This year is the centennial of the Girl Scouts founded by Juliette Gordon Low, who was a native of Savannah and a beloved member of Christ Church. All Girl Scouts make the promise: “On my honor, I will try to serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.” Their slogan is: “Do a good turn daily.” This is a great organization that for 100 years has helped girls gain confidence and abilities in outdoor activities, has provided a place for girls to learn the importance of working together, and has helped instill in them the virtue of citizenship for the common good. My only complaint with them: They sell those tempting cookies during Lent every year.

So, one can only wonder why Mr. Bob Morris, an Indiana State legislator, wants his legislative colleagues to defeat a nonbinding resolution honoring the Girl Scouts on their centennial. An old Hoosier friend of mine sent me a copy of the letter he sent to his colleagues referring to the Girl Scouts as a “radicalized organization” dominated by “liberal progressive politics” and committed to the “destruction of traditional American family values.” He points to the fact that since Michelle Obama is the Honorary President of the Girl Scouts, this proves his case. Oh please!

Now, it seems, the Girl Scouts are the next thing we are supposed to fear. A culture of fear is stirred by incessant talk radio, 24-hour cable news and negative blogging. (Mr. Morris claims he arrived at his conclusion about the Girl Scouts after doing a “small amount of web-based research.”) The daily fear-mongering we endure has transformed conversations about the common good into shouting monologues where each voice vies to make more outrageous claims than the other. At the political level, modern communication technology, rather than providing opportunities for greater community, has moved us farther down a tribalist path. We’ve been instructed to fear these other tribes. Such tribalist fear affects our moral lives because it deforms our discernment, character and judgment.

In some ways, this is nothing new. It is only hyper-actualized in our contemporary culture. Appealing to people’s fears has always been a tactic used by some to control the lives of others. You will recall that Jesus in the Gospels spends a good part of his teaching ministry with his disciples telling them: “Do not be afraid.” You see, Jesus clearly recognized the corrosive capacity of fear, understanding profoundly how living by our fears would lead us away from the traditional spiritual practices of hospitality, generosity and bearing one another’s burdens. Thus, living in a culture in which fears are repetitively stirred up and then served up for us to consume, we will find it increasingly difficult to practice the Christian virtues of discipleship.

One of our important roles as church leaders is to help people develop the habits, practices and virtues that correspond with following Jesus. We can only do this effectively if we are clear about what prevents people from doing so. My hunch is that people’s fears are on the top of the list.

So, I will not let Mr. Morris make me afraid of the Girl Scouts. And, if I buy their cookies, I will save them until Eastertide.

Scott Benhase is the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Georgia.