Institute on Religion and Democracy Cross

“Most who are pressuring the Boy Scouts of America do not care about the organization. It is just another casualty in their culture war.”
-Bart Gingerich, IRD

Washington, DC—Proposed changes to the Boy Scouts of America’s existing policy barring homosexuals from Scout leadership positions have met with significantly differing responses from U.S. churches. Most Boy Scout troops in the U.S. are hosted by churches.

The change faces opposition within the Scouting community and on the grassroots level. Families threaten to leave the program entirely. Churches, which support BSA through donations and their facilities, have weighed in as well. President and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee Frank Page has expressed dismay, asserting that the Boy Scouts of America is “wilting under pressure from some of their corporate sponsors…” The Assemblies of God said they were “saddened and disappointed” about the proposed changes. The National Catholic Committee on Scouting opposes the new proposed policy.

Sadly, officials of the United Methodist Church Board of Church and Society and United Methodist Men both offered support for the proposed new scout policy, which would allow local groups to determine their own stance on homosexuality. Neither church agency mentioned that the United Methodist Book of Discipline calls homosexual practice “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

IRD Researcher and Eagle Scout Bart Gingerich commented:

“BSA policy forbidding openly gay leaders, volunteers, and scouts reflects the opinion of the vast majority of active parents and Scouting leadership. As an Eagle Scout I was shocked and saddened to hear the announcement that the Boy Scouts were considering a change to this longstanding standard.

“The LGBT champions on corporate boards pressuring the Boy Scouts have no love for the organization. If the organization keeps its current standards, it loses major corporate donors. If the Scouts change their policy, then they are going to lose grassroots participation via facilities, membership, and funds from many families and churches. Either way the organization is hurt badly.

“For over a century now, the Boy Scouts have sacrificially given men and boys impressive skill sets, leadership training, outdoors experience, and fond memories. Almost every community in the United States has been blessed by service projects carried out by diligent Scouts. Now a new generation of iconoclasts seeks to destroy this heritage in their crusade against all things patriotic, faith-based and masculine.

“Most who are pressuring the Boy Scouts of America do not care about the organization. It is just another casualty in their culture war.”

www.theird.org

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8 Responses to IRD Commends Southern Baptist, Catholic Support for Current Boy Scouts Policy

  1. dover1952 says:

    Well, my kids were members of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and both my wife and I went to the meetings and otherwise offered support. However, the kids were interested in it for only about one year or so and then dropped out. Both were supported by churches, one Episcopal and one Church of the Nazarene. I thought the Episcopal Church had the better leaders, programs, and activities. For example, they brought in a local college archaeology student who demonstrated how prehistoric Native Americans made stone tools. The kids really loved it and so did the gal who did the demonstration.

    I have never particularly cared much one way or another about what the scouting organizations do because we do not have an iron in that fire. It has always been my understanding that it is a private sector organization, and such organizations have traditionally been able to set their own membership standards. I have no real beef with that because every other private organization can do the same. In fact, I thought this issue was settled a long time ago by scout policymakers and am not sure why it is arising again now.

    Could one of you IRD folks list for me (in order of priority), the 10 major reasons why you are opposed to the BSA accepting openly homosexual scout masters and scouts? Would they be acceptable BSA members if they were closet gays and never told anyone about their sexual urges and behaviors?

  2. Gus Ravenwheel says:

    Bart…

    “Most who are pressuring the Boy Scouts of America do not care about the organization. It is just another casualty in their culture war.”
    -Bart Gingerich

    You can keep citing false and/or unproven hunches, but it will remain false and unproven. Where is the evidence for this claim?

    Speaking as someone who’d like to see the BSA change their discrimination against gay folk, I LOVE most of the ideals of the BSA. We progressive types like ideals like respect of and love for nature, personal responsibility, doing good deeds, helping little old ladies cross the street, camping, hiking… it’s a VERY “hippie-friendly” organization… except that they discriminate against a segment of society. In fact, that discrimination seems contradictory to their ideals.

    I was in the Cub Scouts when I was a kid and probably would have continued up into the Boy Scouts, as many of my older brothers did. Unfortunately, the den was disbanded when the man leading our den was caught molesting boys.

    He was, of course, a married straight guy.

    Nonetheless, the point remains, I and my progressive community loves the ideals of the BSA.

    I would ask that if you can’t prove something objectively, you would remove the false charge or at least preface it with something like, “It would be my guess that many people who want to see change don’t really care about the BSA.”

    The Boy Scouts support telling the truth and here you are doing damage to that ideal.

    ~Dan Trabue

  3. Mark says:

    Bart, more insightful comments.

    Those who are obsessed with forcing people to accept them, first and foremost, as a person with a particular sexual orientation cannot see beyond themselves. If they have to selfishly bring down an entire organization to feel better about themselves then they will do so.

    It may come as a shock to some people, but the Boy Scouts have never been about sexual orientation. They are about building young men’s character and, well, SCOUTING. They are not called The Heterosexual Boy Scouts or The Homosexual Boy Scouts or The (alphabet soup) Boy Scouts.

    The BSA is a private organization and has a Constitutional right to set the rules of membership. There is nothing to prevent another private organization from catering to gay scouts. Why is there such a desire to attack an American icon unless some degree of hatred is involved?

    My experience in scouting was such that no one was smoked-out because they were perceived to be gay. In other words, a false narrative has been developed that makes people think gays have been subjected to merciless persecution. That’s just not the case. The Boy Scouts have never made anyone’s sexual orientation an issue unless they made it an issue.

    • Gus Ravenwheel says:

      Mark…

      The BSA is a private organization and has a Constitutional right to set the rules of membership.

      Agreed, they have a right to discriminate if they so choose. I’m not debating that. I’d probably oppose efforts to force them by law to accept gay leaders or scouts. At the same time, I respect the rights of people to protest those who’d employ ugly discrimination. That’s what has happened here. The BSA may be learning that the choice to discriminate will come with consequences, just as the choice to be welcoming will come with consequences. Thus is life. We all need to take a stand somewhere sometime.

      Mark…

      Why is there such a desire to attack an American icon unless some degree of hatred is involved?

      Do you really not see this? We protest discrimination because we believe discrimination to be morally wrong. You know that some churches fifty years ago discriminated against people of color. Many of us (or our forebears) protested that discrimination… NOT because we hate church, but because we hate prejudice.

      Mark, you do agree with me (I’m sure you do) that it’s not unreasonable to protest hateful prejudicial practices? Even if you don’t agree that this is a hateful prejudicial practice, wouldn’t you encourage people to take a stand against what they perceive to be hateful prejudicial practices?

      ~Dan

      • Mark says:

        Dan, Gus, whatever: you classify things as “hateful prejudicial practices” when you do not agree with them. That’s fine. That’s your opinion. I happen to think what’s being done to the BSA is quite hateful.

        In contrast to what you repeatedly regurgitate, I have seen nothing truly “hateful” about what the Boy Scouts have done. They restrict leadership and membership –although, despite the current narrative, they have never been particularly proactive about it–to persons that they deem safe to be around young, impressionable young men coming of age.

        Would you think it appropriate for a normal, heterosexual male to go on a campout with teenage girls? I would not. Were my daughter on such I trip I would need to be there, else she could not go. I simply don’t think that is prudent. Even though the scoutmaster may not be a pedophile, the temptation would be there.

        There is little difference with a gay scoutmaster who may find himself attracted to young men (keep in mind that scouts can be up to age 18). This injects something into the equation that needs not be there. That’s just common sense, without even considering the Christian moral perspective, which you clearly reject.

        Another consistent error made in this discussion is comparing homosexual desire with race. The former is a behavioral tendency, the latter is a physical characteristic. They are not the same. While we may not choose who we are attracted to, we DO choose how to respond. Humans have more control over their behaviors than do common barnyard animals.

        I will concede that in some individuals same-sex desire may be quite natural, but I have also read long narratives of people who have left the homosexual lifestyle owing to therapy and/or religious conversion. Clearly this is not the same with race. So, let’s stop comparing apples to oranges in order to forward a social or political agenda.

      • Gus Ravenwheel says:

        And so, for the people who DO find behavior X to be wrong, sinful, hateful, harmful… do you agree with me that they have an obligation to take a stand against it?

        That was the question I was asking you, Mark. Can this conversation go two ways, please?

        So, returning to your question:

        Why is there such a desire to attack an American icon unless some degree of hatred is involved?

        I’ve answered that question: Because we believe that behavior to be morally wrong and harmful to kids, so we protest THAT BEHAVIOR. Protesting one particular behavior about BSA is not “attacking,” is it? It’s a criticism of a policy. In a polite conversation, it is helpful when one acknowledges and deals with answered questions. You have a problem (you and Bart, both) in that you’re making unsupported and false characterizations. We don’t “hate” the BSA, we disagree with this policy. We aren’t “attacking” the BSA, we’re disagreeing with the policy.

        Even if you disagree with our protest of the policy, can you at least have the honor to acknowledge the reality, “Okay, so they don’t hate the BSA, there is no evidence of that. They just disagree with the policy… But they’re wrong to disagree with the policy and here’s why…”

        The BSA have a value of telling the Truth, can you at least honor that part of the BSA by admitting an error on your part in this assessment?

        Also…

        Do you really think criticizing a policy is equivalent to an “attack…”?

        You asked…

        Would you think it appropriate for a normal, heterosexual male to go on a campout with teenage girls? I would not.

        I have sent my children on campouts or otherwise spent time with adults where the adult was of the opposite sex (gay and straight), or where there was a mixture of chaperones. My adult friends are not “tempted” by children and there’s a reason for that: We aren’t pedophiles.

        Do I think that, as a matter of propriety, there should not be one adult (gay or straight) spending time alone with children in a setting like BSA? Sure, that’s reasonable. Would I have a problem with a father or male friend going along on a girls camp out? No, not if it’s someone I know and trust. Heck, I’ve taken my daughter and her girl friends camping and it wasn’t an issue because I’m not a pedophile. I’m not attracted to young girls.

        You stated…

        Another consistent error made in this discussion is comparing homosexual desire with race.

        I’m not comparing homosexuality (an inate part of who we are) to race (an inate part of who we are). I was making the point that IF someone thought that a racist policy was wrong, you would agree with them to stand up against it, wouldn’t you – even if you disagreed with their opinion?

        Similarly, if someone thought that a sexist or gay-oriented policy was wrong/sinful/harmful, don’t you think they should stand against it – even if you disagree with their opinion?

        It was an analogy and I see no reason to see why it isn’t an apt one. Feel free to specifically note how it is not apt, if you think so.

        ~Dan

      • Mark says:

        “And so, for the people who DO find behavior X to be wrong, sinful, hateful, harmful… do you agree with me that they have an obligation to take a stand against it?”

        Yes, absolutely! I’ve never said otherwise. You seem to forget that’s a 2-way street! In the current cultural climate those who adhere to natural law and historic Christian understandings are the ones being bullied by people who unfairly characterize THEIR views.

        When you use terminology like “hateful prejudicial practices” and “UGLY discrimination” YOU are engaging in that bullying as much as anyone, and you are attempting to marginalize legitimate viewpoints. Were I you I might call such behavior “shameful.” So, please stop employing the double standard and you will garner more credibility.

        It’s a reasonable conclusion, based on numerous facts, that many LGBT activists DO have great antipathy toward the Boy Scouts. When you urge people to boycott companies because they give to the Scouts (e.g., Wells Fargo), then you are engaging in what the left would freely call a campaign of hate. If what Jerry Falwell did years ago was an “attack,” then what LGBT activists are doing today is just as much of an “attack.” What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

        When you make a general proclamation that homosexuality is just as innate and immutable as race you are displaying ignorance of both science and logic. I will refer you to my prior comments.

        Let me leave you with your own question, but with a slight change to make it more generic:

        “if someone thought that a policy was wrong/sinful/harmful, don’t you think they should stand against it – even if you disagree with their opinion?”

      • Gus Ravenwheel says:

        Mark…

        It’s a reasonable conclusion, based on numerous facts, that many LGBT activists DO have great antipathy toward the Boy Scouts.

        Bart’s claim was that “most” LGBT supporters “hate” the BSA. That, I say, is factually wrong and Bart has zero real world evidence to support it.

        If you can’t admit even basic realities like that, you appear to be lost in a dream world, so blinded by cultural biases as to not recognize truths/lies when confronted with it. Given that, how can we judge you to be a man who is capable of rightly understanding God’s will?

        Likewise, you asked a question “Why do they “attack” the BSA unless there is some degree of hatred?” and I answered your question. So, given the evidence, you would have to admit, if you weren’t totally blinded by cultural biases, that, “Oh, okay, so yeah, they protest policies they find immoral… regardless if I agree with their conclusion, they certainly CAN do that and not be motivated by hate. I stand corrected.”

        Mark…

        When you urge people to boycott companies because they give to the Scouts (e.g., Wells Fargo), then you are engaging in what the left would freely call a campaign of hate.

        Again, boycotts happen all the time. We boycotted S African during the times of apartheid. Was that because we hated white S Africans or because we disagreed with the policy? The Right has boycotted Disneyland years ago, was that because they “hated” Disney?

        Answer this question, Mark: IS a boycott evidence of “hate?” The obvious answer is no, at least not necessarily. Of course it isn’t. It’s evidence of a protest of a policy. Now it’s possible that a boycott could be motivated by hate, but a boycott itself is not evidence. This is only rational, real world evidence. Where specifically am I mistaken?

        If I’m not mistaken, then the reasonable thing to do would be to admit you misspoke. It’s okay, it happens. Just man up and admit the mistake and move on. And then, encourage Bart to admit his mistake. Then, at least, you could be taken a bit more seriously on this topic.

        As to my answer to my question: Yes, of course, if you think a behavior is wrong, it is reasonable to take a stand of some sort against it. It may be as simple as, “Disney doesn’t ban gays in their parks, therefore, I will no longer go to Disney, because I think they should ban gays…” or it could be organizing a protest or something else, but you should stand by your ideals. The level of “stand” you take should be determined by the degree of objective harm is being caused, seems to me.

        Dan

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