On Monday, the Boy Scouts of America announced they will be considering lifting their long-standing ban on homosexual members and leaders. The announcement comes as a surprise, given the Boy Scouts' reaffirmation of their stance against homosexual membership just last summer. While the move has been widely lauded, it should be cause for serious concern. Such a move would set the Boy Scouts on the dangerous path toward redefining not just Scouting principles, but traditional Judeo-Christian morality.
The new measure, which is set to be decided next week at a meeting of the Boy Scouts of America leadership in Dallas, would allow open homosexuals to participate in select troops, left up to the discretion of regional sponsors. The decision comes after a tough year for the Scouts. In the fall, Intel Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. both withdrew funding from the Boy Scouts over their "discriminatory" policy against homosexuals. In December, the Merck Foundation withdrew its funding also, citing the same reason. Also in the fall, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and Scouts for Equality announced they were contacting other corporate sponsors and urging them to remove their funding.
Some local troops already have been allowing homosexuals to participate, in defiance of the official policy. As spokesman Deron Smith said, the decision to reconsider comes after "a long-standing dialogue within the Scouting family."
Last spring, lesbian mom Jennifer Tyrrell was removed as den leader of her son's Cub Scout pack. She started a Change.org petition in protest, garnering more than 333,000 signatures.
Individual Scouts have protested the organization's anti-homosexual policy, as well. Ryan Andresen, now 18, made headlines in October 2011 because he was refused his Eagle Scout award after "coming out" in July of that year. The Scouts also claim they withheld his award because of his statement that he did not agree with the Scouting principle of "duty to God," but the issue went national as a question of homosexual "rights."
Eagle Scout Zach Wahls has been fighting for inclusion of homosexuals through his organization Scouts for Equality, which has been working closely with GLAAD to force Boy Scouts to include homosexuals.
Popular opinion seems to be shifting against the Scouts' long-held position as well, as Americans embrace a more open outlook on the homosexual movement in general. In December, an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll found that 51 percent of Americans favor homosexual "marriage." President Obama has endorsed it as well, and even made historic mention of "our gay brothers and sisters" in his second inaugural address last week. As the tide turns, traditional morality on this issue becomes increasingly unacceptable.
Quite simply, the inclusion of homosexuals in the Boy Scouts will force them to redefine their morals. The issue continues to be cloaked in civil rights language, which leaves no leg to stand on for those who hold traditional views. As Ms. Tyrrell said about the impending decision: "It is a step toward equality in all aspects." Yet an honest assessment reveals the issue has nothing to do with equality. No Christian would deny that open and active homosexual boys and potential Scoutmasters are equal in dignity to all Scouts, and all people. They are not, however, "morally straight" -- one of the principles the Boy Scouts promise to live by in their oath.
According to the U.S. Scouting Project website, to be "morally straight" means, among other things, to "remain faithful in your religious beliefs." The homosexual lifestyle blatantly contradicts biblical teaching and Christian beliefs and principles. Accepting individuals who are living in a way the Bible describes as gravely immoral redefines what it means to be morally straight -- and forces the Boy Scouts of America to stand behind a new, decidedly un-Christian definition of morality. If homosexuals want to live out their lifestyle as they see fit, that is their decision, and they have the right to do so. They have no right to impose their worldview on any organization that opposes it on moral grounds. In fact, for them to do so directly violates the First Amendment of our Constitution.
Tellingly, even as pro-family and conservative groups decry the Boy Scouts' move, homosexual activists give it measured praise, calling it only a good first step. As Mr. Wahls writes at ScoutsforEquality.com: "While we feel that this is an important step in the right direction, we believe there remains more work to do." Homosexual activists are already preparing to push for full inclusion in the Boy Scouts of America once it is allowed at the local level.
There can be no middle ground. Including homosexuals in some troops will start the Boy Scouts down the slippery slope of being forced to reject their Judeo-Christian principles across the board. While the measure under consideration now will allow parents to choose troops that align with their values, even that small concession will soon be attacked as prejudiced and unfair. The Scouts should reject the move out of hand now, before it's too late to turn back.
Mary Beth Baker is associate op-ed editor of The Washington Times.