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The local option on gay membership in BSA

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What is the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist? The distinguishing factor is certainly not your personal viewpoint on the contested issue. Terrorists are those who act illegally in attempt to change public opinion and affect change while other legal and acceptable methods exist. Freedom fighters have no other recourse and resort to illegal measures because there is no other way to eliminate tyranny or oppression.


The British considered our founding fathers terrorists as they fought to overthrow the British Monarchy's control in America. They are now viewed as heroic figures that forged a new nation. The same cannot be said about Philadelphias Cradle of Liberty Council's actions (savor the irony buried in there). In February 2002, the National Council released a clear position statement on this matter. Leaders of the Boston, Philadelphia and seven other councils had been busily petitioning National to change the policy and had been soliciting the support of other councils for some time. The press release was an unambiguous answer to that effort.


The resent action was nothing more than a media stunt designed to garner headlines and re-ignite the controversy. Way to go guys [sarcasm].


A few salient points to this whole mess must be kept in mind:

1. The signatories to the initial petition were Council President/Chairs, but no indication was given that they had authority to speak for or had solicited the support of their council membership in this matter. One wasnt even a current officer.

2. Even if they had their councils support, the local councils have no authority in this matter. As I understand it, the National Executive Board (not even the professionals in Irving) determine such policies. It is organized this way for a number of very good reasons. Scouting is and should be a program that reflects the ideals and needs of its chartered organizations. The National Executive Board is made up of representatives of those very groups. Council Boards are far too vulnerable to local financial pressures to be trusted to act without significant bias. When the system works properly, the board would answer to the CORs anyway. Lets face facts, the majority of groups sponsoring Scouting, those who actually use the program, do not support this change. The majority of them (not the necessarily the BSA, an important distinction) still consider homosexual behavior to be immoral and a conflict with the definition of the morally straight ideal.

3. Each of the nine councils who sponsored the petition I am familiar with were large, metropolitan, politically liberal areas. The BSA is a big fat media target. You figure it out.

4. We saw a similar action by the Minuteman Council (another of the nine councils sponsoring the petition) when the National Conference was held in their area two years ago. It is an opportunistic move to get the issue in the headlines and that is the goal. Phillys move is a tired repeat of this same move.

5. For the BSA, this is a national issue that requires nationally uniform policy. It is not a matter for the local councils to determine for themselves what they will do. Neither is it a matter for individual units to determine. Units do not operate in isolation. The Jamb-o-ree aspect of Scouting is important. When coming together, it is essential that all members share a common understanding of the ideals we profess to teach.


The Cradle of Liberty Council was wrong for doing what they did. There are other methods for voicing their desire. They and others have tried them and lost. I respect the tenacity demonstrated, but consider their resent actions to be little more than a savy attempt to grab some media attention. The majority is not with them and they have no authority in the matter to begin with. Perhaps most importantly, they have demonstrated a willingness to violate the very principles we profess to champion. The Scout Law was broken. There is no honor in their disobedient, disloyal misuse of trust.


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Awhile back I was castigated pretty well by a member of this forum for a decision I made when I was 12-13 years old. I was fairly amused anyone would think that boy of twelve and the man I am today made decisions following the same criteria.


I do not understand why you continue to harp on Merlyn's being an Atheist Cub Scout, especially when he explained his reasoning. Now, while you and I would not accept that line of reasoning from an adult, from a 7-10 year old child it makes perfect sense. To label a young boy as a hypocrite just doesnt seem right, then again I might be wrong

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I'd also liken this to the Pledge of Allegiance. Some folks - most, I'm sure - say THE Pledge of Allegiance. Some, though, say A pledge of allegiance. Among these, some may go for the older (tho' not the earliest) format and just leave out "under god". Others may choose to substitute 'heaven' for 'God'.


And while these latter may not be THE Pledge of Allegiance, there is nothing preventing such persons from pledging allegiance using any words they choose.


Some disagree with freedom of speech, and some exercise it...

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Hey folks,


Ive got to go along with Its Trail Day on this one when he says; I don't think Scouts have changed, society has changed. I read BSAs policy as that the discussion of any type of sexuality in public does not make you a good role model. Would Dr. Ruth be allowed to be a leader? Avowed is the key. I would not be surprised if there are gay leaders, those who are nudists, who drink or gamble in the BSA. If they keep their comments and behavior to themselves who cares, if everything else is ok.


What do you suppose the first thing is that pops into the mind of a boy when he finds out another boy or leader is homosexual? I guarantee you its the whole sexual/with another guy/sodomy thing. Or in the case of a scout, so that is why hes a meat gazer in the showers at camp. (Not my words, they are the scouts words themselves.)


What about when he hears the words, stripper, nudist, pornography, S and M, bondage, or the dozens of other sexual fetishes? None of this should be spoken of in the scouting program.


TJ asked a question earlier about any other groups being disallowed in the scouting movement. Well, if I have our troop run a raffle I could be kicked out. If I took alcohol to a campout I could be kicked out. If I tented with a female that was not my wife on a campout I could be kicked out. I cant think of a time that it would be appropriate to speak to the scouts about gambling, alcohol or sex whether it be heterosexual, homosexual, fornication, or a fetish, all of which are legal in the state that I reside in.


The fact is, if I walked into my place of work tomorrow morning and mentioned to my secretary that my wife and I were into bondage, I could be fired for sexual harassment and creating a hostile working environment before I even grabbed the morning paper off the corner of her desk. But if I mentioned to a male coworker that I was gay, thus bringing the same type thoughts into his head, this should not just be acceptable but I should be supportive of his choice. This is what the gay rights activists are trying to, and slowly are accomplishing. These arent gay rights that theyre after, theyre after special rights.


Why did the BSA appear to go only after the homosexual population with this policy? They didnt. Just look at any of Bob Whites posts that address the policy. The only reason that homosexuals are even mentioned is that they are the special interest group out there looking for special rights. As soon as you see the Strippers of America, or any other sexually oriented special interest group looking to speak to scouts to tell them that their lifestyle should be acceptable, Im confident you will see them singled out as well. In the mean time theyre not worth the time.


Whether I believe homosexuality is moral or immoral isnt the issue at all as far as Im concerned about this policy. The real moral issue is; what is an appropriate moral topic for thought or discussion with the boys within the program. Sex of any kind is not in my opinion. Boys think about sex enough on their own. We dont need to bring their minds into the gutter.


Dont ask Dont tell Dont witch hunt


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I appreciate the honesty of the reply you directed to me several pages ago. You are not a member of the Boy Scouts of America, and (although I don't believe in your mission anymore than you believe in the policies of the BSA,) you are going about it in a straight-forward manner and with the passion I would hope to see from anyone who truly believes in what they are doing. I don't agree with what you're doing, but I believe in your right to do it.


Rob Sherman, however, ticks me off. His methods and behavior in his personal life do not make me respect him in the slightest.


Before anyone accuses me of only going by hearsay, let me tell you what I know of from personal experience.


I have seen a photocopy of the Cub Scout application Rob Sherman filled out to get his son into Tiger Cubs in Buffalo Grove, IL. In fact, I might even have a copy around it here somewhere. I found it in the archives when I started in the council that covers Buffalo Grove.


Let me not quite digress for a second -- most people when they fill out any application to join the BSA flip through the first page or two with all those words on 'em and go straight for the "fillin in" part. The part they just flipped through covers the joining requirements, including the Declaration of Religious Principal. It's been that way for as long as I can remember and possibly forever.


Rob Sherman read it. And now we come to his son's application to join a pack -- Under where the parent is to sign is a paragraph that says something along the lines of "I have read, understand, etc." the joining requiirements. Rob Sherman did. Because he wrote "Except for the part about God." and signed his name.


In the spot for parent occupation, he wrote, "President -- American Atheists Association."


In my opinion he threw down the gauntlet. Not only was he, again in my opinion, not surprised when he received the letter denying the application, he was expecting it. A parent must sign for the Cub Scout because of his age. That parent's signature gives parental approval for the boy to join the Boy Scouts of America. I don't want anyone to think that the council denied the boy's membership. No. Rob Sherman did that by signing conditional approval -- and the BSA doesn't do conditional approval. Rob Sherman denied his son's registration.


I also recall reading more than one article in the Daily Hearald (the suburban newspaper of Chicago) about Rob Sherman facing charges for battery on his 16 year old son. The quote from Rob Sherman was "I did it to put the fear of God in him." Mr. Sherman did a brief stint in jail for that one, by the way. His membership in the BSA would have been revoked on that action, even without the atheist stuff he'd pulled a couple of years before.


I'm not suggesting you abandon your crusade, Merlyn. You have a right to it. Based solely your posts that I have read in this thread and what I know of Rob Sherman's behavior, I humbly say that I think he should look up to you rather than the other way around.




TJ -- Thank you for your kind words. It sounds like you're in your own struggle with whether to "come out" or not. Struggle with the definition of "avowed" if you need some justification -- but it's plain to me that homosexuality is part of your self definition. Please don't tell me that I don't understand the membership policies of the Boy Scouts of America. Tell yourself that if you want, but do you honestly believe I would be charged with enforcing them if I didn't understand what they are? I don't intend to "hunt you down." That's not what we do.


If, however, you and I were enjoying fellowship by the coffee pot at summer camp and were the best of friends, and you said, "I'm a homosexual." I would probably ask if you were sure. If the answer was yes, I would have no choice. I would be as humane as possible, but . . . I would be glad that you learned the values of Scouting enough to be honest and face the music.


Think about the Dale Case -- the argument wasn't about removing his status as an Eagle Scout. No human can rob a man of his knowledge and values learned. One can, and sometimes should, take away membership in the Boy Scouts of America.


TJ -- I hope you'll find your way through the dilema of valuing the BSA and it's stance on your sexual preference without causing the BSA to change to suit your desires. I believe you when you say they are the desire of others, but not all that many in comparison.


Do what you feel is right. I would expect no less of an Eagle Scout. Um . . . you did say you're an Eagle, right?



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The only reason I said merlyn was a hypocrite as a Cub was in his post he seemed pretty sure of what he was doing. Then again, I might be wrong.


Ed Mori


Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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DSSteele -- far from scientific, and barely eligible to be called a "wild guess" (but then, since BSA has never bothered to survey its membership on the issue either, its guess is a little wild too), here's my conjecture:


5% of BSA parents/leaders believe very strongly that the policy is wrong, and would/are trying to see it overturned20% of BSA parents/leaders believe the policy is wrong and would enthusiastically support a change, though stop short of being active/vocal in bringing the change about40% of BSA parents/leaders are either middle of the road, have no specific opinion on the subject, or more likely have an opinion but don't feel strongly about it one way or another, and would go along with whatever policy ultimately exists on the topic.25% feel the policy is correct, for a variety of reasons, including religious grounds and also fear of sexual abuse and/or corrupting influence that a gay member may introduce10% feel very strongly that the policy is right and actively defend it on evangelical groundsNow, while these numbers are just conjecture, I think they are more conservative that what general public polls on the subject are (believing that Scout parents/leaders are likely a bit more conservative as a whole than the general public). You can also find forum members to easily group into all of the categories above, especially that large silent majority in the middle who don't feel strongly either way and would except either direction on the policy (those are the folks that read these discussions, but never participate, or even skip over them).


What say you of my conjecture? Think it's completely inaccurate? How might you adjust the numbers? Would it really matter to you, if the numbers were accurate, or even if they shifted by 50% in either direction?(This message has been edited by tjhammer)

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In my own very unscientific poll on this very issue, here are the statistics I can up with from parents of current and past members of our Troop:


-Less than 1% disagree strongly enough with the policy that they would actively do something about it (one family made their son quit the Troop, stating the policy on homosexuals)

-About 60 % agree with the policy but would probably not leave the organization or do anything active to prevent a change (you might phrase this as 60% as the middle of the road. However, they do have an opinion, and it is against homosexuals in Scouting.

-About 3% have a strong enough opinion against having homosexuals in Scouting that they would actively campaign against it or quit if the policy were reversed.

-the rest, about 36%, strongly, vocally oppose gays in Scouting, but don't know what they would do if the policy were reversed.


I'd like to comment on the issue of homosexuality and morality. Yak Herder touched on this, but I think it is an important point.


Society is what is changing, not morality, or maybe better stated, not the BSA's position on what is moral. 40 years ago, it wans't necesary for the BSA to make a formal proclamation as to whether homosexuality was moral or not. Society said it was immoral. Now, with society changing, the BSA felt it was appropriate to make public their stance on the morality of this issue (that's my take on what has happened). And their stance was formulated by the major owners of the program, the chartering organizations. Many of the chartering organizations represented continue to hold the traditional (or conservative, if you prefer) beleive that homosexuality is immoral. Hence, the BSA's position on this matter.


Right now, society still believes murder to be wrong. If, many years from now, societal shifts cause us to be more accepting of murder and murderers, I'm betting that the BSA would make public its stance on murder and declare it immoral and make those who are murderers give up their membership. It's not that they allow murderers now. The response then would be to make certain society knows that the BSA's values are remaining constant in the face of changing societal norms.


I don't mean to belittle this issue, it is important. But I have to tell you I appreciate the discussion in that it sharpens my sense of debate and logic. As someone has said, some of us are on one side, some on the other, and neither of these two groups are likely to change their minds. But it is valuable to me to have to think logically about something important.



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I am sorry if I offended you with my last post, my attempt there was to show that I accepted your position and in that I must have failed. So here it goes again.


If I understand you correctly, your position is that the BSA has the right to exclude homosexuals if they want to, but you personally believe that they should include them. If also understand you correctly, you also have not given up on trying to convince the BSA to change their policy thru debate. I also understand that you do not support any of the strong arm tactics that are used by other groups to get the BSA to change their policy, such as that I listed in my previous post. If these statements are correct then I have no problem with you personally and your position on this issue, or any one that thinks like you do.


I also do not have a problem with the legal cases brought by Merlyn_LeRoy and others like him when they believe that the BSA steps over the lines set by the courts of this country.


What I have a problem with is the attitude in this country, mainly the liberal side but also on the right, that says because you disagree with our group and we could not get you to change your opinion by debate we will destroy you. Again littlebillie I do not see you in this group on this issue based on what I know.


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Upon returning from the National Conference, the professionals from our council reported that the news in Philadelphia was a total surprise to everyone.


National leaders had no indication the statement would be released.


Conversations with the Cradle of Liberty Council professionals revealed that they were equally surprised. Volunteer Scouters from the council in attendance were also unaware of the policy.


According to the Scouters from our council, a second article was printed the next day countering the reported position. I have not been able to find any such article. Does anyone out there in Philly have any additional information?


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I appreciate your clarifications, and thank you for taking the time to make them. it's kind of awkward here in the middle - I guess it'd be a good idea for me to periodically restate that a) I think Scouting is great and b) I want to see it open to mare kids than available to fewer...



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Language is a funny thing isn't it. What you call conjecture we call a GOTA (Grabbed Outta Thin Air) or a WAG (Wild A-- Guess).


I am dismayed you would even present such baseless information as though it was relevent. Here is an actual survey that was done that you might enjoy, the headline is 3 out of 4 Americans Support the Boy Scouts. In it you will see that 36% surveyed actually thought more of the BSA after hearing of its membership requirements.




(you may need to copy this and past it in the adress line of your browseer for it to work.)


My stand on this issue is not whether the BSA membership policies are is right or wrong, but that the BSA has the sole authority to determine it's membership. I do not volunteer my time to promote or deter any particular sexual preference. I teach leadership and decision making through scout methods, and I respect the rules of any community I choose to be a part of.


To paraphrase that great American Groucho Marx 'I refuse to belong to a club that won't have me as a member'. I was once a member or a national organization for 30 minutes, until I found out that African Americans were not allowed membership. I quit on the spot and campaigned loudly against them. The have since changed their rules. But I had the honesty to quit first. I felt that belonging to an organization whose rules I could not accept would be the apex of hypocracy. I felt that continuing as a member in that organization would not reflect the values I learned in scouting. In my opinion it would not have been loyal, it was not obedient and it most certainly was not brave.


It would be like sitting in someone elses home while you told them how ugly you thought their house was. Then going and telling your friends who aren't invited in that "Sure I choose to spend all my time there, but I don't like it and I tell them so."


The Homeowner has the legal and moral right to say "You don't like my house that's fine...leave. I can choose who I invite to stay." "You don't have to like what I do, but I dont have to let you in."


Volunteers (and even professionals) are the guests in the house of scouting. The Home owners are the representatives of the chartered organizations and scout program that form the national executive committee.


Bob White



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