In a day when most of the nation’s attention (rightly so) is fixed upon the news that one of the Boston Marathon bombers has been killed and a manhunt is underway for the other, the Boy Scouts of America quietly announced that the venerable organization would vote to end its long-standing ban on gay members. Apparently someone at BSA has at least a passing knowledge of the Friday News Dump — “Releasing bad news or documents on a Friday afternoon in an attempt to avoid media scrutiny.” However, in this case, I’m not sure that it’s scrutiny by the media that the Scouts are tying to avoid.
When the Boy Scouts of America first announced back in January 2013 that they were considering giving local units the option of whether or not admit both gay members and gay leaders, the backlash — particularly from churches and other religious organizations who sponsor Scout troops — apparently caused BSA to rethink that position. Now, after several months of study and discussion, the Boy Scout leadership has come to a Solomon-like decision — Yes to gay youth members; No to gay Scout leaders:
“While perspectives and opinions vary significantly, parents, adults in the Scouting community and teens alike tend to agree that youth should not be denied the benefits of Scouting,” the statement said. As a result, the BSA’s Executive Committee drafted a resolution proposing to remove the ban on gay youth while keeping it for all adult leaders. “The proposed resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting,” the statement said. (here)
I have no doubt that whoever came up with this proposal wants everyone to believe that this is a sincerely thought-out change that will be in the best interests of the Boy Scouts of America, including the youth and their families who would benefit from Scouting. However, make no mistake about it. The decision to admit gay youth, while at the same time still excluding gay adult leaders, is a political calculation designed to minimize defections from groups who have religious and/or moral objections to homosexuality:
Indeed, the BSA, in making its announcement, estimated that easing the ban on gay adults could cause widespread defections that cost the organization 100,000 to 350,000 members.” (here)
The Scouts hope that this change on gay youth members will somehow mollify gay rights groups who advocated for an end to the gay ban. But, given that radical elements within the gay rights community want nothing less than complete capitulation by the Scouts (and everyone else) in accepting homosexuality — including so-called gay “marriage” — as the moral equivalent of heterosexuality, the Scouts’s decision to split the baby will not accomplish what they think it will. In fact, it will lead many churches to end their affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America.
In reaching this decision, It would appear that BSA leaders came to two conclusions: 1) Easing the ban on gay youth members would lead to few defections and, 2) Easing the ban on adult gay leaders would lead to TOO MANY defections. This begs the question: If easing the ban on adult gay leaders would not have led to the defection of “100,000 to 350,000 members,” — which apparently was too great a cost for the Scouts to incur — then what cost would have been acceptable for the Boy Scouts to ease the ban on homosexual adults serving as leaders in local Scout troops?
It should not be surprising that the Boy Scouts of America — which is a civic organization, not a church — will almost assuredly vote to approve the resolution which overturns the ban on gay youth belonging to the Scouts. As Alan Cross, at Downshore Drift, rightly pointed out when the BSA first announced a possible change back in January:
So, the Boy Scouts have ALWAYS reflected the “prevailing mores” of the larger culture. They are not a Gospel organization. Their god is the god of American Civil Religion which is not the God of the Bible. Their definitions of “morally straight” will change with the times and with what America ascribes to. Their ethos involves “God and Country” and a merging of the two. I was a Boy Scout and don’t see anything wrong with being one, but it was not an exclusively Christian organization in any way that I could tell. We talked about God and morality and we had ecumenical religious services on our campouts, but there was nothing inherently Christian about our times of devotion. As Marty says, this is why Mormons have embraced the Boy Scouts so clearly.” (“Al Mohler, the Boy Scouts, and the Great Unraveling”)
The Scouts, in trying to walk a cultural and moral tightrope on the issue of homosexuality, will soon find themselves plummeting to the ground. And great was their fall. But, they will be in good company, along with other culturally Christian and/or civic Christian organizations who will rush to abandon their previous anti-gay positions. While I personally do not believe that the Boy Scouts should have changed their position on gay youth or gay leaders being in Scouting, the resolution ending the gay youth ban, but upholding the ban adult gay leaders, is not only hypocritical, but politically cynical. If the Scouts now believe that:
“no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,”
then why deny leadership positions to gay adults solely on the “basis of sexual orientation or preference alone?” What if adult gay leaders are married, just like heterosexual couples? When same-sex “marriage’ is legalized by the United States Supreme Court later this summer (which I believe it will be), then why ban Scouting leaders who live “morally straight” lives and who would serve as good role models to gay youth in their local troops?
Come this May, The Boy Scouts of America will have the opportunity to make the “right” choice by lifting the ban on gay youth members. If the Scouts want to be 100% “right,” then they need to go ahead and lift the ban on adult gay leaders as well. At least that would be a more consistent and less hypocritical position to take. And, more trustworthy. Isn’t that what the Boy Scouts are known for? Well, maybe what the Boy Scouts used to be known for!