Questioning Scouts On God, Gays
Wednesday - March 03, 2010
The Hawaii Boy Scouts are 100 years old. It was 1910 when local artist-businessman David Howard Hitchcock organized Troop 1 and took the boys on a train trip from Aala Park to Pearl City for a 10-day hike into Waipio Valley.
Now our scouts are issuing a “Call To Service” to give back to the community this year on an exceptional basis. But the call doesn’t extend to homosexuals, atheists or agnostics. Those are still not extended membership by the national Boy Scouts of America.
The BSA is within its legal right to do that. The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that it can set its own membership rules because it’s a private organization.
But does it stand well in this century by current societal standards?
The military is moving toward acceptance of gays. And is a belief in God essential to a good life and community service?
Apparently so. Scouting founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell wrote in the first Scout handbook that “no man is much good unless he believes in God and obeys His laws.” Churches sponsor 60 percent of the scouting units in America.
And the bylaws say “the Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, ‘On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.’ The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members.”
A 1991 position statement adds: “We believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirement in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight and in the Scout Law that a Scout be clean in word and deed, and that homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts.”
Note that it doesn’t just condemn a sexual advance on another member. It just broadly condemns “homosexual conduct,” whether within or outside the BSA.
Many of our local politicians have been Boy Scouts. It would seem fair to hold their feet to the fire this centennial year on the issues of prohibiting gays and atheists. Local chapters are required to follow the rules of the national council.
Incidentally, the Girl Scouts of the USA accepts homosexuals and allows its members to substitute another word in place of “God” when reciting the Girl Scout Promise. But young girls’ brains have always developed faster than those of young boys.
I am not anti-gambling or a gambler. I believe that most Hawaii people are gamblers, so let them gamble here. I don’t like legislated morals.
But the reason for allowing gambling should be the desire to gamble, not to raise money for the state treasury. If that’s all it’s about, then I’d go with the naysayers, too.
It might be a peripheral benefit, but it should not be the driving force.
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