Monday, February 4, 2013

Boy Scouts Rethink Gay Ban As the Right Rethinks Scouting's Value if 'Those People" Can Be Admitted

I was glad to read recently that Boy Scouts of America will take another look at its policy to ban gays from membership. I chose not to blog on the proposal that the board will further discuss this month, even though lifting the ban would lift a controversy and a crisis from around the neck of the organization -- an organization that covered up abuse by its leaders but bans young gay boys from membership. Besides, I've done this one to death: http://crisisexperts.blogspot.com/2012/12/boy-scouts-say-if-scout-leader-abuses.html, http://crisisexperts.blogspot.com/2012/11/child-sex-abuse-scouts-deserve-badge.html, http://crisisexperts.blogspot.com/2012/11/turning-our-heads-to-child-abuse-is.html, http://crisisexperts.blogspot.com/2012/10/boy-scouts-earns-badge-in-homophobia.html.

But I can't help noting that the Boy Scouts will have a crisis no matter what the board decides to do. Rick Santorum -- 2012 presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Senator, current ultra-conservative -- believes the Boy Scouts will cease to exist if it allows local troops to set their own policies on gays, as is expected.

"Wednesday’s vote is a challenge to the Scouts’ very nature and is another example of the left attempting to remove God from all areas of public life," Santorum wrote on WND Commentary. "There are more than 2.3 million Scouts and 1 million volunteer Scout leaders active today, each a member of a local troop and regional scouting organization. The proposed change sounds like a thoughtful compromise. A BSA official stated that the Scouts “would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents....

"That simply won’t happen. First, this policy change will remove the legal protection given to them by the most recent Supreme Court case that permitted the BSA to include or exclude members based upon commonly held 'viewpoints.' If those principles are now optional, every troop that doesn’t want a homosexual or atheist scoutmaster will be sued. That assumes those troops run by faith-based individuals and church hosts will stay with the Boy Scouts. Many will simply leave and pursue alternative ways to continue to invest in the development of their young men’s character, leaving the Scouts hollowed out at its core. (http://www.wnd.com/2013/02/stop-the-war-on-scouts/#yrMBp5zaTGQfFsCc.99 )

Scouting prepares boys to become "virtuous men" who will stand up to defend the moral code of the Scout Oath and Law and hold themselves to that standard, Santorum believes. "Scouting may not survive this transformation of American society, but for the sake of the average boy in America, I hope the board of the Scouts doesn’t have its fingerprints on the murder weapon."

That sounds eerily like something George Wallace would have said just before the integration of the University of Alabama. Santorum sees society falling apart because of all the liberal victories: "the growth of the welfare state, sexual liberation, removing God from the public square, abortion, affirmative action, redistribution of wealth, more government control of business, radical environmentalism and the transformation of the family."

Another former GOP presidential candidate, Rick Perry of Texas, told a statewide gathering of scouts that "most people see absolutely no reason to change the position and neither do I. Scouting is about teaching a substantial amount of life lessons. Sexuality is not one of them. It never has been; it doesn't need to be."  (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/04/santorum-says-scouts-may-not-survive-if-gays-allowed/?cid=sf_twitter)

Whatever your political persuasions, the BSA board has a tough decision ahead of it. Santorum's op-ed claims that staying on the existing path could bring some big donors to go elsewhere, including Ernst & Young, AT&T, UPS, and Merck. To change the ban on gays will anger the conservative right, some churches (many sponsor scout troops), and right-wing religious organizations.

Sometimes, the best choice in attempting to defuse a crisis is simply to pick whatever course will cause the least backlash and expect the organization to be divided. Someone tell Perry that sexuality wasn't a life lesson in any organizations when he grew up. It is now, as churches fight over gay ordinations, government entities are forced to be all inclusive, and little boys ask, "Daddy, why are those two men holding hands?"

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