When most people think of the Girl Scouts - especially this time of year at cookie time - they think of Thin Mints and Samoas, of campfires and green uniforms, but one Indiana Republican sees something vastly different: a "radicalized" abortion rights group that is destroying U.S. families.
That is why Indiana state Rep. Bob Morris - who represents Allen County, which includes the city of Fort Wayne - is not only refusing to sign a resolution to honor the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America but actively trying to get his fellow lawmakers to oppose the measure, too.
In a letter to his Republican colleagues at the Indiana statehouse, first obtained by the Journal-Gazette of Fort Wayne, Morris called the group a "radicalized organization" that backs abortion and promotes the "homosexual lifestyle." Of the 50 role models that Girl Scouts study, Morris argued that "only three have a briefly mentioned religious background; all the rest are feminists, lesbians or communists."
Even the White House wasn't immune from Morris' criticism. Morris wrote that first lady Michelle Obama's role as an honorary president of the New York City-based group "should give each of us reason to pause before our individual and collective endorsement of the organization."
Morris, who said he had done "a small amount of Web-based research" on the matter, claimed that "the agenda of Planned Parenthood includes sexualizing young girls through the Girl Scouts, which is quickly becoming a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood."
Morris has two daughters who are part of the group but, he said, he sought out a specific troop for them that is anti-abortion. The organization overall, he wrote in his letter, "has been subverted in the name of liberal progressive politics and the destruction of traditional American family values."
The married father of six and Indiana University graduate is owner and founder of a chain of retail stores called Healthkick Nutrition Centers.
The backlash from the Girl Scouts has been swift. Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michigan posted a statement on its website titled " What We Stand For." "No funds are allocated from either [Girl Scouts of Northern-Indiana Michigan or Girl Scouts USA] to Planned Parenthood," the group said in its statement, adding that "issues related to human sexuality and reproductive health are best left to parents or guardians to discuss with their daughters."
Planned Parenthood of Indiana also released a statement, with president and CEO Betty Cockrum saying, "It was disappointing to read Rep. Morris' inflammatory, misleading, woefully inaccurate and harmful words about Planned Parenthood, the Girl Scouts of America and the president and first lady."
"On the national level, inflammatory and generally inaccurate claims about a partnership between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood have been promoted primarily by anti-choice lawmakers seeking to place pressure on organizations to disassociate or distance themselves from Planned Parenthood," Cockrum said.
Even Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma ridiculed Morris' stance, spending Tuesday dishing out Thin Mints to other lawmakers and joking that the letter made him buy 278 cases of cookies. Despite the mockery of some of his colleagues, an undaunted Morris said Tuesday that he is standing by his opposition and his daughters are now joining an alternative group run by conservative Christians.