The Boy Scouts Stand and Deliver

The Boy Scouts are as American as apple pie, and they have decided to keep it that way. This has earned them the censure of the Washington Post’s editorial page last week. The Scouts decided to reaffirm the policy to deny “membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”

The Post opined that this is un-American, because the policy teaches “young people that it seeks to empower that some of them are unequal, merely because of the way they were born.” This “represents a sad embrace of intolerance” and it is “nothing if not an incitement to ‘criticize’ and ‘condemn’” open or avowed homosexuals.

Does, in fact, the Boy Scouts organization deny the founding principle of the United States that all people are created equal? To the contrary, the Scouts have no class, social, economic, racial or religious barriers to entry. If anything, they are a shining example of the principle of equality. All you have to do to become a Scout is to adhere to its principles, as expressed in the Boy Scout pledge, which is as follows:

“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.”

Is there anything iniquitous in this pledge? The purpose of the Scouts is the physical and moral formation of young boys. The moral part of that formation excludes the avowal and promotion of homosexual acts, which are inherently immoral. This is the basis of the “exclusion” that the Post deplores. However, this policy has nothing to do with the way anyone is born, but everything to do with how they behave. It is not about “who” they are, but what they “do” and, most importantly, how they justify what they do.

In other words, by announcing their proclivities and behavior publicly, “open” homosexuals are not only telling others that they have accepted themselves as active homosexuals; they are insisting that others accept them on the same basis on which they have accepted themselves. Therefore, in the Boy Scouts case, they have made a public announcement concerning their sexual behavior and wish to have it accepted as the basis for their inclusion in an organization that is explicitly dedicated to moral formation. By including “open” homosexuals, such an organization would be, at the very least, implicitly accepting the rationalization for homosexual sexual behavior as part of that moral formation. To do so would make the Scouts complicit in the corruption of youth.

They should be very proud of themselves that, despite all the pressure, they have refused to do so. A Scouts spokesman said, “The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting.” In other words, the Scouts refused to be instrumentalized by the homosexual movement to advance its cause. Bravo.

The absurdity of the Post’s case against the Boy Scouts can be understood as follows. Let us say there is a Temperance League to which some active and “open” alcoholics seek admittance. The whole point of the Temperance League is to teach the evils of overindulgence in spirits. If it accepts others who openly advocate and practice drunkenness, it would be denying the reason for its own existence. It would abandon the moral principle that it is evil to be drunken.

What would be the purpose of the “active” alcoholics in joining the Temperance League? They would not be joining in order to quit drinking or to be changed, but to change the Temperance League itself so that there would be one less societal organization in the way of their getting good and sozzled whenever they wanted to without public, moral opprobrium. They would join to reverse the public teaching on drunkenness.

Is it then a matter of intolerance to exclude active alcoholics? Yes, of course, it is, but it is based not on who the alcoholics are, but on what they do and how they justify what they do. Any reformed alcoholic would be welcome to join the Temperance League.

Now the Post might say that this is treating active alcoholics as unequal to non-alcoholics and others “merely because of the way they were born.” And, in fact, there is a case to be made that certain people are afflicted with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. However, some people with this predisposition choose not to drink, while others choose to imbibe. In other words, despite the predisposition, the act is still a matter of free will, and therefore a moral issue. All acts are not equal. Moral acts are superior to immoral acts. Virtue is superior to vice. Truth is superior to falsehood. All of which are implied in the Boy Scout pledge – which is why it is under attack by the Post.

Speaking of which, we ought to say that the Post‘s editorial is simply the latest volley in its incessant war against sexual morality and marriage. Not only its editorial page, but the Style section and often even its news pages are dedicated to the overthrow of chastity and any notion of marriage as between a man and a woman. Selecting at random the July 23rd issue, we find on page A3 of the news section, “In one year, N.Y. gay-marriage law has made its mark on state, nation.” Needles to say, the report is all good news. In the Style section, here is the sub headline on page C3, “Early gay-rights activist lionized in HBO’s ‘Vito’” The Metro section has from page story on “AIDS meeting aims to reinvigorate efforts.” There is then an entire separate supplement on “AIDS in America.”

Like any good propagandist, the Post believes that if it repeats its mantra often enough it will change reality or create a new one. (This reminds me of a recent Iranian video dramatizing a classroom change in which the teacher institutes a policy in which 2 + 2 = 5, and of how, through sheer repetition, peer pressure and force, he gets the students to agree to the new reality.)

The Post certainly feels itself free to “criticize” and “condemn” those like the Boy Scouts who won’t go along with the program. If you do not embrace their unreality, you will be punished. How tolerant is that? The editorial ends by calling into question the Boy Scouts popular motto, “Be Prepared,” and asks sarcastically, “Prepared for what kind of world?” The answer is, if the Post succeeds in its endeavor, a very dark Orwellian one.


Robert Reilly has worked in foreign policy, the military, and the arts. His most recent book is The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis.

Robert R. Reilly


Robert Reilly has worked in foreign policy, the military, and the arts. His most recent book is The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis. This article courtesy of MercatorNet.

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  • Pargontwin

    Contrast this to the way the Girl Scouts have turned out.  For example, the Girl Scout Pledge omits that last line.  The rest of it is the same, if different in order:  “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to help other people at all times, and to obey the Girl Scout Law.”  Outside of that, if you were to put the Boy Scout and Girl Scout manuals side by side – Here I refer to the ones in use in the early 1960s – they were nearly identical, at least in terms of teachings and activities. Camping?  Yep.  Knots?  Absolutely.  Jamboree was a major annual event for both.  They even had most of the same merit badges.   I grant you that, at the time the Girl Scout Pledge was written, keeping oneself physically strong wasn’t considered important for a lady, and being “mentally aware and morally straight” were integral parts of being a lady.  Once the very concept of “lady” fell into disfavor, and even open scorn, thanks to the radical feminists, so did the mental and moral effects.  Thus today’s Girl Scouts haven fallen to the precepts of the world and are now under investigation by the American bishops.  If you ask me, no faithful Catholic girl should have anything to do with that organization today.  And that’s a shame, because there is no longer any other organization today that is open only to girls; they’ve all gone co-ed.

  • American Heritage Girls Organization on the Rise Amid Girl Scout Controversy.

  •  Apparently, you are unaware of American Heritage Girls (, Frontier Girls (, and other girls’ scouting-type organizations that have developed as a response to the Girl Scouts’ defection from many parents’ values.

    American Heritage Girls (AHG), which only charters with Christian organizations, has especially been experiencing tremendous growth recently within the Catholic demographic.  AHG is also the proud partner in a “Memorandum of Mutual Support” with the Boy Scouts of the USA, which, among other things allows AHG members participation in certain joint activities with Boy Scouts, as well as access to their excellent leader training.

    God bless you,

    Jeannette Schlicher
    AHG Troop NM1974

  • drea916

    I don’t see any problem with Girl Scouts. I’m glad the Bishops are investigating because it will put a lot of the lies to rest. The Girl Scouts are not affilated with the Boy Scouts, I’m not aware that their pledges were EVER the same. They weren’t in the 80’s when I was in. They’ve already stated that they are NOT affiliated with Planned Parenthood which is a lie that is floating around. I don’t see why people are bashing GS. Lots of rumors, but nothing REAL to point to.

  • choose_life_now

    In 2010, two teenage girls who had spent eight years in Girl Scouts left the organization and created Speak Now: Girl Scouts, a website dedicated to raising awareness about the problems they discovered within the organization.
    The two young teens – Tess and Sydney – said that it had become “increasingly apparent” that the Girl Scouts organization had values that were incompatible with their own.
    “Leaving Girl Scouts was not a casual, easy, or convenient decision,” they said. However, in the end, they decided that they needed to “stand for our beliefs, for the dignity of life, the sanctity of marriage, modesty, purity.”
    Concerns over ties to Planned Parenthood also led 10-year-old Grace Swanke to leave her Girl Scout troop and start selling her own cookies, which she calls “Cookies for Life.” She donates the proceeds from her sales to pro-life groups.
    www(dot)girlscoutswhynot(dot)com and www(dot)100questionsforthegirlscouts(dot)org

  • A_True_Blue

    I refuse to have my boy spend the night in a tent with a homosexual. PERIOD!!! That is my choice because he is MY SON and NOBODY better get in the way of me raising MY son in the proper tradition of the SCOUTS and the CATHOLIC faith including what is says in the Catechism. 2357 … Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. 2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
    2339 Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.

  • Pargontwin

    The Girl Scout Pledge I cited in my earlier post is the very one I recited myself when I was a Cadette Scout in 1968.  Compare it to the Boy Scout Pledge; you will see the similarities.

  • Here’s something real drea916: look at the pages from the Girl Scout materials and you’ll see why conservatives are so concerned: GSUSA is promoting filth to girls. I too look foward to the Bishops investigation — it will put the matter to rest and expose the Girl Scouts lies once and for all. The truth is there if you choose to see it.

  • MAMaK

    Here’s the problem with the Boy Scouts. As a Catholic, I am to understand the difference between homosexual acts and homosexual inclinations. One is sinful, the other is not. One is a choice, the other is not. Boy Scouts does not do this. Their policy may exclude only those who are “open” or “avowed” homosexuals (terms the Boy Scouts has never defined), but in practice they exclude those who are celibate men with homosexual attractions as well.

    Their policy is based on excluding anyone with this inclination, even if they are moral, upstanding citizens. These men go their whole lives celibate, being as good of men as they can, and Boy Scouts won’t let our youth see them as examples. Our youth are taught in Boy Scouts that it is ok to judge people because they have homosexual inclinations, not to judge people based on how they act (or refrain from acting) on these inclinations.

    If they followed their policy, it would be fine. It would be great! However, since they do not follow their own policy, and have put into practice exclusion of people who deal with homosexual attractions in a responsible, Christ-centered way, I have to rebuke them here, They are not responding to this in a way compatible with Catholic teaching (CCC 2358).

    I do not propose dropping this policy. I propose following this policy of only excluding those who are a bad influence or a danger to our youth. It’s kind of interesting that the three best scouts (they are now all over the age of 18) in the troop where I am the chaplain have been ones who deal with homosexual inclinations. All three of them are Catholic. All three of them are celibate, and they are a great influence on the youth in the troop. The youth do not know that these men have same-sex attractions; some of the adults do. We follow the policy of the Boy Scouts to exclude “open” and “avowed” homosexuals. These men are not “open” or “avowed,” yet if the BSA knew that these men had same-sex attractions, they would be ousted immediately.

  • Peter Nyikos

    Experiencing same sex attraction (“homosexual inclinations”) is not the same thing as “open, avowed homosexuality.” So, on what do you base your claim that “they would be ousted immediately”? I see no evidence in your long comment, only an unsupported claim that “in practice they exclude those who are celibate men with homosexual attractions” and similar unsupported claims in the following two paragraphs.

  • Jeannette Case Schlicher

    Update: As a result of the BSA’s recent revision of their youth membership provisions, American Heritage Girls has subsequently dissolved their “Memorandum of Mutual Support.” While appreciating that all youth need to be served, AHG understands from the BSA’s action that the moral decline of the organization has begun (i.e., it won’t end with boys experiencing same-sex attraction joining, but will logically progress to admitting actively “gay” leadership), has disassociated itself, and is participating with a coalition of interested persons in the formation of a new boys’ organization (