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By Willoughby Mariano March 9, 2012

Congressman: Conservative group held "prayer vigil" against Girl Scout cookie sales

Mom and apple pie, move over. Nowadays, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson is fighting for Brownies and Girl Scout cookies.

Johnson serves on the House Judiciary Committee, which held a hearing Feb. 28 on whether insurance companies should be required to cover contraception as parts of the health care overhaul go into effect.  

Johnson appeared with a box of Thin Mints and a passel of questions for Jeanne Monahan, an official with the socially conservative Family Research Council. She was testifying against the requirement.

"Your organization, ma'am, sponsored a ‘prayer in’ -- a prayer vigil -- to stop people from buying Girl Scout cookies because you allege Girl Scout cookies is affiliated with Planned Parenthood. Isn’t that correct?" Johnson asked.

"Sir, I am not aware of any prayer vigil that my organization has organized for to stop people from buying Girl Scout cookies," Monahan replied.  

A prayer vigil against buying Girl Scout cookies? We had to find out more.

We contacted Johnson spokesman Andrew Phelan, who sent us links to stories from left-leaning websites about the Family Research Council. He also sent us a link to a posting on the FRC’s website that displayed the text of an email sent out by the organization’s Prayer Team.  

Every week, this email asks readers to say prayers on public policy issues. The FRC Prayer Team’s email Feb. 8 asked that they pray against the health care overhaul’s contraception coverage requirements, the U.S. military’s treatment of religion and Planned Parenthood.

It mentioned Girl Scout cookie sales.

"Girl Scouts, whose leadership has been collaborating with Planned Parenthood for years, have found out that their cookie sales are suffering. This is very sensitive for the Scouts," it said. "The Scouts had better confess their errors and make a clean break while they can."  

(This item does not address whether the Girl Scouts have been "collaborating" with Planned Parenthood.)

The email suggested a prayer:

"May Congress expose and defund Planned Parenthood and may private organizations refuse to submit to shakedowns by Planned Parenthood and others in the abortion advocacy industry. May the Pro-life Majority grow in America until abortion has been abolished."

This prayer does not target the Girl Scouts by name -- just "private organizations." But the email does single out the Scouts and mentions no other private organizations.

The Family Research Council’s leaders have repeatedly warned the group’s supporters that Girl Scout cookie profits go to an organization that they think is on the wrong side of the family values debate.

In op-eds "Say no to Girl Scout Cookies" and "Planned Parenthood, Girl Scout cookie monster," Cathy Cleaver Ruse, a senior fellow with the Family Research Council, blasted the Scouts for what she described as working in partnership with Planned Parenthood and deciding to admit a transgendered boy into a Colorado troop.

FRC President Tony Perkins said that "when they’re not partnering with Planned Parenthood, they’re promoting sexual diversity."

But FRC spokesman J.P. Duffy told PolitiFact Georgia that the group has "neither held nor called for a ‘prayer vigil’." We found no evidence that one took place.

And the FRC knows how to call for a prayer vigil. Last year, it held one against Planned Parenthood and sex trafficking, which it said are connected. (We’re not going to address that claim in this item, either.)

Our ruling:

Johnson said the Family Research Council sponsored a "prayer vigil" to stop people from buying Girl Scout cookies because the group’s members think that Girl Scouts are affiliated with Planned Parenthood.

We can say that an op-ed on the FRC website asks consumers to say no to Do-Si-Dos.

It’s also fair to say that the FRC prayer team singled out the Girl Scouts in one of its prayers.

But the FRC did not call for an actual prayer vigil.

And while the FRC came close to asking people to pray that consumers stop buying Thin Mints, it stopped just shy of doing so.

We give Johnson a Mostly False.

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Our Sources

U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, "Executive Overreach: The HHS Mandate Versus Religious Liberty," Feb. 28, 2012

Roll Call, "Monkeys, Shellfish, Girl Scouts, Oh My!" Feb. 29, 2012

Family Research Council, Prayer Team email, Prayer Targets: Revival; Obamacare, Military; Planned Parenthood; Scouts, Pastors; Islam, Colleges, Feb. 8, 2012

Family Research Council, "Planned Parenthood, Girl Scout cookie monster," Feb. 6, 2012

Family Research Council, "Say no to Girl Scout Cookies," Jan. 17, 2012

CNN, "Girl Scouts accepts transgender kid, provokes cookie boycott," Jan. 13, 2012

Family Research Council, "Planned Parenthood Prayer Vigil," Feb. 17, 2012

Email interview, Andrew Phelan, spokesman, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, March 5, 2012

Email interview, J.P. Duffy, vice president for communications, Family Research Council, March 6, 2012

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Congressman: Conservative group held "prayer vigil" against Girl Scout cookie sales

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