New Sherwood

R.I.P., Boy Scouts of America

Scout taking oath

The final promise of the Scout oath is the most important: “to keep myself … morally straight”. And that promise has now been broken by the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America in a spectacular way.

The new membership policy states that “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” Some Catholic commentators, including bishops, note that the bare words of this policy do not violate Catholic teaching. And that is quite true in the strictest sense of “orientation” and “preference”. I have all kinds of orientations and preferences that are opposed to the virtues of Scouting, and even opposed to the commandments of God. Living a “morally straight” life means striving to overcome sinful or disordered “orientations”. A literal reading of the new policy is therefore not a problem for Catholics.

In fact, the Scout’s previous policy doesn’t even violate the new policy. The old policy asserted “… we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”  Sexual orientation or preference wasn’t the issue. Same-sex attraction, by itself, was never enough to be excluded from membership. The problem was the openness and the self-identification with homosexuality. The policy referred to “avowed homosexuals”, avowed meaning “to declare openly, boldly, and unashamedly”. The issue has always been the open and public identification with homosexuality and the implied approval of homosexual acts

What, then, has changed?

The Boy Scouts of America did not simply tack a new explanatory note onto the old policy. If they had, the clarification would have been unremarkable. Rather, the Boy Scouts of America repealed the old policy and replaced it with a new one. Taken at face value, the mild language about “sexual orientation or preference” in the new policy is a red herring. It’s not the real story. The big news is that the former policy excluding “open or avowed homosexuals” has been formally rejected.

Now that we’ve examined the plain words, let us confront the plain message behind the words. The fact that the exclusion of “open or avowed homosexuals” was replaced with a prohibition of exclusion based on “sexual orientation or preference” indicates that, in the minds of BSA leadership, “sexual orientation or preference” is expected to be “open or avowed”. The unmistakable message is that open or avowed homosexuals are no longer excluded from membership.

Teenage boys talk about lots of things. Very often, they talk about girls – even chaste boys who are not sexually active, and who have no intention of being sexually active until marriage, can talk a lot about girls. Presumably scouts who consider themselves homosexuals will be free to talk about other boys in the same way that normal boys talk about girls, and nothing can be done about it (unless, of course, talking about girls is now forbidden.) This will change the entire culture of the organization by introducing a sexual element into the group, permeating every relationship. A certain innocence will be lost, trust will be compromised, needless confusion will be sowed, and social pressure will increase exponentially. Consider the fact that BSA’s magazine for boys, Boy’s Life, runs an advice column that often deals with “girl problems”. Expect this column to begin addressing “boy problems” in the near future. As a recent case here in northern California demonstrates, the unchecked presence of homosexuality within a troop can and does lead to disaster.

Open homosexuality adds still another more insidious, tyrannical element to the problem: that of institutional dishonesty. Everyone must now pretend that homosexual behavior is natural, moral, and healthy. Sexually confused boys, who might otherwise grow up normally, may come to believe it themselves and act accordingly. Worst of all, though, the culture of lies now forced on the Boy Scouts of America will produce a systematic and habitual dishonesty within the organization across the board.

Thus far, to the best of my knowledge, of the Catholic bishops to whom we look for leadership and direction only Bishop Paul Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington, VA, has had the courage to suggest that the new policy “forces us to prayerfully reconsider whether a continued partnership with the BSA will be possible”. Otherwise the response of Catholic bishops has been weak and insipid, to say the least – though not surprising given the dismal state of the Church today. With respect to the new policy the National Catholic Committee on Scouting wants to “study its effects”. Give me a break. I suggest they study the Bible and Catechism.

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There is some good news on the horizon. A coalition of former BSA leaders and parents are meeting in Louisville, Kentucky next month to plan for a new organization that will be true to the traditional virtues of Scouting.

“I am pleased to announce that OnMyHonor.Net along with other likeminded organizations, parents and BSA members, are announcing a coalition meeting that will take place next month in Louisville, Kentucky. There we will discuss the creation of a new character development organization for boys. While the meeting will be private, your voice is very important to us and will be represented there.  We will host and facilitate a national coalition meeting of former BSA parents and other youth leaders who wish to return to truly timeless values that once made the BSA great.  We welcome your comments as we develop our plans. Please share your thoughts with us at Contact@OnMyHonor.Net.”

There is a growing movement of Catholic scouting called the Federation of North American Explorers. This group has a lot of promise and organizational support is already in place. Also – Dr. Taylor Marshall of Fisher-More College is launching the Catholic Scouts of St. George, which seems to have gained considerable traction in a short time.

As for scouting in Chico, I am not optimistic. Our scoutmaster, God bless him, is furious and disgusted at the BSA’s decision and is soul-searching about what to do. Yet he feels “obligated to carry on the tradition”, and I can’t help but sympathize. The troop has been a blessing for these boys, many of whom have formed great friendships and worked hard to achieve their rank. Conservative troops like ours will probably try to carry on as usual, hoping the subject never comes up. Alternative scouting organizations are not likely to find much support around here.

Scouting families need to understand something. The Boy Scouts of America isn’t going to let troops ignore the homosexual agenda. A memo from the Golden Empire Council hints at “new safety trainings, camp dynamics, and other incremental changes” on the way. The BSA today isn’t the same organization it was last week. The uniform today stands for something different.

May 28, 2013 - Posted by | Catholicism, Chico, Culture, Politics, Regional-Local-Personal

7 Comments »

  1. I also encourage young men ages 10-18 to join (or start) their own KofC Columbian Squires Circle – our church is having tremendous success with this program! It is similar to scouting in the way that the boys are able to advance, perform service to others and have FUN! But the important key element here is they are openly reaffirming and strengthening their Catholic faith with other like minded youth. At age 18 these boys are naturally flowing into our Knights of Columbus program. Please talk to your Knights if you do not already have a circle to start one – this our time to recruit our Catholic boys back to us! (PS there is also a daughters version of this program for girls!!)

    Comment by Rebecca | May 29, 2013 | Reply

  2. Outstanding commentary. Art Caesar, Westport, ma

    Comment by Arthur caesar | May 29, 2013 | Reply

  3. I actually thought the Scouts would never cave, but then it happened with great suddenness. It’s like a sickness spreading over the land.

    Comment by William Luse | June 1, 2013 | Reply

  4. “… a sickness spreading over the land”.

    That’s exactly it, Bill. There’s something beyond the veil at work here.

    Consider: Coer d’Alene Idaho, against overwhelming local opposition (the kind I wish we had around here), passed this law just last night: http://www.cdapress.com/news/local_news/article_9a0a378c-e297-525c-9426-eb6b342c2dc2.html

    Comment by Blogmaster | June 6, 2013 | Reply

  5. I wonder if Coeur d’Alene has the same procedures we have around here by which collecting signatures can force the suspension of the rule passed by the City Council until and unless it has been passed by a referendum vote. Around here that technique only delayed implementation, because it did also pass as a referendum. But if there’s that much local opposition in C. d’Alene, it might work to overturn it. It’s an extremely confusing process, though, because the signatures are being collected to send it to a referendum vote, which under other circumstances would of course be a _bad_ thing and would mean that one was promoting the ordinance, but under these circumstances the signatures actually block the ordinance as passed merely by the city council and throw it back into question whether it will ultimately go into effect at all. Explaining that to people while gathering signatures is pretty difficult, though.

    Comment by Lydia | June 7, 2013 | Reply

  6. Good question, Lydia. I figured you’d have some insights after your recent experience in your hometown. I believe there are plans to pursue a recall election for the council members who voted for this ordinance.

    Comment by Blogmaster | June 8, 2013 | Reply

  7. That could potentially work too. But they shd. look into whether they have provision for a “recall” on the ordinance itself, as it were. As I say, it’s a tricky and complicated process, because first you have to lobby people to push the ordinance to a referendum vote, which feels really weird. It sounds almost like you’re in favor of it because you’re trying to put it on the ballot, when actually what you’re trying to do is get the council’s action blocked and send it to the ballot in hopes it will be defeated, because otherwise it will just go through on the council’s vote alone. Then you have to lobby people to vote “no” on it. But it would be doable if there were a large enough popular opposition to it. Had the vote in our case been in the _county_ rather than the _city_, for example, it would have been defeated, I believe.

    Comment by Lydia | June 9, 2013 | Reply


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