Alan Keyes
BSA decision disbands the "real boy scouts"
By Alan Keyes
May 30, 2013

[From time to time when I reply to a reader's comment on one of the articles offered here, the exchange makes a point that may be of interest to all my readers. This one was occasioned by Dr. Scott Lively's essay "Satan wins back the scouts."]


We know that the very young do not know gender. As they grow, they learn by the influences of adult examples. Children are not gay, and even teens are often not developed enough emotionally to have a preference of this sort. If all male youth are allowed in scouts, they will be taught the proper role of a man. BSA holds high standards, and [inappropriate] actions are not to be among any scout troop. Any individual who joins a scout troop signs an agreement to behave properly according to scout regulations or moral and high ideals. Anyone acting improperly is eliminated from the troop on those grounds.


You speak of the past. But by disrupting the integrity of the organization's professed moral standard, the BSA's decision makes it impossible to sustain that standard in the future. Have you thought through the logically inevitable consequences of admitting openly avowed homosexual youth into the ranks? As a matter of religious liberty, guaranteed by the first amendment, the BSA could maintain the policy that homosexual activity is, as a matter of conscience, wrong. But like those with a conscientious religious objection to war and violence, they cannot have it both ways. Either the organization's ethical standard forbids homosexual conduct, or it does not. If it does, that conduct cannot be accepted in the ranks or in the leadership, since the oath that affirms the standard applies to their lives overall, not just to the time they spend in scouting activities.

This is why scouting has had such an enormous and lasting impact on the lives of so many men. It was not just a way of passing the time. It was training for life, intended to become a way of life. The scout oath wasn't a pledge to behave a certain way during scouting activities. It was a commitment to respect the scouting standard of virtue in every aspect of life. That's why "being such a boy scout" became the proverbial term for someone who refused to go along with the crowd when doing so involved engaging in wrong activities, activities like lying, or bullying, or stealing, etc. That's why so many young men who accepted and tried to live by the scout oath became outstanding leaders in other walks of life, especially those that required individual moral courage, and/or the physical stamina and bravery it produces.

As it stands, the BSA's decision formally abandons the notion that scouting is a way of life. It puts the movement in the position of saying that you can adopt one standard during scouting activities, and another for your other life activities, as if scouting is simply a game where certain rules apply while you're on the field. If this is true with respect to the fundamental obligations of love and respect that are the basis of family life, what of the other aspects of the scouting oath and ethos? Will being a boy scout now mean that you are trustworthy during scouting activities, but lie and cheat in other respects? Will it mean helping old ladies across the street as a troop exercise on Saturday, after a little exercise in purse snatching with the gang on Friday night?

To be sure, "he's a real boy scout" will no longer be available as a sneering term of disapproval from the worldly wise. And youngsters who join the scouts will no longer have to feel torn between the choices they are supposed to make as scouts and the choices they are pressured to make by their peers. So long as they refrain from sex, drugs, lying, stealing, and beating people up for the heck of it during scouting activities, they can feel free to admit that they engage in those activities in the street gangs or school cliques that once shunned and ridiculed "real boy scouts."

Sadly, the people who have shunned "real boy scouts" in this way have a better sense of integrity with respect to their vicious ways of life than the so-called leaders who just voted to abandon the integrity of the scouting way of life. They know that the effort to mix their vices and the virtues of scouting is a problem that has no solution. "Choose you this day whom you will serve" will always be the challenge that demands separating the one from the other. The BSA once stood clearly on the side of the right choice. Now they stand for the deceitful notion that you can serve God and mammon.

This double-mindedness is the surest indication that people of true Christian faith cannot participate in the BSA on this basis. Christ made it clear that people who walk in his way are called to choose, either for him or against him, the way of His father or their own self-worshiping way. If Christ, crucified and resurrected, is the true standard for choice, no organization intended to inculcate virtues compatible with a Christian's walk can abandon the view that the choice he represents has to be made. Repentance ceases to matter to people who no longer know which way to turn. But if encouraging people to turn to God through Christ is the ultimate act of love, what love is there in adopting a position that shrouds the need to make that choice in a false standard of duplicity? Since the BSA leaders have taken a path that diverges from the standard of Christian love, followers of Christ who are truly committed to live as such can no longer walk with them.

To see more articles by Dr. Keyes, visit his blog at and his commentary at and

© Alan Keyes


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Alan Keyes

Dr. Keyes holds the distinction of being the only person ever to run against Barack Obama in a truly contested election – featuring authentic moral conservatism vs. progressive liberalism – when they challenged each other for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004... (more)


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