Boy Scouts’ Gay Policy Review Has Right-Wing in Frenzy
Gay rights activists and their allies may be ecstatic at the news that, after years of controversy including a Supreme Court decision, the Boy Scouts of America are going to reconsider their policy that excludes gay boys as scouts and adult gay men (and lesbians) as leaders.
It will probably not come as a surprise to readers that, as happy as liberal and civil rights groups were, those on the opposite side of the political spectrum -- along with the religious right -- were equally unhappy. Their leaders, pundits and media personalities didn't waste any time in slamming the organization's announcement.
The comments ranged from dire predictions of the end of the scouting movement (conveniently forgetting the Girl Scouts have been gay- and trans-friendly for years and are thriving) to this harking to the Republic ending in fire and brimstone (again!). Overall, they more or less took the same tone, that predators would be let loose on boys in troop meetings and scout camps; that gay or questioning boys would prey on their helpless fellow scouts; and that church groups would forbid scouts from meeting in their facilities.
Soon after media outlets reported the BSA's decision, the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer, who has not shied away from vocalizing his anti-gay opinions in the past, took to Twitter for a string of execrations regarding the news. Here are a few nuggets: "Jerry Sandusky is now the poster boy for the Boy Scouts of America," referring to the serial child molester who was a coach at Penn State University and is now in jail under multiple sentences.
Another read, "BSA under tremendous financial strain. Coffers depleted fighting Big Gay in court, Verizon, Google ending matching funds," in which he actually may have stumbled on truth. Finally this analogy, "A homosexual does not belong in the same tent with young boys any more than a man belongs in a tent full of Girl Scouts" (forgetting that many men co-serve as Girl Scout troop leaders).
On his Internet radio show, he fulminated, "This is just unbelievable to me. This is a suicide mission on the part of the Boy Scouts. They're done. They're toast. They're history. We know that homosexuals offend against children at roughly ten times the rate that heterosexuals offend against young children. There is a risk there - it's just insanity that they are relaxing the standard."
Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, accused the Scouts of "abandoning their historic values. The Boy Scouts of America board would be making a serious mistake to bow to the strong-arm tactics of LGBT activists and open the organization to homosexuality," he said, as quoted on the blogsite Right Wing Watch. "What has changed in terms of the Boy Scouts' concern for the well-being of the boys under their care? Or is this not about the well-being of the Scouts, but the funding for the organization?"
Last year, FRC launched a boycott against UPS because the company decided to stop corporate funding to the BSA over its anti-gay policy. (UPS stock has been trading steadily since then.)
"The mission of the Boy Scouts is 'to instill values in young people' and 'prepare them to make ethical choices,' and the Scout's oath includes a pledge 'to do my duty to God' and keep himself 'morally straight,'" Perkins said about the reconsideration of the policy. "It is entirely reasonable and not at all unusual for those passages to be interpreted as requiring abstinence from homosexual conduct."
Several right-wing commenters on various sites have been making much of the "morally straight" wording in the Boy Scout oath. They omit the fact that the oath was written over 100 years ago, when "straight" only meant "upright" and had no reference to sexual preference or identity.
On Monday, the Associated Press reported BSA's spokesman Deron Smith as saying,
"the Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents," which means decisions about admitting gay Scouts and troop leaders would be made locally, not dictated by the National Council. He told USA Today that the rule change is currently only "under discussion" and "would allow the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue"; presumably meaning that churches could lean on local councils by threatening to withhold their facilities.
Still, Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, warned USA Today that the new rules would be "nothing less than disastrous," which may have been a veiled warning that the Southern Baptists, one of the primary groups that provide meeting places for the Scouts, would withdraw its support.
Richard Land, the editor of the Christian Post who also leads the Southern Baptist Convention's political arm, spoke with a top Southern Baptist, who did not want to be identified, about the BSA's possible new rules,
"It boggles my mind to think the BSA would make such a move," the executive in the Southern Baptist Convention told the Christian news site. "If they have counted the cost of this decision in terms of relationships and numbers, then I believe they have miscalculated that cost."
WND (formerly World Net Daily) predictably published a column in which Linda Harvey described in salacious detail how "new policy introduces homosexual attraction into the troop environment where previously sex separation kept that complication out of the character development of these young men. She then gave the examples of a troop leaders, 25, and scout, 14; two scouts, 14 and 12; two troop leaders.
Harvey went on to complain that scouts who didn't like the new hedonism of the group would be bullied in school -- a rather odd turn on the bullying that usually goes on against kids perceived to be gay. "Once again," she wrote, "children are sacrificed on the altar of progressive values."