. And then there’s me who sees it like this:

    The early Christians had to watch as their children were fed to lions, tortured, and slaughtered. I GET to drive 40 minutes into a city & walk a block for my children to attend Latin Mass. I GET to select every book they read without giving a dime to publishers who are corrupt or anti-Catholic or humanist in philosophy. I GET to learn everything I wasn’t taught in the church of butterflies & burlap right along side of them. I GET to watch my kids fall in love with Christ & His Holy Church, seek Truth, beauty, and goodness. And I GET to spend nights awake wondering how this is all going to turn out, wondering from where the money for their different abilities will come, and how God will possibly fill all the gaps in my grand ineptitude. How does one of my inability really think she can do a better job than the Catholic school machine here???? And with no support from family cause we are just the “Jesus Freaks.” (I have musically gifted kids & can’t read a note.) It’s all a comedy of errors. Lots of laughing through tears.

    I feel lost somedays, juggling a thousand things at once, planning field trips, church tours, boys retreat, group lessons, etc for our homeschool group that is starving for people to roll uo their sleeves & volunteer. People actually just want the archdiocese to pay an employee to run such activities. I remain baffled how easily people are willing to surremder their freedoms so that someone else can do a mother’s job & get paid for it. I just keep reminding myself that GOD Almighty is so much bigger than any of this.

    So I try my hardest not to whine, but to stand. A little encouragement on this lonely road has helped more than you may ever know.

    Prayers offered for your intentions this day in thanksgiving for your kindness.

  39. jhayes says:

    The USCCB has two papers about the Girl Scouts on its website HERE and HERE

    The second one links to this page on the Girl Scouts website in which they explain their relationship to the Catholic church HERE

    The USCCB position is that each bishop decides for his own diocese.

    Should the Church collaborate with or host the Girl Scouts?
    This question must be answered at the local level. As noted above, diocesan bishops have the final authority over what is appropriate for Catholic scouting in their dioceses.

  40. StabatMater says:

    May more of them show the wisdom and outrage of Christ with the money changers in the temple.

    May all the Angels & Saints in Heaven pray for all bishops, priests, and sacred ministers to be men of heroic courage and conviction!

  41. Supertradmum says:

    At least two parishes in my city are allowing the sale of cookies in the church basements–including my own parish. The pastor encouraged people to buy them as he stood in the sanctuary after Mass ended.

    I am disgusted. Compromises never solve problems and allow people to pretend nothing is wrong with the Girl Scouts.

    Wish some diocese, like this one I am in now, would start a Catholic girls group.

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