Boy Scouts, Canadian Experience & America’s Future

Americans are just 24 hours away from a decision that could change the landscape of one of the oldest institutions in the country. As the clock ticks down to Wednesday afternoon, when a final decision is expected on the Boy Scouts membership policy, the warning signs continue to grow. Legal experts, local councils, and even other countries are frantically trying to talk the Board out of its local compromise for fear that it would end–not just a century’s worth of influence–but the organization itself.

In Canada, where leaders lowered their standards for “inclusion’s sake,” the results were devastating. Once the floodgates opened to females, atheists, agnostics, homosexuals, bisexuals, and transsexuals in 1999, the Scouting program took a national nosedive, losing more than half of its membership (300,000 to 130,000) in just five years! There, Scouts march in gay pride parades while leaders struggle to deal with their own “secret files” of child sexual abuse. Brian Rushfeldt, who heads up Canada Family Action, says the BSA only needs to look to its northern neighbor to see how the experiment of political correctness failed. “The notion that we need to protect homosexuals more than we need to protect children… has been a disturbing trend,” he said–one that will kill the Boy Scouts of America.

That is, if the lawsuits don’t demolish it first. If the Board embraces the local option, meaning that each council would decide its membership criteria, then the Scouts would no longer be protected under the umbrella of the Supreme Court’s 2000 decision. The justices’ ruling in that case was based largely on the premise that the Scouts, as a national organization, have the right to establish codes of conduct and membership. If the Board passes that responsibility on to local councils, or makes it optional, then the BSA would be well outside the scope of the Supreme Court’s ruling. It would open up regional troops to hundreds of lawsuits from homosexual activists, who would insist that Scouts have to comply with whatever local anti-discrimination laws are in place. If it’s money the Boy Scouts are worried about, imagine the costs of fighting a nationwide assault on any troop that bans homosexuals! The legal bills would far outweigh whatever corporate dollars the new policy might yield.

Troops in Utah and across the country are urging the Board to take more time to think about these consequences. Out west, a coalition of 33 Boy Scout Councils, representing 540,000 Boy Scouts, is joining forces “to express our concern about the pace at which such actions are being taken… [W]e request that a final vote on this policy reversal be delayed to allow other stakeholder[s’] voices to be heard and a more thorough analysis of the impact on local councils.” In a statement, they insist, “The voices of existing chartered partners and financial contributors must be heard alongside those of our volunteer leaders and the parents who entrust their children to us. This is a decision which cannot be ‘undone.'” Like so many American parents, they’re stunned at the timing of the proposal, which “flies in direct contradiction” of the results of the two-year review that upheld the ban on open homosexuality.
For now, they–like so many millions of parents–will have to wait and pray. They hope, as we do, that the Board’s eyes will be opened to the truth that changing this policy won’t modernize the Scouts–it will destroy them. In these final moments, help encourage the BSA to stand firm.

For contact the BSA, go here.

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