On Wednesday the Boy Scouts of America board of directors deferred action on allowing professed homosexuals to serve as troop leaders until their annual meeting in May. The lack of a decision is seen by many as merely a strategy to buy the organization more time to drum up support and possibly neutralize the opposition of religious and pro-family groups. But there is much more to how this story unfolded.
On Friday, January 25, one of our senior editors at The Christian Post informed me someone close to the issue knew that BSA chief Wayne Brock had called on the major religious groups such as the Mormons, Catholics and Southern Baptist to “inform” them they were going to change their policy to allow homosexual scout leaders. I use the word “inform” intentionally, because according to the head of one Christian organization, the Boy Scouts had no intention of having a dialogue about the subject and had already decided on a course of action. Or a least that’s what they thought.
After confirming the meetings had taken place with the spokesperson of one of the groups, I sent an email to the BSA at 1:13 p.m. that afternoon with the hopes of obtaining a direct statement from them. Within half-an-hour I received a reply from Lindsey in their public relations department asking about by timeline, or when I planned to publish the story. After a brief email discussion she asked if they could have until Monday morning to put a statement together and I agreed.
I should say I was surprised with what occurred on Monday morning but I’m not.
At around 10:00 a.m. and just as I received a statement from the BSA confirming their intent to change their policy, Pete Williams of NBC published an “exclusive” story and broke the news to America. Apparently someone connected to the BSA must have decided they wanted a more “mainstream” news outlet to break the story and not CP. Oh well, live and learn.
Yet after thousands of news stories and columns, combined with what seem to be hundreds of thousands of comments from engaged readers on both sides of the issue, the BSA adopted the strategy used by the White House and Congressional leaders and simply kicked the can down the road until May, hoping for a better day to make a tough decision.
Whether of not the BSA changes their policy (and I believe they ultimately will), the organization will never be the same. Even before the announcement, participation has dropped by over one-third in the last decade and now some religious groups such as the Southern Baptist will more than likely encourage their young men to join programs such as the Royal Ambassadors, leading to a more rapid decline.
The question I have is this; short of being “politically correct,” what advantage will the BSA see in adopting this new policy?
Will they reverse a ten-year trend and see an increase in participation? I don’t think so. Will they improve the quality of their instruction by allowing professed homosexuals to instruct young men on moral development? Not in my opinion.
While there are many factors involved in the BSA’s decision, I feel a, if not the driving force was pressure from board members such as AT&T’s Randall Stephenson and Ernst & Young’s James Turley to implement the change.
What these gentlemen neglected to take into consideration is changing the policy of a non-profit dedicated to serving boys and young men is much different from their corporations choosing to provide benefits to same-sex partners or signing up as a corporate sponsor for the local rainbow parade.
How would people react to heterosexual men leading Girl Scout troops? Hopefully the same way given that is equally a terrible idea.
Over the next three months activist on both sides will continue to weigh in on the issue. But in the end, the Boy Scouts need to take a hard look at what they want their mission to be for the next 103 years.