National President Dr. Robert M. Gates addresses BSA National Annual Meeting

The following statement is attributable to the Boy Scouts of America:

During the 2015 Boy Scouts of America National Annual Meeting, National President Dr. Robert M. Gates encouraged the Scouting family to reflect in the days and months ahead on the challenges facing the BSA and potential alternatives for addressing them.

To review Dr. Gates’ remarks, visit Scouting Newsroom or watch them below.

260 Comments

  1. Thanks for the post Bryan. I read Dr. Gates’ remarks and all I can say is WOW! I though
    t we had the right person at the helm; now I’m certain of it.

    • So glad that Scouts may finally do the right thing and end the national ban on openly gay leaders. As a straight, married Eagle Scout father of two boys currently in Scouting, and a troop committee chair, I strongly support Pres. Gates’ call to leave leader selection to individual units. Scouting’s current national ban is in conflict with my own church’s inclusive theology. Also, my former scout pack lost two families with same-sex parents because the parents could not agree to be second-class citizens. (One of those parents would have been an outstanding treasurer!)

    • Let me be the first to call for Mr. Gates to resign as National President.

      • Because men who posses much more superior character to your own dont deserve such a position?

      • Agreed. Mr. Gates has proven himself to be against the moral code of Scouting. I do not know any parent who would allow their son to go camping with a gay Scout leader. Mr. Gates needs to find a different organization.

        • I don’t know any parents who wouldn’t allow their son to go camping with a gay scoutmaster. It’s s almost as if the suggestion that this be controlled by the charter organization shows a knowledge of the actual situation rather than some weird gay agenda.

        • Bill, I have no issue with sending my son with a homosexual Scout leader. I know several gay men who would make wonderful leaders and I wouldn’t hesitate in the least to have my son under their care, on a camping trip or otherwise. I also know straight men (some of whom are/were Scout leaders) that I wouldn’t allow my son to camp with for various reasons.

      • Strongly Agree. This is not the military. Gates should resign. This is nothing more than a political agenda using the Boy Scouts again and again to further gay rights and tear away at the fabric of scouting.

  2. Personally, I am encouraged by this pointed and direct public response to many issues thrown about on the local level, as well as the comment that we need to deal with our political, cultural, and legal issues and move on. Thank you Mr. Gates.

  3. I’m not sure if you will see it here, but: Thank you for your candid speech in all these matters. It is so refreshing and invigorating to hear the truth. I feel more energized about our movement than I have in a long time after reading your address.

  4. I admire Mr. Gate’s frankness about the likelihood that we need to revisit cultural issues sooner than hoped. I am very pessimistic, however, about folks in one part of the country being willing to accept that folks in another part don’t think the way they do.

    However, we should that this is not a primary issue for most older youth who would pass up scouting via the BSA. There are two related things that limit an older youth’s desire to stick around:

    1. Vision. I think the “Build an Adventure” pitch will resonate well with parents of cubs. I certainly use the same pitch with older teens, except I call it “Build Your Own Adventure”. But, “Adventure” in itself is not the #1 concern of older scouts. Jamborees and High Adventure bases are a side-show for 90% of would-be scouts and venturers.

    We need to pitch as “the pinnacle scouting experience” something that should be available to every seasoned youth who sticks with us: acquiring the skills to HIKE AND CAMP INDEPENDENTLY WITH THEIR MATES. Until we do so, many of America’s finest youth will look at our program and say “What’s the point?”

    2. The economics of scouting.

    The price of registration = one less camping night a year for an older youth. We need to figure out how to get that total fee back down to $6/youth member/year.

    Printed materials. Very few hard-copies need to be in full color. Most would be just fine in black-and-white.

    Uniform re-sale. This is a boon to thrift stores. Can we nationalize it?

    I think if the National President and the CSE can address barriers to endeavors like these, we would be far down the road to attracting and retaining youth.

    • The uniform resale is a fantastic idea!!! I work in a Scout Shop and would love to see something to lower the price for parents. Uniforms have gotten so expensive.

    • Resale is an idea and perhaps worth the time for those who perhaps can’t afford to donate their used uniforms. In the meantime every unit should start a uniform closet if they don’t have one. This is a time honored tradition.

      Simply put, the unit accepts in used uniforms and allows families to use that instead of buying new. The biggest drawback that I see in it, is that councils now have a revenue stream in selling newly designed council patches. So perhaps units could buy a number of them to keep one in style for longer. Or encourage people to replace that portion to keep current.

      • K. Not every CO offers a unit space for a closet. I was thinking of a means of direct donations. The donor gets a tax break. National would still sell the service of redistribution of “gently used” uniforms.

    • I was a scout in the nineties and the discriminatory policies were the single hardest part of being a scout for me. Sure, some people thought scouting was dorky, but being part of an organization that was actively discriminatory towards my friends was an example of my being unkind, and disloyal, in order to just have a good time was what was truly hard. I knew that my troop didn’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or religion, but I still felt guilty for being a member, and sometimes still do as a scouter. Especially since we opened each meeting reciting the scout law, in which I truly believed, and still do. And then I did all of this as part of the BSA which clung so strongly to policies in clear violation multiple points of the scout law.

      Maybe not as an 11 year old, but certainly by the time I was 14 until I aged out I recognized the hypocrisy of the BSA and it made it a hard to remain a member.

      I was not alone, these were issues that the boys talked about in my troop. Maybe wherever you are, the straight religious boys don’t care but I promise you that this has been hurting the BSA for years.

      • Thanks for sharing. But, would many more of your friends who were not scouts join the BSA had this standard not have been in place?
        What about the very poor boys in your school?
        What about the boys in high school who thought they could just go hiking and camping anyway?

        Right now, do you have 30 youth who would join a unit if you told them “Hey, we’re cool. We can have homosexual leaders now? Here’s an application … tell your folks and come back with $24! Oh camp-outs? I know you’re in high school and pretty bright, but you gotta have a couple old-farts on site. That’s the deal.”

        I don’t mean to downplay the importance of the issue in the minds of those who want us to promote either a more or a less permissive society, At the end of the day, figuring out the “righteous path” is not gonna do all that much for recruiting and retention. Someone’s gonna live with a little guilt, but we can get over that if boys in the heartland and on the coasts sign up and stick around.

        • Above, you stated that it’s not a primary issue for boys. My comment was only in relation to that portion of it. I know that I was challenged on that issue by friends, and I know that it was a concern for other boys in my troop. It is a primary issue for boys.

        • Well, I wasn’t limiting it to boys, and was specifically not referring to boys in a troop (each of which can be its own little bubble). I focused on “most older youth who would pass up scouting via the BSA”.

          In other words, what does this look like to kids and parents who are outside our bubbles? For that body, changing the membership standards — in any particular direction — will not tip the scales for them. It’s not that I think it isn’t an emotionally charged issue. It is. It’s that *nobody* has come to me and said “You know if this gay/godless hate ends, I’ve got a few youth who are ready to join.”

          I have had a friend who signed his two young boys into Trail Life, but I’m willing to bet that other friends might sign up their boys into Baden Powell Service Association. But most friends if they have the cash, are signing their cubs in and will pay dues until the boys lose interest.

          And why do those boys (and girls) lose interest? Because more of their activities are becoming their own financial responsibility. And because they realize they can do much the same thing on their own without waiting for us leaders to check our vacation time.

        • If you are saying that gay persons are not “righteous,” I must respectfully disagree. But if Pres. Gates’ recommendation passes, you can always find a unit with a chartered organization that agrees with you – and I can find one that is inclusive and accepting for my family to join.

        • No where near as many boys and adult leaders who will quit if the camp outs are led by gay Scoutmasters.

      • If you do not want an organization that teaches young men moral values and obedience to God, join some other group.

  5. A mass exodus will soon happen from conservative church sponsoring organizations. They will chose not to charter a troop rather than be sued. TrailLife USA will be the benefactor of this exodus. The BSA will be hurt extensively by this. TrailLife USA does not have camps, service centers, and professional staff to pay for. The BSA can not compete with this. TrailLife USA does not have a corporate base pulling the purse strings.

    • Kelly, We’ve heard that before. Two years ago in fact. Our Troop of 24 lost one Scout, we now have 27 Scouts. We did get thrown out of our Bible-based Chartering church, but we had 2 other churches within a mile that wanted us and our new church is a much better, more active sponsor. People need to figure out or remember that we ARE NOT a “Christian” organization. We only ask that you believe in God – no religious affiliation required.

      • and our council lost a fair number of charter organizations causing a major scramble trying to find new charter organizations. Several units had to disband due to lack of another carter organization to take the unit in. One unit in my district survived only because another charter organization (a church) decided they would charter 2 packs. The response depends on what part of the country you live in and what the beliefs of your part of the country are.

    • This is currently the advantage of several scouting organizations with either more exclusive or inclusive membership policies. Unfortunately, the gains in membership among these groups is not offsetting BSA’s losses.

      If their membership increases in numbers comparable to BSA’s losses, we will soon have on our hands a loose federation of independent scouting organizations. I wouldn’t expect a mass exodus … only a slow drift towards some kind of equilibrium

    • Mass exodus from “conservatives” if the membership policy changes?

      I’d expect a bigger exodus from “liberals” if the policy doesn’t change.

      As Dr. Gates said “we find ourselves with a policy more than a few of our church sponsors reject – thus placing Scouting between a boy and his church.” I am Christian, I am an Eagle Scout, my church does not condemn homosexuality, the pastor of my church is gay! The BSA’s current stance is at odds with my faith. Our Oath calls upon us to do our duty to God… yet the current membership policy says the leader of my faith community is not doing this and is unfit to be a Scout leader?!?

    • It’s pretty sad when people move away from the Boy Scouts over an issue that has no validity in what we do. We don’t have an Adventure Loop or Merit Badge on orientation. We don’t even talk about it from a leader to scout conversation. There’s no place for it. At the end of the day, we teach in scouting character development and citizenship. Do a good turn daily and service is far different from the culture of me, me, me. I would think if positioned this way, conservative churches would see the value of the Boy Scout movement. As a conservative Christian and an Eagle Scout, I don’t know the story in the bible where Jesus isolated himself from those that believed differently than he did. He taught love and grace. Maybe we should be the same. A Scout is Friendly, Courteous, Kind.

      • It is sad to see a big tent ripping. But for chartered partners who find BSA’s stance to be unconscionable (whatever it may be in upcoming years), they will adopt a membership model that better suits them; and, if their cause is right, they will attract boys and their parents, and everyone will have a great time.

        As for rejoinders to Christians who insist the Church should endorse a permissive sexual culture under the aegis of love and grace, I recommend http://www.robgagnon.net/. Like you said, there’s no merit badge pamphlet for such things, so let’s not bother this blog with the kinds of details.

        However, BSA, though advised by Christians of all sorts, is beholden to folks from many walks of life, so any discussion of what would Jesus do has obvious limits.

      • You’re right. Jesus did teach love and grace. But He also taught, “go and sin no more.”

    • Trail Life will have a ahort lifespan because they are an organization focused on religious bigotry and not the actual scout oath and law. Once you determine what your Eagle equivalent is and have poor kids who earn it put that on your resume….unless you are applying to clergy you will have no chance for a job because adults like yourself are forcing kids into being percieved as bigots…shame on you.

      • The rats are coming out of the wood pile, your right the US is not always right, but one thing I am positive about is that I could care less what you or your gay friends do in Ireland. I doubt your a long time Scout.

      • SJC, your in dream land if you think this would make employers think twice before hiring. I employee thousands of people and if you think that would prevent me from hiring someone your wrong. We hire the best people and we do not judge, however being forced to who to hire, is something that does not sit well with us, kind of like Gates with scouts.

  6. Very nice speech and clearly shows why Dr. Gates is the right man to lead us now. I am also very happy to see the emphasis being placed on Cub Scouting. Although my kids are past that age (one is a Life Scout and the other is a VP in her Crew) the reality is Cubs are the pipeline to the future for the older age groups. Without Cub Scouting there isn’t anything else.

  7. In http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2014/05/23/new-bsa-president-gates-time-for-some-blunt-talk-in-scouting/?relatedposts_hit=1&relatedposts_origin=39753&relatedposts_position=1 , it states:
    “In his first speech to Scouters and Scouts since the 2010 jamboree, the Distinguished Eagle Scout and past president of the National Eagle Scout Association also expressed his support for last year’s membership vote.
    Furthermore, he said he’ll oppose any effort to reopen debate on the issue during his term.”

    Today (5/21/15) there is an article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/22/us/boy-scouts-president-calls-for-end-to-ban-on-gay-leaders.html which states, in part,
    “The president of the Boy Scouts of America on Thursday called for an end to the group’s blanket ban on gay adult leaders, warning Scout executives that “we must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be,” and that “any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement.”

    At the same time, religious organizations that sponsor a majority of local Scout troops, including the Mormons and Roman Catholics, should remain free to set their own policies for leaders, said the president, Robert M. Gates, the former director of the C.I.A. and the former secretary of defense.”

    Will not get into a discussion of the issue, as the two sides will never see eye-to-eye on this. It is just an amazing flip-flop.

    I hope that if any change, he will go to the corporations who gave into pressure groups and pressured us for changes, and say, “OK, we gave in, now give us the money you have been holding back”

    • unfortunately the groups that demand tolerance will never be tolerant of opposing views.

      • Lynn, So we should just “tolerate” your intolerance? I completely accept that you have the right to any view you wish to have on this subject. It doesn’t take away my right to express my view or argue for what I believe is the correct course for the Boy Scouts

        • Liberals will not be satisfied if religious groups are allowed to set their own standards.
          I certainly have to tolerate your intolerance of my views.

      • What could possibly be more tolerant than allowing the chartering organizations to make these decisions?

        • This is what the BSA should have done from the start, but it still wouldn’t change corporations from donating to scouts. I would love to know what the level of Corporate donations look like in the last ten years since diversity and inclusion became big.

      • Lynn, if my UCC church wants to charter a troop and accept outstanding, ethical, moral adults as leaders who also happen to be openly gay, how is that “intolerant” of your views?

  8. Thank God. Leadership at last. If I had a squirt gun, I’d be out in the street shooting it wildly into the air.

  9. Great speech. But …

    “I AM NOT ASKING THE NATIONAL BOARD FOR ANY ACTION TO CHANGE OUR CURRENT POLICY AT THIS MEETING.”

    Why not??? You’re the President – lead!!!

    • The National Executive Board will take this up, but they will once again defer to the majority rule next year at the Annual meeting in San Diego. I’ll be there to vote for that resolution you can be sure. The last vote could have been handled at the Executive Board OR the Executive Committee level, however the Exec Board wanted as much buy-in before a decision as possible, and from a PR standpoint it made sense to put it to a vote of the voting members of BSA. I was happy to vote for the policy change then, and I will be proud to do it next year if I’m seated for my Council.

  10. Mr Gates, while you’re at it, why don’t you just go ahead and erase “mentally awake, and morally straight.” from the scout oath. Your current path will be the end of this great organization.

    • Different religions have different definitions of “morally straight.” Must all Scouts subscribe to your religion’s view on this? Or are we permitted to have our own beliefs? As for “mentally awake,” I don’t see what that has to do with anything.

    • I’m a current scoutmaster, and I’m currently about 80 pounds overweight. I’m not living up to the “physically strong” part of the Scout Oath. Should I bow out of scouting? I have one overweight scout. Should he bow out?

      • Many weightlifters are overweight and yet still ‘physically strong’. Why don’t you lose the weight and set a better example of health for your youth?

        • This answer intentionally avoids the question. Of course he should lose the weight. Should losing the weight be a requirement for his continued service as a scouter?

    • What’s your point? What’s either of those have to do with the membership standards.

  11. Very glad to hear the speech today, and see and hear the general enthusiasm — glad to see that BSA President Gates is seeing the world as it is, and that we’ll allow Chartered Organizations to select their leaders according to their standards.

  12. A year ago as Mr. Gates came on board during his speech then “Gates said, he’ll refrain from pushing the issue in order to go forward with his toughest task: Cooling the simmering debate and recriminations within an organization being pulled apart between its conservative base – many troops are sponsored by Christian churches – and progressive groups like Scouts for Equality.” (24 May14, Science Christian Monitor).

    Here we are less than a year later and he is going back on his word. A Scout is trustworthy and loyal to his word. Early indications are that he may be weak on both.

    • As he mentioned in the speech. We don’t have a choice. Society is changing too quickly and the laws are changing too quickly

      • I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves in making that assumption. Society has not changed as much as the media would have us think. Just because we have a handful of activist judges trying to legislate from the bench, does not mean that the majority of the American public follows suit. And for the record, laws haven’t changed they have been circumvented by the courts acting beyond their constitutional authority; which is why the issue is now before the Supreme Court.

        • 60% of Americans support marriage equality. Today, even a plurality of Republicans recognize the fact that sexual orientation is not chosen. A judge who rules that a law violates the rights of a person is not an “activist.” I deserve full equality under the law, because I am an American citizen who contributes just as much to this nation as anyone else.

          I look forward to the day that the Boy Scout group chartered at my LGBT-affirming, beautiful church is able to let any qualified, upstanding adult serve as a leader in the troop. I also look forward to being able to get back into Scouting, in the hopes of helping young men today have the same great experiences I did when I was a kid.

        • Carter…What about freedom of association. If someone doesn’t want to associate with LGBT why should they be forced to do so?

        • haha, this ‘activist judge’ argument is really getting old. Just because you don’t agree with the majority of SCOTUS doesn’t make them activists, it makes you look like you were wronged some how. Our Constitution was written by very smart men who envisioned it to be a living document, applicable to current life as we know it just as it was applicable those hundreds of years ago. Embrace change, it will do you some good.

    • He’s not ‘going back on his word’, he’s LEADING, and doing a great job of it. He brought the membership, via his speech, the brutal facts we face, and he’s letting everyone know that he must call the question sooner rather than later.

  13. Who would have ever thought Scouting in America would be anything but Christian, void of homosexual members stalking children or other adults ? Women “leading” in Boy Scouts is just another step of liberal emasculation. The Corporate, legal, politically-correct way will eventually dry up all troops and this country. For my three generations of involvement, I say just go ahead and close the doors, the liberals have won another battle in closing traditionally-valued organizations. Churches are next. AT&T needs to go somewhere else to do business and smoke their fags away from our children.
    No more money from our family. It’s a shame to those who have given so much for over 100 years.

    • There are many LGBT Christians, and many LGBT Americans, like me, who grew up in Scouting. I’m proud to be an Eagle Scout. I’m even more proud today. Just because some churches don’t accept the value of their LGBT members and our relationships shouldn’t mean that those churches that do can’t have a Scouting unit where the leadership reflects the values they preach in their church.

      Gay men are no more likely to “stalk children” than anyone else. Your perspective is uninformed, outdated, and stinks of bigotry.

    • Squatch – the BSA is not, and never has claimed to be a Christian organization. We have members from many faith traditions. Religious, yes. Christian, definitely not.

    • Those darn gays and women knocking the Christians scouts down. Must be tough being so isolated all the time.

    • Sasquatch, I have met 100’s of Scout Leaders with widely varying opinions on Scouting subjects and we pretty much respect that everyone is trying to do their best for the program and the Scouts. After reading your post, I have to say “Good riddance”, the BSA and boys a better off without your participation.

    • MT Momma, All you did was state a fact that anyone involved in Scouting should understand – that the BSA is non-denominational, not Christian. Why would anyone need to give a statement of fact a thumbs down?

      • Apparently, Todd, for the same reason that they would chose to give your post a thumbs down. Some people don’t like to let facts get in the way of their perceptions. 🙂

  14. Shame on us all for lowering our standards to encourage enrollment. It is a downward spiral once we begin there is only one conclusion. Do we discriminate. Yes. If not We would not be scouts. We need to remain morally straight. We can still be kind but we don’t have to lower our standards. Other options are available for those do not want to do so. If not we should lower all of the requirements for merit badges because making them easier for everyone would encourage more people to get them. Or lets end the requirement for an eagle project because not everyone has that kind of time and we want everyone to reach the rank of eagle. NO!. I said it before when we lower our standards then we as a group are not justified in calling ourselves Scouts. Lets do our duty to GOD and our COUNTRY and OTHERS. We can and should do that but we need not lower our MORALS to accomplish this. Whats next. Opening the doors to known felons or child abusers because after all they have the right to work too. Lets open it up to women too. I would love to take my wife with me on scout camps. Oh yea……We call that a family outing. Silly me.

    • I am an Eagle Scout, and proud to be one. I worked hard to earn that rank, and did so following the Scout Oath and Law. That I happen to be gay i no way diminishes my status as an Eagle, or the commitment that it took to get to that level. I do my duty to God, my country and others every single day. How dare you accuse my existence as somehow “lowering” Scouting.

      • Wyman, Are you sure you’re involved in Scouting? You’re wife could serve as the Scoutmaster of your Troop. And she certainly can go on Troop campouts. Or was your last Scouting experience prior to 1975?

      • Congratulations on your Eagle, Carter. You have truly embraced the Scout Oath and Law as is evidenced in your writings in this thread. I’d be proud to serve by your side as a unit leader.

    • > We need to remain morally straight.

      My morals tell me that just because a person is attracted to someone that is not an “opposite” gender, does not mean they are a bad person. It does not mean they are not capable of teaching, leading and learning. It does not mean that they are any less than me.

      My morals do not tell me that one has to be “straight” to be a good person.

      “morally straight” has NEVER meant “sexually straight”. Anyone reading THAT into those words is wrong. Your morals MIGHT amount to discriminating against non-straight people, but your morals are not my morals. And in my opinion, your morals, if they discriminate against people based on who they love, suck.

      I also don’t subscribe to the theory of “opposite” gender. Gender is not entirely black or white. Separating people in one of two columns based on gender is not inclusive or accurate.

      Your assumption of inclusion as “lowering our standards” is backward. We’re raising the standards.

  15. I noticed ‘Robert Gates’ was ‘trending’ on social media today and wondered what that was all about. I don’t think anyone is surprised this happened of course and really was inevitable after what happened with the change in the Scout membership policy two years ago.

    A lot of people were unhappy with what happened two years ago, including myself. I thought of quitting Scouts and was looking into comparable alternatives. As I discovered and many of us know, there really isn’t a program of the same caliber of Boy Scouts out there. I also asked my then 11 year old son what he thought. He was having a great time as a new Boy Scout and had a great time in Cub Scouts before that and wanted to stay.

    We also talked about the policy change at out Troop Committee meeting. The Committee wasn’t overly concerned, including our Scoutmaster of 20 years and the Methodist Church that charters us. The Scoutmaster said there had been closet gay Scouts before that and it hadn’t been a problem and people got along fine.

    We didn’t have an exodus of Scouts from our Troop after the new policy was implemented in January 2014 and didn’t have an influx of gay Scouts either. I would imagine you will see the same dynamic if National does indeed change the adult membership policy as Mr. Gates is suggesting.

    So the bottom line here is do what is best for the Scouts and the program. Yes, we may not like it, but let’s work together to make Boy Scouting a better program, rather than tearing us apart.

  16. Let me make sure I have this straight, no water guns and gay boy scout leaders. There was never a problem. The left liberals are wanting more and more and they strong armed BSA into this mindless decision and that’s a fact.
    First child that gets hurt based on this decision, BSA will be hurt for decades and maybe forever. Gates is right by measurement and he should measure himself, since Boy Scout involvement is falling off the cliff.

  17. Dr. Gates has taken over at a critical time in the future of the BSA. I don’t envy him. I do not know how the values and mission of the BSA can be upheld if homosexual membership continues to be allowed for boys and now leadership. In his speech he mentions Duty to God and Duty to Country. There is a reason God is first. “The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and MORAL choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the VALUES of the Scout Oath and Law.”
    The Moral Choices potion of the mission which ties to the Oath language “Morally Straight” flies in the face of all that the scouting movement has stood for this past century. Baden Powell himself said that “There is no religious “side” to the movement. Religion is the whole of it.” Religion and duty to God generates the morals the movement has espoused. The problem is the definition of what is moral is being changed, but not by God. It is being changed by men and governments and countries. Dr. Gates and those who are fighting for the inclusion of homosexuality have lost sight of the mission. The message I hear from the new president is that morality is flexible. Morality is optional. Morality is a luxury in our times that just isn’t affordable anymore. How can a movement like the BSA lead from a position of hypocrisy, violating one of the basic principles and core values it is based on? It is divisive certainly. But it has been divisive in that girls have not been a part of it. Back ground checks are performed on leadership and those who do not pass are not a part of the program. There have always been standards for membership, but if you untie this knot in the fabric of the moral tapestry, it is a matter of time before the whole of it is dismantled and unrecognizable as an organization – at least one that resembles the initial vision and mission it espoused at its onset. The activities and programs are a means to an end and not the whole of it or the core of it. If Dr. Gates said,

    WE CAN EXPECT MORE COUNCILS TO OPENLY
    CHALLENGE THE CURRENT POLICY. WHILE TECHNICALLY
    WE HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO REVOKE THEIR CHARTERS,
    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

    What are the lifelong benefits you refer to Dr. Gates? Many, if not all, of the “lifelong benefits” are available to youth through other civic and community programs. What makes the BSA different is its values and its focus on morality, honesty, and integrity. Take away any of those and it simply becomes another boys club or after school program focused on keeping kids active and out of trouble, not “instilling” values. Morality is a core value of the BSA. Redefining it to anything less than what it has meant from its inception is a slippery slope that will ultimately end in the demise of the program as a religious and values based organization, the very core of its mission.

    • It’s been said many times before whenever this topic comes up, but it bears repeating:
      – “Morally straight”, when it was written into the BSA oath by James West, had nothing to do with sexual orientation.
      – While Scouting and the BSA are based on faith and a duty to God, the BSA is, “absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.” So when my religious organization tells me one thing about homosexuality and yours tells you something different, is the BSA to decide which is moral? Next will they determine whether having bacon for breakfast on a campout is moral? How about beef based on our Hindu members beliefs? There is no uniform belief regarding homosexuality among faith communities any more than there is regarding eating pork or beef. The policy Dr. Gate’s is discussing would allow chartering organizations which believe that homosexuality is wrong to exclude those adults from leadership roles in their units while allowing those who accept homosexuals to serve as adult leaders in units they charter.

    • So apparently God speaks directly to you in defining morality? interesting…

      If you’re spouting that Gays and Lesbians are not moral people, then obviously you’ve never met a moral person. Sexuality does not constitute morality. Sexuality constitutes who we as humans are attracted to, would be intimate with, not our morality.

      Education is the bane of all bigotry and ignorance.

  18. Twist it any way you want, “Morally straight” means just that. I guess you forgot the Scout law or never learned it. This decision was based off of left wing pressure, nothing more as there was not a problem to begin with. Have you ever heard the saying if it’s not broke do not fix it?
    Just like Gates said, you have to look at things how it is and not how you want it, well, this decision has hurt Scouting, thinking otherwise, you are not looking at how things really are.

    • The OP clearly addressed morally straight, and that the BSA does not define those morals. The BSA only requires that each scout have a moral compass and follow their path with their personal morals as a guide. Your duty to God may call you to proselytize against homosexuality but mine does not.

      Mr. Gates clearly explained how things are and how there is a problem that needs fixing. Versed in the Art of War, he also understands it’s a bad use of resources deploying massive expense defending a position that is not core to scouting, and is indefensible in both the judicial and public opinion courts.

      Progress is never easy. I’m glad to see the policy that didn’t appease either side be abandoned sooner rather than later.

    • Indeed, John, the definition of morally straight has not changed. Let’s check the Scout handbook…”Your relationships with others should be honest and open. Respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions and faithful in your religious beliefs. Values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.”

      We can argue over whether it was the Dale case or more recent membership decisions which have harmed the BSA more but the fact of the matter is that James West was not referring to sexual orientation when he added morally straight to the Scout Oath.

      • Based on your rating here, I’d guess that the people here don’t like that you left out the end where it says.

        “Only be attracted to females.”

    • The inclusive membership standards didn’t hurt scouts or Scouting, it hurt those that were opposed to inclusive membership, and who over the years have coopted the BSA as a neoChristian organization, which is most certainly is not.

  19. I worked for the BSA for 25 years, serving on the National Staff and as Council Executive twice. In all those years, the organization could not and did not separate homosexuality from pedophilia. As you well know, women serve in all levels of the BSA. To say that no woman could serve as she might be seen as a predator would be injurious. Someone’s sexuality does not predispose them to predatory behavior.

  20. So if 3 or 4 councils violated BSA policy by hiring gay leaders, and Gates won’t take any action as it would “hurt the boys”; then what about other councils going against BSA and the inevitable membership change, and not allow gay leaders? Gates couldn’t take their charter as it would hurt the boys!!

    My point is I guess now councils can do whatever they like? I’m just sayin.

    • When the NY council hired an Eagle Scout at age 18 who happened to be gay as a staff member for summer camp, the BSA became required by law to NOT DISCRIMINATE based on sexual orientation, among other protected classes such as race, creed, color, RELIGION, or gender. If nothing else, this decision by Dr. Gates And the executive board NOT to proceed with charter revocation for one of the most highly regarded councils, because that would open the door to a myriad of lawsuits that would then be unwinnable, was mostly on practical grounds. Morally, the decision is correct as well.

  21. My point is there was never a problem in the 30 years that I have been involved with Scouts.
    The liberals just want more and more and will do anything to get it.
    When you disagree or not go along with the liberal left, there lies the problem because they will attack anyone who disagrees. So they threaten BSA with lawsuits, money, threats to take away camping area’s and other pressures.
    If you cannot see something wrong with a Boy Scout leader, kissing his boy friend before or after a troop meeting, I cannot help you. You and the whipping boy gates need to re-learn the Scout Oat and Law.

    • I agree, that sex has no place in the Scouting program.

      But if I come to a Scout meeting and say “hey guys, here are some chocolate-chip cookies. My wife baked them last night. Enjoy!” I have not crossed any line of pushing my sex life on the Scouts.

      So what’s wrong with a male leader saying “hey guys, here are some chocolate-chip cookies. My husband baked them last night.”?!?! He’s not kissing his boyfriend in front the Scouts, or talking about what goes on in his bedroom.

      I can stand up at a court of honor with my wife at my side and receive an award (we’re not making out or having sex or doing anything inappropriate)…. but I couldn’t do the same with a male partner at my side?!? Why?

      Yes, sex should stay out of Scouting… but those who don’t fit your definition of what’s an acceptable “lifestyle” have 2 options: (a) hide who they are as a person and “stay in the closet” (not very trustworthy) or (b) not be involved in Scouting.

      Hey, if you really want all Scout leaders to be asexual – we better tell all the male Scoutmasters that have wives (and kids…the direct byproduct of sex) to keep their personal lives “in the closet” and their families out of our faces too. 😉

    • You should really look in the mirror and read this allowed to yourself. “Liberals”?, “The Media”?, I hope you can see that what you’re doing is the exact thing you’re complaining about.

      The BSA is not a Christian Organization. It is not a Republican or Tea Party organization, it is a YOUTH organization, with strong emphasis on duty to God, patriotism, citizenship, ENVIRONMENTALISM, and COMMUNITY SERVICE. (Emphasis on the last two because they’re typically labeled as LEFTIST or LIBERAL by conservatives and right wingers).

      As for kissing a boyfriend or girlfriend after a meeting, what are you afraid of, last I heard Cooties were a toy and not a real health concern..

  22. The argument that not all homosexuals are pedophiles is specious…the fact that there are male pedophiles who prey on boys, by default, makes them homosexual. And for those of you who accuse others of bigotry because they object to the changes and then say that Scouting is better off without them, well, just who are the “tolerant” ones then? Diversity means that folks are going to have differing points of view. That you reject others and their opposing POV clearly identifies you as the bigots.

    The erosion of morals and the desire/lust for money on the part of BSA is at the root of this. Then again, so is the politically correct driven WB courses that preach social marxism (diversity). It was only a matter of time…I know of Gates and what he has wrought in the past…he is pro-homosexual.

    The BSA no longer holds the moral high ground because they are not willing to stand apart from what the amoral society of today demands.

    • You are incorrect. Homosexuality and Pedophelia are 2 (TWO) different things.

      Homosexuality is sexual attraction to or sexual relations with members of the same sex.

      Pedophelia is sexual desire in an adult for a child.

      A man identifies himself as straight and seduces and has sex with a young boy does not make him homosexual, it makes him a pedophile.

      One is a normative innate orientation of a person, the other is a despicable illegal behavior, that you cannot separate the two speaks to your level of education on the matter.

      Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.
      — ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

  23. I knew this day would come. I just didn’t believe Dr. Gates, after his previous statement, would be the one to lead us further into iniquity. So soon he turns his coat and joins the ranks of the homosexual activists. Obviously the man says whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear. Then again, he was head of the CIA, so likely had lots of practice. On the off chance Dr. Gates reads this blog ….

    Dr. Gates, BSA in its arguments during the Dale case, stated the following:

    “Obviously, the Scout Oath and Law do not expressly mention sexuality or sexual orientation. See supra, at 6—7. And the terms ‘morally straight’ and ‘clean’ are by no means self-defining. Different people would attribute to those terms very different meanings. For example, some people may believe that engaging in homosexual conduct is not at odds with being ‘morally straight’ and ‘clean.’ And others may believe that engaging in homosexual conduct is contrary to being ‘morally straight’ and ‘clean.’ The Boy Scouts says it falls within the latter category.”

    Do you understand that, Dr. Gates? BSA said homosexual conduct was neither morally straight nor clean. Yet you apparently believe it is both.

    Dr. Gates, I read several posts on this blog in which people claim their churches do not condemn homosexuality as a sin. I assume yours does not, either. How then, do these “churches” get around Sacred Scripture? Specifically, Romans 1: 26-27:

    “For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error.”

    Dr. Gates, do you understand “shameful” and “unseemly”? Isaiah 5: 20 comes to mind:

    “Woe unto them who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

    Ah, but believing the Bible is “bigotry” is it not? It would seem so.

    “Scouting is not Christian,” say the revisionists. Yet Baden Powell himself is said to have called Scouting, “applied Christianity.”

    Dr. Gates, by your own admission, some councils have defied National policy. Yet National dares not revoke their charters. Tell me if I am wrong, sir; BSA fears the loss of the members, which will result in loss of income. Revocation of charters would lead to an even more drastic drop in the amount of corporate dollars donated to BSA. Is it really is all about the Benjamins?

    I put a lot of years, dollars, and sweat into this organization. I thought BSA stood for something. BSA has caved on a part of the Scout Oath; a significant deviation from its historical basis. In your speech, you caution the National Council about atheists challenging the Duty to God. Well, sir, back when BSA first went gay there was plenty of talk by atheist groups that they would be the next to get in to BSA. You seem to think they will go away if active homosexual adults are permitted to join BSA. I suspect this will only embolden and encourage the atheist groups to resume their efforts to infiltrate BSA.

    As I wrote in the previous paragraph, I’ve put a lot of myself into this organization. And I have watched weak-willed characters change it into something recognizable as almost Scouting, but not quite. You say you want to preserve Scouting. But which Scouting do you want to preserve? The Scouting you and I grew up with? Or the “gay is okay” – “don’t squirt anyone with a water pistol” – “no towers over six feet tall” – mommified, helicopter parenting version being sold today?

    You say want to make the full change to accommodate the homosexual activists “sooner rather than later.” You told us you would not revisit this issue. You appear to have gone back on your word to us. Is that Trustworthy? Or perhaps are you cutting your conscience to fit the season’s style?

    Let me finish this with a memory from days gone by. Do you remember the original Twilight Zone series? Rod Serling, the unforgettable theme music? Do you perchance remember the episode entitled Still Valley? Watch it. Unlike Sergeant Paradine, BSA has made a deal with the Devil.

    • Firstly, we are the “Boy Scouts of America”… not the “Boy Scout of the Bible” or the “Boy Scouts of Christianity.” The morals and values of program should align with the morals and values of the country. Times are a changin’, look at the many examples Dr. Gates cited for major change in the country in just the past few months.

      And secondly, yes, we do have a “duty to God,” but there are many faiths out there (not all following the writings of Romans or Isaiah, which you quoted here; and many that do, don’t apply the same interpretation of the text). A Scout is reverent – he respects the beliefs of others. As Dr. Gates mentions, many faiths support homosexuality (or at least don’t support discrimination towards homosexuals) — which puts being a Scout in conflict with a Scout’s “duty to God.”

      • Matt, before I attempt to respond to your post, I need a little information, if you would do me the favor. Would you explain your interpretation of men burning in lust for one another? How about men with men working that which is filthy? Some translations use the word “unseemly.” To what does that passage refer, in your view?

      • Matt, you are wrong about morality and BSA. It is not that the morals and values of BSA should align with those of the country; one purpose of BSA is to improve the morals and values of the country by training youth to carry the values of BSA into the society at large. This is what so many people do not understand. BSA is not a mirror of society, it is supposed to improve society. When Dan Beard wrote about “flat chested cigarette smokers” hanging around on city street corners, was he approving their indolence, unhealthy habit, and lack of physical fitness?

        • What sort of crazy are you talking about here? And I thought you were leaving Scouting for good after the last membership standard change, how’d we all get so lucky to have you hear spouting your neonazi rhetoric?

        • I decided to stay and enrich the lives of you and your fellow travelers. Every time you put on the uniform, remember, I’m wearing it, too. So yes, lucky you.

          That “neonazi” insult was a very low blow; but given that our own sins are not forgiven unless we forgive others, I forgive you. In fact, I shall add you to my prayers. Will you add me to yours?

        • Ummm. Yesterdsy I think you’ve demonstrated that your version of Christianity doesn’t jibe with mine. My god will most likely forgive you for being an idiot but I will hold you accountable for any young life you harm. Live your life in whatever vacuum you see fit but leave our young people alone.

        • This is for Matt F // May 31, 2015 at 11:26 pm //

          Matt:

          There have been many disagreements, and some of them quite heated, over how National or a Council have implemented a policy or guideline. I have seen them and even been part of one or two. However, your comment to Yesterday’s Scout “My god will most likely forgive you for being an idiot…” is really not the way for one Scouter to act/say to another. You may disagree but do so respectfully and that was not.

          What I have seen over the course of the last two years, is that a number of Scouters have taken the level of discourse to a new lower level, one that I have not seen in my 30 years, and it has only happened with the change in youth membership.

          Matt, if you are the Scouter you say you are, IMHO you owe him an apology. You can disagree but in a backhanded way, you have insulted and demeaned him.

  24. I thought Gates was a poor DCI and SecDef. He has proven with this speech that he’s a poor choice as Scouting President.

    • maybe for TeaParty Scouts, but for the BSA, he’s the right person for the job. We’re lucky to have someone of his caliber and ethical thinking at the helm during this time in history.

  25. Just as I didn’t leave this country when the current administration came in, in spite of its many bad decisions, I will not leave BSA now.

    BSA needs many to stand for what is right, rather than what is perceived as popular. The ban is on “avowed” homosexuals, and I believe that to be those promoting the homosexual “lifestyle” – I am sure we have had many leaders that did not mention their choice – that is right, I said choice. I can choose to be honest or dishonest, caring or non-caring, stern or forgiving. I can choose how I act around the scouts. S

    exuality is not part of Boy Scouts. No matter what the activists are trying to do, Sexuality is not part of Boy Scouts.

    I’m not sure the next threat is from atheism – the Girl Scouts (of which I and my wife, opposite sexes, in spite of my first name, were proud to be leaders in the 80’s) have recently allowed “trans-gendered” boys to be members. Now that this battle is almost won in BSA, I’m afraid the next will be this issue – don’t you know that that will be an ifun to work out with Venturers on a campout.

    I ask Scouts during a BOR what is, to them, the most important aspect of the Scout Law, and why….many say “trustworthy”, because all of the other elements seem to be based on it – I’d like to ask our Key 3 the same question, in view of a pledge by this President that he would not raise this issue again. Is there something behind the scenes that is causing this reversal, other than wanting the CEOs he meets to “like” him.

    The “gay” activists have got to get over their hetero-phobia. I am not homophobic, I just see it as an unacceptable lifestyle, based on the writings of my religion. I also see the following as unacceptable lifestyles – untrustworthy, disloyal, unhelpful, unfriendly, discourteous, unkind, disobedient, uncheerful, unthrifty, cowardly, unclean, and irreverent.

    • Nobody wants to make “sexuality a part of Boy Scouts.” Current Scoutmasters are sexual people, as well. Is their sexuality a part of the program? I hope not.

      I am an Eagle Scout, and I am gay. I did not choose to be gay. But I did come out as gay, because that’s what the values and morals I learned, in part from Scouting, in part from my parents, in part from my Christian beliefs, compel me to do. How does being gay make me untrustworthy? Or disloyal? Or unhelpful? Or unfriendly? Or discourteous? Or unkind? Or disobedient? Or uncheerful? Or unthrifty? Or cowardly? Or unclean? Or irreverent?

      Just because I wouldn’t be accepted by *your* church doesn’t mean I’m not accepted by mine. Or are we going to reframe Scouting so that only those whose churches align with the morality of your religion are allowed to be connected to Scouting?

  26. If the laws are changing this much then my future is looking up! I alas a man have a chance to become the president of the National Organization of Women, as a Caucasian the President of the Black Panthers and so many other organizations that have rules in place that bar me from entry. This is a great day!

  27. Clearly, Mr. Gates is giving in to the Liberal pressure, this will divide BSA much more that the bad decision from 2 years ago. Gates has put God and his Word aside. Christian Scouts need to put God first, BSA second. It is very clear that Homosexuality is an abomination to God, that is the worse type of sin, certainly not morally straight by any sane way to define it. In America, you are free to believe any thing you wish, but someday you’ll answer directly to God. Packs and Troops in our state have shrunk post the last membership decision, this will push out more scouts as the vast majority are Conservative Christians, only a very small percentage of Americans are homosexual.

    • What about the Christian churches that don’t like the current policy and want to allow gay men or women as Scout leaders or on the committees?

      • How do those “churches” avoid contradicting Scripture?

        Romans 1: 26-27. “For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error.”

        Does this or does this not indicate that the Christian view of homosexual conduct is that it is viewed as shameful and against nature and unclean?

        Matthew 24: 11. “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall seduce many.” Other translations use “lead many astray” or “deceive many” or “mislead many” but the intent is clear.

        Many (schools, media, “churches”) are teaching our children that homosexuality is natural, wonderful, and something to be accepted, desired, and emulated. What can we say about that? Not much really except Matthew 18: 6:

        “But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Other translations use “stumble” or “fall” or “fall into sin” but you get the idea. Do you know who said that? Do you want to take a guess?

        • Do you also follow these?
          Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material – Leviticus 19:19
          Do not boil a kid in its mother’s milk – Exodus 23:19
          I hope you don’t shave:
          Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard – Leviticus 19:27

          Or if we only want to follow the new testament, no one is allowed two coats as long as someone has none:
          Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same – Luke 3:11

          You like the book of Matthew (5:33-37)?
          “Again you have heard that it was said to them of old, Thou shalt not forswear thyself: but thou shalt perform thy oaths to the Lord.
          But I say to you not to swear at all, neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God:
          Nor by the earth, for it is his footstool: nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king:
          Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
          But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil.
          But I say unto you, Swear not at all”

          the oath and law are against your “Christian View”

          Remember: Do not at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own?

        • Patrick, don’t forget my favorite: Proverbs 23:2 “And put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony”.

        • I’m sure you realize that Bible scripture has no bearing on Boy Scout policy. The BSA is strictly nondenominational.

        • Patrick, I am tempted to try to explain to you the Pauline Dispensation, but I have doubts you’ll understand. Speaking of temptation, read Matthew 4: 1-11. Even the Devil can quote Scripture when it suits his purpose. The fact that you believe the Scout Oath and Scout Law contradict Christianity leaves no room for discussion.

        • I clearly do not believe that the oath and law contradict Christianity, but if you are consistent that the inclusion of something in the bible means it is automatically right, then you should. Instead of saying that even the devil can quote scripture I gave examples of passages you were unlikely to take as gospel.

          I wasn’t arguing that the bible was wrong, but that each of us picks the parts we emphasize. For me, I try to make it the message of love and acceptance that is reiterated in the reverence of the scout law.

    • John, you state that, “Christian Scouts need to put God first, BSA second.” Putting aside for the moment that not all Christian Scouts would agree with your particular brand of Christianity, what about non-Christian Scouts? You are aware, I hope, that the BSA is not limited to Christians but anyone who professes a belief in god (as they understand him/her/them), be they Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or any other faith. Since Hindu and Buddhist Scouts, in particular, don’t worship your God, why should they be governed by your interpretation of that God’s feelings of sin and morality?

  28. There are two BSA’s. One is the corporate office, with Gates, and national, who live and die by sponsors, money, etc.

    The other BSA is owned by the Scoutmaster. He is the guy on the ground, he and his scouts are a team. I tell my scouts; we eat the same food, hike the same hike, camp in the cold and heat. When your tired I’m tired, when your cold, I’m cold, but we will do this together as a Troop.

    The Scoutmaster sets the standards. I use the standards from 1910, not 2015. In 105 years, the definition of “morally straight” has not changed, regardless of how much money is involved. It’s non-negotiable!!!

    I say at Troop level, disregard national, and do what you know is right.

    • You seem to be advocating what Gates is advocating. That is to say, to have the local chartering organization set the policy for adult membership in this area.

    • I seriously doubt you ‘scout’ they way they did in 1910. If you did that today you’d be held on charges of child endangerment. the fact is it IS 2015, times HAVE changed, Scouting HAS changed with it over the years whether you think it has or not.

      Now, being a Scoutmaster myself, I can understand your commitment to the boys, and that’s where it should be. Morally straight means just that, and morality is an ever changing target in all societies (well, modern societies, the ones that are current and relevant). You can’t bury your head in the sand, and you’re not doing those kids any good by doing so. They need to be able to handle life in the here and now, not closed off in a bubble.

      Our kids, your kids, deserve to be given the gift of knowledge and discernment. they should be able to make those moral and ethical decisions in 2015, not 1910. They need to know how to navigate the world as it is, not as we want it to be – stole that from Gates…

      not saying you’re so off base that we can’t agree, but think you should do your youth a service and help prepare them for the real world.

  29. As I stated, you can believe whatever you wish to, but do you think God recognizes those churches that do whatever they want to. They like to be called Christian, but they are not living as such.

    • If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?

      It still has 4 – calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one
      -Abraham lincoln

    • So now churches have to agree with your interpretation of Scripture in order to be “Christian.” I didn’t realize that Pope Francis was involved in Scouting and posted on this board.

  30. I was at Nat’l Camp School at Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch in 2013 with people from all over the country the week the decision was made to allow gay Scouts. When the results of the vote to allow gay youth were announced at dinner, 90% of the room applauded. The only ones not clapping were a few old dinosaurs my age (52) or older. The younger generation gets it, doesn’t give a dam- about someone’s sexuality and the Boy Scouts will be fine in the future because of it. In fact, given that outside of a few states that have places with names like Possum Holl’r most people not give a dam-.

  31. I do not believe this story. Just by the comments made here, if you cannot see the damage this decision made to BSA, you need to get your brain checked.
    Again, this never was a problem, the liberals wanted the throw their weight and BSA sold for everything Scouts stand for.
    When first Scout get hurt by this decision, it will be all over the news and the end of Scouting as we know.

    I was at Nat’l Camp School at Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch in 2013 with people from all over the country the week the decision was made to allow gay Scouts. When the results of the vote to allow gay youth were announced at dinner, 90% of the room applauded. The only ones not clapping were a few old dinosaurs my age (52) or older.

    • This doesn’t have to do with “liberals.” Though, it should be noted that liberals are completely welcome in Scouting, and always have been. Or do we also need to push out “unacceptable” political opinions?

      This has to do, mostly, with the fact that gay people, including those of us for whom Scouting was a major and positive part of our lives, not being willing to lie about who we are anymore. We’re not going to be pushed out of the organizations that matter to us, that we have been involved with, and that we have contributed to (and benefited from).

      There are gay kids in your Troop. There always have been. There always will be. You’ve interacted with gay Scoutmasters and adult leaders. The difference between you and me is, you want those kids and adults to break the Scout Law and lie about who they are, and I think that we should accept anyone who is willing to live by the Scout Oath and Law.

      The BSA is filled with people who do not live up to your religious ideals. Many of them pray to deities you believe are “false gods”. Presuming that you’re Christian, every Jewish kid in your Troop denies the divinity of Christ, a flagrant violation of your faith’s precepts. Some religious people think divorce is verboten, others think it is acceptable. Some religious people are pro-choice, some are not. Some religious people think gay relationships can be affirmed, others think they must be condemned.

      Is Scouting going to take a “proper moral position” on every contentious issue, and kick out all of those who fail to tow the line? Do we have you handle all that paperwork for us?

    • John, that was Gate’s point. The society is changing and a lot faster than we old folks thought it would.

    • John, I can’t help what you believe, the story is true. And as for the 90% figure, it tracks right along with the fact that over 90% of Scouts just shrugged their shoulders when the policy changed and got on with Scouting. And since you decided to call me a liar, I will point out how stupid people like you are for not understanding that there have always been gay Scouts and leaders – the only difference now is we would know who they are. Or do you feel safer somehow if you don’t know? It’s called rational thought – try it some time.

      • Perfect example of the liberals thinking, when someone disagrees, personal attacks, all part of the left wing plan. I do understand that there were always gay scouts and leaders and it was never a problem.
        This decision did hurt scouts and the BSA sold out to liberals…. That is a fact and I anyone with a brain would also doubt your story.

        • So you can call him a liar, but he can’t call you stupid. You can denigrate all “liberals” as if we are some sort of lecherous, treacherous force trying to destroy the BSA (which I, and many other liberals, and many other gays, love). Got it.

    • John, I just reread your post and you not only called me a liar, you said I need to get my brain checked. Then in a later post you take offense that I called you stupid? Look up the definition of hypocrite – it might have your picture.
      BTW – What damage did the last decision cause? 3-4% of Scouts left over it. That means 96-97% stayed and didn’t care. Do we cater to the 3-4 %?
      And I am hardly a liberal. I mostly vote independent or Republican (although that is getting harder), I own 8 guns, hunt, fish, married 32 years, raised 3 sons, pro-life Catholic, was in the military, etc.
      So try again.

      • Todd, the Catechism of the Catholic Church has three paragraphs concerning homosexuality that you should read. And read all three. And check out the Scripture verses cited in the footnotes.

        • Yesterday, The Catechism of the Catholic Church has no bearing on the policies of the BSA. Why don’t you try reading the BSA’s “Declaration of Religious Principle”. The Catholic Church says that gays are to be treated with dignity, how is assuming they are all pedophiles treating them with dignity?

        • The Catechism should have a bearing on your life, since you identified yourself as Catholic. Yes, the Catechism says homosexuals should be treated with dignity. It also says homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” … “grave depravity” … “contrary to natural law” … “under no circumstances can they be approved” … so what is your question?

      • Yesterday, Guess what. I don’t believe everything the following people/org./books say: Republicans, Democrats, the Catholic Church, The Bible, the press, you, Etc.
        It’s called thinking for yourself. Try it. It doesn’t really hurt. Or just go ask your preacher what to think. That’s the default choice of way too many people in this country.

        • The world has made it were people are so afraid to be politically correct, that most people will not speak. It is sick, gross and wrong for this to be force down on the Scouts in order to do so.
          When you break it you own it and Gates now owns it, nothing will change that. One thing for sure he will not leave BSA better than he found it.

          Of course real leaders do the right thing regardless of pressure, it’s just real leaders are hard to find these days.

        • Todd, whether you believe me or you do not believe me is irrelevant to anything. Whether you believe the teachings of the Church to which you claim to belong is relevant to this discussion. You identified with a religious body to add weight to your previous statements. Now you write that you don’t believe everything “your” Church teaches. Are you really a member of that Church? Or do you only identify as a member of that Church. You also claim not to believe the Bible. You really need to decide what you actually do believe, and to which religious body you should affiliate, if any. Then, once you have clarified to yourself exactly what you do and do not believe, come back and we can have a discussion.

        • What? Think for yourself? how does that work exactly? Perhaps step by step, use pictures and lots of colors so the ‘learners’ don’t get bored too quickly.

  32. Let’s just get this over with as quickly as possible, so that everyone can move on in whatever direction they think best. As they should have done two years ago.

    • Dan, Exactly, anyone who thought this wasn’t going to happen was deluding themselves. Granted I thought it would take about 5 years. But it will happen, and best to do it and move forward doing Scouting. And this change will make as much difference as the one two years ago. None.

      • The difference is now BSA condones homosexuality as “ethical” and “moral” whereas only a couple of year sago BSA argued in court (and won) that homosexuality is “not morally straight” and “not clean”.

      • It had a terrible effect. 6% drop in membership instead of the usual 1.5% drop. My Council experienced 10+% drop in FoS donations. Those stats will get worse when National announces 2 gays taking 4 teenage boys into the wilderness for 2 weeks is A-OK.

  33. The only problem with Mr. Gates’ proposal is that CORs who keep an anti-gay leader policy will not want their Scouts and leaders to associate with units from chartered organizations that have an inclusive policy (or no policy). That will create chaos in the Order of the Arrow and hurt the organization at every level. Units will stay away from camporees so that they won’t have to associate with gay leaders. Anti-gay district and council volunteers will refuse to attend meetings with gay leaders. Anti-gay chartered organizations will refuse to work with gay District Executives. And then we’ll have to go through this a third time when National realizes that all chartered organizations will have to accept gay leaders.

    • O/A is pretty much an individual activity, not a unit activity. If a unit doesn’t want to participate in a camporee or council camp that would be their choice. I don’t see many taking that road though.

      Volunteers who don’t want to associate with others on committees can opt not to attend the meetings. I don’t see that there would be many of those either. As we have all known for a long time, there are all types of adults already in Scouting. When we meet in committee we talk Scouting, we don’t talk about their family relationships (or divorces, affairs, etc.)

      • I hope that is the case. But I fear that COs will instruct the Scouts, parents, and leaders in their units to stay away from OA meetings and activities and multi-unit events because of the possibility of contact with an openly gay adult leader. As for committees, well, now we’re talking about associating with _openly_ gay leaders, and that puts a different spin on things — then the individual has to choose. If any units or members opt out of broad-based events — even summer camp — because of this, it hurts the organization as a whole.

        • Dan, BSA planted the seeds of its own destruction when it abandoned ‘Morally Straight” for political correctness. This is the issue that is already serving as a wedge that will eventually fracture the organization. BSA argued in court that homosexuality was neither morally straight nor clean, won, and then threw it all away.

        • As I have said before, I believe that by promulgating the anti-homosexual policy and defending it all the way to the Supreme Court — where BSA won — the organization had essentially made a contract with its members that it would uphold and defend that policy. The sudden turnaround in 2013 breached that contract.

          BSA had other means to offer an inclusive Scouting program — it had already set its own precedent by splitting Exploring in 1998, with part of it (Venturing) remaining on the membership restrictions side, and Exploring moving to the fully-inclusive Learning for Life. BSA is building on that precedent with STEM Scouts, even going so far as calling that LFL program a Scouting program and using the Scout Oath and Law. There is no reason that BSA could not have added additional variety to the organization, with one branch keeping the anti-gay and Declaration of Religious Principle membership restrictions intact, while another branch offered fully inclusive Scouting programs, and with each branch free to innovate and find its own future.

          Instead, BSA started us down a path that has only one destination. For me personally, I firmly believe that BSA has to offer such an inclusive program and should have done so long ago. But I am exasperated with how the matter was and is being handled, and that BSA’s ham-handed approach unnecessarily broke faith with a large portion of its members and supporters.

        • In this case, Dan, I agree with you. BSA could have started another program, Gay Scouts, Rainbow Scouts, Scouts for All, Inclusive Scouts, whatever. BSA chose not to. Instead, BSA has decided to try to normalize homosexuality. I hope they’re happy down in Texas. Fire up the barbecue, brew some sweet sun tea, and get the fiddles and the banjos playing, It’s gonna be a real fandango from here on out.

  34. Not just Scouts

    “So you can call him a liar, but he can’t call you stupid. You can denigrate all “liberals” as if we are some sort of lecherous, treacherous force trying to destroy the BSA (which I, and many other liberals, and many other gays, love). Got it.”

  35. I am so sick and tired of people playing the morally straight card. Who sets your morals? There are some churches that believe that drinking alcohol is immoral, so now all you out there that like to have a glass of wine is immoral. Some churches believe that divorce is immoral, so now all you people that have been divorced are immoral.

    We all need to read what the scout handbook says what morally straight means. “Your relationship with others should be honest and open. Respect and defend the rights of people. Be clean in your speech and actions and faithful in your religious beliefs. Values you practice as a scout will help shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.”

    I don’t care what side of the fight you are on here, but if you are living by the scout oath you should just be saying “I see your side but I have to disagree with you. Now let’s go out and do something fun like a camp out and get back to what scouting is suppose to be all about.”

    • Jim, you write, “I am so sick and tired of people playing the morally straight card.” Are you familiar with The Didache? Its first statement is, “There are two Ways, one of Life and one of Death, and there is a great difference between the two Ways.” The Didache enumerates several behaviors forbidden to Christians. Homosexuality is one of them. Using our God-given intellects, can we decide on which Way that behavior lies?

      You also write, “We all need to read what the scout handbook says what morally straight means.” Fair enough. But let’s also read what BSA argued “morally straight” meant when BSA’s attorneys presented their case to the Supreme Court of the United States:

      “Different people would attribute to those terms very different meanings. For example, some people may believe that engaging in homosexual conduct is not at odds with being ‘morally straight’ and ‘clean.’ And others may believe that engaging in homosexual conduct is contrary to being ‘morally straight’ and ‘clean.’ The Boy Scouts says it falls within the latter category.”

      BSA itself used the “morally straight card” (your terminology, not mine).

      Finally, a secular reference. I do not know who originally said (or wrote) this, but I heard it for the first time on an LP album recorded by Gil Scott Heron: “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.” Dr. Gates isn’t standing for BSA’s timeless values.

      • You can’t use what BSA lawyers said years ago, because that was thrown out the window when we changed our membership policy for youth.

  36. The Boy Scouts will be fine. For the people foaming at the mouth on both side of this issue, here is what is going to happen.

    Within a few years the Boy Scouts will change the current rule and allow Scout Leaders who are gay. And guess what will happen then – everything will continue along as it has. Youth will continue to leave their video games behind for at least a weekend to go: camping, hiking, fishing, backpacking, canoeing, etc. They will continue to contribute 100’s of thousands of hours of Community Service every year while learning values expressed in the Scout Oath & Law. They will explore over 130 different subjects through the Merit Badge program.

    A few more people who can’t see past their own biases will leave and join a church based program like the new one called “Trail Life” that will throw a gay youth out of their program (if he is foolish enough to admit being gay”. I wish them luck. Raise your children as you see fit. But those boys will lose the opportunity to live and learn in the real world – the one where not everyone is exactly like you.

    For those who think this needs to happen today. Be patient. The Scouts will change as America continues to change. They are trying to do this without disrupting the program to much.

    One note: Do not ever expect the Trail Life “Freedom Award” to mean anything like what the Eagle Scout Rank means. To most of America the Eagle Scout has value on a Scholarship or a College Admittance application, a job application, in the military, etc. But as fewer people tow the Fundamentalist Christian line, I see trying to list the Freedom Awards on those as a potential negative. I actually hope not, youth achievement and hard work should be recognized and rewarded. But we will see.

    From a Eagle Scout & Scoutmaster (& CM, DL,CC, Camp Staff,etc) and father of an Eagle Scout, with one more working on it.

  37. The more I have reflected on the remarks made by Robert Gates, the more I am troubled by them… although not so much for the reason I expected.

    To be clear, I am opposed to changing the membership standards. But what troubles me most is the suggestion by Mr. Gates that if the BSA does not change its ways sooner rather than later, we will be forced to do so by court order and legislation. And, he warns, we may not like what they will do to the BSA.

    Regardless of how one feel about the membership standards, the implied threat in these remarks should trouble all of us. The threat of government action forcing a change in the standards of a private organization is coercive at best and oppressive at worst. I believe Mr. Gates is an honorable man, but he is thinking too much like a lawyer rather than a leader. He should call these threats for what they are – BULLYING – and make it clear that, while we may in time revisit the membership standards, Boy Scouts will not be intimidated by bullies. We will determine our own course, in the time and manner of our choosing.

    If that brings a fight, so be it. Freedom of association, expression and self-determination are certainly worth fighting for.

    • BSA is required, the same as anyone else, to not discriminate in hiring. The BSA also has a rule that the people who get hired for certain positions are registered scouters. This is what causes party of the problem. They could instead possibly say that camp staff doesn’t need to be registered.

      • Patrick, you are only partially correct. Members of the LGBT community are not a protected class under federal law. They are not a protected class in many states. Only in states where they are statutorily or constitutionally protected would an employer be prohibited from discriminating against them.

  38. Dr. Gates opened up a huge can of worms with his speech.

    I can see at least five options being considered:

    1. Allow gay adults to join all facets of the BSA. Of course, this option will result in the largest loss of youth membership, especially in the Southern Region, but it will fulfill the goal of getting corporate donations to begin flowing again.

    2. Allow each Chartered Organization group to make a decision. In other words, allow the LDS leaders in Salt Lake City to make a decision for all of their units. Same for the Catholics, Methodists, etc.

    3. Allow local units to make a decision through their COs.

    4. Allow local councils to make a decision. This is what the Andrew Jackson Council in Mississippi seems to want.

    5. Don’t make any change to the current membership policies.

    Personally, I believe the only reason Dr. Gates brought this up right now is the BSA needs to find a way to bring in more money to continue paying professional salaries/benefits, settle the lawsuits related to the IV Files and eventually pay off the debt incurred to build The Summit.

    If option #1 takes place, the corporate money will begin flowing and Dr. Gates and the other National leaders will be happy. The bottom line is that the BSA’s top leadership seems to be willing to see further reductions in youth membership as long as finances remain viable.

    There are considerable problems with the other options, especially when it comes to transfers between units and/or councils so I doubt if they will wind up being adopted. Besides, they won’t satisfy the very vocal LGBT community.

  39. As I listened to Mr. Gates, my heart has been broken for a second time and yes, BSA will continue to live on after this but it will not be the same — in size and stature. At the last membership change, we lost, by my estimate, 40,000 to 50,000 Scouts and Leaders. I don’t care if it is only 3% of membership at the time, they were our fellow Scouts and Scouters.

    Here are my thoughts…

    1. Councils (and troops) now know that they can challenge National on a number of things (paintball, water guns, etc.) and can say “Well, you did not enforce the major membership rule, then why are you getting your undies in a knot over our playing paintball.” I know that if I was Scoutmaster (and I was twice but now an ASM), I would challenge BSA on every possible rule I could. (In fact, I may send my troop a case of water pistols while they are in summer camp.) It almost makes me want to be a Scoutmaster again, to push the envelope.

    2. You will now have Packs, Troops, Crews, etc. advertising that they had the first gay Scoutmaster or Cubmaster in their Region, Council, Troop, etc. It is the “selfie syndrome” as I call it. Not good for the overall organization — just another way of “rubbing” it into those who opposed it.

    3. There has always been a rivalry about who has the best troop or pack. But, I can see some Charter Organizations promoting themselves as the “ALL OPEN TROOP” as opposed to the church down the road. “We are open and they are not.” This is not good.

    4. Easily, gay rights organizations will tout “gay” scoutmasters, etc., not necessarily because they are the best but because they were the first in their community or at the national level. Again, another way of rubbing in the noses of those who to not believe that this was the proper way to go.

    5. Allowing the Charger Organizations to make the call will only further put a tear in the fabric of Scouting? Why?

    A. Some or the religious charter organizations may be against the change, and they will have internal fights tearing them apart. I can easily see a Catholic parish, going against the wish of the local Bishop on this. Some will enjoy the fighting.

    B. Gay and Lesbian groups may let this new policy go for a year or two, but they WILL NOT allow it to stand. They will eventually force BSA to change their policy on who can or cannot be leaders. Some religious Charter Organizations will go along, others are going to have to make the decision to reject their religious beliefs or drop Scouting. Some will drop, further eroding BSA.

    Overall, this is really about MONEY. BSA could either die a slow death from membership (which it will do) or it can begin to die of due to cut backs on corporate funding. That is what this is really all about.

    Remember, those who said that they will never give to BSA as long as the policy is in place, will never give to Scouting, even if it changes. It is all talk. Style over substance.

    Those of us who gave because of the mission, will not give. And we will never give again. I no longer give to FOS.

    Why am I still in Scouting? I have my reasons but it won’t be for much longer.

    • You’re presuming that there aren’t people like me and my friends, who have been staying away from Scouting and not donating, and not letting our kids be involved, because of this policy. My brother and sister have kids who are Scouting age, but they wouldn’t let them join an organization that was discriminatory. I’m an Eagle Scout who will now potentially be able to get involved again, and be comfortable contributing financially.

      • The question is HOW MANY? During the first membership change, there were thousands upon thousands who said that they would not get involved or contribute if the change was not made. Well, the first change was made and where are they? As I see it, NOWHERE. They were all talk. If the change really was to be of benefit to BSA, then we would be awash in members (instead of a 6% decrease in membership, it should have been a 6% increase) and the money would be flowing like water over Niagara. But is has not. Personally, most people will talk the talk, but not walk the walk.

        And by the way, let me be the first Scouter (ASM and Eagle Scout) to call for Mr. Gates to step down.

    • And how many families who have friends & family who are gay are not participating in Scouting because of this policy? I really don’t know. But given that polls show 80% of young adults support SSM rights, it should make you wonder how these soon-to-be parents will feel about the BSA discriminating against gays? This move is primarily about demographics, only secondarily about money – although they really go together.
      I do see the let churches chose policy being a problem – but only in very small communities that only have enough boys to have one Troop. But really how many open gay adults live in very small towns?
      I don’t see any of the other stuff you listed above really happening. Any Troops out there now advertising “Hey Gay Boys, come join us!”.

  40. This is heart rending to watch as another “institution” capitulates – especially 1 whose leader, a former CIA Director and SecDef, is old enough to know better. The Italian communist Antonio Gramsci predicted this would happen in the 1930s. It was part of his strategy of the “long walk through the institutions” (academia, government, not-for-profit foundations, media, entertainment, churches, etc.) to subvert democratic nations from within with “cultural marxism”. In 1958, a former FBI special agent, Mormon, and BYU academic, published his book, “The Naked Communist”. In chapter 8 he listed the 45 modern goals of communism. I’ll cherry pick a few here …

    25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
    26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”
    27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”
    39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.
    40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity, masturbation and easy divorce.
    41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.

  41. Gates spoke about losing corporate sponsors and money due to being morally straight. Well, when you build the Bechtel scout camp at over $100 million plus, and the millions it takes to maintain it, what are you thinking?

    We saw BSA ask to retain tax exempt status and let non BSA events use the camp.

    I realize this is a beautiful camp, but we are pricing the scouts out of the program. That’s one of the reasons BSA is constantly asking for money. That and leaders who sexually attack boy scouts.

    The last law suit a few months ago for male on male sex against a scout, BSA had to pay $17 million to settle the law suit.

    Next year, lets raise membership fee to $50 to cover our new membership policy.

    • Pete, your comment about Bechtel and its cost just sparked something! Fees to attend the *** HIGH ADVENTURE *** bases are steep. Sea Base charges $815.00 per person up to $15,900.00 per crew. Summit Bechtel has a $795.00 registration fee. Philmont is $370.000 for NAYLE up to $870.00 for a 12 day trek. Northern Tier charges between $605.00 per night up to $4,475.00 for a fishing and kayaking voyage. Of course National needs the money – only a few percent of all boys registered in BSA can afford to attend one of these programs. No wonder they’re pandering to the corporate world.

  42. The bottom line here is that recent decisions are causing membership to drop in very large numbers. Within the units right in BSA Headquarters backyard, I’ve seen membership rates decrease in excess of 70%. If I remember correctly, the national number was a decrease of 7.4% the first year and that loss rate continues to creep up.

    The Girls Scouts have completely embraced change and progressive lifestyles. The result was that their membership dropped by over 1 million members in the past 12 years. BSA membership has dropped from 3.3 million to a little over 2 million since 2002. Keep embracing change, it is obviously working,… to put the programs out of business.

    How does this serve our youth? How does this serve our membership?

    Personally, I believe everyone must (not should) have equal rights under the law. They must also have the right to free association. They must *not* force their beliefs on others.

    The national staff appear to have completely lost touch with the youth they serve. Eye protection around water guns? Really? A complete ban on very popular youth activities like paintball, airsoft and laser tag. Who came up with that brilliant idea? It sure wasn’t the youth members. Their solution is to remove the uniform and do it anyway.

    “The book of NO” (The Guide to Safe Scouting) is full of rules that continually place the youth and the adult members at odds with BSA National policy. The youth join for outdoor adventure, they get the animation merit badge instead. Classic bait and switch.

    The diluted, politically correct, program has, in turn, diluted the Eagle rank and it does not mean what it once did among employers and the public. Get a clue guys, there is a reason we hear the term Sissy Scouts in the schools. It is not the fault of the youth, it is the utter and complete absence of leadership and simple common sense program management at the national level.

  43. Hey this inst new, it started back in the 70s when they made camping not required to “cater to the boys in the city”. Im just so glad they did this. It not like scouts has worked for the last 100 years or anything but hey thanks gates.oh and by the way you cant use a post hole digger unless you are 16.Great comment Steve.
    troop 387 Eagle Scout Zachary Plocek

  44. My father and uncle are both Eagle Scouts. They are O.A. members. They are Firecrafters, Minisino’s, Hi-Bark’s, & Chank-Tun-Un-Gi Hi-Barks. The latter four are actually more prestigious in Indiana than O.A. (http://www.firecrafter.org/) My dad is second from the left in the left photo on the Firecrafter.org page. They both have their names on the wall of the new headquarters of the Crossroads of America Council adjacent to Camp Belzer in Indianapolis. Needless to say they know what scouting is all about.

    In 1972 I followed in their footsteps until I reached Star. I then decided BSA was not cool enough for me. It was a mistake that I regret to this day.

    Fast forward a number of years, I got married and moved to Columbus, OH where my wife and I had four boys. All four were/are Boy Scouts. Number 1 son: Tiger to Eagle with two Palms. Number 2 son: Life for Life, only thing he did not complete for Eagle was his service project. He earned 34 merit badges and had only to carry out his project. Sports won out and he will attend Mount Vernon Nazarene University this fall with a Cross Country/Track scholarship. He says he does regret not earning Eagle. Number 3 son: Eagle with 1 Palm. Volunteered for four weeks at Camp Falling Rock last summer. This summer has been hired as a counselor. Number 4 son: Life, just had his Eagle service project approved and plans to complete it before summer camp this year.

    I have been ASM or SM for all four of them. I have been SM for 10 years and was AM for two years. Our troop was chartered by a home school co-op, until 2013. When the decision was made by the liars at National to disregard the overwhelming majority of BSA scouts and scouters, our CO said they would not renew our charter for 2014. Of the twenty families in the troop only three of them left. We found a new CO and one of the families came back.

    At the end of 2015, Troop 345 will cease to exist. The main reason being that we all feel betrayed by the membership decision made two years ago. The problem is not really with homosexual scouts because there have always been homosexuals in scouts. The problem is with National being out of touch with scouts and scouters. They have caved to the pressure of the cash cow. Dr. Gates has fallen right in line and has flip-flopped, actually lied from what he said a year ago. Sponsorship monies can be made up. It is well known that some major corporations were ready to fill the gap left by the desertion of Home Depot and ATT. National just didn’t have the guts to stand fast.

    As a result of the membership change, Camp Falling Rock (the best scout camp outside of Ransberg) hired it’s first homosexual counselor last year. While he was not “openly gay” whatever that means, he was and is gay never the less. He proudly displayed the blue & yellow equal sticker on his car as well as the rainbow flag sticker. He flitted around Handicraft and the mess hall like Mikhail Baryshnikov. One of my scouts came up to me around day three and asked if the guy was gay. I was tempted to tell him to ask the guy just to see what he would say. Three years ago we attended the Troop 360 Invitational camporee on Put-In-Bay. There was a guy who looked to be around 26-27. He was a Life scout and he wore rainbow epaulets. He was in the company of two lesbians and no other scouts. When we were waiting on the ferry to head over to Gibraltar Island, I asked him if he was trying to make a statement. Of course he didn’t respond, nor did his two moms. It is “statements” like these that really burn me up. When a scout or scouter disrespects the uniform, they go too far.

    Someone in an earlier post talked about the real danger of these decisions. They are not boys having sex with other boys, or men having sex with other men or boys. The real danger is that a court is going to decide what a private organization can or can not do. In fact, they did decide in our favor a number of years back and we tossed that decision out the window in 2013.

    I am a born-again, conservative Christian. Our homeschool co-op is a conservative Christian group. While I/we like the Scout Oath & Law, I know that they are not Scripture. Just because I am doing my best for “god” does not mean that BSA is a Christian organization. I know LDS, Muslim, and Hindu scouts and scouters. These groups do not pray to the same God that I do. To continue to say that BSA is a Christian organization is ludicrous and only makes Christians look like idiots.

    My plans at the end of the year are to become an urban scoutmaster and work with inner city at-risk youth. I have watched at summer camp over the years and have seen the benefit of scouting has on these guys.

    BSA is still a good organization, but the future does not look good. I hope and pray that BSA can survive, but I am not optimistic.

    • Johnnyrat, The BSA will be fine (but maybe a little smaller). Being a SM in the inner city is admirable. Good luck.

  45. As a long experienced Scouter on the other side of the Atlantic and totally against BSA’s discriminatory stance on their ban towards Gay Scouters, I’m delighted with Dr. Gates speech and very welcomed. I’m not surprised it has come about particularly with his experience as a former Secretary of Defence. Yes Defence has had to deal with the matter over the years and brought in the policy of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. BSA bringing in a similar policy and attitude will help it get over the major obstacle you are facing from the wider American community and a large amount of the Member Organisations of WOSM. All you have to do in look at my own Country of Ireland who democratically voted by a LARGE margin to accept Marriage Equality for All. It is now World headlines for the right reason. Thousands of old, middle-aged and young members of Scouting Ireland, just like myself voted YES because we are an open Youth Organisation open to all genders. We promoted the YES side openly on all our medias no matter if we got abused from the NO side. You might then use the argument that the Religious Organisations may run on mass from BSA because of their fears but this their false thinking a we have seen in Ireland since independence. OUR Roman Catholic Church ruled Ireland as a dictorship even though we had a democratically elected government and paid deeply for it over decades. Their misabused power and treatment of OUR children has resulted in government reports, trials, court cases and resignations. The most important thing that came out of yesterday’s count was that Irish people have thrown away the shackles of Church rule and accept people for what they are. The same could also be said about the Church LDS control of BSA and that subsequent effect in your Scouting and that of Scouting in the wider World. Please don’t get me wrong if you think I’m Church bashing but I’m a practicing Roman Catholic and a SCOUT. As always guys the United States is not always right but needs to look at what other free Countries, small and big, do.

    • The land of St. Aiden, St. Brigit, St. Kilian, St. Malachy, and St. Patrick celebrates homosexuality … “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil ….”

    • Catholic Ireland just voted in a landslide to legalize same-sex marriage and where cathedrals and churches are being turned into tourist attractions and museums and even bars and restaurants.
      Not here bud, you and your boy friends can stay in Ireland and destroy your own country.

  46. adianspeedo writes: “As always guys the United States is not always right but needs to look at what other free Countries, small and big, do.”

    This has nothing to do with the United States being right or wrong. It has everything to do with 2-3% of the population of the U.S.dictating what a PRIVATE organization can and can’t do.

    You can be “totally against” BSA’s stance and it does not matter one bit. You are not in BSA, you are not in the U.S.A. Your opinion on this does not matter.

    In an earlier post I talked about the Troop 360 Put-In-Bay camporee we attend each year. There a number of troops from Canada. They support gays in the BSA. They are co-ed, they are poorly dressed, have poor manners, and generally don’t seem to give a rat’s behind about anything.

    Other free countries are not so free. Try learning some real history and stop trying to dictate what real free people can and can’t do in a real free country.

    • Have you read the scout oath and law? What part of your ridiculous response even remotely represents what we try to instill in our youth? Why are you here again?

    • I wonder if Dr. Gates wasn’t chosen specifically to ramrod through BSA a change of membership standards. After all, he did it to the military – why not sic him on the BSA?

      • You know, I had the same exact thought when I heard that he was nominated for the position. I told a couple of people, who ask me, that he (and those around him) would advocate that if it was good enough for the US Armed Forces, it would be good enough for BSA.

      • He was chosen because he was the right person for the job. There was no agenda with regards to the membership standards. The question you pose is hysterical and pretty petty.

    • Yeah cause I heard that the BSA is actually a christian right wing tea party environment hating neo political group. Give me a break.

  47. Isn’t changing the membership policies to allow homosexuals “catering to the 3-4%”? Those that “don’t care” have been effectively and thoroughly “educated” through various means, to include the BSA itself through it’s “diversity” push.

    The “damage” being caused is greater than a drop in membership over the policy changes, it is causing great rifts within Scouting in general. Just look at many comments on this thread. Those who reject the policy changes are “bigots” and “homophobes”. Those who embrace the changes are “liberals” and other ad hominems…

    No, the plan is working as designed…destroy the BSA from WITHIN…let the membership eat itself up and the organization will have been compromised.

    • You are exactly correct and it deeply saddens me, from someone who has a deep love for America and our youth. The truth is we are going to have to take the fight to despicable destroyers of all that is good in America and stand for what is right and expose these rats for what they are. First the removal of Christianity from schools and other public areas, by the anti-Christian elite liberal left, poisoned our children in schools, movies, books magazines, TV and universities with a full frontal assault and now the Boy Scouts.
      Second they mocked and assaulted anyone that did not go to college and worked with their hands, destroying our powerful manufacturing base. Third they assault success from those who have paid the price and worked hard and made smart decisions all of their life. They blame the rich for years of bad choices and habits, to further divide us.
      No Gates, I do not have to see the world like you see it is or how you think the world should be. I see America standing strong being a good example for the rest of the world to see and to build our youth into good smart, proud Americans and I see you as a whipping boy for the left that does not have the courage to stand and fight.

      • Oh Brother, ‘removal of Christianity from the schools’…. it belongs in the home and in the church but not in the schools. If YOU as a parent can’t teach your kids about your beliefs, don’t for one second think a public school can do it better. This is a ridiculous argument and doesn’t carry any water.

        As for the change in membership standards, who is BSA changing for? THE KIDS! This isn’t about Christians against non Christians, but that’s what you’d think if you believed all you read from the Family Research Council… This is about providing the best opportunity for America’s youth, ALL of America’s youth. As for the adults, There are qualified leaders out there in every council / district that are serving in Scouting as leaders and who are closeted homosexuals now. This will allow them to be out, open and genuine with themselves and their families.

        Scouting is not a ‘Christian’ organization, it is an organization that requires a belief in a higher power, a “God” if you will, but most certainly it is not required to believe one iota of Christian dogma.

        • Matt, do you believe homosexuality is a healthy behavior? Is it a natural behavior? Is it something you believe should be modeled for youth as a behavior and lifestyle to emulate?

          Yes there are homosexual people in Scouting. But they are not acting out and promoting their lifestyle, which BSA argued in open court was neither clean nor morally straight. Recruitment of youth into the homosexual lifestyle will follow … just wait and see.

          BSA is seeing membership drop and National is gambling that accepting homosexual youth (and most likely very soon soon, active avowed, practicing homosexual adults) is going to offset the monetary losses. No doubt National expects the corporate dollars to start flowing again, like a river of lucre spent to buy bad beef.

          Please explain to me how allowing teenaged boys to go camping with adult homosexual men is a change to benefit “the kids”.

          Christianity was removed from the public schools. I’m old enough to remember it happening and I remember who insisted on its removal.

        • Yesterday, Homosexual behavior is the natural behavior for homosexuals. Barring STD’s which are far from excusive to homosexuals, then it is as health as many heterosexual behaviors. You must be incredibly insecure in your attraction to women if you think you can be “recruited” into the “gay lifestyle”, whatever the h— that is supposed to be. Personally, when I was a teenager I spent way too much time obsessed with girls, so I doubt a heterosexual boy can be recruited to be gay.

          Membership has been dropping for decades 3-4% a year. Obviously it was just families back in the 70’s. 80’s & 90’s who just knew this membership change was coming – so they bailed out early. Yes, the change has cost us a 3-4% drop in membership, but not nearly as much as it would in the future if we didn’t make the change. You see most people just don’t care.

          Association with adult men – no discussion of sex allowed – is one of the 8 Aims and Methods of Scouting. That’s the benefit.

          Finally, it was that pesky Constitution that removed Christianity from public schools. But I suspect you hate the Constitution as much as you seem to hate gays. But you know how you get Christianity back in your kids education? Do what I did, I sent my 3 sons to St. Josephs Catholic School. See how that works. Freedom to do what I want and I save the taxpayers money to boot.

          Finally, you can bitch and moan on this forum all you want, but the membership policy will change in the next few years and most of us will just get on with help the boys have a great Scouting experience. And Trail Life will get a few new recruits, which is really to bad for those boys.

        • Yesterday, homosexuality is not a “behavior” or a “lifestyle”. It is a sexual orientation /attraction.
          I have a great many friends who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual. They’re some pretty amazing people. Some of them are parents and would have been happy to participate with their kids in Scouting, maybe even becoming leaders. I would have been more than happy to serve with them.

          Forget whatever you’ve been told about the lgbt community. Obviously you have been woefully misled.

          Scoutings membership decline over the decades is due to many factors, the least of which is gay leaders or gay scouts. In our area the registration fee doubling was a much bigger factor last year than the membership rules change, but we had to pay those unGodly salaries to the fat cats in Irving.

          Todd was correct. The Constitution caused the removal of Christianity from the classroom. The Patriots that wrote that document knew what they were doing. The patriots that defend that document also know what they’re doing.

          By removing discriminatory barriers to membership we will not only become more relevant in the here and now, we will be walking the walk and living by the scout oath and law. When we teach our kids to hate unconditionally, we’ve failed.

          If the vote comes tomorrow I will vote YES to allow chartered orgs to set leaders membership as it relates to sexual orientation. It’s simply the right thing to do, and as an Eagle Scout, I seek out the right thing to do.

        • Gentlemen, it was not “the Constitution” that removed Christianity from schools, it was atheists.

          Todd, homosexuality is not a natural behavior, it is a lifestyle choice that is made deliberately. The orientation may be inborn but the behavior is a choice. Todd, I did not write that families in the 70s were leaving because of homosexuality. Try to pay attention; words have meaning. I wrote that BSA is gambling that large numbers of pro-homosexual people will join BSA to offset the continuing membership decline. They are also hoping that corporate donations will increase. And Todd, if you’re enough of a Catholic to send your children to Catholic schools, why do you reject the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (homosexuality being gravely disordered)? Maybe there is another demographic you are trying to avoid? For the record, I do not hate homosexuals. I feel they are in grave error and have been deceived.

          Matt, people make choices when they engage in any sexual behavior. Ergo, to commit a homosexual act is to make a choice to do so. I’ve not been “misled” Matt; I’ve lived a good many years and seen and heard plenty. And now we’ve got “transgendered”? Putting the “t” in “LGBT”! I would laugh if it were not so pitiable. Teaching children that homosexuality is wrong and a grave sin is not “hate” – but teaching children that homosexuality is something to be desired and pursued is “recruiting” and a terrible sin (leading the little ones astray).

          Todd and Matt, I know people who agree with me are either leaving BSA, have left BSA, or will eventually get out. That is what National is counting on. You and your kind have won. The results may not be seen immediately but in a few years you will have the “gay all the way BSA” that you desire so fervently. I will continue to “bitch and moan” (Todd’s vocabulary is most impressive) all I want. Someone has to stand up and say this is wrong. De Profundis Clamo Ad Te Domine!

        • Matt, I do have to agree with you on one thing: the salaries they were (are?) paying the “big boys” in Texas are beyond ridiculous.

        • Oh Yesterday, you should come to Today, it’s a nicer place. We don’t have witch hunts or lynchings anymore. At least we know they’re wrong and understand that the biggest difference between most people are cosmetic…

          Regarding your thoughts on transgendered people. I do not know anyone who is transgender. I have met a few over the years, and they were very pleasant and helpful (one was a triage nurse in an ER I needed to visit, she was exceptional and caring).

          You said:
          “Teaching children that homosexuality is wrong and a grave sin is not “hate” – but teaching children that homosexuality is something to be desired and pursued is “recruiting” and a terrible sin (leading the little ones astray).”

          Teaching children to hate a class of people based solely on your misunderstanding of them is a gross misjustice, and I’d call it a sin. Hate is ugly and it should never be considered acceptable, even to so called Christians. Teaching them that the things that make us different also make us strong as a people, a community, is not ‘recruiting’, it’s called EDUCATION and its part of growing up and moving on. Teachers don’t present homosexuality as something to be desired and persued, whoever told you to think that should be prosecuted or at a minimum expunged from your life. They are an out and out liar, and I can say with 99.9999% certainty that they know they’re a liar.

          yes Yesterday, you are woefully misled. I hope that doesn’t translate to any teachings you give to youth, that would be a travesty.

        • Matt, Matt, Matt … I should come to “today”, should I? Didn’t anyone ever tell you that just because everyone does something doesn’t make it right?

          Didn’t BSA used to have a bumper sticker that read, “timeless values”? I guess the values are timeless until a certain number of people want them to change.

          I sincerely pity you that you cannot distinguish sin from hatred, but then again, it seems you have lots of company.

          I will refrain from pointing out what is the real travesty. I suspect you know but refuse to admit it.

  48. As a Den Leader I am thoroughly disappointed, and disgusted, and I fear for our boys and what this will teach them. This is more political correctness run amok, and an abandonment of basic principles and a violation of natural law. We love all people, but we judge behavior – and “gay” is not what a person IS, but what a person DOES. If this changes, and our Pack ever gets an unrepentant homosexual leader, we will leave. And as more do leave, the gay activists will have won through bullying and lies and disinformation. It’s time for me to look at Trail Life USA.

  49. During the past 16 years, youth membership has dropped by 31%. The drop was more in 2013 and 2014 than in the prior three or four prior years. In my opinion, the BSA’s National leadership is willing to sacrifice youth membership in order to keep revenue flowing. The first step will be to allow sponsors to accept/reject homosexual adults. When that takes place, there will be another significant drop in youth membership. However, the corporate money will not begin to flow to the BSA. The next step will be to remove all restrictions on homosexual adult membership. Then, and ONLY then, will the corporate money again flow into the BSA coffers. By then, I won’t be surprised if youth membership drops another 20-25%. The Southern Region will be especially hard hit as this is the region that hasn’t bought into supporting homosexuality, especially same-sex marriage.

    • You are 100% correct. They have sacrificed membership in search of $$.

  50. I am appalled that after all this discussion, the world seems to be missing the larger picture:

    I think Lord Baden-Powell is rolling in his grave to think that this topic will find its way into the lesson plan that simply was meant to teach young boys skills on how to live life by being prepared. The entire premise of scouting was founded on the idea that military recruits were unprepared to live and care for themselves during their tenure in the outdoors. Baden-Powell made it his mission to prepare young boys with valuable skills that would enable them to live and thrive in the wild and to treat the wild with the respect needed to maintain it for future generations.

    What on earth does sexuality have to do with any of this skill set?

    Can anyone provide me the page number(s) on the Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos or Boy Scout Manual where sexuality part of the national Scouting Program?

    Can anyone tell me the page number in any of the Scout Leadership manuals where sexuality is meant to be part of the Scouting Program?

    Can anyone show me in any Scouting literature where it is a requirement that a scout have a “Mother” and a “Father”? From what I recall most documents reference “family” or “Guardian” due to 30 years of the political correctness police.

    Do not lecture me on the Parent Guide to Scouting which is not intended to teach sexuality – it is meant to teach about sexual predators. I think the parent’s guide should also include a section regarding political correctness predators who are systematically forcing their own beliefs down the throats of every American through the pretense of bigotry. I could give a rat’s behind what you want to do in your bedroom. I absolutely do not want you to invite our scout troop to the show! Sexuality has no place in Scouts! Period!

    As a parent of 4 boys, I do not believe the Boys Scouts of America has any right to teach sexuality to my sons. I also do not think the Government of the United States of America has any right to teach my sons about sexuality as is now being done in the public classroom as early as elementary school. I believe this lesson plan should firmly reside with the parents of those children in concert with the religious beliefs that they may or may not hold.

    I have been involved in Scouts for most of my life – Scouting as an entity has never discussed sexuality, the “proper” makup of a family or which religion I should follow, although BSA does expect a Scout to believe in a higher power – which I’m sure will be assaulted shortly after “freedom of sexuality” becomes lesson plan 1 in every scouting manual.

    Blatant sexuality has no place in Scouting – it belongs in the bedroom. I have never witnessed a scout involved in openly aggressive sexual behavior, however, I have witnessed numerous parents of scouts who proudly wear their sexuality as though it were a brand new suit – out for all to see. This has usually involved young parents who are often times experiencing difficulty in a relationship due to a lack of maturity and feel that Scout meetings are a great place to “hook up” with a new partner. I have spoken with many of these parents and have strongly advised them to seek an alternate venue for the discussion or display of their sexuality. If an adult male or female practices homosexuality in their own bedroom – that is well within their right in a country that professes it was founded on freedom, however, I would also like to know when that same person calls me a bigot how this is offering to support my family’s freedom?

    Citizenship – a core principle of Scouting which is derived from God’s word which requires us treat our neighbors with the respect that we wish to receive has been grossly twisted by political correctness – especially in this debate. Supporters of permitting openly homosexual scouts and leaders into the BSA have strived to elevate their plight to be equal to that of race when races were segregated in this country. Race is something we are born with. Sexuality is something we choose to practice – regardless of sexual orientation. I support your freedom to practice sexuality any way you wish, however, it is inappropriate to do so when attending or participating in Scouting events.

    The Boy Scouts of America does not promote or practice sexuality – in fact it actually speaks to the opposite of such practices regardless of orientation, thus, the argument of “acceptance” by the politically correct do-gooders is actually doing great harm to a century old institution which has attempted to keep these types of behaviors, which are deemed unsuitable for the age group we are teaching, out of the overall lesson plan.

    Its bad enough that I can no longer watch an hour of TV without seeing or hearing some reference to sexuality, nudity or homosexuality, but it has become even more perverse that homosexuals, while only 2-3 percent of our nation’s population now occupy nearly 60% of the nation’s television programming. I have never seen such blatant denigration of a society through such insipid propaganda as I am witnessing today. I was not alive when Hitler ruled Germany, but his well organized propaganda machine caused millions of Germans to be swayed by the perceptions of a few to the ultimate detriment of millions who perished in World War II.

    1 John 4:1
    Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

    Mark 4:24
    And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.

    I, for one, remember my history and will not be swayed by the “we must be inclusive for the love of all” propaganda that is being shouted from the rooftops. I am absolutely positive that I will be labeled a bigot by the very next post that hits this blog – kinda like the Jews in Germany were labeled by Hitler. If you would like my name so you can round me up for extermination because I do not adhere to your beliefs that gays are being discriminated against by the BSA or because I am not supportive of homosexuals in general, sorry, you are out of luck, but please feel free feel free to continue to support homosexuality yourself. You will one day have to explain your actions before God. I wish you the best of luck…

    Leviticus 18:22
    Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination

    Leviticus 20:13
    If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

    Have a nice day.

    • Thank you for your well-reasoned, well-thought-out post, and for the courage to put your full name to it.

      The post made many valid points, and it did not use the ad-hominem arguments that many people (unfortunately on both sides) resort to.

      If someone disagrees with me on this issue, I don’t consider them a heterophobic bigot. I consider them wrong.

      We had, and will have members of BSA who are homosexual. The whole ban has been against “avowed” members, that is those promoting their lifestyle – that is injecting sexuality where it has no place. Anyone doing that, anywhere on the spectrum – should be disciplined. It is not part of the program.

      Can we just end the discussion on this, and get on to discussing those areas that add value to Scouting, to finding better ways to teach the outdoor skills, and to teaching the points of the Oath and the Law.—the mission statement says

      “The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.”

      • We have Dr. Gates to thank for this entire preceding discussion. He said one thing, then went back on himself, and he thought no one would notice or care. Sad to say, he stirred up hornet’s nests on both sides of the issue.

        I will never back down. I suspect my fellow disputants will not, either. This is the tenor of Scouting for the foreseeable future.

      • Well reasoned post? Did you read the part were he draw an analogy between the discussion on the BSA membership policy and Nazi Germany? Being compared to Hitler is an ad-hominem argument, one that has it’s own name (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum).

        I agree with the remaining of your post though. It’s time to move on.

    • You claim you don’t want BSA teaching sexuality to your sons, but your position belies that. You want the BSA to teach your (and everyone else’s) sons that homosexuality is wrong. Those who support the acceptance of homosexuals (even if not homosexuality) by the BSA are the ones who want the BSA to stop teaching sexuality to children (and adolescents).

      On the other hand, I do want the BSA teaching my children about remaining physically strong, that doesn’t mean that I want BSA to prevent weak or fat people from joining as scouts or scouters.

  51. Hello Carey,

    I stand corrected – I was not flamed as a bigot. For that I say, thank you…

    I will challenge whether those who disagree with you are wrong. It is not the ideals of one or a few that are at stake in this discussion, It is, as the mission statement indicates, the preparation of future generations of our children to make “moral” and “ethical” choices throughout their lifetime.

    I fully disagree that it is time to stop this conversation. This conversation needs to be front and center with the American People, not just between select politicians and journalists whose moral and ethical choices are questioned daily by the majority of Americans.

    Ethics and Morality in centuries past have been based upon biblical principles, however, the recent decay of what is deemed moral and ethical in many religions due to the holy cash cow and the scourge of political correctness has lead to an abandonment of these principles. Daily we are barraged with more and more attempts to remove God as the primary governance of our thoughts and actions. It will be to our detriment. This entire assault, in greater measure, is more about retaining God’s word as the guiding principle behind our morals and ethics. Too many shrill voices have attempted to condemn God’s Word given to us in the Bible to the ash heap of history. They are winning this battle in the minds of many by slowly undermining its overall message and by eradicating all reference to it from our public squares through the guise of separation of church and state. I would like to remind everyone that our first President was mindful that the creation of this country was not simply the acts of a few bold men. The creation of one nation from many whose people escaped from the rule of man to prosper in a land where worship in a higher deity was guaranteed can only stand while the higher power remains the guiding force of that nation.

    George Washington at Congress at Federal Hall in New York City – April 30, 1789:
    …since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained…

    I truly wonder if any of today’s elected representatives understands the gravity of this statement. The wholesale abandonment of religion in public and in politics will be this country’s undoing.

    While I acknowledge that there have been and will continue to be homosexuals involved in scouting, I do not question their motives or participation assuming that they are there for the same reason we have participated – to ensure children learn to be prepared for life, learn to be helpful in their community and understand and live by the Scout Oath and Law. The day that this mission statement is modified to force “inclusiveness training” as part of the regimen or I see the wholesale abandonment of a higher power as the precept of membership, I will take my toys from the sandbox and will seek another venue to educate my sons.

    • If BSA membership policies are to be governed by the Bible, then let’s at least be consistent — we need to use the WHOLE Bible, not just selected passages. So, probably a good place to start is kicking out anyone who is divorced. They are outta here, since Jesus explicitly condemned it. And anyone who swears an oath, since, as Jesus said, anything beyond ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ comes from the evil one. And then after we get through the items that Jesus talked about, we can start on the 613 commandments of the Old Testament, which, of course, Jesus reaffirmed when he said that until heaven and earth pass away, not even the smallest letter would pass from the law. So if you aren’t wearing garments with a fringe of blue thread, or if you are an uncircumcised male, or if you did not take a full year off when you got married, or you have a tattoo, or wear clothing made of blended fibers, or have cut down a fruit tree, or work on a Saturday, or do or don’t do any of the many other things spelled out in the Bible, well, sorry, but you don’t belong in the BSA.

  52. Pauline Dispensation, Dan. An inconvenient part of Church history for you. But hey, why argue? You have won. It is only a matter of time before many of us are chased out. And the hypocrisy of BSA, to argue all the way to the Supreme Court of the USA, win, and then throw it away — tell me, what does BSA really stand for?

    • Yesterday, thank you for helping me make my point. When either side feels it has to delve into the depths of Scripture and use arcane theological concepts and canon law to try to justify their views on the membership rules for a boys club, the debate has reached the point of absurdity. Two things: First, people who are genuinely undecided are not going to be engaged (much less swayed) by such arguments – from either side. Second, such arguments (like the arguments about money and politics) – from either side – just cover up the real issue and make it harder to deal with.

      That real issue is very real and very emotional and very personal: How do I want to raise my childen? What kind of environment do I want to create for all of these boys that I am responsible for? What is the example that I want these boys to copy?

      The problem we have is that we used to have a general consensus on those questions in the Boy Scouts of America. Now we don’t.

      I have argued, and will continue to argue, that the supporters of the more restrictive membership standards were screwed over in this process. The unfairness of the process has tainted the discussion of the real issue, and turned it into a destructive power struggle. Instead of allowing us to reason together on how to deal constructively with the changes in certain segments of our American society, the powers that be turned it into a zero-sum game, turning one side of the issue into a partial loser and the other side into a partial winner, satisfying no one and simply prolonging the dissention.

      That gets us back to the real issue: Not what is in Leviticus, or in canon law, or Romans — but what is in you? What is your answer to the question of what example you want the boys in your charge to copy?

      And then: Is that still possible in the Boy Scouts of America? I think it can be. I think we already know how to do it. I think we still have time to make BSA work for us all again. Many of you who feel you are being chased out are still here. Instead of just waiting for the bitter end and complaining it about all the while, do you want to try to find a solution that works for all sides of the issue? And for all of you folks who think you are on the right side of history and that BSA should be in front of social change, are you willing to respect sincere, genuine beliefs, even if you don’t share them? Are you willing to try to keep these folks in BSA — these folks who have given so much to the Movement?

      What is the example you want the boys in your charge to copy?

      • Dan, you write that the use of Scripture to support an argument is absurdity; I feel otherwise. So where does that leave us? The same can be asked about the use of canon law and other Christian writings. Arcane theological concepts or important milestones in the development of Christianity? I guess we all must decide for ourselves.

        Why do we no longer have consensus in BSA? I suspect it is because (in part) people who did not agree with the fundamentals of Scouting joined the organization (for what reason I cannot fathom). Why anyone would join an organization that he or she did not agree with is beyond me.

        I don’t often agree with you but you hit the nail squarely on the head when you wrote, “… the supporters of the more restrictive membership standards were screwed over in this process. The unfairness of the process has tainted the discussion of the real issue, and turned it into a destructive power struggle.” BSA’s own survey showed that only the Northeast Region supported a change in membership standards. (A surprise for those who thought it was only the Southern Region.) A summary is on Scouting,org; don’t take my word for it. Moreover, a majority of Chartered Organizations did not support a change if the change included homosexual adults. Yet a majority of Fortune 500 companies and a majority of “national youth serving organizations” which are “strategic partners” of BSA supported a change. So we got a change. We know to whom National was listening.

        You write that you believe we can all still be in BSA together, and that you think we already know how to do it. I’d like to read what you think can be done. Although I do not often agree with you, your posts are some of the best thought out and rational on the page. The thing is, Dan, I am starting to doubt whether National is telling us the whole story. Back a couple of years ago when the first change was being discussed, I watched a very interesting video on Youtube. It was recorded by one of the men who started Trail Life. He said he spoke with one of our then National Key Three and within a year the man’s opinion changed 180 degrees, from the Scout Oath and Law being inviolable, to supporting a change in standards. Something happened in that year to change the man’s mind. What was it? I don’t think anyone knows except those two and neither one of them is talking or at least hasn’t yet.

        Next we found out that some councils (Greater New York Councils, for example) were regularly flouting the membership standards and getting a pass. But National makes sure to tell us not to have a squirt gun battle. I think that is a better illustration of absurdity than referencing Scripture.

        As I wrote in an earlier post, I’ve put in a lot of years (most of my life), I don’t know how many dollars, and gallons of sweat into this organization. I’m starting to ask myself why. When the last change was made our troop lost some people. I stayed because I believed in the program and although I disagreed with the change I decided to stay and fight rather than leave. And so it is now. I have grave doubts about the future of BSA and the motivation of those pushing for even more change but I will not leave the organization. I suspect the day is coming and not too far off when people like me will be eased out or heaved out, but we will be gone one way or another. Unless there is a purge of members who do not agree with Dr. Gates, I’m sticking around and sticking to my guns. (Can I write that? I didn’t mention water pistols or paint ball.)

        Your turn Dan. What would you do? I really want to know but the sad thing is that no one at National is going to pay attention. They’ve made their choice already. It is a fait accompli; for those who don’t understand that expression, it is a fancy way of saying it’s a done deal.

        My last post on this topic.

      • Yesterday, thank you for your contributions to the discussion, and thank you for listening.

        I’m going to try to lay out my concept in bite-sized pieces. But first I want to make my goal clear: I want a healthy, thriving Boy Scouts of America that is (once again) respected by nearly all segments of society as an American institution. And BSA gets there by emulating the American ideal as laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States:
        — An organization in which each person has the right to associate with others of his or her choosing and exclude others from their particular group if they so choose;
        — An organization in which all individuals and groups can freely exercise their religion — or not have any religion at all — in an environment of mutual respect;
        — An organization in which all people of any gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, color, size, shape, and background are equally welcome and entitled to receive the benefits of participating in the organization, without infringing on the rights of others (as described above);
        — An organization in which each person can find — or create — a group best designed to help him or her grow in citizenship, character, and fitness, with the assistance of the local and national resources of the Boy Scouts of America.

      • Step 1. Do you know what the single biggest difference is between the Scout Oath and the Scout Law? The Scout Law lists twelve qualities that a Scout should be able to demonstrate in his or her everyday life. The Scout Law describes what a Scout is supposed to be in the world: “A Scout IS . . .” The Scout Oath, however, is about what is inside the Scout. The Scout Oat is the individual’s roadmap for remaking himself or herself from within: “On _my_ honor _I_ will do _my_ best . . .”

        Do you know what the single biggest similarity is between the Scout Oath and the Scout Law? Success is in the eye of the beholder. The Scout Law describes qualities that each outside observer will interpret according to his or her own experiences and opinions. Is a Scout “Reverent” if he or she only attends church once a month? If your only experience with a Scout was when he was having a bad day, you might consider him anything but “Cheerful” even though other people have seen him encouraging younger Scouts in a rainstorm and whistling during a long, hot uphill hike. Looking at the Scout Oath, it doesn’t say anything about absolutes; instead, it asks a Scout to do his or her “best” in a set of character-shaping categories. How can any Scout describe what his or her best consists of, particularly when the Scout should constantly be learning and improving? How can any Scout describe what his or her best consists of when their lives and circumstances are constantly changing? Doing your best is a feeling, not a target.

        Step 1: Stop treating the Scout Oath and Scout Law as objective standards that everyone can agree on.

      • Step 2. But you and your group can supplement the Scout Oath and Law with whatever objective or subjective moral and character guidance, requirements, or absolutes that you believe in. Just keep in mind that your additions apply to you and your group, not BSA programs or members generally.

        Step 2: Respect the beliefs of others.

        • Your writings are thoughtful and at the same time are meaningless, your words, do not and will not produce results. You are trying to defend the un-defensible, by a leader who went back on his word, contrary to his written goals and will leave BSA in a divided mess. When you have so many good examples of leadership, with so many years of experience leaving or soon to leave Scouting, the damage is not repairable. I could give you many examples, but for those who refuse or argue with the facts on the ground, there is no need to try to change their mind.
          Like Gates said, you have to see things how they really are not how you would like them, on that I agree.

        • John, you wrote: “When you have so many good examples of leadership, with so many years of experience leaving or soon to leave Scouting, the damage is not repairable.”

          While I respect your belief that the damage is not repairable, I disagree. One purpose of my proposal is to allow Chartered Organizations to reverse the 2013 membership standards change for their own units. For some COs, that will mean once again being able to exclude gay youth while continuing to exclude gay leaders. For other COs, that will mean not only accepting gay youth, but also accepting gay leaders, and atheists, and agnostics, and girls into Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting and Varsity Scouting. And the units from the different COs don’t have to associate with each other in any way, if they don’t want to.

          You also wrote: “[F]or those who refuse or argue with the facts on the ground, there is no need to try to change their mind.”

          The point of my proposal is to change the facts on the ground, not to change anyone’s mind.

          I hope this helps.

        • If his true goal was to leave it better than he found it, than why did he make this his main issue? There were so many other things that Gates could have started with. Gay CEO’s and others put pressure on BSA and they folded like a house of cards. There was never a problem, they just wanted to and did bully BSA. You also have to understand that views are different in different parts of the country. What is okay in California is not okay in Texas.
          Dan, I have been involved in Scouting a long time and I cannot defend this decision. I know of more than one Eagle to throw their badge in the trash. Many are leaving and many have left, others will not give to FOS, myself included. I planned on donating land to BSA, and I will no longer plan to do that. The sad thing is losing those who are in the battlefield, giving their time for years, and now ending their scouting career based on this decision. The kids will end up being the losers, just so BSA can please gays. Gates kicked a bee hive and then leaves to let everyone else get stung. For myself and many others, allowing this is like a dagger to the heart.

        • I have said before, and will say as often as necessary: This whole thing was mishandled, and continues to be mishandled. BSA made mistakes. Mr. Gates said he wouldn’t do something, then he did it.

          But as you say, those are the facts on the ground. We can’t change the past. The question is what do you want to do with the future? Are you just going to sit back and be bitter? Have you given up? Are you saying that if the Scouting program can’t be exactly like it was before, then it is better off dead?

          I’m telling you that there is a way to get back the kind of Scouting program you had before. The odds of getting it done are against it on an astronomical scale. But I heard about a guy who got a lot of “thumbs down” on his comments, and finally got the ultimate thumbs down himself. But somehow, improbably, his optimism won through. Seems like the kind of example it would be good to follow.

          Wanna help?

      • Step 3. So yes, we are going to get the Boy Scouts of America out of the business of taking sides on specific questions of morality and refer those issues to the people who are the most qualified to deal with them: families and religious institutions.

        So, you would like the BSA, with its nationwide resources, to be the organization that to help you develop and instill your values into your children. That won’t work very well if you and your children are required to associate with people who have different values than yours, or might even pose a danger to those children. So, you won’t have to associate with them.

        I used to think the Chartered Organization structure was a silly, unnecessary complication that never worked anyway. Not anymore. The Chartered Organization structure is at last going to serve the purpose it was always intended for. The Chartered Organization will be the fundamental building block of the Boy Scouts of America, because each Chartered Organization will pick and choose what methods (such as uniforms and advancement) and what program elements of Scouting (such as outdoors, sports and fitness, emergency preparedness, etc.) it wants to use to support its youth and are that are compatible with its beliefs and values and with the supplemental material and activities that it may wish to combine with the Scouting modules. Additionally, each Chartered Organization will decide on the qualifications for the members of the Scouting program that it conducts using BSA resources. In many cases, those decisions will be made by larger organizations with influence or authority over local COs, such as national church governing bodies.

        Step 3: Accommodating people and groups with diverse views requires a more flexible program.

      • Step 4. One size does _not_ fit all. Not in clothing, not in cable television subscriptions, and not in youth programs. We are no longer in Ozzie and Harriet’s America; but Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts today would easily fit right into that world (except for a few recently-added merit badges). America’s demographics have changed substantially since BSA reached its membership peak nearly 45 years ago. So have the daily lives, needs, and expectations of American families. Given that, why would an organization suffering a steep membership fall-off offer programs that only work one way nationwide — the very same way that they worked in the 1950s?

        Chartered Organizations will be able to build their own programs from BSA components based not only on the values they want to instill, but the kinds of fun they want to have and the kinds of skills they want to teach. Maybe you want to combine soccer and robots, or use the patrol method, uniforms, and emergency preparedness skills to introduce health service careers to middle school girls. You can.

        Certainly there will be a lot of folks who just want the traditional Scouting programs — and those will still be there as standard program options, but with this enhancement: the COs (or groups of COs) will each decide on membership for its programs. Want a co-ed Boy Scout troop? You can have it. Want a female only Varsity team? Sure.

        Step 4: A more diverse society requires a more flexible program.

      • Step 5. So now you have a Scouting landscape in the United States that ranges from troops using the 1911 handbook to LGBT-only Venturing crews to Catholic girl troops that specialize in foreign pilgrimages. Of course, most of them will be largely recognizable as Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops, but with a lot of variety in uniform styles, colors, and accessories.

        Funny thing, though. When they meet, they all recite the Scout Oath (in a version approved by their Chartered Organization), the Scout Law, and the Pledge of Allegiance (except for units like the one made up of the children of foreign diplomats). The adults all have YPT requirements, and the units still follow (but laugh at) the Guide to Safe Scouting. They are still being urged to turn in their Journey to Excellence worksheets and are still frustrated with the recharter process. They still complain about the price of uniforms (though some enterprising units now sew their own). There are still camporees, some smaller (made up of like-minded units), but many much bigger than before because of the diversity of participants. The Order of the Arrow will find a way to continue giving cheerful service — the girls will figure it out. Religious awards will skyrocket, since many religious institution COs will give them a much bigger emphasis in their Scouting programs. And BSA will continue to produce Eagle Scouts, maintaining a tight grip on core requirements and Eagle traditions, but with experiences enriched by a variety of additional requirements developed by many Chartered Organizations for Eagle candidates from their units.

        Sure, the transition will be wild and frustrating — and strangely reassuring. Like our WWW sisters, we’ll figure it out. What is important is that we preserve the ability of every member and every Chartered Organization to use the Scouting program in a manner consistent with their beliefs and values, while making its benefits available to anyone who is willing to do the work. Because that is what America is all about.

        And that is a way that we could move forward.

        Step 5: Temper change with tradition and continuity.

  53. You keep talking about Pauline Dispensation as if it invalidates the contents of the bible that come before 50 AD are irrelevant. Above, you mentioned Pauline Dispensationalism, and them immediately referenced the book of Matthew, which according to your theory, has been dispensed with because it occurred too early (by less than 50 years).

    Also, plese keep in mind that while scouting supports religion, it doesn’t require that the religion be Christian, and it certainly doesn’t require that the religion be your minority position of hyper-dispensationalism.

    • This reply was overly-flippant. I’m getting frustrated because it bothers me that Christians believe that teachings of Christ can be dispensed with in favor of the teachings of Paul without becoming Paulians instead of Christians. It also bothers me that so many Christians take as lessons from the bible the rules about behavior without taking the lessons about forgiveness and acceptance, which *I* view as much more important.

  54. I understand that people seem to have a reflex on which talking points are to be used when talking about membership policy. However, if you actually read the speech and look at the reasoning behind it you’ll find that most of those points are not relevant to the current stage of the discussion. So far, I haven’t found a person who took the time to understand the issue at hand, and ends up not agreeing with Dr. Gates, no matter which side of the discussion they had been in the past. Some may not be happy about the result, but that’s a different issue.

    • when you stated “So far, I haven’t found a person who took the time to understand the issue at hand, and ends up not agreeing with Dr. Gates…”
      you hit the nail on the head. probably 2% of the posters here actually read the entire speech.

  55. Dr. Albert Mohler recently pointed out:

    “In comments made to a national gathering a scout leaders in Georgia Robert Gates said that the Boy Scouts would have to deal with the world as it is, not as the Boy Scouts might wish that world to be. In his extended comments he made quite an argument for the dropping of the prohibition against gay scout leaders. But his argument was almost entirely centered on how to rescue and preserve the Boy Scouts as a national organization. Moral principle basically did not enter into his discussion at all.”

    The entire briefing is worth a read: http://www.albertmohler.com/?p=34904

    • Thank you for the reference to this clearly-thought-out. The article in National Review that is referred to in Moehler’s article is at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/418785/gates-gays-and-boy-scouts-kevin-d-williamson#!..

      If one thinks that this issue will be solved by the loosening of requirements, then they may not be considering the full implications of this.

      What will be next?
      – Transgender[won’t that make Venture events interesting?)?
      – Pick 10 out of 12 of the Scout Law?
      – How long till the atheists say to get rid of this “God” obsession?
      – Oath Optional?
      – Don’t worry about this “Prepared” thing?
      – Do a good turn whenever the mood strikes?
      – What happens when NAMBLA says we are discriminating against them – do we get rid of YPT?

      Mr Gates, I’m sorry to say, is simply adding grease to the slippery slope.

      I hang in there in hopes that enough hang on to eventually re-direct Boy Scouts back to its core values. I will not leave Boy Scouts, and hope that Boy Scouts has enough backbone not to leave those who have supported it all these years.

      • Slippery slope is a logical fallacy. None of the things in your list will happen as a consequence of this change.

        • Except for transgender, I was (I hope) engaging in hyperbole. We have had some posts about accommodating to athiests.

          At least I have the courage to post under my real name, Today’s Scout.

        • @Carey, how do you expect to have a reasonable debate on this when you acknowledge that you are just using hyperbole?

          People in this blog are attacking Robert Gates, a man who has undeniable spent most of his life dedicated to serve this country, a man who while having the opportunity to join any organization he wanted, he chose the Boy Scouts of America.

          If the discourse here was respectful, friendly, and kind, and fact based. I’d be happy to engage in the discussion as I’ve done so many times before.

        • I did not say that I was just using hyperbole. On further consideration, and seeing some of the comments and suggestions and comments, I fear I am not engaging in hyperbole, but hypobole – that is – not alarmed enough. This whole discussion is not about “equal rights” as some claim…it is the effort for people to, pardon the metaphor, shove their views down other people’s throats.

          There was a comment that 2/3 of the membership voted for the change 2 years ago…If you polled the entire membership, rather than hand selected individuals of each council, I feel you might have a seriously different result.

        • This discussion should be about Dr. Gates speech, which is about how the current membership policy is not legally sustainable. His point is quite clear, and granted it’s a about people trying to force the change through the court system.
          The people voting in 2013, were the duly elected representatives of their councils, they were not hand picked.

    • perhaps moral principle was not the issue. I don’t consider LGBT persons to be amoral, because they’re not, they’re just people. What is amoral is discriminating against them just because of who the are, something they cannot change, that is amoral. Mohler has his opinion, which I believe to be short sighted. He’s looking at it from the point of view of an ultra conservative who firmly believes that opposite views are an abomination.

      Two years ago the National Membership voted overwhelmingly (2/3) that there needed to be a change, to allow scouts who happen to be gay to remain in the organization. If the vote came down today we may most likely have a similar % of the membership vote that gay leaders should be allowed. The fact that Mohler isn’t in tune with that does not make it the wrong idea, it makes it someone else’s.

      A paid preacher can complain about the secular view all they want, but in the end remember that the BSA is NOT a “Christian” organization, it is a youth organization that highlights Duty to God, Duty to Country and Duty to Self.

      Dr. Gates was speaking about a moral issue, it’s just that he views it from another angle.

      • Matt three points to address your comments.

        1. “I don’t consider LGBT persons to be amoral”. Perhaps you don’t but most religions do and a Scout is reverent (agree not just Christian). The real issue here is that the LGBT community call themselves normal. Statistically this is not true. They make up approx. 2 % (1.8% gay, transgender .4%) of the American population. By definition this is not nominal. They are an outlier. Their political efforts are geared to make them feel normal. Sorry 2% is the tip of the tail that is trying to wag the dog.

        2. “Two years ago the National Membership voted overwhelmingly (2/3) that there needed to be a change, to allow scouts who happen to be gay to remain in the organization.”

        Really, I don’t remember any election or vote. What I recall is poll which any first year poli sci major will tell you can be slanted any way you want. No the way to see really where we are as an organization is to have an open, transparent election of our National Board Members by region and by population. Similar to… oh I don’t know our Congress or our state legislatures. From there we can have true representatives to our regional / local beliefs. Today, can anyone say how our National Annual Meeting representatives are chosen? How much contribution money buys their way on to the board? What corporations are involved? Let’s have true transparency, let’s have a vote for our board members, let them run for the position and then lets see how the vote goes.

        3. “Remember that the BSA is NOT a “Christian” organization, it is a youth organization that highlights Duty to God, Duty to Country and Duty to Self” Concur, but duty to ones God generally means following ones belief system, again the mainstream religions of the US don’t support the gay life style. Duty to Country doesn’t mean we allow a 2% minority dictate to the other 98% what is normal or not.

        • 2.2% of the world population is 154,000,000, is that not enough people for you? Also a lot of the 98% percent of the people already think that it’s normal, and the number of people that take that position is increasing with time.

          You have a very good case to make in favor of your position based on scripture. Math and science are not on your side on this one.

  56. Well, just in case someone here _does_ want to try to influence BSA policy in one way or another, here’s a couple of easy things you can do: 1. Send an email to program.content@scouting.org; 2. Go to http://www.scoutingwire.org, and select “Connect With Us” on the menu bar — that takes you to a page with a form for emailing your comments to BSA. Of course, you can also send your thoughts to your Council president and Scout Executive.

    Now, just in case someone here feels, as I do, that our organization should reflect the same balance of values and principles that provides Americans with both freedom of religion and equal protection, here’s a sample letter or email that you might want to use or adapt, and send to the addresses mentioned above:

    ———————————————-
    In his speech at this year’s BSA National Meeting, BSA president Robert Gates had this to say about BSA’s current policy that bans openly gay adults from leadership positions in BSA’s traditional programs:

    “Waiting for the courts is a gamble with huge stakes. Alternatively, we can move at some future date – but sooner rather than later – to seize control of our own future, set our own course and change our policy in order to allow charter partners – unit sponsoring organizations – to determine the standards for their scout leaders. Such an approach would allow all churches, which sponsor some 70% of our scout units, to establish leadership standards consistent with their faith. * * * I support a policy that accepts and respects our different perspectives and beliefs, allows religious organizations – based on first amendment protection of religious freedom – to establish their own standards for adult leaders, and preserves the Boy Scouts of America now and forever. I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement.”

    As to membership standards, I believe that Mr. Gates’s proposed solution is right, but too limited.

    First, BSA should change its policy and allow Chartered Organizations to not only establish their own standards for adult leaders, but also establish their own standards for youth members in the units that they sponsor. Second, BSA should change its policy and allow Chartered Organizations to opt out of other membership restrictions that currently exist, so that the units sponsored by that CO could accept atheists and agnostics, and accept females into programs that are currently only for boys.

    A policy of Chartered Organization Choice would allow us to achieve the goal Mr. Gates set out: “a policy that accepts and respects our different perspectives and beliefs.”

    Again, the membership choices made by a Chartered Organization would extend only to the units sponsored by that CO (or, in the case of national organizations such as churches, to the units sponsored by the local COs under the authority of that national organization). This would require some changes to make our Scouting programs amenable to a much more diverse membership. But at the same time, BSA would assist Chartered Organizations in supplementing the standard BSA program with modules that reflect the CO’s particular youth development needs and goals.

    [Your Name]

    • Dan,

      Your comment:

      ” As to membership standards, I believe that Mr. Gates’s proposed solution is right, but too limited.

      First, BSA should change its policy and allow Chartered Organizations to not only establish their own standards for adult leaders, but also establish their own standards for youth members in the units that they sponsor. Second, BSA should change its policy and allow Chartered Organizations to opt out of other membership restrictions that currently exist, so that the units sponsored by that CO could accept atheists and agnostics, and accept females into programs that are currently only for boys.

      A policy of Chartered Organization Choice would allow us to achieve the goal Mr. Gates set out: “a policy that accepts and respects our different perspectives and beliefs.”

      What your are proposing is the complete franchising of the BSA to charter orgs which can do what they want. This will end the BSA as a “National Movement” as Mr. Gates has stated that he wants to preserve. Indeed your suggestion will allow for what Carey Snyder said earlier in what would be next on the slippery slope:

      – Transgender [won’t that make Venture events interesting?)?
      – Pick 10 out of 12 of the Scout Law?
      – How long till the atheists say to get rid of this “God” obsession?
      – Oath Optional?
      – Don’t worry about this “Prepared” thing?
      – Do a good turn whenever the mood strikes?
      – What happens when NAMBLA says we are discriminating against them – do we get rid of YPT?

      “Today’s Scout” scoffed at this and said that the Slippery slope is a logical fallacy. None of the things in Carey’s list will happen as a consequence of this change.

      Yet just yesterday the new Jenner said in an interview that he/she is the “new Normal”. No she is not, but if there is the next politically correct direction. Is anyone is willing to take the chance? Well Dan your very recommendation opens the door for just that.

      Sorry, if the Scouts are to remain a national movement then the standard has to remain a national one. And given that the Supreme court recognizes us has having the constitutional right as a private organization to set our membership standards (right to assemble) then we will very likely win that fight.

      • Mike W wrote: “Sorry, if the Scouts are to remain a national movement then the standard has to remain a national one.”

        Well, you know what that national standard is going to end up being, if there is no Chartered Organization choice, right?

        • Dan –

          There is no intention to create a new national standard that is fully inclusive. The only option on the table is CO choice for adults.

          Marcelo.

        • Marcelo, thanks — yes, I know that. But do you really think that when CO choice for adult leaders is adopted, that will be the end of the membership standards issues?*

          Recall this part of Mr. Gates’ speech:

          “We cannot predict if or when this might happen to us, but I personally believe our legal defenses have weakened since the Dale [Supreme Court] case. 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.”

          Note that he is warning that we could well lose on _all three_ “G” issues (gays, girls, and God). His proposal is that the BSA default position will be that gay adult leaders will be welcome, but religious organizations can choose to exclude them based on the organization’s rights to _religious_ freedom (not freedom of association). He says nothing about acting to protect the exclusion of girls from Cub Scouts and Boys Scouts, and he says nothing about acting to protect the requirement that _all members_ believe in God. Instead what he says is that the Dale case isn’t going to protect us. And do you think the defiant councils will stop with the admission of gay adult leaders? Will the public think better of BSA because we partially stopped discriminating in one of three categories?

          Besides, BSA is already moving on those other membership restrictions. Co-ed Exploring (fully inclusive, under Learning for Life) is expanding downward in age to middle school. And why do you suppose that STEM _Scouts_ is also co-ed and fully inclusive, rather than being subject to the same restrictions as other “Scout” programs?

          Our destination is already set. It is really only a question of how long it will take us and how many casualties we will suffer along the way. I think we should just get it over with now, in a way that provides maximum opportunity for COs that want to keep membership restrictions, while providing cover for them by offering maximum inclusiveness through other COs.

          —————————-
          *Additionally, CO choice for adult leaders _only_ does nothing to roll back admission of openly gay youth in units sponsored by religious organizations.

        • Dan –

          It will be the end of the current membership standards issue. There could be others, but this one the fastest one to take place, and it has taken 25 years (Dale was removed from scouting back in 1990). If something was too change soon, such change should already be in the motions, and I’m not seeing it.

          Both the boys only part and the God part are well protected everywhere in our documents, and they are unrelated to the Dale case. I don’t see a challenge to that in the near future.

          Defiant council’s will stop with this change, it’s one thing to try to remove a restriction, and different one to try to force one.

          The public will be divided, but will have free choice, like with a lot of other things.

          Change takes time, having a plausible idea of how the future looks like, shouldn’t imply that we can avoid the steps. The best method to predict it though, is look at what the current youth is saying.

          In 30 years from now, I’ll be the one protesting that they are changing the program too much, and they’ll be coming up with things that I can’t even imagine right now :).

        • Today’s Scout wrote: “The best method to predict [the future] though, is look at what the current youth is saying.”

          Would that be the youth who are joining BSA traditional programs in decreasing numbers? Or the youth who are staying away from BSA traditional programs in increasing numbers? Take another look at the membership numbers Calvin posted.

          Did you notice that the incoming Chief Scout Executive, Michael Surbaugh, is BSA’s Group Director of Human Resources, Innovation, Exploring and Learning for Life?

          Did you notice that Mr. Gates specifically talked about STEM Scouts and how “kids who had passed up” our traditional programs “were eager to sign up” for STEM Scouts?

          Exploring, Learning for Life, STEM Scouts: Our future is fully co-ed and fully inclusive, with an exception only for religious organizations exercising their right to religious freedom.

          Do you think that Mr. Gates said what he said in his speech without first vetting it with the national executive committee and BSA’s legal counsel?

          I’m thinking that predicting the future should also take into account the clear signals that our current organization’s leaders are giving us about where they intend to take the organization.

        • Just to be clear, my point is that a transition is coming, and we should do what we can to control it so that at minimum we —

          1. Can do justice to our religious organizations by giving them (and returning to them) full control of their membership standards consistent with their beliefs and their right to religious freedom;

          2. Allow our more progressive Chartered Organizations to open membership in their units to anyone regardless of race, color, creed, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, etc., so that anyone who wants to join a program of the Boy Scouts of America can do so;

          3. Increase membership by providing flexible program options to our Chartered Organizations so that they can adapt and customize the Scouting programs they offer in order to reach new member groups.

          Number 1 is the right thing to do under the First Amendment and because they have been treated unfairly in this whole process. And it is the only thing to do if we want to keep them in the BSA – and bring back folks who left because of the 2013 decision.

          Number 2 is the right thing to do because it reflects the American values of equality and personal liberty set out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. And it removes obstacles to bringing in new members.

          Number 3 is the right thing to do because the best ideas are generated out in the field, because local control by volunteers is more responsive and allows us to cut some of the costs of centralized paid bureaucracy, and because our existing traditional programs are not reaching the number of youth that Scouting should be reaching.

        • Dan –

          All those youth you mention are relevant. I think you are reading too much between the lines. The speech had a number of separate parts. The STEM scouts part was not tied to the membership policy part.

          Your predictions may be right, but this is not the time to make all the changes you suggest.

      • Mike –

        As I said none of the things in the list will happen as an effect of the change proposed by Dr. Gates.

        Dan proposed a new set of changes, which I don’t endorse, and are not likely to happen. So I’m not sure how my comment is related to this.

        I agree with you that a national standard will remain, and if challenged, we will defend it as long as we have a chance of prevailing.

  57. I keep hearing that this change is about money. It is, but only a part of it. The larger part is about public opinion, in particular the opinions held by the 20-35 year old demographic. there are 2 important points about that demographic:
    1) They overwhelmingly support equal rights and equal protections for their fellow LBGT citizens.
    2) They will be having the children that the BSA need as members in the future.
    The future of Scouting is them and their kids.

    The future of Scouting is not me (age 52) and not people who call themselves things like – Yesterdays Scout, Sasquatch, 30 Year Veteran of Scouting, etc. I bet the average age of people posting hear is over 55 years old. We may be part of the current Scouting Leadership, but old age and death will quickly make us part of the past.
    Yes, it the short run, changing the policy will cost us members. I think maybe 5-10%. This despite the fact that it is likely that only something like maybe 1 in 25 or even 1 in 50 units might actually have a gay leader. I do not believe for one second that there are thousands of gay people lining up to join Scouting. If there were, they could join now by concealing the fact that they are gay. This is about the perception we give to the general public that we are a bunch of backwards ignorant bigots.

    And yes, losses will be greater in the South, maybe as much as 50%. Which is stupid in the extreme because no openly gay person is going to even try to apply for membership in a Troop or Pack chartered to a Baptist Church in Possum Holl’r, Arkansas. What is being proposed would let them deny the membership anyway. But the is always Trail Life. The scary thing is that the South has a very bad history of defending the indefensible.

    I live in Northern Colorado (Longs Peak Council) and except for a handful of old guys (who I know and like), this is simply a non-issue.

    • Wow, what a bigoted commentary! Of course, my observation has been that those who preach tolerance are often among the most intolerant individuals when it comes to things with which they don’t agree.

  58. Calvin, Did I hurt your feelings? I said the BSA Is perceived as backwards and bigoted, I didn’t say they actually were.
    Or do you live in the south? But what I stated about the South is simply true – as a region, they fought and died for states rights – mostly states rights to own slaves. They then fought and lynched and burned against Civil Rights for all. Those are facts. I am completely tolerant of your right to live and think where and how you chose, until you step on the rights of others to do the same.
    What did I state that is not either a fact or is a reasonable supposition derived from facts?
    What I find amazing is the people who are most intolerant hate it when their intolerance is pointed out.

    • No, you didn’t hurt my feelings but your comment about Baptists in Possum Holl’r, Arkansas, shows that you are a bigot.

      I’ve lived in Texas since 1979. Before that, I spent almost 10 years living in New York and Maryland. During my time in those two states, I observed that many residents were even more raciest than those I grew up with in the deep south.

      Take a look at the current racial demographics of the major cities of the north and compare them to the south and you’ll see that, in most cases, the southern cities are less racially segregated.

      Comparisons of the Civil Rights struggle to the those that oppose homosexuality is a straw man argument that has nothing to do with the BSA.

      View the movie, “Selma” as it gives a good view of how black people were treated during the Civil Rights struggle. The way in which the movie treats LBJ isn’t historically correct but everything else is very factual.

      Due to the fact that I saw first hand how black people were treated during the 50s and 60s and haven’t seen anything similar to the way in which gays are treated, it really bothers me when I see the two situations compared. I’m aware that several young gay men have been lynched but the numbers of blacks to whom that happened is probably in the thousands.

      Growing up in Mississippi in a segregated society, I never heard anyone provide a scriptural reference that supported segregation. On the other hand, there are several scriptures that speak against homosexuality. This is why most evangelicals don’t support same-sex marriage or homosexuality.

      • Calvin, No, it shows I’m sarcastic, but to make a point. But please name a major denomination that is more likely to object to even allowing each CO to make this decision for themselves. You can’t.
        Or a region of the country where large numbers of Scout Leaders and parents will “secede” from the Boy Scouts and form their own “Scout-like” organization. You can’t.
        I wasn’t drawing a comparison to the suffering of blacks to the suffering of gays. I was pointing out that the south has a history of opposing things that the rest of the country supports. The south will get there eventually – it just may take an extra 30 years.
        Scripture was often used to support both slavery and segregation whether you personally heard it or not.

        • Most of the churches sponsoring Scouting units in the Southern Baptist Convention (15.7M members) have already decided to “secede” from the BSA. My local SBC church, which had sponsored a Scouting program for over 27 years, did not renew BSA Scouting effective 1/1/14. I’m only aware of two SBC churches which still have BSA Scouting. Most others have emphasized their existing youth programs or now sponsor Trail Life USA troops.

          Neither your nor I were alive when slavery existed in America so you’re presenting a straw man argument.

          I spent my first 26 years living in Mississippi or Alabama and I never heard scripture used to support segregation. I’m sure this did happen but it wasn’t very often and, when it was, it was denounced by Billy Graham and other top religious leaders in the south.

      • Calvin, you make a good case at trying to remove things that are not going to help the discussion like calling all the people in the south names.

        I hope, though, that you agree that lynching is bad, it’s bad if it happens to one person, it’s bad if it happens to two, it’s bad if it happens to thousands.

        So I’m not sure what you meant by this part: “I’m aware that several young gay men have been lynched but the numbers of blacks to whom that happened is probably in the thousands”

        • One of the claims I’ve seen by LGBTQ groups is that their situation is the same as the situation faced by blacks during the Civil Rights struggle. Often, the fact that gays have been lynched is mentioned. I’m merely pointing out the historical fact that far more blacks have been lynched than the gays to which that has happened.

        • Calvin – Many situations LGBTQ people have been subjected to are just wrong. By your own statement some of them have been lynched. So you are right, they have been treated wrongly, how this wrongness ranks compares to other wrongness is not relevant, right?

  59. I’m certain Dr. Gates loves the BSA as he has been actively involved since he was a young boy. I’m also certain that Dr. Gates realizes the BSA faces significant financial challenges during upcoming years. This is due to several factors, including law suits due to publication of the IV Files, the cost overruns related to constructing The Summit and declining membership. The BSA is a professional run organization, and Dr. Gates knows that there needs to be a way to fund professional salaries and benefits as most corporate donations have dried up due to the current membership rules, popcorn sales are lagging in many councils and donations through FOS are declining. In my opinion, Dr. Gates is willing to sacrifice membership as further reductions in membership will take place if homosexual adults are allowed to be leaders. Consider what took place during the past two years after the youth membership standard was changed.

    Below are the year end youth membership numbers (primary registrations) for the BSA’s traditional programs (Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, Sea Scouts and Venturing) since Venturing was introduced in 1998.

    Source: BSA Annual Reports

    Membership Increase/
    Numbers Reduction % Reduction
    ————— ———— ———–
    1998 3,383,439
    1999 3,392,144 8,705 .3% increase
    2000 3,351,969 -40,175 1.2% reduction
    2001 3,325,504 -26,465 .8% reduction
    2002 3,304,592 -20,912 .6% reduction
    2003 3,200,218 -104,374 3.2% reduction
    2004 3,145,331 -54,887 1.7% reduction
    2005 2,938,698 -206,633 6.6% reduction
    2006 2,868,963 -69,735 2.4% reduction
    2007 2,855,833 -13,130 .5% reduction
    2008 2,832,636 -23,197 .8% reduction
    2009 2,790,632 -42,004 1.5% reduction
    2010 2,739,692 -50,940 1.8% reduction
    2011 2,723,869 -15,823 .6% reduction
    2012 2,658,794 -65,075 2.4% reduction
    2013 2,498,061 -160,733 6.0% reduction
    2014 2,307,874 -190,187 7.6% reduction

    16 Year Total -1,075,565 31.8% reduction

    I’m sure the BSA’s National leadership is “sounding” out the leadership of the LDS, Catholic and Methodist churches as these are the three largest chartered organizations. From what I’ve observed, the LDS and Methodist churches will probably go along with the “local option” standard that Dr. Gates seems to desire. I’m less certain that the Catholic church will agree.

    In any case, I believe the “local option” standard, if implemented, will be temporary and only a standard which allows membership to homosexual adults throughout the BSA will satisfy the LGBTQ community and again see corporate money begin to flow into the BSA.

    In my opinion, Dr. Gates, top volunteers and the professionals running the BSA are willing to see significant losses in youth membership in order to see corporate funding again begin flowing. In other words, money is the MOST IMPORTANT thing to the BSA’s National leadership.

    • Thank you for the membership figures. Very interesting.
      I’m Catholic, And I cannot conceive that either of the 2 Catholic Churches with Troops that I know of here or the one I was a Scout in will do anything but continue to support the Scouts. They may not allow gay Scout Leaders themselves, but the will continue to charter Troops.
      Churches are protected by the 1st Amendment and therefore could not be forced to accept gay leaders if they did not want to.
      And you didn’t address the fact that about 80% of young adults object to discrimination against gays. Again their kids will be the future of Scouting. Not us old people with nothing better to do than bicker online.

      • Actually, the Voice of the Scout surveys conducted in 2012 indicated that a majority of parents of Scouts did not want the BSA to admit homosexual adults.

    • Corporate donations will not flow as long as BSA can also be accused of discriminating against atheits.

    • Thank you for the membership figures. I knew that there was a drop of 6% but when one looks at the actual number, it was much more than I thought. And what is scary, is that last year it dropped even more.

      The top three religious sponsors will not pull if the local option is allowed — it is their out, so to speak –, but as you said, and as I said in an earlier post, the LGBT groups will not allow that to stand. At some point, they will hound BSA until there is a complete acceptance of gay leaders, even if the sponsor organization opposes it for religious reasons.

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