The Story: Speaking to volunteers at the 2015 National Annual Meeting, Boy Scouts of America National President Dr. Robert M. Gates warned that the organizations ban on homosexual Scout leaders is “unsustainable” and should be modified.
The Background: In his remarks, Gates notes that both internal and external pressures threaten the continued existence of the Boy Scouts unless they modify their policies. “We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be,” said Gates. “The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained.”
“Our oath calls upon us to do our duty to God and our country,” Gates added. “The country is changing, and we are increasingly at odds with the legal landscape at both the state and federal levels. And, as a movement, we find ourselves with a policy more than a few of our church sponsors reject—thus placing scouting between a boy and his church.”
You can hear his remarks in this video (skip ahead to the 8:45 mark):
Why It Matters: Unfortunately, Gates is likely correct when he says,
And if we wait for the courts to act, we could end up with a broad ruling that could forbid any kind of membership standard, including our foundational belief in our duty to god and our focus on serving the specific needs of boys. Waiting for the courts is a gamble with huge stakes.
Activist judges and a misguided belief that the courts have the final say about such issues makes the situation difficult for the Boy Scouts. But an even deeper issue is the simple lack of courage and resolve among the adult leaders in Scouting.
As Gates notes, several councils are already in “open defiance of the policy” banning adult gay Scout leaders. He admits that the national organization could “revoke their charters” but refuses to do so because,
. . . such an action would deny the lifelong benefits of scouting to hundreds of thousands of boys and young men today and vastly more in the future. I will not take that path.
This is an attitude that has infected many faith-based and religious organizations—and even entire Christian denominations. Like Gates, many religious leaders simply lack the courage to stand up to internally destructive dissidents for fear of losing the broader organization. And it will continue to get worse. Rather than standing for principle and staying true to their integrity, many Christian leaders will follow Gates example and cave in to the pressure to condone ungodly behaviors in order to preserve the “mission.” They will abandon their integrity in a misguided attempt to preserve an organization that is rotting from within.
Gates’s intention is both noble and laudable. As he says, he took his current role to “preserve the Boy Scouts.” But what lesson are we teaching young men when the organization is more concerned about its continued existence than in either preserving its legacy or doing it’s “duty to God”?
If Scouting is going to become just another club that surrenders to the misguided whims of secular culture, and if the lesson we are teaching our youth is to abandon their values to spare themselves from future trouble, then maybe our country would be better off without the Boys Scouts of America altogether.