A reader remarks on the Boy Scouts…

I appreciate your thoughtful discussion on the change in BSA policy. As an eagle scout who founded a troop in our parish a few years ago, I am extremely upset that many of my fellow parishioners (and potentially pastor and bishop) seem to be moving toward revoking the troop’s charter. While this action is not as extreme as denying communion to someone in a Scout uniform, it still strikes me as extreme. In particular it seems to be motivated by fear of some future action (e.g. being forced to celebrate scouts engaging in unchaste activities). More worrisome, the retreat into Fortress Katholicus (to borrow your phrase) is beginning to have the stench of heresy to me (specifically Donatism). Indeed, in discussing this issue with one of my devout evangelical friends, she said that “these [gay] boys are misguided and every true Christian should be running toward them to bring them back on the right path.” I found myself agreeing with her completely (a rare event) and unable to see how dissolving the troop over this issue fulfills our obligation to bring the word of Christ to the world. When you have a moment I would be interested in your response to this assessment. To the extent you want to post this on your blog please feel free to do so.

I don’t have much to add. I think my reader is right. I hope Catholics continue to see the glass 9/10ths full with the Scouts. And the feedback I’ve gotten so far suggests they will, so that’s something to be thankful for.


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  • MyKCMom

    I disagree for several reasons. I think it’s reasonable for sex to not be a part of the boy scouts. We have enough early sexualization of our youth. On that note, I’d like to see more Conquest groups personally. However, I have to add that I am frustrated there is an uprising against the boy scouts, like I have never seen against the girl scouts: the girl scouts, who at the UN gave out safe sex materials that encouraged lesbian acts and exploration, the girl scouts who have a Planned Parenthood badge and just had an award ceremony with them, the girl scouts who have been duplicitous in their dealings with their members and the church. Seriously, if we’re going to take a stand for chastity then let’s take a stand against the girl scouts and start opening up our doors to Little Flower groups!

    • Andy, Bad Person

      I think it’s reasonable for sex to not be a part of the boy scouts.

      Agreed. The Boy Scouts agree with you, too.

      • Guest

        No, the Boy Scouts have only spoken in part, saying enough to sow confusion and not enough to provide clarity. What is the Boy Scouts position on whether same-sex attraction is temptation to sin or natural? Do the Boy Scouts believe it is of no importance in developing character if one of its members dates another boy, takes him on long walks, holds hands, and kisses under the light of the moon? In teaching boys to be morally straight, does it teach that one should not only not sin, but avoid occasions for sin and not give into, but resist temptation?

        The Boy Scouts have said too much not to say more. Again, it has said enough to create confusion and not enough to provide clarity.

        • Newp Ort

          But where else does BSA teach what is sin, and temptation to sin?

          Did BSA have any previous stated position on moonlit smooching that will now have to be revised?

          • Guest

            “Did BSA have any previous stated position on moonlit smooching that will now have to be revised?”

            Yes, it denied membership to OPENLY homosexual boys. Now it allows such membership. One thing a boy can do to OPENLY demonstrate that he is homosexual is to date another boy, to hold his hand, to snuggle with him, and to kiss him. Doing so would, therefore, be conduct which under the policy just abandoned would be grounds for denying membership. Presumably, none of those acts are the type of sexual conduct forbidden as to all adolescents. I certainly did all those things with girls when I was in high school. That was part of my being OPENLY heterosexual. I could do so with a girl and still be a boy scout in good standing.

            Read carefully the new policy, it most certainly creates a problem here, at least for those of us who believe that boys dating boys, etc., create occasion for sin, either immediately or in the future.

            • kenofken

              What the hell business of scouting, or of any appropriate youth organization, to police the details of its membership’s dating life? Scouting can, and will, dictate the bounds of proper behavior during the events and activities it runs. Presumably, any displays of affection which would be inappropriate for hetero kids will also be so for gay ones.

              • Guest

                And would any displays of affection which would be appropriate for heterosexual teenagers also be so for homosexual ones?

                • kenofken

                  Yes. It may not be your cup of tea or mine, but I figure that all fits in the file cabinet under “none of our damn business.” Kids, gay and straight, and for that matter, adults, should be taught the concept of a time and place for everything and how to act with some decorum and professionalism in circumstances that require it.

                  Scouting, for its members, is a quasi-professional setting. There are policy issues that come into play, but really the standard comes down to common sense. Don’t do anything in public you wouldn’t want a future employer or family member to see on social media somewhere. On the other hand, if a couple is just holding hands or a peck on the cheek is exchanged, it’s not a matter of approval or disapproval for any of us. We can man up and get over ourselves, or quit staring….

          • Guest

            Newp Ort,

            Please answer each of these questions:

            Do you believe that a boy dating another boy, holding his hand, snuggling with him and kissing him would be consistent with being morally straight?

            Do you believe such actions would have been grounds for dismissal by the Boy Scouts under the existing policy which expires on January 1, 2012?

            Do you believe such actions are consistent with being OPENLY homosexual and, so, would not be grounds for dismissal under the new policy which will apply beginning on January 1, 2012?

            • Newp Ort

              If by morally straight you mean heterosexual, then obviously no. What does morally straight mean?

              You raise a good question here, how did they handle these things in the past? Were boys brought in for questioning on rumor or witness of “gay behavior” and then forced to declare themselves heterosexual on penalty of expulsion?

              I guess that stuff sure sounds openly gay, and well yeah I don’t think that’d be grounds to get kicked out with the new policy.

              For what it’s worth, I’m ok with the new policy.

              • Guest

                “For what it’s worth, I’m ok with the new policy.”

                I figured that out already, but thanks for acknowledging it. And I agree with you, under the new policy I don’t think such behavior between two boys would be grounds to get kicked out.

                I’m not ok with that and, hence, I’ll no longer provide leadership and my sons will no longer participate once my obligations are completed at the end of this summer.

                • Newp Ort

                  But what about what the catechism says about gays? I guess it doesn’t approve of gay boyfriends. but these boys aren’t necessarily gonna be catholic. we should have compassion towards them, no? its complicated, that’s for sure. how old are your sons? they probably have ssa or not at this point, the boy scouts won’t change that.

    • Newp Ort

      But we need the cookies. find me a mint thins alternative first

      • Jude

        Keebler Grasshopper cookies. Available year-round in your grocery.

        • Newp Ort

          A poor substitute, to say the least.

      • MyKCMom

        Grasshoppers are a wonderful alternative!

        • Newp Ort

          Look, I appreciate the suggestion but y’all grasshopper fans must be hopped up on grass. Not a terrible cookie but next to thin mints those things are elf turds.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    Yeah, right. Like he sets the direction and standards. When he gets memos from the national direction demanding that he should “affirm diversity”, he will find out where the heresy is. And Donatism was about killing people, not about avoiding occasions for sin.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      These are things that might happen. We have enough problems fighting the things that have happened and are happening without chasing down speculation.

      • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

        I am glad that you live in a planet where a brutally aggressive party does not brutally exploit every opportunity it has. Unfortunately here on Earth that’s the way things happen.

      • Guest

        While I would not express it in the same way Fabio does, I believe his essential point is correct. These are not things which might happen, these are things which are happening. This is the first step as relates to Boy Scouts, but anyone who has witnessed how sodomy went from being a crime in all 50 states on the day John F. Kennedy became president to being legal in all 50 states today and to how same-sex marriage went from being unthinkable to the law in 12 states and an issue pending before the US Supreme Court even as I type will recognize the pattern. With all due respect, one who says we should not base our present response on what is almost certainly the planned course (see the current agitation to drop the ban on openly homosexual adult leaders (many of whom, presumably, will be openly living in sin)) is either naive or willfully blind.

        • Paul Williams

          I would tend to agree. Do we really want to pretend we don’t know the larger context as to what’s going on here? Are we really going to reassure ourselves that by looking at the wording of the new BSA policy through a microscope and parsing its literal meaning, we can ignore what we know about how this came about, the path we’re on, and what is happening in our culture? There will certainly be people who rationalize this step and each one to follow as acceptable or accommodatable or irrelevant until they are incremementally no longer able to hold their head above water on this sinking ship – or like Catholic Girl Scouts supporters, are willing to accept anything.

          Everyone wants to attack “rampant speculation” as to what may happen, as if we haven’t seen this story play out before over and over again (ahem, “civil unions”, “everything but marriage”, etc. ). However, even if we were to join in this mass delusion that we aren’t on the brink of a “how were we supposed to know” phase in Boy Scouts history, there are a couple facts to consider:

          FACT: The BSA policy didn’t appear out of nowhere. It replaced an existing policy. The old policy stated: “we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals”. The new one does not. Ergo, the policy was changed to remove this (for youths, not adults).

          FACT: In the materials sent to scout leaders and parents by the BSA, the organization offered no argument as to why homosexuality is problematic (or may be disordered), and instead sited research to support the idea that homosexuality is a normal or neutral condition.

          FACT: The BSA has presented no principle or sound argument as to why homosexual adults would be excluded and homosexual youths allowed. The support for this separation seems to be that the current membership does not currently want homosexual adults in the organization. That is a popular opinion survey result, not a defendable ethical principle.

          Future predictions and speculations aside, there has been a very real change that is of no minor significance. It’s getting harder for me to drink that 9/10th glass when I know the poisonous nature of that other 1/10th.

  • Rosemarie


    I agree that it would be an overreaction. However, if a pastor decides he now wants his parish to have nothing to do with the BSA, maybe the scout leaders can look into the Federation of North American Explorers: http://www.fneexplorers.com/

    It might be possible to switch the existing Boy Scout troop right over.

    • Obpoet

      This could be the pastoral provision equivalent for the Anglican Church.

  • ivan_the_mad

    Some of the bishops have already stated this ruling, while not encouraging, does not contradict Church teaching, especially since the BSA continues to prohibit sexual activity among Scouts. The NCCS will continue to study the resolution. For a good summary, see this link: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/boys-scouts-of-america-lifts-ban-on-homosexual-scouts

    In short, don’t take it out on your local troop. It’s still far too rich a field for good fruit, and the mandate to go and make disciples of all nations has not been abrogated. Christ promised us only the final victory, not pure institutions and untroubled youth organizations. Have hope and be mindful of this truth echoed by GKC: “The finding and fighting of positive evil is the beginning of all fun”.

  • Guest

    This is a difficult issue in many ways. For people who choose to remain in Boy Scouts despite this change, I understand your thought process and will find no fault. However, let me explain why my oldest son will cease to be a Boy Scout at the end of this summer and why my youngest will not start.

    The Boy Scouts from its very beginning has promoted itself as an organization designed to build the character of boys, to help them become men in the truest sense. In America, that included specifically a pledge to remain morally straight. I believe now that Boy Scouts are sending a very confusing message to boys as they navigate, with our help, the very treacherous waters of adolescence. They are saying that they will no longer disallow openly homosexual boys from being scouts and that no youth should engage in sexual conduct. Well enough, as far as it goes. But in my view it doesn’t go far enough. Once Boy Scouts said that they would now, for the first time in its history, allow openly homosexual boys, it risked putting the stamp of approval on homosexuality or, at least, treating it as a morally neutral issue. It is not.

    The Catholic Church’s teaching (and I would say the Scriptural teaching) on homosexual behavior is clear: it is gravely sinful. As a result, same-sex attraction is a temptation to commit a grave sin. So, what the Boy Scouts are saying is that it will allow boys to participate who are tempted to grave sin and, yet, it is not saying that. It is not calling homosexual behavior by adults a grave sin nor is it stating that same-sex attraction is a temptation to grave sin. It is not saying that it will help boys with this temptation to overcome it. If Boy Scouts were saying, we do allow any boy to participate who is tempted to grave sin, whatever it may be, and we will help them overcome that temptation to sin, both now and as an adult, my thoughts about this would be somewhat different, but, no, the Boy Scouts have said both too much and too little. They have said enough to leave the impression that they do not consider same-sex attraction a temptation to sin and that they do not consider homosexual acts by adults a sin, or, at least, that they are neutral on the subject. But an organization which promotes itself on helping boys become morally straight men cannot even be neutral on a matter of grave sin. Here, the Boy Scouts could uphold the Christian standard of morality, that all men and women, including adolescents, are called to chastity. Those not married are called to celibacy. Those who are married are called to fidelity to his or her spouse and that God gave married couples this gift because He desires Godly offspring. See Malachi 2:15. By its nature, same-sex acts are infertile.

    I believe by their actions, Boy Scouts are conveying a very confusing and incoherent message that can easily be understood as at best neutrality on this subject. Adolescent boys are already too confused. I believe Tony Esolen addressed this problem very well in his piece in Catholic World Report. See http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/2285/the_invisible_boy.aspx#.UaV9W4XO-NV. As a father, my job is not to add to that confusion, but to add clarity. I no longer believe Boy Scouts assist in my doing so. Had Boy Scouts remained silent on the matter and had they never purported to be helping boys be morally straight and to become morally straight men, this confusion would not be present. My son’s recreational sports leagues don’t have a policy on this, but they also do not purport to be an aid in making boys morally straight men.

    The author whose remarks you posted and your own earlier comments both reflect a belief that parish and church sponsors and parents should not leave scouting now based on fears of what my come next. With all due respect, I do not believe such an approach is prudent. Those who agitated for this change are agitating still. It is plain that they view this change not as a final step, but as a first step. I take them at their word as to what their goals are and I look at the broader context in which this is happening to discern the ultimate goal. I do not fear sexual assaults. That can be protected against and such protection is already necessary. I fear the conveying to adolescent boys the message that same-sex orientation is not a temptation to sin and that homosexual acts are not gravely sinful, that those who have same-sex attraction are to be affirmed in identifying themselves with this temptation and that we are not to suggest in anyway that such attraction is a temptation to sin, but are ourselves to stop thinking of it in that way. My fear, which I believe is prudent and based on discernment, is not that my sons will be physically molested, but that they will be spiritually molested into affirming same-sex attraction and homosexual acts as natural and not sinful. That is clearly the goal of those who advocated for this change. I will not expose my sons to such confusion and I believe parishes and churches which cease to sponsor Boy Scouts are acting wisely.

    There are alternatives that can better aid parents in training up our sons in the way they should go than Boy Scouts now is. My job as a parent is to find the best means to do so, means that clearly convey Christian truths and do not sow confusion in adolescent boys. We are taught to avoid even the occasion for sin. I am sadden to believe that doing so now requires exiting Boy Scouts.

    • JayAnderson

      “As a father, my job is not to add to that confusion, but to add clarity.
      I no longer believe Boy Scouts assist in my doing so.”


      Raising my boys is confusing enough … for them AND for me. I don’t need one of the safe havens from worldly nonsense in which they’ve been involved to suddenly become another source of confusion. The world already provides me with PLENTY of teaching moments – I don’t need the Boy Scouts to become one of them (other than the sorts of teaching moments the Boys Scouts were traditionally SUPPOSED to provide).

    • Paul Williams

      This Catholic World Report article illustrates well a problem I have with the policy change. One other scout father asked me “If the new policy prohibits homosexual activity, it is in alignment with Catholic doctrine on the differences between tendencies and actions, so what’s the problem?” Other than the problem of encouraging young boys to identify themselves according to their sexual desires, there is a lot that falls in between the mileposts of “experiences same-sex attraction” and “engages in sodomy”.

      Saying that all sexual activity (presumably, fornication and sodomy) is unacceptable for Boy Scouts is of little practical value. Would a Boy Scout be dismissed or reprimanded for holding hands with a girl, giving her a kiss, hugging her, slow dancing with her, serenading her with a love poem or song, presenting her a lavish birthday present or valentine, identifying her as a “girlfriend” on Facebook? Nope. Is similar behavior between boys now in inline with BSA ethical standards, as long as they don’t commit sodomy?

  • Rosemarie


    In related news, the American Heritage Girls have disaffiliated with the BSA over this decision:


    The Southern Baptist Convention might also soon cut ties with the BSA:


    And OnMyHonor.Net is going to have a meeting to discuss creating a ” new character development organization for boys” as an alternative:


    Although at least one other such organization already exists:


    Looks like this decision could potentially cost the BSA a significant chunk of its membership.

    • Guest

      While I am not involved in the efforts, I believe that Faith Based Boys is a placeholder for the OnMyHonor.net group and its artwork and design reflects a connection with American Heritage Girls, which appears to be involved in the effort to establish an equivalent group for boys.

      • Rosemarie


        Yes, they are affiliated with American Heritage Girls. I don’t know whether they are connected with OnMyHonor.net but wouldn’t be surprised,

        Of course, these are more Evangelical Christian endeavors, not Catholic ones. There are already Catholic alternatives like the aforementioned Federation of North American Explorers. They apparently have one group in the US so far, in Camden, NJ. Here’s their website: http://www.northstarexplorers.org/

        • Guest

          Looks like a good group. I really don’t understand why so many folks who believe homosexual acts are sins and same-sex attraction is a temptation to sin don’t recognize that with this change these alternative organizations offer a more Christ-centered approach to training up boys in the way they should go.

          The Boy Scouts, as good as they have been, were founded by men, Lord Baden-Powell being the principal founder. Those men are dead. Their plans, over the years, have been modified until now, in a very important respect they have been serious compromised. But the Boy Scouts are not the Church founded by Jesus Christ. He did not promise the Boy Scouts indefectibility. The promise was only made as to His Church.

          Frankly, it seems to me that perhaps some people have placed their trust in the BSA instead of where it should be. If another organization better serves the purpose, there is no reason to continue to favor the BSA through sponsorship and membership.

          Psalm 146:3-6

          Put not your trust in princes,
          in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
          When this breath departs, he returns to the earth;
          on that very day his plans perish.

          Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
          whose hope is in the Lord his God,
          who made heaven and earth,
          the sea, and all that is in them,
          who keeps faith forever;

          Psalm 127:1

          Unless the Lord builds the house,
          those who build it labor in vain.
          Unless the Lord watches over the city,
          the watchman stays awake in vain.

          Matthew 16:18

          And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

  • Paul Williams

    As a parent of scouts, I’ve been going back and forth on this issue – trying not to overreact to a policy change that may not affect me, while questioning whether I may be compromising my Catholic beliefs to accommodate the BSA.

    While a lot has been written on either side, it was informative to me to read the 1986 CDF “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons”, which seems applicable to the current situation – at least to give a broader context as to the Church’s teaching on homosexuality:

  • I have to disagree. I’m an Assistant Scoutmaster, my wife is a Den Leader, and we have two boys in Scouting. We will be resigning as soon as our current obligations are completed. To be compared to heretics for choosing to resign . . . well, that just takes the cake. As a parent, it is my responsibility to raise my children. The BSA has broken trust with my family. A year ago, after reviewing its policy, it was determined that its policy on homosexual members was the best policy and would not change. A year later, suddenly it was imperative to change the policy. I feel lied to, and I’m sure I’m not alone. I don’t know how many here took part in the laughable survey they sent out a few weeks ago, but I’ve never seen a more manipulative poll. It was designed to get the results they wanted. Another lie. I can’t trust this organization and refuse to spend another second or dime supporting it.

    • Paul H

      I have a seven-year-old in Cub Scouts. I also took the survey, and I agree with you completely about the leading, manipulative nature of some of the questions.

      However, I don’t really understand why the new policy is a problem for Catholics. How exactly does the new policy violate Catholic teaching? I’m not seeing how it does. I share the concern that the Scouts may sooner or later move too far in the pro-homosexual direction, and adopt policies that do contradict Catholic teaching. But they haven’t done that yet, have they?

      • I’m not sure I said the new policy is contrary to Catholic teaching. Nor do I think it is equivalent. By their actions, specifically their lying and manipulation, the organization has lost my trust. Because of this, I’m resigning. I’m not scared of homosexual kids, but I am scared of entrusting my children to an organization that will lie and deceive to achieve a political and financial goal (and make no mistake, this was about power and money – not what was “right”). I’m not reacting to what “might happen”, I’m reacting to what has happened – and that is breaking trust with my family. By breaking their own oaths. I can’t support an organization like this.

        • Paul H

          OK, I see. So for you, it is more about the shady, deceitful process of how the policy came about, than about the policy itself, if I understand correctly. I can certainly understand (and share) your dissatisfaction with the Boy Scouts on those grounds.

          • Thanks for understanding. And I understand the desire to remain, especially for those with strong Catholic supported troops and packs. That is not the case with our unit. We are sponsored by a civic organization, so the strong Catholic element is not present.

      • Guest

        With due respect, Paul, this reflects the problem in the analysis by the reader whose comments Mark posted. Does the new policy conflict with Catholic teaching? Probably not. Should that be the end of the analysis? Absolutely not. The former only addresses the licitness of whether one may remain in Boy Scouts; it does not address the prudence of whether one should remain in Boy Scouts. It looks simply at the carefully chosen words of the policy to see if, on their face, they conflict with Catholic teaching, but it fails to address the issue of what those words imply and what they leave unsaid. Again, the policy leaves confusion. Do the Boy Scouts believe same-sex attraction is natural or a temptation to sin? Do they believe that the age of the scouts is the only consideration as to the morality of homosexual acts or are those acts inherently sinful? Do the Boy Scouts have a policy on the morality of such acts or are they neutral?

        The BSA is not a recreational sports league. They hold themselves out as an organization that help boys develop character, to be morally straight boys and to become morally straight men. By explicitly admitting OPENLY homosexual scouts, it raises questions as to whether acting on the orientation now (e.g., by dating, holding hands, snuggling and kissing) is acceptable conduct and whether acting on the orientation later as an adult by engaging in sex acts falls within the parameters of being morally straight or does not.

        Again, the BSA has said enough to sow confusion, but not enough to provide clarity. That is a dangerous situation when one is dealing with boys from the first grade (Tiger Cubs) through high school, and even for fifth graders through high school. Remaining in Boy Scouts may be licit, but I don’t believe it is prudent.

        • Andrew Kosmowski

          Dear Greg,

          Please define “openly homosexual.” I see this as, “Hey, I have sexual attractions to those of the same sex” and that is it. In other words, I see this as tendency toward a type of sin and not the sin itself.

          • Guest

            That’s the problem. It is not up to me to define “openly homosexual”, it is up to the Boy Scouts. They are the one who adopted the term, but failed to define it. As I’ve been saying, Boy Scouts said both too much and too little, creating confusion and providing no clarity. This is but one example.

            In any event, if a 16-year-old boy can have a girlfriend with whom he goes on walks, holds hands, snuggles, and kisses and it not be a barrier to his being a boy scout, then, under the new policy, can’t a 16-year-old boy can have a boyfriend with whom he goes on walks, holds hands, snuggles, and kisses and it not be a barrier to his being a boy scout? Under the new policy, what would be the difference? Mr. Shea and his reader want us to take the Boy Scouts’ words literally and I am doing so. Based on their literally words, the two boys, one heterosexual and the other homosexual, should be treated the same. Either both may engage in such conduct or neither may. The question is simple whether such behavior is sexual conduct, another undefined term. If it is, then it is grounds for dismissal, or at least, discipline. If it is not, then it is not. There is no way to know based on the words alone, but I can’t imagine that those who have advocated for this change would understand treating the heterosexual behavior as permissible and the homosexual behavior as impermissible as anything other than blatant discrimination, the type against which they are fighting.

            kenofken has stated, “Presumably, any displays of affection which would be inappropriate for hetero kids will also be so for gay ones.” And under the terms of the Boy Scouts new policy, I would agree.

            So, you tell me, what is “openly homosexual” and “sexual conduct”? I doubt you know how the Boy Scouts will apply those undefined terms anymore than I do. Thus the confusion. I can’t help but believe that the ambiguity is intentional. The is a very large organization which spent months hammering out the language and which has a very well-developed program of training for leaders which takes hours to complete and must be done repeatedly over the years. They know how to choose words carefully, to be very precise and clear, and yet they chose not to do so in this case. That itself is troubling to me and should be to Mr. Shea and his reader.

            • Paul WIlliams

              I think that was part of the plan of the BSA. They adopted a carefully worded resolution (with the assistance it seems of the NCCS) that could be interpreted by both sides in a way they could find acceptable.

              Catholics could interpret the new policy as merely non-discrimination against those kids experiencing homosexual tendencies, and the gay rights advocates can see it as full acceptance of gay scouts (as long as they don’t engage in “sexual behavior”).

              The risk in trying to please both sides is that you could end up alienating both sides (e.g., Komen), but it appears that in this case, at least the Catholic side seems willing to be accommodated to the change as long as it meets the sole criteria of “not in conflict with Church teaching”.

        • $6871436

          I would imagine as with any venture into previously uncharted territory, the BSA simply isn’t ready to address all implications and contingencies at this time. The next few years will provide the experience and specific cases needed to hash out a more complete policy. In light of this, I can respect your weariness, but I doubt the policy will remain vague for very long. One way or the other, those questions will likely be answered probably as a specific situation requiring a concrete response to each comes up in turn.

          You simply can’t generate a 100% watertight policy for an area that’s wholly new to the organization.

          • Guest

            True enough, but there are some issues which can be anticipated and addressed. I suspect the vagueness is intentional, a means to try to placate everyone to some degree. In any event, I see no good reason to have my sons be part of the learning curve on how to handle the issues that will inevitably arise when alternatives are available.

  • Erik Agricola

    I agree with the reader’s comments. I think it is way too soon to bail on the BSA. The BSA has been fighting the good fight in the culture war and also doing what is important: building faith, strengthening families, teaching morality and promoting chasity. I think bailing leaves fewer people within the organization to stand for what is right. To all the people who are leaving, if the BSA goes south, just remember: you took a step back from the front line and left the BSA exposed.

    • Guest

      No, the BSA abandoned a position which was a part of the basis for our support. As a father, my responsibility to my sons and to God is to train them in the way they are to go, not to support any particular secular organization. If I believe that the BSA is no longer the best available alternative to provide character development for my son, it is my duty to withdraw from the BSA and place my sons in an organization that I believe is better. My young, immature sons will not be made soldiers in the culture wars, on either side. They are not ready for that. They are boys, not yet men. I am training them to love, worship and obey God. When I believed the BSA was the best available organization to help in providing that training, we participated. I no longer believe that is the case and so we will be withdrawing before the next school year, when my commitments for the current year are completed.

      • $6871436

        I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth here, but I think the crux of the argument is that many people still see them, even after the change, as the best organization readily available to do precisely the things you propose. If you prefer, they remain the high card in a low hand. I don’t see it either of those ways personally, but I understand those that do, and I can understand also why they feel the need to marshal support for what they see as a still “mostly sound” organization, lest they find themselves at some future juncture with even less appealing options.

    • Yes, it’s our fault when the organization that has begun ceding ground against the majority of its members’ opinions finally has no ground to stand upon. Sorry. That is bull****.

  • lavallette

    “Indeed, in discussing this issue with one of my devout evangelical
    friends, she said that “these [gay] boys are misguided and every true
    Christian should be running toward them to bring them back on the right

    Sounds so very nice in principle doesn’t it? Except experience in nother organizations has now shown the gay agendists who have forced the BSA to take these first steps towards accepting/implementing the gay agenda will not stop there. Once they get their nose in. they are like the camel with its nose under te tent. They will destroy and change everything to make sure their FULL agenda is accepted. Just you try to implement or do anything on the basis of “these [gay] boys are misguided and every true Christian should be running toward them to bring them back on the right path.” and you will be destroyed and turfed out of the BSA on the ground of “discrimination, intolerance and hate”. . Look what has happened to the Episcopalians and their accomodations in the name of telerance and diversity “in the spirit of the Love of Christ Himself”: all those holding to traditional episcopal and biblical teaching are now anathema and being persecutied and prosecuted in the civil courts out of that Church. The clear, tried and successful startegy of the gay mafia is to demand reform and accommodation for the sake of “love, tolerance and diversity” but once once they are inside and gain power than those who do not fully approve and support the new regime are declared pariahs and are thrown out because of their “hate, intolerance and narrow mindedness”. And this guy is suggesting the Church closes its eye to the known strategy and support this gay take over of the BSA. The apex of the gay agenda is to get at the adolescents.

    • kenofken

      The “gay agendaists” in your conspiracy theory are in fact the majority of Americans who have come to see the spirit of your movement for what it is. Hate, intolerance and narrow mindedness. This is not because some “gay mafia” pulled off a master public relations and propaganda coup. It is because you have, collectively, demonstrated hate in your daily words and actions. It is not revealed in theological arguments, but in the endless drumbeat of demonization of gays collectively and individually.

      If we take Stonewall as a starting point, Americans have had 40 years now to take the true measure of the gay movement and your own. In that time, they have heard all of your claims and seen how your actions square with that. They’ve seen what’s really in people’s hearts and minds. In that very long span of observation and deliberation, the American public has concluded that the core claims of equality by gays is pretty reasonable.

      They have also concluded that the anti-gay movement’s demands do not meet any test of reasonableness and are incompatible with the best values of this country. They also see that your movement’s positions and tactics and language do not come from a place of charity or compassion. Every new angry assertion that gays have an agenda to “get at the adolescents” drives that point home for any who doubted it. If the “mafia king” himself, Elton John, put every dime of his net worth on the table to hire the best “gay agendaists” money could buy, they could not advance his cause nearly as much his opposition does.

      • lavallette

        The history of the world is full of human failings and crimes against humanity consequent upon the thinking that “the majority is always right” which has frequently lead to the well known “tyranny of the majority”. Couple of example out of many. How did that most cultured of European States, descend into, accept and willfully participate so quickly into the barbarism of Nazism?. Remember slavery? So much for your “majority rules”.

        PS if the gay movement has the majority support of the people of the USA why is it that nearly every matter put to the vote of the people has been defeated? The biggest advances for the gay movement have been won through actvists liberal legislatures, activists courts and unelected judges, in many cases usurping the will of the people.

        We will wait and see what this movement (supported as you claim by the majority of Americans) they will do to the boys’ scout movement.

        You must read the Bible very selectively to claim that opposition to the gay lifestyle is “not revealed in theological arguments”,
        The movement has taken over and is certainly on the way to destroy the Episocpalian Church and those other denomiantions and sects that have approved of the lifestyle. Why would that be if there are no theological arguments agianst? Besides the strongest arguments against the gay lifestyle are derived from natural law, natural design and the laws of biology.

        When you demand “charity or compassion”: why is this expected to be a one way street? Yelling “Hate, intolerance and narrow mindedness” (btw you forgot “bigotry”) at your opponets does not demonstrate those characteristics and more crucially it does not win you the argument. It is notable that this has now become the standard expected from those arguing the LGBT case. What it does proves is that the argument for the LGBT lifestyle is based an emotional one rather than a rational one.

        As to your tolerance, I refer you to the behaviour of the LGBT activists in their public demonstrations” for example look up Peter Tatchell in England who climbed the pulpit,elbowed the Archbishop of Canterbury out of the way while the latter was deklivering the sermon for Easter, the Holiest day on the Christian Calendar, took over the mictophone to deliver a rant for the LGBT agenda. Just yesterday an LGBT activists interruopted and started to harangue the First Lady of the USA about LGBT issues while she was delivering a speech at a fund raiser.

        Finally: The BSA did not come to the decision regarding admission of gays into their movement of their free will. They were forced into it by enormous pressure and deprivation of sponsorship and financial aid by progrssive leftist political forces and the mass media intent on furthering the gay agenda. Why could the gays not have left a BSA to continue on its very successfu way under its proven charter way and the gays have founded their own movement like a lot of groups are now doing as they leave the BSA movement. Because the agenda is not about tolerance; it is about universal acceptance whether you like it or not.

        • kenofken

          “The biggest advances for the gay movement have been won through actvists liberal legislatures, activists courts and unelected judges, in many cases usurping the will of the people.”……..

          You’re an entire election cycle behind in your news reading. In November, gay marriage won, by popular ballot, in each of the four states where the matter was up for vote. Three of them directly sanctioned gay marriage. The other, Minnesota, refused to ban it. Most of the rest of the 11 states where gay marriage now is recognized did so by legislature, not judges, and if an elected legislature is truly against the will of the people, it’s no one’s fault but the people of that state who elected them.

          • lavallette

            “Most of the rest of the 11 states where gay marriage now is recognized did so by legislature, not judges, and if an elected legislature is truly against the will of the people, it’s no one’s fault but the people of that state who elected them”

            This is not simply about gay marriage. It is about the the entire gay lifesyle and its imposition over the Judeo/Christian culture of this nation.”

            Even then you agree that ” Most of the rest of the 11 states where gay marriage now is recognized did so by legislature, not judges,”. Most is not all. But unlected judges in fact started started the ball rolling and in some states they not only kept the the initiative but even usurped the expressed will of the people: e.g. Californian judges refused to accept the result of a referendum Proposition 8 which disallowed the legislature’s decision to allow gay martriage. So in this case we do not only have an arrogant acivist legislature being overuled by ‘the people of that state who elected them” but subsequently we have the will of the people overuled by an activist court.

            As to legislatures The above California case provides evidence that legislatures do NOT alwyas act in accord with the will of the people. It would be the height of fooloihsness to argue that the people who voted for the current adminstration would all approve of the “scandals”,(the most significant being the use of the powers of the IRS against political opponents) that seem to be cropping up on a daily basis.

            But you do raise a very significant point when you propose that, ” if an elected legislature is truly against the will of the people, it’s no one’s fault but the people of that state who elected them.”

            Firstly it is a fact of life that many who are elected to political officie do not show their real intent unil they take their place in the legislative process. Seconfly it is becoming increasingly obvious that the biggest danger to Western democracies is the emergence of a badly, insufficiently informed or even uniformed electorate. It relies for its information on the Mass Media. However modern journalism has given up its professional responsiblity to present all the facts in an unbiased fashion so as to sufficiently inform the electorate to reach its own conclusions and make up its own mind. Rather it has now willingy accepted the role of an instrument of thought manipulation for the purpose of advancing an editorial agenda among the masses. It publishes facts selectively, soemtimes even resorting to inventing them, leaving out everything that does not fit the editorial agenda. It introduces editorial commentary, opinion and interpretation in its purported “news” presentation and finishes up with its predigested didactic conclusions for their audince. Thus when it comes to voting, the bulk of electorate is NOT properly equipped to cast a well informed vote on the basis of their own conclusions on the basis of all the facts but on the basis of what they have been fed by the “agendist” media, and therefore the often finishes up voting for policies and representatives which are NOT in their best interest but in the interest of those who have the ear and support of the media. The best example of this the almost total African American captive block vote for the Democrat Party. What benefit has that segment of the community gained from this phenomenon. None that are obvious: on every social criterion that community has gone backwards rather than forwards since the Civil Rights enactments were passed. But they still keep voting democrat and all their leaders keep pushing the Democrat barrow, supported almost 100% by the mass media.

            So yes you are absulutely right that “if an elected legislature is truly against the will of the people, it’s
            no one’s fault but the people of that state who elected them.”

            However for the sake of a real and strong democracy where the government always acts according to the will of the people, the voters all need to wake up and realise that they are being taken for granted and being manipulated by the media agendists and start refusing to be treated like mushrooms: kept in the dark and fed B.S. The gay agenda is one of the current issues that is most benefiting from this strategy. It is all cocooned by emotive arguments where their side is presented as all “sweetness and light and love” and the highest form of culture ever invented by humanity and the other side, is described using your own words as representative of “”Hate, intolerance and narrow mindedness” (add “bigotry”) caught in barbaric troglodytic superstition.

            It has got where it has through “emotion and feeling” and not by rational argument.

            • $6871436

              So in other words, if people don’t reach the conclusions you would prefer, they must simply have been mis/uniformed? Regardless of the reasons, a large (and growing) block of people do see your movement as all the negative things listed. Might they simply not have evaluated the information available and reached a different conclusion than you?

              • lavallette

                Typical strategy” keep avoiding the issue, which is: the will of the people is easily hijacked by those with the legislative and judicial power. I repeat “The gay agenda is one of the current issues that is most benefiting
                from this strategy. It is all cocooned by emotive arguments where their
                side is presented as all “sweetness and light and love” and the highest
                form of culture ever invented by humanity and the other side, is
                described using your own words as representative of “”Hate, intolerance
                and narrow mindedness” (add “bigotry”) caught in barbaric troglodytic
                superstition.” This is the only point you address and you insist that “Regardless of the reasons, a large (and growing) block of people do see your movement as all the negative things listed”. That just adds further evidence to my conclusion: ” It has got where it has through “emotion and feeling” and not by rational argument.”.

                • $6871436

                  Maybe so, but the point is you can’t know with any true certainty why anyone else feels the way they do. You’re not in their head, they are. I tend to give people the presumption of right motive, no matter how misguided.

      • Cui Pertinebit

        What are you smoking? First off, the people haven’t even heard the “anti-gay” movement’s message. All they hear, all the time, on every major network and in motion pictures, is that gays are salt of the earth people whom we should celebrate until we’re out of breath. People haven’t rejected the “anti-gay” message, they haven’t even heard it. All they’ve heard, are the caricatures your side puts forth of it.

        Second, it is painfully obvious that the vast bulk of the intolerance, bigotry, hysteria, vandalism and chicanery, has come from the gay agenda. Christians don’t target gay businesses for protests, vandalism and lawsuits; Christians don’t attempt to shut homosexuals up by calling them “straightophobes” and hurling unjust accusations of hatred against them. The Stonewall situation was not “Christian” violence against gays, but a morally straight culture attempting to clamp down, admittedly imprudently, upon a growing and intrinsic evil, back when they still had the moral sense to do this.

        Christianity has a calm, reasonable position on the place of sexuality in human life. It is a position that is rooted in nature, right reason and authentic respect for human dignity (hint: “human dignity” doesn’t mean “people doing whatever they want to do because whatever they want to do is beautiful”). Your side puts forth the message that all we do is clean our rifles while chanting “God hates fags,” and the feckless masses lap it up, because Diane Sawyer and Modern Family say so. You have no intellectual or philosophical coherence to your movement, no integral tradition of deep thought to draw upon for your cause; all you have are emotions, half-truths and demagoguery. It is a great scandal and a sign of the times. Every society has had a flourishing homosexual element right before its collapse, as it is a sign of the moral sickness and self-loathing inherent in the decadent culture – and the flourishing gay agenda in this county is just one of an hundred things, letting us know that the writing is on the wall. God save the just man.

    • Newp Ort

      adolescents are already SSA, the menacing “gay agenda” can’t change that. you’re so scared out of your wits by this non-existent agenda you’re willing to continue an injustice against boys just because you see a camel nose.

  • Guest

    This question is directed to Mr. Shea, do you believe Catholic parishes and Catholic parents are acting prudently to continue with Boy Scouts in light of the discussions we’ve been having below? Specifically, if boys in Boy Scouts can be in good standing if they have a girlfriend with whom they go on walks, hold hands, snuggle and kiss (and let me add, they do this publicly for all to see), can the Boy Scouts, under the literal terms of their new policy, dismiss or discipline a boy from having a boyfriend with whom they engage in the same public (for that’s what “openly homosexual” means, isn’t it, being public about one’s sexual attraction to others of the same sex?) behavior? If they can discriminate between the two, where do you find anything in the language of the new policy permitting it? If they cannot, is that a problem for you?

    By the way, the statement that youth should not be engaging in sexual conduct is problematic on several grounds. First, what is sexual conduct, only genital stimulation or does it include kissing and snuggling? The BSA did not define the term. Second, if it is only the former, then the cut off age of 17 is arbitrary. Catholic canon law explicitly states that the age of consent to marry for males is 16 and for females it is 14. See Can. 1083 §1. “A man before he has completed his sixteenth year of age and a woman before she has completed her fourteenth year of age cannot enter into a valid marriage.” (Bishops may, but are not required to, establish an order age within their dioceses.) Once those ages are attained, it is the marital status only that determines whether sexual conduct (at least licit sexual conduct) is “appropriate” to use the term chosen by the Boy Scouts. If it is the latter, it is absurd. Many teenage boys have girlfriends with whom they do those things. Most folks aren’t particularly troubled by it. Indeed, I have several ancestors who were married before the Boy Scouts cut off age, which I would take as some evidence that they shared other affections before marriage and before the age the Boy Scouts have selected.

    This is much more complicated than your reader would have it and those complications create confusion, both for parents and boys, but particularly boys. I believe the ambiguity is intentional, a blatant attempt to satisfy everyone to some extent so as to lessen the exodus, especially for parents, parishes and other sponsoring organizations which have not carefully considered what the policy says and what it leaves unsaid. Under these circumstances, it is imprudent for parents, parishes and other churches which hold to orthodox morality to remain in Boy Scouts. Analysis should begin with application of canon law, not end there. There are two questions, at least, which must be asked and answered: (1) is it licit under canon law? and (2) is it prudent?

    • chezami

      I haven’t followed the discussion. Sorry!

      • Guest

        If you are Mr. Shea, maybe you should before you endorse the position taken by your reader. This policy change is fraught with confusion and ambiguity, when what is needed is clarity. For goodness sake, think through what the implications are of the new policy. Look at the actual words used. What they say and what they leave unsaid, what they define and what they leave undefined, and what problems this language create. This policy change is far too important to be given the superficial analysis I read above. The next generation deserves better than that.

        • chezami

          I haven’ endorsed anything.

          • Guest

            “I don’t have much to add. I think my reader is right. I hope Catholics continue to see the glass 9/10ths full with the Scouts. And the feedback I’ve gotten so far suggests they will, so that’s something to be thankful for.”

            Sounds like an endorsement to me.

            • chezami

              It’s an endorsement of what I quoted. I haven’t read the comboxes though.

              • You endorse saying that those who choose to leave the BSA have a “stench of heresy”?

                • chezami

                  Sigh. No. I endorse somebody saying that a priest who want to put all Scouts under interdict is wrong.

                  Look, can you call off the dogs here? I haven’t been following this thread.

                  • Sorry, Mark. I was upset by that statement, and then your apparent endorsement of it.

                  • Paul Williams


                    I respect that you haven’t been following this thread and don’t have the time to respond to every comment, but in interest of clarity as to the source of agitation among some of us commenters, this is the thread in which a reader attacked those Catholics considering leaving the Boy Scouts, rather than the one in which a priest wanted to deny Boy Scouts communion.

                    I think the misguided priest and the reader you quote above suffer from a similar affliction in that they see other Catholics (with whom they disagree over a prudential parenting judgment) as the enemy.

                    There is a very real war going on in our culture and the BSA happens to be a battleground upon which a victory was recently won, but let us Catholics be careful not to re-draw the battle lines between ourselves and point our weapons toward each other.

                    There are good, faithful, serious Catholics who have decided to perservere in Boy Scouts despite the recent policy changes. There are good, faithful, serious Catholics who have decided that the BSA no longer provides an environment that they can continue to support. To accuse one side of cooperating with evil, or the other side of quasi-heretical abandonment (as your quoted reader did) is not useful.

                    We are all on the same side, even if not currently employing the same tactics.


                    • Andrew Kosmowski

                      “We are all on the same side, even if not currently employing the same tactics.”

                  • Guest

                    Now that I understand what you were endorsing (the criticism of the priest), I withdraw my objection. The priest was out of line. It was unclear what portion of what your reader wrote you were endorsing.

                    Again, I think it is imprudent to leave small boys and adolescents in the BSA in light of the change and the confusing, ambiguous language of the new policy and it is what I perceive as a superficial and incomplete analysis by the reader to which I object and his criticism of parents who believe the best course for their children is to find activities that don’t promote moral confusion, but provide moral clarity during the time when their own moral judgment and conscience are still being developed.

      • denis

        what does that mean ?

    • Andrew Kosmowski

      Dear Greg,

      I voted on the poll. I supported the principle that homosexual tendencies, in and of themselves, should not be a bar to a boy to become an Eagle Scout. To use catechetical terms, I believe that this would be a form of unjust discrimination (cf. CCC §2358). The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is simply recognizing that a non-negligible number of youth may have homosexual tendencies; this is not an endorsement of homosexual actions.

      By the way, under the gentle hand of strong Catholic Scouters, the BSA policy would be great for us to support scouts with homosexual tendencies to “gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection” “[b]y the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace” (CCC §2359).

      • Guest

        You certainly have that right, but I believe that is very naive. And, frankly, it is one thing for adults to mentor a boy struggling with same-sex attractions, it is another to make boys the age of cub scouts and boy scouts part of the process. My sons aren’t ready to be mentors.

  • singermomma

    I have gone back and forth and back and forth about this. My husband and I have long admired the scouts, and looked forward to the time we could get our 7 year old involved. As it stands now, I agree that the policy doesn’t go against Catholic teaching and upholds some standards of justice that I agree are important to individual scouts. However, I also supported civil unions back in the day in our state for similar justice-based reasons. Heck, I still do. But I think we all know where that went.

    As much as the BSA agrees with the Catholic Church now, it isn’t the Catholic Church. On what basis does it make its moral or policy decisions? I know where those decisions come from with the Church (hello, Catechism!), but as far as the BSA…I really have no idea at this point where any of it comes from. Good motives? A sense of justice? Money? Calming the loudest voices? And therefore I don’t know what decisions it will make in the future or on what basis it will make them. It’s one thing for me to be involved in wrestling with these things, and it’s another for me to knowingly throw my son into the middle of it. There are no guarantees with anything of this world of course, and I don’t expect our parenting road to be free of difficult conversations, but there are sure enough of them without me signing up for more if there’s an alternative.