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.
—Boy Scout Oath
My son is an Eagle Scout. I have participated in the Boy Scouts of America program as I helped serve in areas that helped my son and others progress forward on the path to Eagle, the highest rank within the program. Frankly I must admit I have become disillusioned by the way the institution is being handled today.
The Boy Scouts have been in the news a lot lately regarding the issue of allowing “openly gay” boys to participate in the program. The Scouting National Council of 1,232 delegates from across the country voted to lift the ban and the policy will change January 1, 2014. The lifted ban has only fueled the controversy.
Some opponents on the right said they would pull their sponsorships of packs and troops, and parents threatened to take their boys out of Scouting; LGBT activists said the policy change doesn't go far enough because gay adults still wouldn't be allowed to participate. It seems the political move didn’t satisfy anyone really.
I believe that the ban has opened the door for a policy change in the near future which will allow gay leaders to participate too. When a boy reaches the rank of Eagle he is given a charge. Among other things he is charged with the responsibility to “help advance other Scouts along the Eagle trail”. He is charged to “be a leader, but lead only toward the best.” It stands to reason that an Eagle has more than a right; he has a responsibility to be a leader in the organization. How is it logical to ban him from serving in the organization simply for being gay? Activists are already working on that one, believe me.
Still others have voiced loud protests demanding the BSA to “end discrimination” by allowing atheist, humanist, and nontheistic participants which are currently banned from participation because of their non-conformity to the BSA oath which states “duty to God” as one of its core principles.
Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement, made this statement:
"The Scout, in his promise, undertakes to do his duty to his king and country only in the second place; his first duty is to God. It is with this idea before us and recognizing that God is the one Father of us all, that we Scouts count ourselves a brotherhood despite the difference among us of country, creed, or class. We realize that in addition to the interests of our particular country, there is a higher mission before us, namely the promotion of the Kingdom of God; That is, the rule of Peace and Goodwill on earth. In the Scouts each form of religion is respected and its active practice encouraged and through the spread of our brotherhood in all countries, we have the opportunity in developing the spirit of mutual good will and understanding.
"There is no religious "side" of the movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realization and service of God.
"Let us, therefore, in training our Scouts, keep the higher aims in the forefront, not let ourselves get too absorbed in the steps. Don't let the technical outweigh the moral. Field efficiency, back woodsmanship, camping, hiking, Good Turns, jamboree comradeship are all means, not the end. The end is CHARACTER with a purpose.
"Our objective in the Scouting movement is to give such help as we can in bringing about God's Kingdom on earth by including among youth the spirit and the daily practice in their lives of unselfish goodwill and cooperation."
He obviously was a very spiritual man and had a lofty goal for this group.
But, since we threw out the “morally straight” part of the oath, we might as well get rid of the “duty to God” part too, right? (Said tongue in cheek)
Suddenly the Boy Scouts of America isn’t looking like the organization it was meant to be at all.
These were all thoughts I had been pondering for quite some time, and then my friend sent me a link to a story about The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve. It is also in the news because it is the location of the BSA National Jamboree this year, which is held every four years. I encourage you to read the article for yourself, it is an eye opener.
This made me stand at attention:
The Summit is more than the ultimate Scout camp. It was envisioned as a way to shore up the finances of an organization burdened by a long-term drop in membership, costly sexual-abuse lawsuits and a bruising battle over whether to admit gay members. The park would bring in even more in donations than it would cost to build, Scout leaders concluded.
"The Summit gives us the opportunity to reintroduce ourselves to America and raise $1 billion for the best youth development in the world," says a slide from a June 2010 presentation on the project.
It isn't panning out that way. Costs are rising. Initially budgeted at $176 million through 2013, the Summit's cost is now estimated to reach at least $350 million by the end of this year and $439 million by the end of 2015, according to Scouts documents reviewed by Reuters. To keep up, the Scouts issued new bonds last year - more than doubling their previous borrowing for the project.
Perhaps all this political correctness the BSA is trying to achieve is solely motivated by money. Are they simply trying to please those who they are trying to solicit funds from? Where is the moral fortitude in that equation?
My conclusion: I am going to rethink my “Friends of Scouting” donation this year.