Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Requiem for the Boy Scout

The Boy Scouts were doomed the moment the national leadership decided to preserve the organization at the cost of the values and ideals that gave it birth. Speaking to a national meeting of Boy Scouts of America leaders, President Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, called for the B.S.A. to abandon its policy of allowing the participation of openly gay scouts, but not the involvement of openly-gay adults.

Speaking in Atlanta, Secretary Gates told his fellow B.S.A. leaders that “we must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.” Gates presented a matter-of-fact briefing to the leaders, speaking in entirely pragmatic terms. There was not a shred of moral insight or argument in his statement, other than his belief that the Scouts must do whatever is necessary, or face “the end of us as a national movement.”

Even as he took office last year, Gates indicated that he was not satisfied with the compromise the B.S.A. national board adopted in 2013. After insisting, just six months earlier, that the Scouts would not change their policy excluding openly-gay scouts and scouting leaders — a policy national leaders acknowledged was expected by the vast majority of scout parents — the national board crumbled under external pressure, largely from activist organizations and major corporations.

By any honest account, the policy adopted in 2013 was a compromise that anyone could see would not hold. By allowing for openly-gay scouts but not openly-gay adult leaders, the B.S.A. put itself in a no-man’s land of moral evasion. As recently as 2004 the Boy Scouts of America had maintained that homosexual conduct is “inconsistent” with the Scout Oath’s requirement that a scout be “morally straight.” By 2013 that policy — successfully defended all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States — was an embarrassment to some leaders and in some regions of the country. Keep reading

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