Physically Strong, Mentally Awake, Morally Straight

February 24, 2013

On my honor I will do my best…
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

The BSA National Executive Board has re-opened the can of worms that is our national membership standards.  What a PR disaster.  The atheists and moral relativists of the left haven’t been able to destroy Scouting from the outside, so now they’re trying it from the inside.

What is the BSA’s current membership policy?

“The applicant must possess the moral, educational, and emotional qualities that the Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive leadership to youth. The applicant must also be the correct age, subscribe to the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle, and abide by the Scout Oath or Promise, and the Scout Law.”

“While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”

The argument seems to be that sexual orientation is wholly genetic.  The science is far from certain, but for argument’s sake accept the gambit.  We shouldn’t discriminate against people solely on the basis of their draw from the gene pool, should we?

The problem is, we are all dealt a random sample of genetics, but how we act on those genetics defines our character.  Some of us are overweight and some of us can’t swim.  Some of us are slow learners and some of us would just rather not.  Some of us are morally challenged.

  • The Scout Oath promises that a Scout will be “physically strong”.  Physical strength is based on genetics, modified by the personal character to exercise.  Scouts must pass physical fitness requirements (including passing the swim test) for First Class Rank, Physical Fitness & Swimming-Biking-Hiking merit badges for Eagle.  Scouters must pass the swim test to go on the water, and meet stringent height-weight standards to participate in backcountry adventures.  Yet we don’t hear the peanut gallery screaming about how we discriminate against Fat People.
  • The Scout Oath promises that a Scout will be “mentally awake”.  Intelligence is based on genetics, modified by the personal character to study and apply oneself.  I’ve met many Scouts, and more Scouters, who are on mental nap-time.  Yet we don’t hear the peanut gallery yelling about how we need to dumb down our program in the interest of self esteem (although I expect they are out there).
  • The Scout Oath promises that a Scout will be “morally straight”.  Perhaps that is based on genetics, but it is also modified by personal character in which we choose how we apply ourselves.

As a practical matter, however the mucky-mucks at BSA HQ work this out—if they stand strong or cave into outside interests—I don’t expect it will make much difference to the local unit.  We’ll deal with it.

However, the entire episode tarnishes us.  As Scouts, we’re supposed to be braver, smarter, better than average.  We are no better than average when we bend our standards to be more popular with the “in crowd”.

If anyone would like to voice their opinion directly to National please forward to feedback@scouting.org

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