Let There Be Scouts…

I felt so impassioned about this…and think I may actually have a winning idea to boot…. that I had to repost this here.


This came to me in a mailing list I subscribe to:

I feel that what’s important is not destroying or harassing these
types of groups, but a gradual turning away, by the society at large.
A simple "no, I will not support the scouts…I will not send my son
to a group which teaches such vehement discrimination"
Of course, that’s not across the board…I certainly want groups to
discriminate via certain political ideologies…no one wants a Nazi
Scoutmaster for example.
This can happen. It takes very minimal effort on the personal level
and at the local level, if a group of parents in a particular area
were to shun the scouts, they’d have to close up shop…no shouting or
protests or legal cases necessary.
"Just whisper NO to the Scouts"


This is my (somewhat lengthy) response. 

As a boy scout…   this is always a touchy subject for me… because gay or straight, you get a lot from the program…  assuming of course you can bite your tongue when discriminatory things come up.

We never had the gay issue raised in the various scout troops I was in and for that I consider myself lucky.   I was smart enough to stay in the closet though.

Obviously a boycott of the boy scouts, peacefully or otherwise, is a matter of personal choice.   I really wish, however, there was an alternative to turn too.   If I ever had a son, I’d want him to have the opportunity to be a boy scout, if he so chose.   Not so much that I want him to join the scouts, as I want him to have the opportunity to get what I got out of it.   I owe a lot of my life’s success to my experience as a scout.    Unfortunately, I don’t have any gay-friendly scout-like program to use as an alternative.

So I think we should go one step further… Wouldn’t it send a better message to the scouts if instead of just politely saying no thanks and walking away, we instead actively start building a viable alternative?

Seems to me that basic lessons of economics (well free-market economics) could come into play.    I don’t want the boy scouts to dry up and disappear quietly into oblivion… I want them to realize they don’t have to be discriminatory…  and to me the best way to do that is to put them into a situation where they have to actually compete for members.

Yes, it is a ‘religious’ organization, but in my experiences religion was never a focal point of the scouting program.   On the contrary, the last line of the Scout motto is "A scout is reverent."    When we were taught what that means, we were taught that we are faithful to our religious beliefs, and so to are we respectful of others beliefs.    So for me, any scout, scout-leader, troop, council, and so on that does anything to the contrary of being respectful of the beliefs of others (and quite obviously gay people have a very different belief on the morality of their sexual orientation), is not adhering to the very Law they teach their scouts to live by.

Their core values are not bad values.   I don’t want this message of the scouts to be lost in the backlash of their unfortunate discrimination against openly homosexual males.   You will definitely note the word "God" in both the Oath and later in how the Law is defined.   I would point out, for the record, that God is never defined within the Boy Scout materials.   Holding true to the Universal Doctrine from which I am ordained, God is defined by the individual.   I don’t know what the scouts’ official position is on defining God, but I do know that on matters like what is meant by being morally straight, or clean, etc, is left to individuals to define for themselves.   Considering the scouts are comprised of members hailing from several religious institutions, all of which seem convinced that they alone are on the true path, and thus at odds with one another on matters of doctrine; they have little choice but to leave this stuff open to interpretation.  It seems reasonable to me, therefore, that God too is somewhat subjective in this context.

Maybe I was just lucky enough to be involved in several different scout troops that fall into the "more progressive than most’ category (kinda like the folks in Philly who tried to enact nondiscrimination policies and got shot-down by the ruling body above them… ).  I find that notion a little hard to believe only by fact that the last one I was in, the scout master was my father, a very devout southern Baptist man who has little tolerance for belief systems beyond his own.   He created that troop and shaped it to his own vision… yet I never felt my beliefs, which have long been at odds with his, were in anyway short-changed by it.

I guess my point is, there are plenty of scout troops out there that don’t agree with the national policy of discrimination.  Instead of turning away from all of them blanketly, we should find a way to encourage them to either force change within their own organization, or break free and go their own path so they can deliver the message Lord Baden Powell wanted delivered.  

The Boy Scouts of America has no exclusive claim to the scouting program.  Let us not forget that.   There are scouting organizations all over this globe, each with their own variations and even in nations where the monotheistic God of the Judaism/Christianity/Islam/Mormonism holds little sway..   The United States is certainly large enough, and diverse enough, to support multiple scouting programs within its borders.   Let’s not cut our young men off from a very rewarding and fulfilling experience… let’s find a way to get them that experience without supporting discrimination.

Personally I applaud the Cradle of Liberty Council for trying to forge their own path by enacting a nondiscrimination policy.   I’m sure it didn’t come easy and was likely not of their own volition, but they did it nonetheless to protect their program.   I wish, however, they’d not have caved in to the national body and rescinded their nondiscrimination policy.

We have a real opportunity here to do something far more positive than bringing about the slow, silent, and gradual demise of an institution that has brought far more light into this world than it has darkness.   If the BSA must be laid down low unto dust, then so be it;  but only so that it may be reborn from its ashes a better, stronger, more inclusive organization.

So say we all?

~~~~~

These are some good principles and while I don’t worship the Christian God, I still let these principles guide me along the Path.   These principles are not religious ones, they’re human ones.   God is up to you to define.   Do your duty to Your God whatever form s/he may take.   That’s what I was taught as a scout, and that’s what I hold the scouts accountable to upholding.

Scout Oath (or Promise)

On my honor I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my country

and to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong,

mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scout Law

TRUSTWORTHY

A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is part of his code of conduct. People can depend on him.

LOYAL

A Scout is true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation.

HELPFUL

A Scout is concerned about other people. He does things willingly for others without pay or reward.

FRIENDLY

A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.

COURTEOUS

A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows good manners make it easier for people to get along together.

KIND

A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not hurt or kill harmless things without reason.

OBEDIENT

A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.

CHEERFUL

A Scout looks for the bright side of things. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.

THRIFTY

A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for unforeseen needs. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.

BRAVE

A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.

CLEAN

A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals. He helps keep his home and community clean.

REVERENT

A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his [the scout’s] religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.

Scout Motto

Be Prepared

Scout Slogan

Do a Good Turn Daily

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