American Boy Scouts Once More a Moral Compass

In the mid-1940s my father re-founded, with others, Troop 37 in a small South Carolina mill town.  He resurrected what was clearly among the earliest local Boy Scout organizations in our country.  In the mid-70s I re-chartered, with others, the same entity my father did a generation earlier.  We both became Eagles, one of the first leadership milestones for both of us.  He pursued a military career, attaining the rank of colonel; I took on sales and public speaking, eventually earning a terminal degree.

The Boy Scouts’ principled decision to keep away homosexual men from its leadership ranks and supposed homosexual boys out of its following is to be applauded.  Not because I am full of hate … or empty of empathy.  Nor due to a lack of sophistication and nuance on my part.  And certainly not because I am – how one despises the Orwellian word coined by those who try to obfuscate underlying real issues in the debate – homophobic.

No, rather, we raise a glass to one of the few American institutions not to capitulate to Radical Homosexuality.  Good for the nation that one organization founded to form men out of boys has drawn a helpful line.

The BSA refuses to subject those in their minority to the inevitable confusion which would prevail if sexual ‘options’ were a characteristic ethos in the mix of variously aged males sharing intimate space.

They believe boys are boys and need men who are unambiguously men to model the transition into responsible adult masculinity.  I do too.

For even a hint of homosex as backdrop to learning about citizen-ship, camping and assuming responsibility is unfair for those actually being served by volunteer scoutmasters – profoundly impressionable boys.  It’s one thing to experiment with, say, military men and women who are of age, quite another those early teens taken away from their (oft-broken) families (such as they are) for weekend trips sharing close quarters.

As news spreads of yet another principled “No!” by an august standard of rectitude, the BSA will no doubt come under renewed assault.  What a pity.  While the overwhelming majority of cultures down through the ages celebrate the period of innocence into which Scouting speaks, a rabid minority has already filled the airways, spilt ink and otherwise harrumphed with evocative words like rights, exclusion and victimization.  For heaven’s sake, grow up!

Meanwhile, let us do all in our power to affirm that – repeating – men are to be men (not to mention women being women).  Have we not suffered enough androgyny?  Go to any Olive Garden restaurant in any part of the USA and the waitresses (not servers) both look ridiculous in and complain about wearing men’s ties.  Enough already with males not quite men … and females not quite women!

Indeed, formation of a mature wholesome identity among our future male leaders individually and as a group cannot happen if we as a culture refuse to allow boys to be boys.

At the century plus mark of their existence, if the Boy Scouts were not permitted to create a safe place for emotionally and physiologically vulnerable youth, who would?  We’ve observed over the past months with profound sorrow that not even a sport as venerable in the American experience as college football is exempt from predatory men overtaking not a few smaller and undeveloped bodies of male youth – repeatedly.

And we would permit homosex men to be instilling rectitude and character into pubescent potential prizes?!  The BSA wisely thinks not, knowing the shame, confusion and self-questioning which would attend an innocent being lured into homosexual practice by a trusted elder (or equally likely – an aggressive, propaganda-filled tent mate).

Sharp knives, flaming stove, boiling water:  there is more than one way for a child to suffer harm in a careless kitchen.  To argue pedophilia is not pederasty or that pederasty is not experimentation misses the point:  let innocence be preserved from all dimensions of its diminution.

Ban the door from opportunists even as we keep away the family sedan’s keys from Uncle Bob, drunk yet again.

What a good thing it is to look back on my own advancement in Scouting without the blight of even subtle homosex indoctrination – much less a predatory experience.  Whether earning the mile swim away at camp for a week … or attending the 1977 National Jamboree; whether recalling the various men who spent time with us rambunctious lads on Monday nights … or on weekend campouts all throughout the year; whether reflecting upon various individuals who had me in their homes or businesses to sign off on one of my (52) merit badges – I am glad to say none, none made an unwelcome advance upon me.

Why?  Mine was a different day, the reader may suggest.  Yes and no.  That it was the 70s didn’t keep a local banker from making a pass, nor a band member a year behind me in school, nor even a medical professional all-too-eager to give me a physical behind closed doors.  No, even then homosexuality was there, lurking, simply in other venues.

At the same time, I look back with some joy on my older boyhood because I was challenged ‘to do my best’ in an environment kept safe, in part, because practicing homosexuals were not permitted a malignant foothold in our midst at Troop 37.  There, at least, was an oasis.

All boys involved in Scouting today should be able to reflect many years hence on similar experiences free from sexual confusion, harm and scar.  It is fitting that Scouts aim to earn the rank of Eagle, conscious America’s symbol is the stately bald eagle.  How sad that the Boy Scouts of America even had to reiterate that it is not a leering ‘gay’ one.

Dr. Raymond A. Craig


Dr. Craig is the author of the forthcoming Leading In: Seven Essays on Accomplishing High Priority Goals. He also created From Guys to Gentlemen retreats and fora to foster balanced, biblical masculinity. He earned his doctorate in church ministry.

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  • Paul

    I applaud the BSA for standing its ground for the truth and what is right. Same goes for private businesses like Chick-Fil-A despite the fall out from ‘popular opinion’. The bullying and discriminating tactics of liberals and progressives may seem to get their way these days but it will not prevail in the end.

  • Evelyn

    Thank you for this.  What I don’t understand, beyond any arguments about the morality of homosexual behavior, is why people don’t seem to remember that we all know you don’t mix the sexes in overnight accommodations.  No one (I hope!) would ever stand for putting a dad in a tent full of little girls, nor would any decent dad want to be there.  So why is it suddenly okay to put adults in tents with children they would be sexually attracted to?  I am so glad the Boy Scouts are standing their ground.

  • TMCstudent

    From one Eagle Scout to another, I thank you for your reasonable look at the issues.  I also benefited from following, wise, manly scout leaders (a few den mothers too).

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  • Jlizm

    Thank you.  My dad was an eagle scout and later a scoutmaster for his troop in the 1930’s. I am proud of the man he was, valorous, honorable and true.  He, and my mom who was a den leader, will always be in my heart for they taught me to be the strong, honorable and compassionate person I am. 

  • Jack

    I too was an Eagle Scout, in the 1950’s.  I support BSA’s principled–and prudent–judgment in this matter.

    Most of us, including the present writer, have gay acquaintances; for them this remains a difficult message.  Given the highly sexualized nature of contemporary society, and the basic need for human affection, we should, I think, be sympathetic to many of their concerns.  One way to show appropriate sympathy in this instance is to recognize various ways in which gays and lesbians (the vast majority of whom, after all, are not predators) can and do contribute to the development of young people–e.g., as teachers, choirmasters, and even, no doubt, as scouting merit badge advisors.

    Quite apart from prudential concerns, what a gay man cannot do is serve as a reliable model for boys as they grow into possession of their mature manhood, especially the sexual dimension.

    • Tout

      I see gays and lesbians as a sickness. They must try to heal themselves. I congratulate the boy-scouts for their stad.

  • Sr

    I am pleased to remind all of the readers that we are forever being labeled homophobic for what is, in my mind an irrational description.. The true phobia is that GLBT’s are HETEROPHOBIC. It is obvious and certain that with their VERY low percentage within the population, GLBT’s should be receiving therapeutic treatment. A man is a man, a woman is a woman; genetics clearly gives us the absolute ” truth”in this matter. What one “feels ” regarding what sex one is in this matter is an absolute “lie”.

    Thank you BoyScouts of America for upholding the Truth.

  • Matthew Roth

    I support BSA’s decision. (I am a Life Scout, and hope to become an Eagle Scout this year…)

  • Catlaughter

    Now if we could get the Girl Scouts to boot out Planned Parenthood and work on allowing girls to be girls it would be a good thing. All children need a safe enviroment and should be allowed to be children.

  • Ptice

    Imagine a leader showing up at a cold camp out with no sleeping bag and one innocent young scout offering to share his. Now imagine the horror for that boy, to wake in the middle of the night to find this man groping his genitals. That boy was me. True story. The year was 1966. Resulted in a police investigation, but no charges, although he was banned from scouting forever. Never give in. The young are too precious to have memories like these burned into their minds forever. I stand with you!

  • GrahamCombs

    Many years ago after attending a concert a small art gallery in an overgrown and nearly deserted neighborhood in Detroit, we drove past the city’s Boy Scout Headquarters.   A modern steel and glass box set in a green and well-kept lawn.   As a  local paper reported, the BSA  had a special portfolio  for the legion of fatherless black boys and young adults in Detroit.  The building looked like some craft from another world come to visit, perhaps rescue, certainly to care for the boys of the city.   South East Michigan has a large, highly-organized, and well-funded lgbt community and the attacks have  begun.    The Human Rights Campaign called the BSA decision a loss of a “collossal opportunity.”  Opportunity to do what?  Is there no aspect of American life they cannot leave alone?   My question for the HRA:  even within the context of their world view, is there nothing like sexual morality?  I don’t have to strain imagination to see their response. And it would be as much facial as aural. Why would they want to be part of an institution whose whole spectrum of civic values, moral values, and religious beliefs make them laugh? Is there not a single journalist in America with the intelligence AND courage to ask them that question? Do they want to belong to the or the NRA? or Daughters of the Confederacy? or the Klan? or some white supremicist group? Given the vigor and expense of their efforts in recent decades, it is entirely reasonable to wonder whether the subculture that developed in the priesthood was an entirely intentional and organized effort on the behalf of gay rights.

    And will the Bishops’ Conference issue one of the unending series of en banc declarations; this time in support of the BSA’s decision? If ever there was a social justice issue involving the future of American boys this is it.

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  • Tony

    Dr. Crag,
    I was a member of Troop 37 in that “small mill town” in South Carolina, and retain fond memories of playing capture the flag in the woods, learning Morse Code, earning merit badges, and even attending summer camp (somewhat charmingly called “Camp Old Indian.” Thank you for the memories.