Behind the khaki uniforms and the merit badges, the two organizations have vastly different political leanings.
Left: Eagle Scout Darrell Lambert holds a letter expelling him from the organization for being an atheist. Right: A girl scout creates a "confidence journal" to help promote a positive body image. (Reuters)
When the Indiana House of Representatives took up a resolution to honor the Girl Scouts' 100th anniversary, freshman Republican representative Bob Morris refused to sign. Instead he sent colleagues a letter warning that the Girl Scouts were not a benign, cookie-peddling kids' organization but rather "a group that has been subverted in the name of liberal progressive politics" with "surprisingly radical policies" -- and, in fact, "a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood." His February 18 letter made the national news, and while he later walked back some of his criticisms - writing, in part, "I realize now that my words were emotional, reactionary, and inflammatory" - Morris reiterated his objections to the Girl Scouts, citing the group's support of reproductive health education and quoting "Blessed Pope John Paul II" on the topic of abortion.
While Morris's wrath seemed extreme even to his Indiana House colleagues (at least one of whom took to selling and distributing Thin Mints on the House floor), his anti-Girl Scout feelings are hardly unique. Back in 2004, conservative Christians in Texas called for a Girl Scout cookie boycott to protest the group's supposedly cozy relationship with Planned Parenthood; every year or so, another boycott is proposed. In late 2011, a group calling itself Honest Girl Scouts organized one to protest the Scouts' inclusion of a transgendered child. Over at Fox News, panic over allegedly radicalized Girl Scouts has joined the War on Christmas as a perennial source of outrage, and concerns over the group's pro-choice connections and airy-fairy religious affiliations have spawned a cottage industry of right-wing women's organizations. In January of this year, a 10-year-old Girl Scout selling cookies door-to-door in Reston, Virginia, encountered one neighbor who blurted out that her family doesn't give money to Girl Scouts because "they support abortion, which kills babies."