LegalWorks Apostolate - Counsel for a Culture of Life

Scout Troop Calls for Clarification of New Policy

Scouting must not be morally ambiguous

By Stu Nolan

Everyone associated with Troop 1212 is deeply troubled by the recent vote of the Boy Scouts of America, which purportedly would allow, as of January 1, 2014, "open and avowed homosexuals" to participate in Scouting in the United States. One is easily confused by this vague language in the press reports, as well as the ambiguous language in the actual policy statement that was released and that purports to constitute a "change" in the membership policy.

On the one hand, the Church does not teach that same sex attraction itself is sinful, albeit the attraction is intrinsically disordered. At the same time, the Church does teach that acting on same sex attraction is always sinful, no matter how young or old the persons are.

What is moral and what is immoral may seem to some a discussion best left outside of polite discourse, but it is all highly material to any organization designed to inculcate virtue in its members. We do not talk about Scouting as a means to instill character only to avoid clarity on what is moral and what is immoral conduct. And we cannot accept a dodging of the question by suggesting that all sexual conduct at a young age is inappropriate.

Thus, the ambiguity in the language of the recent policy change, and the vague language in the press reports, call for clarification. Specifically, there is a tension between the policy as it is being described by its proponents and by the press, as opposed to the most charitable interpretation possible pursuant to a strict reading of the text. If the press and proponents of the change are to be believed, BSA has abandoned its legacy. If defenders of the policy language, as approved, are to be believed, it less evident that any "change" occurred at all.

But is it reasonable to believe BSA just trumpeted from the hilltops that it has "changed" its policy to allow participation by "open and avowed homosexuals" while continuing to condemn acting on same sex attraction at any age? If BSA continues to condemn acting on same sex attraction at any age, it has been remarkably mute about it.

Moreover, does anyone actually believe that prior to this policy change, boys experiencing same sex attraction were being hunted down and expelled from Scouting? Hardly! The traditional policy was aimed at preventing any endorsement or promotion of same sex activity in an environment where boys routinely participate in overnight camping trips. It never denied participation to those experiencing same sex attraction on that basis alone.

Accordingly, absent clarification, we must take proponents of the policy at their word when they describe the policy as a "change" to allow "open and avowedly homosexual" participation in Scouting. Rightly or wrongly, the action by BSA has been widely interpreted to mean that BSA no longer condemns same sex activity.

Unless and until BSA clarifies its policy and emphasizes that BSA continues to condemn acting on same sex attraction at any age, Troop 1212 cannot continue to attend official BSA events or activities, or wear the Class A uniform. We will operate as a Catholic Scouting unit and avoid any public representation that might suggest we endorse the "new" policy. Meanwhile, we will actively explore and encourage the development of an organization that facilitates our operating a Catholic Scouting unit.

Anyone who shares this conviction can sign the "Declaration" that Troop 1212 has signed the "Corpus Christ Declaration" at the website for Faithful Scouts of the Immaculata, a project of the Witnessworks Foundation for a Culture of Life.

This entry was first posted as a "Scoutmaster's Minute" at the Troop 1212 website.

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