Letter to Boy Scouts of America re: policy on homosexuals

By Staff
May 15, 2013

On May 15, 2013, Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, sent a letter to Wayne Brock, chief scout executive of the Boy Scouts of America, and Wayne Perry, president of the BSA, expressing “strident opposition” to a proposed resolution to eliminate the organization’s ban on admitting for membership youth who are open or avowed homosexuals. The resolution will be considered by the 1,400-member BSA national council at its annual meeting May 22-24. The letter also urges no change to the BSA’s existing membership policy.

The text of the letter is below:

Download a PDF of the letter. (184 KB)

Mr. Wayne Brock
Chief Scout Executive
Boy Scouts of America
P.O. Box 152079
Irving, Texas 75015

Mr. Wayne Perry
Irving, Texas 75015
P.O. Box 152079
Boy Scouts of America
President

Dear Mr. Brock and Mr. Perry:

We write concerning the Boy Scouts of America’s proposed resolution to eliminate the organization’s ban on admitting for membership youth “who are open or avowed homosexuals” that the 1,400-member BSA national council will consider at its annual meeting May 22-24.

In a January 31 letter, we expressed to you our “strident opposition” to the BSA’s proposal earlier this year to remove the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation and instead entrust “chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting” to “accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.” Our position on the BSA’s latest proposal—an elimination of the membership ban on openly homosexual youth but retention of the ban on openly homosexual adults—differs in no respect from our position on the “local option.” In short, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission remains opposed to any change in the BSA’s membership policy. We emphasize some of our concerns here.

First, we consider the proposed policy a serious departure from the BSA’s moral foundation and traditional values. The BSA is well known for its stated commitment to providing “the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training” and its mission “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 do not believe, however, the admittance of openly homosexual youth into Scouting comports with this mission. Nor do we believe it compatible with the Scout Oath, which requires a commitment “to keep myself…morally straight.” If the BSA takes one step in compromising a long-held core value, what would prevent it from soon taking a second step to abandonment of the value altogether?

Moreover, Southern Baptists do not believe embracing same-sex orientation is biblically acceptable. By introducing homosexual identification into Scouting, the Boy Scouts would effectively require church-sponsored Scouting units to endorse that which they consider incompatible with Scripture. As you know, Southern Baptists have long played an integral part in the Boy Scouts, with Southern Baptist churches presently comprising a large number of the Scouting units chartered by the faith community. Yet allowing openly homosexual youth into Scouting would cause many Southern Baptist churches, as well as many churches from other denominations, to withdraw their sponsorship rather than compromise their convictions. Already, numerous churches have told us of their intent to do so.

Moral concerns notwithstanding, the resolution is inconsistent and unworkable. Under the proposed policy, an openly homosexual 17-year-old Eagle Scout, for example, would become ineligible for any position in Scouting at age 18. To foster youth toward a future in Scouting only to bar them from the ranks on their 18th birthday is an inconsistency many find irreconcilable. Many LGBT advocates are already insisting the “compromise” resolution must be expanded to include self-identifying homosexual adults.

Further, it should be noted that in 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the BSA, as a private organization, had a First Amendment-protected right to maintain its membership policy on homosexuality because it was a “core” part of the BSA’s mission and purpose. However, the proposed resolution abandons this “core” principle as merely a preference, thereby inviting lawsuits and jeopardizing the policy’s sustainability, according to many legal scholars.

Additionally, we remain perplexed that the BSA would abandon a century-old membership policy less than a year after completing a nearly two-year examination of its membership standards and announcing that the existing policy “remains in the best interest of Scouting and that there will be no further action taken on the resolution.” Timeless values that have served the BSA well for a century should not be discarded hastily—or ever.

For these reasons and more, we urge no change to the BSA’s existing membership policy. As the BSA soon commences its annual meeting, we will be urging all delegates to vote “no” on the membership resolution to allow avowed homosexual youth into the BSA. Thank you for your attention to our concerns.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Land

Download a PDF of the letter. (184 KB)

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