I do solemnly swear to be morally straight

“David, a Boy Scout, believes that homosexuality is wrong. His troop is chartered to a church where the doctrine of that faith also teaches that homosexuality is wrong. Steve, an openly gay youth, applies to be a member. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for this troop to deny Steve membership in their troop?”

This is one question from a survey sent to 1.1 million scouts and their families, as part of the organization’s self-reconciling on banning homosexuals from joining. The national leadership made a decision in January allowing individual troops to decide on admitting gay scouts, but then quickly rescinded that edict after push-back from members. It appears that now they want to actually have data on what members feel about the issue before moving forward.

I applaud The Boy Scouts’ efforts to ask its members what they want before deciding. But part of me feels it is a pointless exercise: With over 70% of troops sponsored by religious organizations, most likely the response will be to bar homosexuals.

But the more interesting question is not will they allow or not allow gay members, but what will happen once they make their decision? There is no more status quo for The Boy Scouts. Obviously they are feeling popular pressure to allow gays to join; Americans are slowly supporting equal rights for homosexuals, and this is most likely why the organization decided to allow gays to join even after winning Supreme Court protection of barring them over 10 years ago.  Other nonprofits, such as the United Way of Cleveland, has stopped providing funds to the Boy Scouts, causing the boy scouts to loose over $200,000 in funding.

But how many current troops, again, most of them sponsored by churches, will walk away if gays are allowed? No one knows that answer – even the Boy Scouts. But they are trying to find out, as the questions on their survey ask, if gays are allowed to join your troop, would you still be a Boy Scout or would you leave? That’s the million dollar question.

If the status quo wins, then the Boy Scouts will eventually become a niche organization, a true boys-only club that caters to the socially conservative. And as popular opinion in homosexuality continues to become more liberal, The Boy Scouts will shrink. Most likely a newer group, that is open & accepting of gays, will emerge and take boys (& girls?) on rafting adventures, camping trips, and to derby car races.  The Boy Scouts of America will probably never go away, but it will no longer be the significant, all-American boy experience that it was in the past.

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