Bravo for the Boy Scouts; Boo for the Washington Post

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.

This article was originally published on under a Creative Commons Licence.

Robert R. Reilly


Robert R. Reilly is the author of The Closing of the Muslim Mind (ISI Books). He is writing a book on the natural law argument against homosexual marriage for Ignatius Press.

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  • jk4dios

    Indeed, bravo to the Scouts! With three grandsons in the program, their father an Eagle Scout himself, I am both proud and relieved with thus decision. Roll on!

  • Tout

    To all boy-scouts:I made my promise in 1932.Scouting is for life, not just entertainment for youngsters. At age 82 I started a yearly procession, where there was none in this city of 115.000 people. My poor efforts were strengthened in 2008 by a lady who took over, did a much better job,people praying,singing,carrying big Mary-statue to church for Mary-crowning. I pray openly at a Mary-statue downtown and hang sign “Whether glad,sad or wary,stay a while, say a Hail Mary”.Some pedestrians come and touch the statue. And more public actions. Prayed in  Turnhout (Belgium)in 2004 at Sacred Heart-statue on the big center plaza.Statue was in very bad shape,held together with 5 metal bands.Back in Canada,I wrote to 100+people & the Mayor there; it had to be repaired. Was fully repaired in2006.  I returned,prayed again at the new statue,alone. “Once a scout,always a scout”.A very fine method to act doing good to others. Doing good includes praying, indoors and outdoors.

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  • Nick Childers

    Read the parts about sex abuse in the Boy Scouts on pages 17 to 18.

    Then you’ll know why open homosexuals aren’t allowed in the Boy Scouts.

  • Lauren

    This article makes me sad. I can’t believe that the writer compares homosexuality to drunkenness, as if that is a perfectly logical and legitimate comparison. I understand that people have different beliefs on the topic of homosexuality, but this shows a terrible misunderstanding of the topic. Don’t you see that calling it “inherently immoral” is your opinion? And I’m not talking about moral relativism here, I’m talking about the fact that people ARE born this way, and that it is not an immoral choice but a completely innate characteristic of the self.

    • Dan

       Dear Lauren:

      Where do I begin?

      Lauren, homosexuality is a vice, a mortal sin, an unnatural act and – sadly – a choice.  No one is “born” a homosexual and if you believe that they are you are allowing yourself to be seduced by a very clever disinformation campaign which has been active for several decades.  Forgetting that it is the ultimate insult to God (and, as such, designated by the Church as one of the four sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance) it is quite simply unnatural.  That means that not even dogs engage in such behavior.  Or monkeys.  Or mosquitoes.  When one man places his generative organ into another man’s execratory one he is acting unnatural.  And he will eventually contract serious diseases (like Hepatitis-B for one) by such behavior.  I mean, what else can I say?

      We are not born rapists, child molesters, drunks or felons.  We choose these things.  We must stop allowing ourselves to be conned by such weasel-terms as “sexual orientation”, a phrase cooked up out of thin air just for this occasion, the occasion of trying to put a veneer of respectability on the most unspeakable of actions.  Dear Lauren, you need to read, to acquaint yourself with human history; you do not need to get your knowledge from Washington or Hollywood.

      If you want to feel sorry for homosexually-disturbed people by all means do so.  But don’t pretend they are merely “different”.  And if you really, truly want to help them, indeed to save them from serious illness and death, then help them out of this horrifying life they are living.  That is true charity to these wretched souls.  It is not charity to say nothing or to encourage their wallowing in unnatural vice.  Tell them, like One said before us, “Go and sin no more.”

      Finally, Lauren, people don’t have “different beliefs” about the subject of sodomy.  They are either right or wrong.  On such a subject as that there is no middle ground.

      • Magister Christianus

        Dan, I do not know who you are, but this is perhaps the best statement on the issue that I have ever read. It is short, clear cut, and to the point. Right and wrong are not matters of opinion. There is such a thing as objective truth. Fortunately, that truth became incarnate and walked among us.

        Robert, your article is also right on the money. Bravo indeed to the Boy Scouts. Yes, they are coming under the same attack as Dan Cath of Chick-Fil-A, but this is to be expected. We must rally around those who stand for the truth.

        • Jack Isaacks

          Dan and Magister, how many people do you know who CHOOSE to be homosexuals?

          Since when do we get to choose our temptations.

          Believe it or not, homosexuals can be chaste, or even virginal, just as heterosexuals can be.

          BTW, the Supreme Court has ruled sometime in the last 20 years that the BSA is a private organization, and can admit or exclude whomsoever it wishes. However, that means that as a private organization, it is not entitled to public funds or gratis access to publicly funded facilities, such as schools.

      • Ontheroad1

        You are correct in you response.  Like many things in life they are choices, for which we have to accept or reject.  That is the choice.  As a recovering alcoholic I have a choice everyday to stay sober or get drunk.  Behavior, is a choice and without moral beliefs, or misconceptions on what is right or wrong, will determine whether we see the full picture.  Very good answer.  I just hope people will stop being political correct and call it what it is.

  • zjohn

    I am proud of the Boy Scouts of America; I always have been. An Eagle Scout myself, I often say that the best quality of the Boy Scouts is the fact that the organization never really “secularized,” so to speak. It fills me with joy to see a public, non-religious organization that still stresses the importance of faith and reverence (A Scout is Reverent, the twelfth and final point of the Scout Law). At any Boy Scout camp, not only can scouts and scoutmasters pray before their meals openly, but the staff often lead the prayer, and even if it is just a staff meal, still pray (I was a camp counselor for one year). Regarding the issue of homosexuality, I am glad they will not tolerate that behavior. Whether or not someone is “born that way,” I will not take a stance. As Fulton J. Sheen said, “tolerance is for persons but never for ideas; intolerance is for ideas though never for persons.” As a Christian, there is no way I can justify acts of homosexuality, no matter how badly someone feels inclined to perform them. I am also glad that the Boy Scouts are sticking to the principles of their founder, Lord Robert Baden Powell. One last point: great article. It says so many things I’ve thought but never understood how to say. God Bless.

  • Family8

    I tried to comment on the Post article.  I politely (no name calling or inappropriate tenor) noted that various realities exist to demonstrate that homosexuality is a disordered behavior.  My comment was censored although a few replied before the moderator was able to perform his/her censoring.  The realities I referenced (and cited in response to one of my responders) are scientific, fact-based information about the dangers to one’s health… this is the reality that is entirely censored in our country’s dialogue.  You are not permitted to speak it.  The dangers are real but we must not say anything at all against the lifestyle.  No authentic dialogue is possible right now, I believe.  I’m not sure the solution but we can support the Boy Scouts and other organizations with our membership, donations etc. to try and keep the door open for individuals to hear the truth.

  • RuthS

    Lauren and Dan,
    Thank you for bringing up this issue Lauren and Dan your eloquent response. I at one time in my life when I was 18 was employed by the Girl Scouts of America as a camp counselor in the 60’s at a summer camp. There I was exposed to adult exhibitionism and homosexuality. I was a very underexposed young adult with absolutely zero experience with people of a different sexual persuasion. I was 19, there were children there who came for a girl scout experience. I dealt with a co-counselor who was gay, one who was a dyke (I learned these terms after the fact) the others were like me, innocent and uninformed. We had the gay one jumping on us bodily at every opportunity, and the ultimate desecration she jumped into the bed of one of the campers on the last night of that child’s camp experience. As a stupid teenager I did nothing to stop it and to this day some 40 yrs later I don’t know what happened. I will face God for whatever my inaction took upon that child’s psyche. I understand even now the disbelief that results in no action taken sometimes in these cases. No normal person can understand these deviations, especially perpetrated on a child I find a very blurred line between homosexuality and pedophilia because both seem to stem from an immaturity or arrest in development. I applaude the Boy Scouts for holding to the higher truth and am sad about the Girl Scouts decision to take the politically correct position which only leads to the dissolution of what once was meant to be a woman affirming organization. Too bad so many women have lost their way. 

    • Helgothjb

      That is why my daughters have joined the American Heritage Girls for their scouting!

  • Therese

    I don’t usually jump into the fray of the com boxes, but feel a bit compelled this time.

    People are forever insisting that those with same-sex attraction are born that way, therefore deserving of special protection under the law, and allowing those who call homosexual activity a sin to be labeled as bigots, and so on…

    Let me be a voice of one who USED TO call myself a lesbian, who attended the rallies, who took the stage and screamed the loudest for equal rights and compassion and change. I was certain I’d been born that way and shouted it for all the world to hear.

    Then a rapid series of family deaths caused me to go into seclusion and life reviews and deep contemplation — all quite separate from religion, as I was an avowed agnostic at the time. Life was not to be forever, and what was I doing with mine?

    I’m not sure exactly how, but over the course of a year or so, I changed most of the outward appearances of my life.

    Today, some 10+ years later, I don’t have the slightest bit of same-sex attraction. I find the memories of those 10 years of lesbian life and activism repulsive.

    If someone had told me I’d be writing something like this back in 2000, I would have thought they were insane. I was the protester. I was the one carrying signs in parades. I was the one writing articles — and I was certain I was born a lesbian — CERTAIN.

    Born that way? I don’t think so.

    Bravo, Boy Scouts of America! I’m doing all I can to help my son on his path to Eagle!

    • Amyzkids

      Thank you, Therese for your honesty, I wonder how many others share your story. We will probably never know, as yours is not a story the powers that be are interested in hearing. God Bless you and your family.

  • Jack Isaacks

    What will the BSA do about heterosexual fornication and adultery involving its membership and leaders?

    Don’t kid yourself. It happens.

    • RuthS

      Two wrongs don’t make a right. Hopefully, they like so many other organizations are policing their ranks with a more thorough self examination.

  • Richardmdykstra

    Bigots discriminating against a minority!

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  • Tony

    All right, heterosexual fathers of pubescent sons.  How many of you would be comfortable sending your son into the home of his homosexual scoutmaster, and his lover?  NOT because you believe that the boy will be abused, necessarily, but simply because you do not want that corruption of the boy’s masculinity to enter his consciousness.  You don’t want it presented as an option.  In fact, you want it excluded as an option, so as to help the boy through what can be some very tumultuous and confusing years.  The Post knows well that if it had its way, it would be suicide to the Scouts.  They don’t give a damn. 

  • Ashamed Eagle Scout

    The bible also says that getting a divorce is immoral yet BSA still allows divorcees…