Tag archives: Boy Scouts

The Hemming-in of Boy Scouting Continues

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 27, 2012

Over the past few days, the secular media have reported extensively about a woman whose lesbianism compelled the Boy Scouts of America to ask her to resign as a Den Mother. She has been featured in numerous media interviews, her overwhelmed-looking little boy with her, and been heralded as a hero for standing up to the BSA.

Here are some facts:

  • Scouting does not allow homosexuals to be in leadership - period. After hundreds of lawsuits regarding the sexual abuse of boys - nearly all of them involving homosexual molestation - and after paying out many millions of dollars in settlements ($18.5 million in one case alone), the BSA wisely has chosen to have a zero-tolerance policy toward homosexuality. It has been reported that since 2007 alone, the Boy Scouts of America have been sued for sexual abuse claims by 35 individuals in 11 states. This prohibition on gays and lesbians in leadership positions is widely known and was known, specifically, by Jennifer Tyrrell when she chose to become a Den Mother.
  • Ms. Tyrrell seems intent on using her little boy as a means of attacking the BSA’s position on homosexuality. By all accounts, she was capable and caring as a leader of the Tiger Cubs. That is irrelevant: Despite her claim that a local Scoutmaster told her that her lesbianism was immaterial, the stated policy of the Boy Scouts of America is that homosexuality is incompatible with the tenets of Scouting. Every week, roughly 2.8 million Scouts take an oath to remain “morally straight.” According to the historic tenets of Scouting, homosexuality does not comport with that standard. Every adult in Scouting is to support and model the moral convictions expressed by the BSA. Ms. Tyrrell knew that, too.
  • In 2000, the Supreme Court declared that as a private organization - one joined voluntarily by every person involved with it - the BSA had the right to require belief in a Creator and traditional sexual morality of all participants. Ms. Tyrrell (drum roll, please) knew that before becoming a Den Mother, as well.

In West Virginia, the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve is composed of 10,600 acres of land adjacent to the New River Gorge National River. It is a boy’s paradise, and was provided through the generosity of several wealthy families and an energy company. Together, they have given in excess of $100 million to provide Scouts with a beautiful and perpetual site to hold their National Jamboree and many other activities.

Yet this remarkable gift would have been less necessary to the future of Scouting had the American Civil Liberties Union not filed a suit insisting that the BSA could not officially be sponsored by the Department of Defense, since according the ACLU the Scouts’ affirmation of a Creator constitutes a state endorsement of religion. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, under the agreement reached between the ACLU and the DOD, “Provided there is no sponsorship by Department of Defense personnel in an official capacity, Boy Scout units are permitted to meet on military bases and military personnel are permitted to remain active in Boy Scout programs.

While Scouts are grateful they can continue their historic access to military facilities, the fact that they affirm belief in God and eschew homosexuality places the continued use of military bases at risk. Why? Two reasons: (1) Homosexual and atheist groups continue to work to undermine Scoutings positions on God and human sexuality, and (2) the U.S. military now allows open homosexuality. Given these things, how long will it be before the Scouts are told to endorse homosexuality and drop their allegiance to a Creator or else never come to military bases again (much as many cities and corporations have also cut off support to the BSA for these reasons)?

These attacks on Scouting have made private donations, including massive ones that provide locations for major Scouting events, essential.

Cruz Tyrrell, the young boy thrust into the center of this controversy, and his fellow Tiger Cubs are the ones most adversely affected by Ms. Tyrrells behavior. Our hearts should go out to them. Yet it would be a disservice to millions of boys and their families to lift the prohibition on homosexuality in Scouting. Just look at the litigation history of the past 40 years: Of course not every gay man is a sexual predator, but the predators in Scouting have been, almost without exception, male.

Tonight one of my sons will be staying on a military installation with a host of other local Scouts. He will lead his Patrol in a series of activities and, barring something unforeseen, have a great time. In all likelihood, they will never consider the matters discussed in this piece. Nor should they have to: They are boys, surrounded by honorable men, roughing it with a spirit of fun and adventure.

May it be ever thus.

Eagle Scouts Have Positive, Lasting Influence on American Society

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 16, 2012

Last fall, FRC was privileged to welcome Dr. Byron Johnson of Baylor University to our Washington, DC building for a tremendous lecture based on his book, More God, Less Crime.

Now, Dr. Johnson, Baylors Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences, director of the Program on Prosocial Behavior and co-director of the universitys Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR), has issued a new report about how Eagle Scouts benefit our country.

With his colleague Sung Joon Jang, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology at Baylor and an ISR Faculty Fellow, Dr. Johnson has written, Merit Beyond the Badge, which documents the significant, positive impact Eagle Scouts have on society every day.

I confess that I am drawn to this study not only because of my admiration for the Boy Scouts of America, but also because my sons are both First-Class Scouts and are on their way to Eagle rank, Scoutings highest. My wife and I are grateful for the wonderful influence of Scouting on our sons. Scouting has reinforced in them the need for high character, given them skills that literally could save their lives (and those of others), and built into them a measure of confidence and diligence that they otherwise might not have.

Beyond the Merit Badge shows that Eagle Scouts:

  • Exhibit higher levels of participation in a variety of health and recreational activities.
  • Show a greater connection to siblings, neighbors, religious community, friends, coworkers, formal and informal groups and a spiritual presence in nature
  • Share a greater belief in duty to God, service to others, service to the community and leadership
  • Engage in behaviors that are designed to enhance and protect the environment.
  • Be committed to setting and achieving personal, professional, spiritual and financial goals.
  • Show higher levels of planning and preparedness.
  • Indicate that they have built character traits related to work ethics, morality, tolerance and respect for diversity.

I see these things ever week at our regular Scout meetings. Of course, Scouts are boys, not angels, and as with every institution that involves people, there are periodic problems and difficulties to overcome.

Yet some of those problems are not of Scoutings making. Those committed to advancing a pro-homosexual social agenda have targeted the BSA because the latter believes:

… an avowed homosexual is not a role model for the values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law … The BSA does not equate homosexuality with pedophilia, but neither avowed homosexuals nor pedophiles are appropriate role models for Scouting youth … The Boy Scouts of America makes no effort to discover the sexual orientation of any member or leader. Scouting’s message is compromised when members or leaders present themselves as role models whose actions are inconsistent with the standards set in the Scout Oath and Law.

The Supreme Court, in 2000, upheld the Scouts standing as a private organization with the right to set its own membership and leadership standards. For that past 12 years, at least, this has meant that Scoutings conviction that homosexuality is incompatible with its mission and activities has been sustained throughout the BSA.

Many of the boys in Scouting come from fatherless homes. Scouting provides them with role models, both older Scouts and men in leadership capacities, who can help make up what is lacking in their lives: The interest, respect, and affection of a man. It is because so many of these boys are vulnerable that the BSA not only prohibits homosexuality, but will not even allow a single Boy Scout to be alone with an adult, even for a short walk. The Scouts buddy system exists for a reason.

There are Scouts in 155 nations. Many religions participate in Scouting, making Scouts a sore spot for avowed atheists and agnostics. Yet Scoutings affirmation of a Creator to Whom all are accountable is foundational to Scoutings emphasis on remaining morally straight. And many Scout troops are chartered by churches, which enable people of various faiths to retain both their unique religious identities and share in the common fellowship of Scouting.

Scouting remains a pivotal activity for an estimated 2.7 million boys (and 1.1 million adults) nationwide, teaching them how to serve, volunteer, protect others, and work effectively and cheerfully with boys and young men of various racial, religious, ethnic, economic, and educational background.

Tonight, with about 50-60 other boys of every race, height, and home-life, my sons will be at our church gymnasium taking an oath. They will raise their right hands and say, On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

One of the boys will pray briefly and the flag will be saluted, and then myriad activities will get underway.

I cant wait.

Boy Scouts Build Men

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 4, 2010

On Sunday, the New York Times carried a story by reporter Katharine Q. Seelye on the 100th anniversary Jamboree of American Scouting being held at Ft. A.P. Hill in Virginia.

In the dextrous patois of the elite Left, Ms. Seelye succeeded in talking down to nearly three million boys and their families. Instead of celebrating the myriad contributions of Scouting to our nation, her agenda-heavy story raised every shibboleth of American liberalism in an attempt to belittle a great organization.

In her account, we read nothing about young men mentored by older boys who become like brothers and strong men who serve as the father-figures many lads would never otherwise have. We never learn that Scouting has produced more presidents, astronauts, scientists, and leaders in business and religion and industry than readily could be numbered. Scouts provide millions of hours serving their communities —- including some of the neediest people among us —- each year. An incredibly impressive list of Scouting’s achievements and contributions can be found here.

This is, for me, a personal matter: My sons are Scouts, on track to make Eagle, and we attended part of the Jamboree. Our time was spent talking with boys from Seattle and Dallas, eating with others from New Jersey, trading patches of every shape and variety and seeing, in many displays and activities, the panoply of American ingenuity, grit and bravery (our Armed Forces were admirably represented) spread before us.

I have seen Scouts take boys and help turn them into confident, capable, resourceful young men whose character is well-defined and whose ambitions are informed by service and teamwork. Each week of the school year, and frequently throughout the summer, my sons join with boys of every race and ethnic heritage to laugh uproariously at ridiculous jokes and absurd skits, learn more skills than I could likely ever teach them and, through cooperation and friendly competition, subtly but indisputably get honed for manhood.

That’s what Scouting really is about: Manhood. Scouting teaches youths to become fine men, physically and mentally, men who believe in God and honor the law and defend our country. This seems to drive many liberals to distraction.

Here are some responses to the more piquant quips in Ms. Seelye’s recitation of Scouting’s inadequacies, through which she reveals not insight but a sad and clueless bitterness:

  1. Scouts do not bar atheists. Scouts affirm faith in God. Thereby, atheists bar themselves.
  2. Scouts bar homosexuals because homosexuality is incompatible with Scouts’ Judeo-Christian foundations and because of the many case of homosexual abuse of boys in Scouts over the decades, as Seelye herself notes in her article.
  3. Scouting does represent “wholesomeness,” but in today’s morally failing America that should be a source of celebration, not condescension.
  4. Admittance of girls would fundamentally change the nature of an inherently masculine organization. Although girls are allowed in Scouting until the age of 13, the name of the group is “Boy Scouts,” not “Child Scouts” or “Teen Scouts.” Girls Scouts of America and American Heritage Girls exist for a reason.
  5. Scouting actively reaches out to minority populations. Many of America’s most prominent African-American and Latino leaders have been involved in Scouting, and were it not for Scouting, many inner city youth would never experience the out-of-doors in a meaningful way. Perhaps if Ms. Seelye had taken a moment to visit BSA’s Website, she would have seen the large section devoted to “Ethnic and Generational Diversity,” and read the extensive report on Scouting’s demographic outlook.
  6. Scouting has lost numbers due the relentless assault on the family and on the virtues that long have been the bedrock of our nation. This is not the fault of Scouting but is, rather, a reflection on the values and conduct of a society that is losing its moral moorings. All the more reason for Boy Scouts.
  7. Scouting is not “in the woods,” as Seelye claims. Scouting is not some kind of quaint reliquary of an earlier age. It is alive and well, and knows exactly where it is.

Every week, millions of boys across America lift their right hands and, with three fingers pointing upward, recite the following. If these commitments are anachronistic or irrelevant to our national life, our country is in dire straits indeed:

Scout Oath (or Promise):

On my honor I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my country

and to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong,

mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scout Law:

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

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