Whither the Boy Scouts?

BSA’s Significant Decision

The Boy Scouts are considering a major policy change concerning homosexuals. This will matter for all of us. I’ll explain next, on BreakPoint.

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John Stonestreet

Early this week, the Boy Scouts of America announced that they may soon drop their national policy that prohibits openly homosexual Scouts and Scout leaders from participating. Instead, it would allow local units to make the decision.

So in other words, Scout units based in Bible-believing churches may continue to uphold their moral and religious convictions on human sexuality. And homosexual youths and adults will no doubt find units based in public schools or more liberal churches that would welcome them.

So what does all this mean?

First, this change is about survival for the Scouts, not new convictions. For years, the organization has been the target of gay activists and atheist groups. And those characters know exactly how to hit organizations that oppose them where it hurts most: in the pocketbook and in court. Already, many major corporations and charities have been pressured into de-funding the Boy Scouts. And for years the Scouts have incurred the heavy financial burden of defending their ability to set their own membership standards all the way to the Supreme Court.

It may be that the Scouts have decided the only way for the organization to survive is to allow local groups to decide for themselves.

But even so, I think this policy change is a bad decision, not just for the Scouts, but for our country and our culture.

For one thing, even if the Boy Scouts do go ahead and let local affiliates decide whether to allow homosexuals to participate, many gay activists won’t call off the assault.

As the father of a scout who had proclaimed his open homosexuality told the Daily Beast, “This is really only half the battle. BSA is still going to allow discrimination [against gays] in those local units that believe it to be the right thing to do. The eventual outcome,” he says, “has to be the complete removal of any opportunity to discriminate in any form. This is a major victory, but we haven’t yet won the war.”

And don’t think atheist groups haven’t noticed. Just Wednesday, the Freedom from Religion Foundation said “It is absolutely outrageous that the Boy Scouts of America, which has proudly excluded both atheists and gays from its membership, announced yesterday” that it is considering “lifting its ban on gays — but not atheists.”

So you see, no matter what the Scouts do, the war against them—and religious freedom—will continue.

And it’s more than just the Scouts who will pay. You’ve heard Chuck Colson, Eric Metaxas, and me speak many times here on BreakPoint about the importance of intermediate institutions—the family, churches, synagogues, civic groups and associations like the Boy Scouts. These institutions are essential in shaping character, forming solid citizens, and creating responsible communities. The Boy Scouts in particular have offered the young men in our society training in leadership and responsibility, that for many, set them on solid ground for the future.

But for years these institutions have been increasingly marginalized by the state, and targeted by homosexual and anti-religion activists. If the Boy Scouts will cave under this pressure, activists will think they can do it to anybody. And don’t think they won’t try.

So here are three things you can do right now. First, call the national Boy Scouts Headquarters and encourage them to stand strong against this bullying. Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll give you the phone number. Second, call your local Scout leaders or Scout councils. Urge them to call the national headquarters as well. And third, of course, pray. Pray for wisdom for all Boy Scout leaders and the future of this organization that has served our nation’s young men so well for so long.

Further Reading and Information

Call the Boy Scouts National Headquarters: 972-580-2000

Advocates Hail Boy Scouts Decision on Gay Members, but Fight Isn’t Over
Tricia Romano | Daily Beast | January 30, 2013

BSA to keep discriminating against atheists
Freedom from Religion Foundation | January 29, 2013


Giving up on good moral policy
“Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” ~Winston Churchill
I kinda thought so
Yeah, I had a hunch that the order in which prayer was mentioned in the commentary was not intended to indicate priority, and I thought about saying so, but unfortunately, not before I posted my earlier comment. I was going to say something like this:

It's kind of like the argument that some theologians, the ones who downplay and denigrate the gift of tongues, make that tongues is the least of the gifts listed in 1st Corinthians 12 because it is listed last. As the late Dr. Walter Martin pointed out, this argument defeats itself, because in the very next chapter (the one those same theologians use to try to prove that all 9 gifts disappeared when the canon of the New Testament was completed), in the last verse, Love (Charity in the KJV) is last in the list of the three virtues, yet it is declared to be the greatest of the three in the same verse.
Thanks for the comments and especially for those agreeing to jump in.

As a point of clarity, the list of steps wasn't in order of priority. In fact, we ended with prayer mostly because we wanted to sign off the commentary with that as the last thing people would hear and hopefully remember.
Praying about the Boy Scout Dilemma
I have great admiration for John and much appreciate his insightful commentaries. However, I have to agree with those who were disappointed that prayer was #3 on the list of "things we can do" in response to the Scout's apparent caving to gay rights pressure. Perhaps because I have enough of a challenge myself to remember to pray first and act later rather than the reverse, I picked up on John's priority glitch right off the bat. Hopefully these comments from friends of BP will encourage him -- and all of us -- to properly prioritize prayer in the face of problems, perplexities, and various & sundry pressures. P.S. I'm not upset; just concerned that the people of God live in the power of the Spirit in this broken and convoluted world. Keep up the good work!
The priority of prayer
John N.'s comment reminds me of something I once heard in a sermon. The pastor told of a time when someone told his friend he prayed about something, and the friend asked, "It's that bad?" The point, of course, is that too many people think that prayer is not only the last thing to do, but the last resort; something we only do when nothing else works or nothing else can be done.
I was disappointed that prayer was listed was the 3rd step and was reminded of a quote from Dallas Willard. "When faced with a problem we have a tendency to run around and do all we can think of doing, when all fails, then we pray. However we should pray and then do all we can think of doing."

We need to be leaders in counseling prayer as the first step in all our recommendations.
Boy Scouts Sponsors
I think the Boy Scouts should list the corperations that are leaving so we can stop using there products or services and show them the other side has a voice also.
For those interested in calling, the National BSA Office offers another number, 972-580-2400, for those interested in answering their poll on the policy. Very quick and painless.

I am a scoutmaster of a Christian homeschool Boy Scout troop and we formed specifically because of the problems our parents had in other troops with language and inappropriate stories. Not every troop is like that, but we provide a safe environment for like-minded families. The problem is we have contact with other troops at summer camp and other council events. And we have to prep our scouts on the right way to react to behavior and language they don't see at our events. With the change in policy, we would either have to completely isolate ourselves from other troops or only participate with other troops who we've adequately vetted. Many families have already said they would pull their sons out of our troop if the BSA changes the policy. It makes me very sad. I and my oldest son are Eagle Scouts and I really want my two other sons to get that same opportunity.

I really like what Ann says here. The scope of redemptive work is as broad as the world and deep as the human heart. There are lots of places to engage, and lots of victories around the world and locally (we'll feature a bunch of them at the Wilberforce Weekend this year). Plus a "win" is faithfulness (Heb 11).

Chin up!
I would expect that this would shift the burden, and potential lawsuits by those who oppose biblical morality, over to the sponsoring organizations. My expectation is that churches who sponsor scout units will be pulling out of the sponsorship business instead of taking on additional liability. This move by the BSA will end up destroying the organization, with sponsors leaving and private donors who have supported the BSA in their stand for morality and character also choosing other recipients of their donations.
I agree with you, Tina, that it would be nice to have more victories than losses as a Christian. However, although the United States is becoming a post-Christian, liberal, secular society, there are many Christian victories elsewhere on earth. The U.S. isn't the entirety of Christendom, and I thank God for that! If we aren't getting anywhere with the larger cultural and political arenas, maybe we as individuals should be focusing on reaching out to our own communities. Ministering to people is something you do in person, not through legislation.

That isn't to say we should stop fighting the increasing limitations on the free exercise of religion and principles that will further our society's slide. But losing the bigger battles may indicate that we aren't fighting the smaller, local battles for hearts and minds.
Apparently, John, the liberals win again. I've written here before that it seems the liberals win on EVERYTHING. They are winning on gay marriage. They are winning on making homosexuality normal. They will probably win against Hobby Lobby because no one can afford to keep paying however many millions of dollars in fines because of their stance on the health care law. They have won on ObamaCare. They won in the last Presidential election.

I know we Christians win in the end, but is it so wrong to want a pro-Christian victory here on earth every once in a while?