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Scoutmaster: how far do church members’ convictions go? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Albert King   
Monday, December 02, 2013 4:46 PM

Editor:
In 2013 the 1,400 voting members of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America voted to lift the ban of letting openly-gay individuals into the scouts. However the ban on gay scout leaders remains in effect. This decision created a fire storm of controversy. Some of the biggest criticism came from the churches who serve as the charter organization for Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs. Many of the churches and organizations that support Boy Scout Troops and Cub Scout packs pulled their support and literally kicked the scouts out of their meeting locations.

Why would BSA suddenly change its position concerning gays and scouting? This is a sudden change considering that Boy Scouts of America pursued this issue all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States in 2000. The court’s decision was handed down on June 28, 2000. In Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 the court held that the constitutional right to freedom of association allows a private organization like the Boy Scouts of America to exclude a person from membership when “the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group’s ability to advocate public or private viewpoints.” So why would BSA pursue this all the way to the supreme court  and then a few years later reverse its decision?

We’ll get back to this in a minute.

Boy Scouts of America is a very large organization that serves approximately 1 million boys per year. There are troops and packs in every community and hundreds of camp facilities scattered around the country. In fact BSA operates the largest youth camp in the world. This camp is located in Cimarron New Mexico and serves not only Boy Scouts but Girl Scouts as well. These camps are well equipped and provide summer camp opportunities for all scouts. At summer camp scouts can learn first aid, life saving survival skills, sailing, canoeing, motor boating and the list goes on and on. These camps require constant up keep and year round maintenance. The cost to operate these camps is very high and Boy Scouts participate in these activities all year round. The cost to attend camp varies with each council but generally it’s around $200.

And for the record, no boy is denied summer camp for financial reasons. The fee includes everything the scout will require while at camp. If you ask me that’s a great deal. You send your son to camp on Sunday, he returns the next Saturday and he can swim, sail, canoe, save someone that is drowning and survive in the wilderness while at the same time minimizing human impact on the environment. What I want to know is how does scouting provide all of this for only $200? In short, it doesn’t. Boy Scouts of America depends on the generous donations of large and small companies and individuals around the nation.

After the Supreme Court decision organizations began to lobby high profile companies to pull funding from BSA. They published the names of the companies on the internet and utilized sympathetic news organizations such as CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC to name a few. Under the pressure from the media blitz companies began to pull their funding. The companies that pulled funding are UPS, IBM, Levi Strauss and Company, J.P. Morgan, American Airlines, Medtronic, Portland General Gas and Electric, Hewlett Packard, Textron, Merk pharmaceuticals, Fleet Bank, Caterpillar, Intel, CVS/Pharmacy Stores and Carrier Corp. Intel, for example, ceased funding to the tune of $700,000 per year. BSA faced a very difficult decision; reduce services or change its policy.

This brings me to the point of my letter. In July of this year the Moores Hill Church of Christ made the decision to “disband our scouting pack and we will no longer host meetings at the Moores Hill Church of Christ.” In a letter to the parents and leaders of Pack 613 the church explained that its reasoning was the newly changed policy of allowing openly homosexual scouts. The scouts of Pack 613 range in age from 7 years to 11 years old. At this age these boys don’t understand the politics behind this controversy. They only understand that they had no place to meet and no Charter Organization to support them. I would assume that the Board of Elders at the Moores Hill Church of Christ made this decision based on very strong convictions. I am sure to be consistent in their convictions the members of church will also cease to support the companies that forced BSA into its decision. I am sure that with a sense of fairness they will throw out the computer that has an Intel processor or perhaps not ship Christmas packages via UPS.

Perhaps they will not get their prescriptions filled at CVS and maybe their convictions will prevent them from taking life saving medications or vaccines made by Merk pharmaceuticals. Of course they may find it easier to kick out a bunch of cub scouts than it is to boycott the companies that forced Boy Scouts of America through financial pressure to change its policy.

My son was lucky enough to be a Tiger Cub in Pack 613, to earn his Arrow of Light and eventually earn the rank of Eagle Scout while in Troop 631. The lessons he learned and the experiences he had changed his life forever. Scouting has given our country many great men and will continue to do so. And while BSA’s policy on homosexuals in scouting has changed, the scout law has not. A scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.

Pack 613 has found a new home and Charter Organization and they are continuing to produce fine young men that will lead our country in the future.

Albert King    
Scoutmaster Troop 631
Milan

 

Comments  

 
0 #1 2013-12-03 07:36
There is a difference between having Intel computers or getting diverlies from UPS and supporting a Troop or pack. Since the Troop and pack are "owned" by the Chartering organization they would be allowing this behavior in the church. This is not only against the Bible. but most church by-laws/constitutions.

I severed as an Adult leader for 28 years (13 of which were as Scoutmaster). I am Woodbadge trained and a Vigil member of the OA. I cannot control the actions of large companies, however I can control my actions, which lead to my resignation. I have made some great friends and memories that I will charish.

I have talked to my closest BSA friends and some have left and some stayed. I don't judge their choice to stay, the BSA is a great organization and I wish them luck.

This policy has created a lot of contridictions in "a Guide to Safe Scouting" policies, which is a topic in itself.

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