Boy Scouts Shouldn't Abandon Morality

This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published January 28, 2013 on The USA Today website.

"Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation," said a press release on Monday issued by Scouts spokesman Deron Smith. "This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, but that the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization's mission, principles or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families."

In other words, liberal churches and other organizations that have jumped the shark on sexual morality might be able to allow openly homosexual men and boys into sponsored Scout troops. This would destroy the Boy Scouts, a bastion of traditional values. Without parental trust, the Boy Scouts, which was founded in 1910 and has been instrumental in helping millions of boys transition to manhood, would implode like a popped balloon.

The policy change would be a real and present danger to the boys, as vividly illustrated by the still-simmering molestation scandal involving priests. As the Vatican works mightily to prevent further incidents, the Boy Scouts seem to be on the verge of going in the other direction.

A 1994 book, Scout's Honor by investigative reporter Patrick Boyle, revealed 1,800 cases in which Scout leaders had been dismissed for abusing boys. In 2010, a jury awarded $18.5 million to a man abused by a pedophilic Scoutmaster. Given all this, it's unfathomable for the Scouts to flirt with the idea of opening their ranks to males attracted to other males. Some of the perpetrators were married, but they obviously had same-sex inclinations.

The timing of this exercise in political correctness is also odd. The Scouts just won a major legal victory in San Diego, where the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a federal district judge's 2003 decision to evict them from their camp in Balboa Park in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU on behalf of a lesbian couple and an agnostic couple. Last year, the Scouts released a two-year study concluding that their current leadership and membership policy is the correct one.

The Scout oath requires boys (and leaders) to be morally straight. This needed no explanation in saner times. Putting openly gay men and boys into Scout troops would be a direct violation of that oath. The Scout leadership needs to man up and ignore corporate pressure from within and cultural pressure from without.

They also need to hear an earful from Scout leaders and parents around the country who will not let a betrayal of this magnitude happen on their watch.

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