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February 6, 2013
Column #1,641
The Boy Scouts and Moral Leadership
(second of a 2-part series)
By Mike McManus

America’s teenagers are morally confused. The good news is 80% of boys said having a good marriage and family life is "extremely important," and 72% of girls agree.

On the other hand, only 39% of teen boys and 30% of girls say that "most people will have fuller and happier lives if they choose legal marriage rather than staying single or just living with someone," according to "The State of Our Unions – Marriage in America – 2012."

About two-thirds of both genders believe "It is usually a good idea for a couple to live together before getting married in order to find out whether they really get along."

Even worse, 56% of both genders believe that "having a child without being married is experimenting with a worthwhile lifestyle."

The question is, what can be done to teach better moral values to youth?

A traditional answer for boys is the Boy Scouts, of whom there are 2.6 million members. Eleven of the 12 men who walked on the moon developed their sense of service as Boy Scouts, as did 206 U.S. Senators or Congressman. Two-thirds of male college grads were Scouts and 89% of high school class presidents.

Boys learn the Scout Oath, "On my honor I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country…to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."

However a nationwide investigation of child molestation in the Boy Scouts from 1971 to 1991 revealed that more than 2,000 boys reported molestation by adult Scout leaders. Therefore, the organization firmly decided not to allow homosexuals to be Scoutmasters.

This was challenged by gays in court, leading to a 2000 Supreme Court case which upheld the Boy Scout’s right to teach that "homosexual conduct is not morally straight." While not commenting on that view, the Court said that government could not force "the group to accept members it does not desire."

Public opinion has shifted on the issue as nine states approved gay marriage. Therefore, the Boy Scouts confidentially reviewed their decision to keep out both gay leaders and gay Scouts themselves. Last July after a two year review, an 11-member committee unanimously "came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for Boy Scouts," and was supported by "the vast majority of the parents of the youth we serve."

However, after that decision was announced, two prominent board members, CEOs of AT&T and Ernst & Young openly called for the board to reconsider. UPS, Intel and other companies announced they would stop supporting Boy Scouts.

Last week, the Boy Scouts said its board would decide this week whether "there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation," leaving the decision up to local groups. That sparked a storm of protest, particularly by Mormons, Catholics, Southern Baptists and others who are often the local sponsors of Scout troops.

What’s stunning is the announcement came only six months after concluding that barring openly homosexual leaders and members was "absolutely the best policy" supported by "the vast majority of the parents of the youth we serve."

Thus, Boy Scouts are apparently folding to corporate pressure and setting itself against the majority of its own members.

A spokesperson for America’s Catholic Bishops said, ""We hope the Boy Scouts remain true to the Judeo-Christian values upon which they were founded."

Greg Quinlan, President of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays pled with Scouts, "As a former homosexual who was sexually molested as a child, I urge the Boy Scouts of America to reinforce their policy prohibiting homosexuals as Scout leaders entrusted with the care of impressionable young boys and teens."

Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, asserted, "Homosexuals by definition are attracted to people of the same sex, attracted to males. How many people would allow their teenage girls to be led by heterosexual males? Heterosexual males would not be allowed to be Girl Scout leaders, because they are attracted to young women. This verges on being beyond the realm of the rational."

"If they make this decision it would be a catastrophe for Boy Scouts, 1.1 million of whom are sponsored by Mormons, Roman Catholics and Baptists who are overwhelmingly opposed to this change."

On Wednesday, Boy Scouts of America announced it would delay a decision until May for a "more deliberate review" of the issue.

Hopefully Boy Scout leaders will stop their flip-flopping and live up to their motto to be "morally straight."

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