Christian alternative to Girl Scouts growing in U.S.

.- The Christian-based American Heritage Girls seems to be growing across the U.S. as an alternative to the Girl Scouts, which some parents feel does not function with a proper moral compass.

The movement has had a 40 percent increase in enrollment since the fall, reported the Associated Press. What started with 100 girls in Ohio has turned into a nonprofit group with 2,800 members in 22 states.

American Heritage Girls was founded in 1995 by Patti Garibay in Cincinnati and her friends, who were unhappy when the Girl Scouts accepted lesbians as troop leaders, banned prayer at meetings and allowed girls to substitute the word “God” in the oath.

Like the Girl Scouts, the girls do activities or service projects to earn badges. However, leaders must sign a statement of faith, even though girls don't have to be religious to join. Each meeting begins with prayer, a pledge allegiance to the American and organization's flags, and an oath. Their sign, rather than three fingers, has four fingers, symbolizing God, family, community and country.

A church or private school must charter troops. The organization receives no government money and operates by donations, fundraising, membership dues and merchandise sales.

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