A Catholic vote for Obama: Is it a sin? A sign of co-dependency?

If a Catholic you love insists that President Obama is still the best man for the job in 2012, then gather your right-thinking friends and family around them: it’s time for an intervention.

First, you might wonder, are there really any Catholics still in the Obama camp? Plenty, unfortunately.

A recent Gallup poll showed that Obama’s maneuvering on the HHS regulations hasn’t cost him much, if any, Catholic support. Even regular Church-goers (46% of them) continue to back the President, counting him more friend than foe.

Think of the kind-hearted, stubbornly optimistic Catholics you know who insist that President Obama is really a good guy–that we should give him another chance to get it right. You know, the middle-aged social worker who drives to Sunday Mass in a Toyota Prius sporting an Obama bumper sticker. Or the bird-watching professor who praises the compassionate features of Obamacare as he sips coffee in the lounge after daily Mass.

Obama-Catholics insist that, despite actions to the contrary, Obama deeply respects religious freedom and abhors abortion. (And besides, they murmur, who really cares what the Bishops think about birth control?) They still plan to vote for Obama, in spite of the lingering sting from his slap in the face to Catholics–and other believers–whose consciences resist being forced to pay for other people’s abortion-causing drugs. These Obama-Catholics have put all that behind them in light of Obama’s respectful “compromise.” (It’s worth noting, that President Obama’s grand speech declaring that insurance companies, not religious organizations, would be forced to pay for contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs, was just speechifying—a promise of fig leaves to come. No rules have actually been changed yet.)

Yes, our good, but misguided, friends are ripe for an intervention. They need help.

By the way, I sadly think it’s past the intervention point for the Doug Kmiecs or Sr. Carol Keehans of the world—their disappointment over the initial conscience-quashing HHS regulations proved but a momentary (strategic?) pause in their unrestrained adulation of Obama-the-good. A promised cosmetic change to the regulations and they both inhaled deeply—again—and floated back into the elevated status of Obama-believers, those who know better than the rest of us that the great Barack “understands the truth of a human person” and rules accordingly.

No, let’s tend to the average person of faith, naïve perhaps, but unwilling to desert the first African-American President, whom they see as an upright family man with a big vision and a very, very hard job.  It’s time to have a sit-down with these people, particularly Catholics, and help them admit they’ve reached rock bottom in this relationship with Obama. It’s time to let go.

How to help your friends see the light? Two excellent articles provide food for thought, from two different angles: sin and psychology.

In Carrie Severino’s light-hearted, but pointed, column over at the Daily Beast, she argues that Catholics who remain enamored of President Obama exhibit the classic signs of co-dependency in an abusive relationship.

And over at his new blog, Notre Dame Law Professor and constitutional law expert Charles E. Rice (my father) makes a compelling case that our Catholic Bishops, individually, as an expression of their personal conviction, ought to tell Catholics in the pew that to vote for Obama would be a sin—an act deeply offensive to God.

Provocative, no?

Read and tell me: What do you think?

 

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Filed under Abortion, Catholicism, Contraception, Faith and Virtue, Lessons Learned, Policy and Culture, Prayer and Spirituality

Abortion: A Private Matter Between a Woman and Her…Vending Machine?

At Shippensburg University, female students who hook-up for drunken sex on Saturday will find it easy to dispose of just-conceived babies on Monday or Tuesday. A quick trip to the vending machine is all it takes.

Easy. Kind of like buying a bag of Doritos.

Women who wake up in unfamiliar beds or sober up and wonder,  “What were you thinking, girl?” needn’t worry much. Stride across campus, past the dining hall (grab a doughnut for later), and into the University Health Center. Flash a student ID and head to the vending machine in the “self-help” area. There, next to the cough drops and Mucinex, in discreet, feminine packaging, is Plan B One Step. No questions asked. Feed the bills into the slot, grab and go. Empowered with “choices,” these women pop the package blister, swallow the pill, and breathe easy.

Problem solved. Glad that’s over.

Only it’s really not.

Billed as “emergency contraception,” according to the package insert, Plan B inhibits ovulation and thus prevents conception.  But it also alters the lining of the uterus, preventing a newly conceived child from implanting in its mother’s womb.  Without implantation, that tiny human being cannot draw nourishment and will die. (Occasionally, Plan B fails and the pregnancy continues.)

In most cases, however, Plan B ‘succeeds.’

But ‘success’ is not pretty. Our Shippensburg student will have a one-in-three chance of heavy bleeding. And 13% of women who take Plan B One Step end up curled up in bed with nausea, abdominal pain, and fatigue. Worse, nearly one in ten women who use emergency contraception (compared to 2% of pregnancies in the general population) develop severe abdominal pain and require emergency treatment for an ectopic pregnancy.

But no worries, this is a private decision between a woman and her vending machine.

(Maybe the Supreme Court should update that hallowed language about abortion being a private medical decision between a woman and her doctor, eh?)

Back in Shippensburg, it’s been a bad few days for the University’s PR team–one negative link on Drudge would keep anybody hopping—and they’re feeling a bit defensive. “We’re not the first” to make Plan B available on a college campus, they say.

But from a vending machine?

Has our culture so trivialized sex and baby-making that the ‘solution’ to an unintended pregnancy comes out of a vending machine? And the grown-ups in the room don’t even blink?

Shippensburg’s decision seems destined to create a campus norm of casual sex. But in its February 7th statement, the University asserted that it’s “not encouraging anyone to be sexually active. That is a decision each student makes on his or her own.”

But why offer students abortion-inducing drugs, right on campus? (Ironically, the University vending machines don’t carry condoms, the typical must-have accessory for promiscuous sex).

In a phone interview February 7th, Dr. Peter M. Gigliotti, Executive Director for University Communications & Marketing, said the university installed the vending machine “several years” ago after a student survey showed that 85% of students favored on-campus access to emergency contraception. He defended the decision, expressed surprise at the media coverage, and insisted that no one under the age of 17 has access to the vending machine. (By law, Plan B cannot be dispensed to anyone under 17 without a prescription.)

In Shippensburg’s public statement, Dr. Robert Serr, Vice-President for Student Affairs, also downplayed the disclosure and framed the issue as support for reproductive choice: “Reproductive services are a personal decision to be made by every man and woman. As such, the university is providing students with a medication that they can obtain legally elsewhere as part of their ability to make their own choices.”

Put differently, Shippensburg wonders, “What’s the big deal?”

That attitude is precisely the problem.

“Emergency contraception” dispensed from a vending machine is the perfect icon of our culture’s impersonal–and utilitarian–view of sex and reproduction.

The icon’s meaning:

  • Sex is no big deal. It’s entertainment. Condom malfunction? Fix the problem in less time than it takes to rent a Redbox movie.
  • Making—or destroying–a baby is no big deal either. Using ‘emergency contraception’ has the moral significance of taking a cough drop. (One button on the vending machine gets you Plan B, another gets you lemon-flavored cough drops.)
  • Convenience rules. Why bother with nine months of pregnancy—and 21 years of child-rearing–when freedom is just a vending machine away?
  • Like casual sex, abortion (even disguised as “emergency contraception”) turns a union of two into a solo event. No strings. Just another individual experience that requires “appropriate decisions.”
  • Repeat business is a given—the abortion industry depends on it. No one visits a vending machine just once.

To the women of Shippensburg University: wake up! What could be more lonely than heading across a cold Pennsylvania campus “the morning after,” alone, to rendezvous with a vending machine? It’s an automated ‘problem-solver,’ stoically dispensing drugs that not only kill your baby but also numb your heart.  All so you can go back and do it again.

That’s not ‘choice.’ It’s exploitation. And people who really care about you won’t exploit you.

Please, reach out.  Because you deserve better.

 

 

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Filed under Abortion, Contraception, Fertility and Infertility, Health, Policy and Culture, Relationships, Sexuality, Women

The Catholic Church and the Girl Scouts: A Scandalous Mess

Sometimes even the Washington Post gets it right.

Last week the pastor of St. Timothy’s Catholic Church in Chantilly, Virginia, made national news. He banned the Girl Scouts from his parish because of the Girl Scouts’ connections to pro-abortion groups, including the international scouting group, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

A Washington Post writer, who called the parish decision “extreme,” rode to the Scouts’ defense, arguing that the “Girl Scouts say explicitly, repeatedly, at the neighborhood, regional and national level, that they have no stance on birth control or abortion.”

Now that’s not the part the Post got right. The Post columnist is dead wrong on the underlying facts because, while it’s true that the Scouts say they take no official position on birth control and abortion, it’s what they do that’s a problem.

Numerous sources—including former Girl Scouts, Scout leaders, and pro-life leaders—have documented hundreds of examples of the Girl Scouts promoting pro-abortion and LGBT resources, recommending sexually explicit books and movies, highlighting pro-abortion leaders and lesbians as role models, partnering with LGBT and pro-abortion activist groups, including Planned Parenthood, and referring girls to pro-abortion organizations to learn about “advocacy” (a pet word in the new Girl Scouts).

Consider: New York’s Real Life, Real Talk sex education program, “initiated by Planned Parenthood,” partners with the NYPENN Girl Scouts; The Girl Scouts’ curriculum (Journey books) promotes the Scouts’ “sisterhood” with pro-abortion WAGGGS (WAGGGS CEO Mary McPhail led the radical, pro-abortion European Women’s Lobby before joining WAGGGS, and a 2010 International Planned Parenthood Federation report (p. 13) credits Planned Parenthood’s “close relationship” with WAGGGS for Planned Parenthood’s success in promoting sex and abortion to youth); and in Chicago this July, GSUSA will co-host the Girls’ World Forum 2012 with WAGGGS, to “develop action steps” supporting the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDG #5 supports abortion and adolescent sex). See more here.

The Girl Scouts (GSUSA) has yet to refute even one piece of documented evidence. They can’t.

And the Scouts’ general denials highlight the contradiction between what they say and what they do. The bottom line: the Girl Scouts seem to have a truth-in-labeling problem. Parents—and sponsoring churches like St. Timothy–are right to protest the deception and pull their girls out of the organization.

So what, then, did the Washington Post columnist “get right”?

The Post columnist inadvertently shone the spotlight on why the Catholic Church has a Girl Scout problem: the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM).

According to the Post, “Another defender of the scouts is the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, a group that ought to have some credibility with Catholics. It’s an official church organization and has been actively investigating — and mostly refuting — the accusations for several years…The federation’s Web site devotes a page to knocking down rumors. Girl Scouts support Planned Parenthood? ‘Not true,’ the federation says.”

Thank you for shining that light on the NFCYM, Mr. Columnist.

But let’s get the facts straight. First, the NFCYM does not have a track record of “investigating” the Girl Scouts’ problematic ties and activities; it has a track record of whitewashing them. Second, resources promoted on the NFCYM’s website and in the NFCYM Executive Director’s book on Catholic youth advocacy suggest that the NFCYM has little “credibility” to speak to the Church on these issues.

First, the NFCYM track record. When parishes, dioceses, and parents want to know if the Girl Scouts support contraception, teen sex, or abortion (or partner with organizations that do), they ask the NFCYM, or its subsidiary, the National Catholic Committee on Girl Scouts and Camp Fire. Although the NFCYM has never conducted or commissioned a rigorous, independent investigation of the Scouts, it reflexively picks up its Girl Scout megaphone and shouts, “Not true!” It reports Girl Scouts’ denials as fact.

In its 2011 “Position Statement” on the Girl Scouts, the NFCYM declared itself “satisfied” with GSUSA denials. Further, the NFCYM decided that the Scouts’ “official statement clarifying their relationship with WAGGGS and Planned Parenthood…and emphasiz[ing] the primacy of parents’” authority on sexual topics sufficed to end the discussion. The NFCYM “investigated” no further than the words on the Girl Scouts’ printed page.

No sense checking the facts. (Scouts’ honor, right?)

Not one of the Google-topping websites created by former Girl Scouts, concerned parents, and troop leaders to document the Girl Scouts’ problems has received any inquiries or corrections from Bob McCarty, NFCYM’s Executive Director, or from the Scouts. Ever. Will McCarty specify which of their links, statements, or page scans are “not true?” Does anyone at NFCYM even realize how much evidence contradicts the Girl Scouts’ denials? Does NFCYM recognize the ideology driving the Scouts’ leadership?

The deep documentation on the whistleblowers’ websites is a damning indictment of the Girl Scouts. It’s also a damning indictment of the NFCYM—for its failure to investigate allegations about the Scouts.

Perhaps the NFCYM won’t address the facts because it thinks they don’t really matter. In my second interview with Bob McCarty (November 2011), I asked him about the Girl Scouts’ relationship with pro-abortion WAGGGS: the Girl Scouts fund WAGGGS (over a million dollars annually); the GSUSA website and materials routinely promote WAGGGS; Scouts typically wear a WAGGGS pin, signifying their sisterhood; and the Girl Scouts promote WAGGGS’ international “cabanas” and advocacy training programs as the ultimate destination for senior Girl Scouts. Bob was untroubled, dismissing those points because, “Catholic youth ministry is not in relationship with WAGGGS.”

It’s as if NFCYM’s priority is the paper trail that gets the Scouts off the hook and keeps the bishops out of their hair. One former Girl Scout mom wonders, “Why so little concern for the girls?” Girls who, for example, might innocently read the Girl Scout-recommended book, the Gate to Women’s Country, with its explicit descriptions of brutal sex and distorted relationships. Or who might be invited to attend a WAGGGS abortion-advocacy event as the culmination of their Girl Scout training.

In the Washington Post article, McCarty minimizes parents’ concerns about the relationships between the Girl Scouts and WAGGGS, Planned Parenthood, or other pro-abortion groups. “It’s the whole thing of guilt by association,” McCarty says. “Does one policy with which you can’t agree prevent you from being involved in broader coalitions?”

Yes, Bob, at times it should. I suggest that an organization’s pro-abortion stance is not just “one policy with which you can’t agree.”  Respect for life—from conception to natural death–is so fundamental to the Catholic view of the human person and to Catholic moral principles that an organization that advocates against that principle should be disqualified from sponsorship by a Catholic parish—and from running character-shaping activities for Catholic girls.

The NFCYM disagrees.  Which brings me to my second point: the NFCYM and its Executive Director, Bob McCarty, have little credibility to judge whether the Girl Scouts’ resources, relationships, and role-models offend Catholic standards. The NFCYM website and McCarty’s book contain similar problems.

McCarty’s book, Be a Champion of Youth: Standing With, By, and For Young People (co-authored with his wife, Maggie Wilson McCarty), draws on his NFCYM experience to promote “youth advocacy.” But Bob’s book relies on and recommends an organization that he says, “[P]rovides information on peer education, youth development, and youth-adult partnerships.  It also provides excellent resources for actively involving young people in their own learning.”

The organization: the pro-abortion Advocates for Youth, formerly known as the Center for Population Options.

In contrast to McCarty’s sanitized description, Advocates for Youth admits it “champions” the right of “young people [to] make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health…boldly advocating for a more positive and realistic approach to adolescent sexual health.”  Remember McCarty’s praise for the way Advocates for Youth “actively involve[s] young people in their own learning”? Their method: to train young people as peer educators, “helping” peers with concerns about “sexual orientation, gender identity, or sexual health,” and as “Youth Activists,” advocating for sex and abortion, unfettered by parents’ rules or religious beliefs.

Advocates for Youth, in case you don’t know, is the enemy. They actively oppose the Church on every sexual issue in the public arena, including abstinence education, same-sex relations, contraception, and abortion.

Let’s be clear:  I am not saying McCarty is personally pro-abortion. But he doesn’t seem to think an organization’s policy on sex and abortion matters much, as long as there’s something arguably good about them.

In this case, McCarty likes the Advocates for Youth model of youth advocacy. That’s a problem in itself. Both McCarty and Advocates for Youth ascribe to the “youth-adult partnership” model of youth advocacy that rejects the “myth of adult wisdom.” They don’t believe that “adults know what is best” or that young people need protecting. See McCarty, p. 33. That’s baloney. The ‘learn-by-doing’ model has built-in limitations, particularly in the sexual and moral arenas. And the benefit of “youth advocacy” depends entirely on the values being advocated.

Besides Advocates for Youth, McCarty’s book recommends other gems like the pro-abortion Children’s Defense Fund, UNICEF, and the Youth Activism Project (which trains youth as mini-community organizers, agitating for things like Gay and Lesbian Student Rights Laws, an example McCarty notes with approval in his book).

The NFCYM website is more of the same.  On the NFCYM’s “Healthy Adolescent Development” page, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry tops the list of “Key Resource Organizations.” The Academy promotes “comprehensive sexual education,” including school-based distribution of contraceptives, and opposes parental notification requirements in sexual and reproductive matters, including abortion. Further, the Academy supports same-sex marriage and adoption and affirms the adolescent’s ‘right’ to decide sexual orientation or gender identity without interference (like from parents). This is an organization parents should trust for guidance on “healthy adolescent development”?

The NFCYM website also recommends the Faith Trust Institute as a resource on preventing sexual abuse. The Faith Trust Institute is a Pope-bashing website run by a female, pro-abortion minister who signed a statement condemning the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller, mourning the “untold number of women and families who have been deprived of his compassionate care.”

I could go on.

But here’s the point.  The Girl Scouts have a demonstrable credibility problem.  They have not been forthright with Catholics and other folks who support traditional sexual morality.

The Catholic Church needs to insist that if the Scouts want to recruit young Catholics, seek sponsorship from Catholic parishes, and sell cookies to parishioners, then the Scouts must make radical changes, including severing ties with WAGGGS and other pro-abortion, pro-teen sex, and LGBT activist groups. They must clean up offensive materials and quit elevating lesbians, gays, and pro-abortion activists as role models and convention speakers. Finally, they must champion a return to character, based on virtues and objective morality.

And the NFCYM? McCarty states that, “the only way you can advocate for the church’s position is to be engaged in the dialogue.” I submit that the NFCYM and Bob McCarty are the wrong folks to “dialogue” with the Girl Scouts on these issues.

Under McCarty’s leadership, the NFCYM’s premise seems to be that because Catholics are involved in the Girl Scouts already—as Scouts, leaders, and supporting parishes–the end goal is to stay in that relationship. So he elevates the cause of “dialogue” over fidelity to Catholic moral teaching.

But I think Denver Auxiliary Bishop James Conley gets it right. He writes, “Catholics involved in the Girl Scouting movement should make it clear to leadership that Scouting is only a means to an end—the proper formation of young character. It’s not an end in itself; and should Scouting ever fail in that proper formation, other groups can be found or formed to take its place.”

I think that time has come.

And I salute the Pastor of St. Timothy’s in Chantilly, Virginia, for his courage to do the right thing.

 

NOTE: Prior to the publication of this article, I contacted NFCYM head Bob McCarty numerous times by phone and email.  He elected not to respond in any substantive way.

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Filed under Abortion, Catholicism, Children, Faith and Virtue, Family, Kids and Character, Lessons Learned, Moms and Motherhood, Parenting, Policy and Culture

Down Syndrome? Meet Maddox…and stop fearing “the worst”

Have you seen this?

If only those parents facing a pre-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome could look ahead and see the joy and love that awaits–from cuties like Maddox. In her video below, Maddox will let you in on her “gambling problem,” and how she’s winning every bet against her.

Maddox doesn’t say a word here, but her message is unforgettable.

Don’t stand by and do nothing while the world aborts 90% of girls and boys like Maddox, just because they are  different!

Pass this on and bring hope to parents who fear  “the worst.”

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Filed under Abortion, Children, Family, Fertility and Infertility, Health, Lessons Learned, Moms and Motherhood, Parenting

Girl Scouts Leadership: Pro-Choice, Pro-Gay Ideologues–Worlds Apart from the Families They Serve (UPDATED)

Who’s calling the shots over at the Girl Scouts? And where’s the organization headed?

The questions matter for two reasons. First, it’s cookie season. Any day now some cute little girls wearing green sashes and bright smiles will knock on your door and sweetly seek support for their projects, badges, and activities. Do you write the check or not? (Forget your craving for Thin Mints. Think rationally!) Should you support the Girl Scouts?

Second, the Girl Scouts organization (GSUSA) is in trouble again. In recent weeks, they’ve drawn scrutiny for promoting biased resources (the left-wing Media Matters) and pressuring an employee to muzzle her pro-life views. The latest events top the pile of controversies that has outraged parents and spurred some Scouts to quit the organization.

What’s going on? Are these merely quality control issues–or do the problems reflect an ideological divide between the Girl Scout leadership and the families they serve?

In recent years, the Girl Scouts have tacked left, and criticism has mounted–over their programs and their partnerships with America’s leading abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. (As an aside, the Scouts mislead families and churches into believing that they have no relationship with Planned Parenthood at any level; they maintain that “Girl Scouts of the USA [i.e. the national office] does not have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood,” but say nothing about the many local Girl Scout councils that do partner with Planned Parenthood and its teen subsidiaries.

Concerned Scouts and their parents have publicized and documented the Girl Scouts’ liberal bent. And they’ve asked for changes.

The Girl Scouts consistently respond as if the reported problems are small brush fires that erupt sporadically because people are careless. And they project the impression that these brush fires would die out on their own, but for the hysterical bystanders—conservatives, of course—who shriek at the first wisp of smoke.

Offensive materials? Quality control issues, that’s all.

The official spokespersons’ carefully worded statements make small concessions, hoping to blow the smoke far enough away to divert attention from the incendiary truth: the leadership of today’s Girl Scouts is driven by a liberal ideology far out of step with the families and churches that support them.

Americans tilt right, increasingly so. For the third consecutive year, according to Gallup, conservative Americans (40%) outnumbered both moderates (35%) and liberals (21%). Interestingly, over the same three year period, the Girl Scouts lost half a million members and operated at a loss (In 2010, for example, GSUSA reported a $4.9 million loss.)

That’s a lotta people and a big chunk of change out the door.

You’d think the Girl Scouts leadership would consider a right turn or two, maybe even circle back around to their founding principles, like promoting “virtues” and “womanhood.”

But still the Scouts turn left. They can’t help themselves.

The Girl Scouts have filled their National Leadership Team and Board of Directors with unwavering ideologues whose careers, non-profit 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.

Their liberal ideology drives everything–from program materials to themes to partnerships–even their view of leadership.

It’s who they are. And it’s who the Girl Scouts organization has become.

A few examples tell the story.

A pro-abortion bias

The Girl Scouts imagines itself the “thought leader and voice for and of” American girls. But the only “voice” the Scouts hear is a liberal one. The Girl Scouts’ own research shows that the voice of American youth is strongly pro-life: just nine percent of 7th through 12th graders would advocate for abortion if a friend sought advice on an unexpected pregnancy. And only 25% believe it’s “all right” to have an abortion when a baby seriously disrupts life plans.

But the GSUSA refuses to allow pro-life advocacy to count towards badge work or program requirements, even within faith-based religious recognition programs. It’s “not an option,” they say. Yet their leadership program objectives consider advocacy for “reproductive health” in school or neighborhood as a sign that a Scout has mastered the desired advocacy skills.

In addition, the Girl Scouts’ curriculum (Your Voice, Your World: The Power of Advocacy) instructs girls to explore five pro-abortion advocacy organizations, including the Population Council, to see “where and how they are promoting change.” Pro-life advocacy groups? None.

The pro-abortion bias reflects the core convictions of the Girl Scouts’ National Leadership Team and Board of Directors. These individuals, who frame and implement the Girl Scouts’ mission, maintain tight connections with Planned Parenthood, other abortion advocates, and foundations that support them.

Consider:

  • GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chavez collaborated* with Planned Parenthood as head of Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas;
  • GSUSA National President Connie Lindsey has donated to the pro-abortion, pro-LGBT Chicago Foundation for Women;
  • GSUSA Board Member Barbara Krumsiek is the Board Chair of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation which funds Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington;
  • GSUSA Board Member Monica Gil is a volunteer and former Board Member  (through 2011) of the Saban Free Clinic in L.A., which providesfree and easy” birth control, emergency contraception, and abortion referrals to teens over 12, without parental notice or consent;
  • GSUSA Board Member and Executive Secretary Debra Nakatomi is International Commissioner to the pro-abortion World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and promoted contraceptives to Asian teens through California’s Get Real program;
  • Laurie Westley, GSUSA Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Advocacy & the Research Institute, previously worked for the National Women’s Political Caucus, a group dedicated to electing pro-choice women.
  • Joan Wagnon, the GSUSA Treasurer, Board of Directors, accepted large campaign contributions from late-term abortionist George Tiller while she was Secretary of Kansas’ Department of Revenue and praised Tiller’s “social conscience and…big heart;”
  • Ellen S. Fox, GSUSA Board Member from 2008 through 2011, serves on the Investment Committee of the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s Board of Directors.

 The list goes on. (Click here.)

The new normal: homosexuality and sexual promiscuity

Pro-life views are not the only ones given short shrift by the Girl Scouts. Traditional sexual morality takes a hit, while lesbians enjoy good press in required Girl Scout materials. These books— the “Journeys” series—generally push global environmentalism from a feminist slant; certain books go further, normalizing homosexuality and degrading sexual behavior.

For example, the Journey book Your Voice Your World: The Power of Advocacy spotlights numerous lesbians and LGBT advocates as “Voices for Good”–role models for young Scouts.

And the 4th and 5th grade Journey book, Agent of Change, highlights author Marjane Satrapi, a young Iranian woman with “real moxie,” whose life–detailed in her comic book-style autobiography, Persepolis–will “inspire” Girl Scouts. But in Persepolis, Satrapi crudely discusses men’s genitalia (even with her own father), calls nuns prostitutes, gets explicit lessons about sex from a promiscuous friend, lives with eight homosexual men, and attempts suicide twice. Offensive illustrations and shocking sexual dialogue complete the picture. For ten-year olds?

It gets worse.

Another Journey book, GIRLtopia, encourages 9th and 10th graders “to imagine a perfect world—for girls.” It recommends the book, The Gate to Women’s Country, by Sheri Tepper (former Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood), as a utopian journey into “a future world where women spend their lives learning and discovering lost knowledge.” That’s a deceptive gloss on a book laced with obscenities, revolting dialogue, and lewd descriptions, and which presents men as violent barbarians. The book graphically describes women having sex with random warriors at a semi-annual Carnival, undergoing brutal, demeaning genital exams, and breeding out violence by compulsive sterilization and selective prostitution. The only good men are castrated men. This is Girl Scout utopia?

Juliette Low, the Girl Scouts’ founder, would be aghast.

Why would Girl Scout Execs and Board members approve this material?

Because they don’t find it shocking or radical at all.

It reflects their worldview—sexual promiscuity is a given and homosexuality is normal. And indeed, key players at the Girl Scouts have a history of advocating those very positions, particularly on homosexuality.

Timothy Higdon, for example, holds a pivotal position at GSUSA: as Chief of External Affairs, he oversees marketing, fundraising, advocacy, and research. Higdon’s official bio on the Girl Scout website touts his earlier work for the Army, a fundraising firm, and Amnesty International. It even mentions he’s an Eagle Scout. But it doesn’t mention that, spurred by his decision to come out as a gay man, he’s a “seasoned gay rights activist.” (For example, in 2002 he headed a Florida gay rights organization working closely with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.)

In 2011, Higdon welcomed another homosexual activist to the Girl Scout team: Deborah Taft, Senior VP of Fund Development, sits on the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Board of Governors. (HRC pushes same-sex marriage and is an adoption bully, pummeling religious adoption agencies that prefer married heterosexuals to homosexual pairs.)

Other LGBT activists fill prominent GSUSA positions or Board seats. Consider GSUSA Media Spokesperson Joshua Ackley. By day, he writes the Girl Scouts’ blog. By night, he frolics in unsavory places reminiscent of his homopunk career. He’s the former lead singer of the Dead Betties, a queer band whose music videos feature masturbation, prostitution, and sexualized violence against women. Ackley’s past activism suggests he’s not likely to flinch over a sexually inappropriate book or lesbian role models.  He’s not alone.

The LGBT advocates in the Girl Scouts’ inner circle help set the organization’s trajectory: GSUSA emphasizes diversity and tolerance, applauds adolescent acceptance of LGBT behavior, promotes lesbians as role models, and allies itself with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

Forget character.  Think advocacy.

I opened this article with two questions.  First, who’s calling the shots at the Girl Scouts? The answer: incorrigible liberals–unbending proponents of abortion, homosexuality, and teen contraception.

Second, where’s the organization headed? The Girl Scouts’ vaunted leadership programs have morphed into liberal training grounds. While the Scouts’ founding vision promoted “the virtues of womanhood;” today’s Scouts strive for advocacy-oriented objectives.

The new “Girl Scout Leadership Experience” is less about the person a girl becomes and more about “taking action” aligned with the liberal agenda. GSUSA trains girls to be “advocates,” mini community organizers who see themselves as “agents of change,” rather than young women of virtue who exercise leadership with an eye towards “personal honor…and the public good.” (Girl Scout Mission, 1917).

Indeed, it’s hard to find the language of virtue in the Scouts’ program materials. Patriotism? Self-sacrifice? Humility? Self-control? Nope. The new Girl Scouts focus on diversity, “environmental justice” (they’ve got a whole book on it), and liberal advocacy.

But don’t expect the Scouts to ‘fess up. Though they’ve gutted the meanings of “character” and “leadership,” they continue to snow member families and sponsoring organizations (like the Catholic Church) with their institutional history as a character-building, leadership organization.

Bishops, pastors, ministers, and parents, don’t be fooled. If the Girl Scouts’ leadership–toting the same pro-abortion, pro-gay, environmentalist, feminist baggage—showed up today as a new organization and sought your sponsorship to shape girls in their image, would you say yes? I doubt it.

So…should you support today’s Girl Scouts?

My answer: a resounding “No!”

What’s yours?

—-
NOTE: *The word “collaborated” replaces the verb “partnered” that appeared in an earlier version of this article. Although “partnered” has a range of meanings including an alliance or collaboration, the author has replaced it in order to preclude suggestion that a contractual, business partnership existed. The significance of the relationship remains, in the author’s view.

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Nick Vogt: “I love to be alive!”

You gotta love this guy’s heart and indomitable spirit!

Nick Vogt’s family posted this update a few days ago:

Nick had a good day today although we were told that last night he gave the med staff a hard time (agitated and depressed). Today he had a lot going on and did a good job “keeping up”. The med staff is doing a good job of letting him sleep. When he wakes up the several medical teams storm him to get their work done. They are all doing a great job. Besides the several required medical jobs that had to be done today Nick’s day included a few additional activities like: a stroll around the ICU hallways in his powered wheelchair with him doing the driving. (Not one mark on the walls along the way. He did great.) Enjoying music from his own Ipod. (It has made it back from Afghanistan.) Watched some Taylor Swift concert on DVD. Watched some X-Men movie on DVD. But my personal favorite moment of the day (make that the week) was when, while killing some time, he thought he would try to write something. So we grabbed a pen and paper and after much effort he wrote, “I love to be alive”. I said,” me too” and gave him a kiss on the head. More answered prayers. God is good. Thank you St. Anthony patron Saint of Amputees.

God truly does hear our prayers!  Please continue to pray for healing for Nick and share his and his family’s joy in the goodness of life! And thank God for their powerful witness to faith and the great gift of life…

 

 

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Lt. Nick Vogt and the Power of Faith

Nick Vogt’s alive. And that’s a miracle.

It’s a dramatic story of heart-stopping injuries and inexplicable survival—and a simultaneous testimony of tenacious faith and the power of prayer. Nick’s horrendous suffering touched the hearts of his hometown community, the far-flung military family, and Catholics everywhere. And the mysterious interplay between setbacks and miraculous interventions has swelled the ranks of spiritual warriors praying on Nick’s behalf, all around the globe.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let me tell you about Nick.

A handsome, athletic young man, Nick turns 24 today (December 13th). He has the lean muscles of a runner and the kind eyes of a big brother—his four younger siblings think he’s “one of the most amazing human beings” ever. One of those rare people liked by everyone, Nick reflects his parents’ strong values of family and faith. Devout Catholics, Nick’s parents–Steve and Sheila–wove faith into the normal fabric of life: a crucifix in every room, nightly prayers together at bedtime, and grace before meals. “God has been a part of our everyday life since day one,” says Olivia, Nick’s 22-year-old sister. And He remains so, now more than ever.

One month ago, the young lieutenant with the strong jaw and easy grin led his platoon on patrol in a still-dangerous corner of Afghanistan. It was a mission cut short. Nick stepped on a pressure-triggered explosive device (IED) hidden in the dirt beneath his feet. The lethal trap—purposely set for American soldiers–exploded under Nick, tore off his legs, and left his life hanging in the balance.

Nick should be dead, the doctors told his family later, if not from the explosion then from the precarious surgeries that followed. He suffered such severe wounds that his heart stopped several times as doctors operated to stanch the massive bleeding.

Medicine rejoices in miracles, but doesn’t expect them.

Believers do.

Jesus promised that, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matt. 6:8). And Scripture says, “For God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37).

Even as his family sent that first urgent message–begging for prayers for Nick–to friends, parishioners, and neighbors in Bethlehem, Ohio, God surrounded Nick with exactly the people he needed.

A skilled medic, Spc. Thomas Underhill, saved Nick’s life in the intense aftermath of the blast. The military surgeons in Afghanistan, forced to amputate the torn limbs, fought tirelessly to stabilize Nick as he continued losing blood. Soldiers on base, responding to an emergency midnight appeal, sprinted over to give blood for Nick. The urgency of saving one of their own overcame their exhaustion, and the line of war-weary soldiers stretched a city block. (Before leaving the war zone, Nick needed 400 units of blood, 100 more followed later– the highest total of any wartime patient.)

Miraculously, Nick survived.

Parents will tell you that the thought of a son or daughter suffering alone is almost unbearable. The planes fly too slowly, the miles stretch too far, and the war zone delays their bedside vigil. But while Nick lay unconscious in critical care, God was there. According to his sister Olivia, “soldiers who did not even know Nick would sit with him for hours just holding his hand …just so he wasn’t alone. All for my brother who had been there not even 3 months… The amount of love from his and other soldiers there was unbelievable.” Nick needed comfort; bonded by war, his brothers in combat took turns by his side. The faith of his family and the prayers from back home brought angels to keep watch.

As people prayed, God answered again and again, in awesome power and love. In the days just after the explosion, Nick needed repeated surgeries. His sister Olivia said. “Every doctor…said he should not be alive after all he went through.” But God was not ready to call Nick home.

In fact, Olivia says, Nick’s dad jokes that Nick himself must have insisted on more time. As an officer fiercely protective of his men, Nick “was famous for going up the ladder of superiors until he got the answer he wanted.” It’s not hard to imagine that “when his heart stopped in the operating room, Nick must have gone straight to the top and respectfully asked God, ‘With all due respect, Sir, I’m not done down there, so could you please send me back?’”

Nick is back–resilient Nick, powered by a loving heart, a tenacious will, and the vigilant prayers of hundreds, even thousands, of people he’s never met.

Last week, Sheila Vogt posted this glimpse of Nick’s indomitable spirit: “He has a big day in the OR today.  He was chomping at the bit to get in there and just kept looking at the surgeon teams coming in his room and mouthing the words, ‘Let’s do it.’ Even as injured as he is, he still seems to be the Nick we all know and love.” Thumbs up, powering through the pain, determined to do what it takes–that’s Nick.

Never afraid of hard work, Nick excelled in school, sports, and the army, always doing more than was asked.  Why serve? Because it was his dream, his calling. “When he was six years old he wanted his first flat top hair cut,” said Olivia, “He had already decided he wanted to be in the army. From that point on he never second-guessed that.”

As his West Point years drew to a close, Nick mulled over the next step: medical school or deployment.  He opted to postpone medical school—for the sake of his future patients.  He told his mom that he’d go to war first, so that when he treated wounded warriors in the future, he would know first-hand what they had faced.

In God’s plan, there is no “what if?” He knows the “why?” and the “what comes next?” What we know is that God’s promise endures: He “works all things to the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28). God’s got a mighty plan for this selfless young soldier.

Our culture blindly denies the value of life “burdened” by imperfection, disability, or suffering. But that’s not how his family sees it. They see the son and brother they love and for whose life they are profoundly grateful.

The Bible says, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thess. 5:18) No easy task for us mortals; it requires divine perspective. In the midst of their grief and worry for Nick, his mom and dad gave thanks to God for the greatest gift—Nick’s life. In a Thanksgiving Day post, Sheila wrote, “Steve and I went to Thanksgiving Mass today in the hospital chapel. Our prayers of thanks this year have…a much more powerful sincereness. God has blessed us with a most ultimate gift – some more time with Nick.”

Nick’s life is truly a gift for others.  When the time is right, I hope Nick discovers…

–The spiritual fervor he’s inspired every day since his injury.  Countless adults, children, and peers hit their knees every day to pray for him.  Even people who haven’t prayed much over the years hear Nick’s story and reach out again to their Father in heaven.  “God, please heal Nick. Guide his doctors, comfort his siblings, and strengthen his parents.  We’re looking for miracles, Lord.” If only our lives drew others towards Christ with the same intensity.

–The gift of joy he gives his parents, doctors, and siblings each time he smiles, signals thumbs up, or delights in a favorite song. It’s a gift multiplied and received by hundreds who check on him daily through Facebook, receive emails from the incredible network of military families, and read the posts on his parish’s website. I wonder, do the rest of us give others such pure joy?

–The seeds of humble trust planted in the hearts of many, as God answers their prayers for Nick. On Dec. 7th, Nick’s dad wrote: “Nick`s recovery has gotten more difficult. …It turns out that a blood clot had formed in his brain … He went into emergency surgery last night and the clot was removed. This latest injury had me praying hard for Nick and to give us strength against falling into despair. Within an hour of my prayer for strength we had a visitor, a friend of Nick`s who happened to be here for other business. [He] had this type of injury a while back and looks great. My prayer was answered again. I now see that this injury can also be overcome. Thanks for your support and please continue your prayers.” Would that we all trusted in God’s strength, not our own.

–His impact on his siblings’ faith. In the midst of her family’s suffering, Nick’s sister Olivia said, “In a situation like this it is easy to blame God and ask why did it have to happen to such a good person? If anything, this has brought us closer to God. We’ve seen miracles lately happening to Nick. When doctors themselves say he should not be alive, there is a reason he is. And our family and friends believe it’s because of prayer…. For any one who has, is, or will go through this, you have to learn to trust in God and in prayer.” In pain? Trust God. Turn to Him.

—The inexpressible significance of his love. Nick awoke ten days after the explosion, the doctors stabilized him, and the military flew him and his parents to the U.S. for the next phase of treatment. Unable to talk, Nick looked at his parents next to him on the plane and mouthed to them the only words that mattered. “I love you guys!” Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Cor. 13:7). Lord, help us love like that!

To those of you just learning about Nick, Olivia says, “My family first and foremost would ask for prayers from people. They’ve got us so far already but he has a very long way to go.”

Nick faces the constant threat of deadly infection and many months of intensive rehabilitation. His family’s journey will continue on its wild ride–the ordinary and the miraculous—but it’s a journey they won’t make alone.

Moved by the urgency of Nick’s daily struggle, thousands of people will walk and talk with God more deeply today. They will thank God for the gift of life—no matter how broken and vulnerable—and beg mercy, healing, and strength for Nick, his family, and our military.

And you…will you pray too?

Will you share his story with friends, so they will pray too?

It’s a small–but powerfully big–way to say thanks.

Financial support for wounded soldiers can be sent to Fisher House or the Wounded Warrior Project.  Donations to support Nick’s recovery can be sent to: Lieutenant Nicholas Vogt Hope Fund
c/o Sacred Heart of Jesus Church
5742 State Route 61 South,
Shelby, Ohio 44875

© 2011 Mary Rice Hasson

Photos courtesy of Olivia Vogt

Permission granted for republication, in whole or part, with attribution.

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