Robert Gates, president of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), told attendees at the BSA annual meeting in Atlanta on May 21, the Scouts should voluntarily end its ban on gay adult leaders before a court forces them to do so. The former Central Intelligence Agency director and U.S. secretary of defense said he is not asking the national board to change the leadership policy immediately.
No one is surprised.
Two years ago BSA witnessed the exodus of thousands of scouts and the cancellation of many local groups with the announcement that gay scouts are accepted into the organization. Leaving church troops in a moral quandary, the policy change resulted in the launch of Trail Life USA, a Christian-based alternative to the Scouts. Trail Life USA’s website brands the organization as a “Christian adventure, character and leadership program for young men.”
A 2013 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) resolution said opening the group’s membership to homosexual youth was “merely the first step toward future approval of homosexual adult leaders in the Scouts.” The resolution was on target.
K. Allan Blume
At the time, Southern Baptist leaders echoed the resolution’s prediction the Scouts would eventually drop their ban on gay leaders, according to a Baptist Press report. Among the leaders voicing that opinion were Steve Lemke of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Russell Moore of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and Roger S. Oldham of the SBC Executive Committee (EC).
“We grieve that the Scouts have planted the seed of their eventual destruction,” Oldham, EC vice president for convention communications and relations, said at the time. “It won’t happen overnight, but the course has been set.”
Oldham was correct.
Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in his May 27 blog, “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.”
Mohler added, “Even as he took office last year, Gates indicated that he was not satisfied with the compromise the BSA 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.”
But Gates’ argument is based on the self-preservation of BSA as a national organization. “He made no moral argument at all,” Mohler said. “[Gates] did not celebrate the new policy he proposed on moral grounds, nor did he lament the loss of the older policy on moral grounds. There were no moral elements in his argument.”
The fatal flaw in the argument makes the very existence of the Boy Scouts ever more vulnerable, Mohler concludes. Absent the Bible-based morals of previous generations, Americans are building a society that has no need of the Boy Scouts. The organization is systematically dismantling the moral fiber of its existence, while constructing a new organization that has no moral purpose. The new structure leaves scouting in “yet another unsustainable compromise.”
Of course, all of this is evolving in the context of massive bullying campaigns and pressure from self-appointed officers of political correctness.
Someone needs to ask Gates, “When you finish retooling the Scouts, who will need the organization, and what will be its purpose?”
The Scouts have not merely drifted from the strength of their founding morality, they deliberately set their sails toward the pirates who will rob them of their moral cargo.
Samuel James, communications specialist for ERLC said Gates is clearly appealing to the “wrong side of history argument.” In the Canon and Culture blog, James said, “Gates is warning his fellow Scouts that standing athwart culture in this issue is just too high a price; for the sake of the survival of the BSA, the old ways should be scrapped and the ‘world as it is’ be embraced.”
Preserving the Scouts from “legal or political headwinds isn’t a sufficient motivation,” James added. “The problem with Gates’s plea isn’t that he’s wrong about what would face the Scouts if they held on to their policy (he’s probably right, actually), it’s that Gates is calling for an (massive) ethical transformation with an explicitly non-ethical reason. Imagine if a politician plead for the cessation of human trafficking on the grounds that traffickers just face too many risks and too much scrutiny from international governments. Not only is such an argument ridiculous, it is morally repugnant.”
Mohler said, “As a former Boy Scout, I lament the inevitable loss of scouting, knowing full well how much good the scouting movement has done in the lives of countless boys and men.”
I also lament the demise of BSA, but not as one who was a Boy Scout as a child. First, as a pastor of churches that hosted Scout troops, I am saddened that BSA has forced churches to distance themselves from the organization. Church leaders were unnecessarily strapped with a divisive, unwelcomed controversy. BSA walked away from the contest scoreless.
Second, I grieve for my father who became an active scout leader after I went to college, and was awarded some very high honors from the organization. He loved BSA. He invested years of time and energy in the lives of young men who were in search of character. He was deeply dedicated to the organization’s moral goals and to the boys who learned biblical values through scouting. I am sure if he was alive today, he would grieve, also.
Farewell Boy Scouts of America. You lost. America lost something when you caved. Nobody won.