Tuesday, July 9, 2013

An Alternative to the BSA

I just saw a news story about a faith-based group that has formed an alternative organization to the BSA. To quote from the article:
 A faith-based group opposed to the Boy Scouts recent decision to allow gay youth to join has formed their own program for kids and teens in response -- but they will also let gay youth and adults participate, leaders said Tuesday.
While the program, which doesn't yet have a name, will allow gays, it won't let them "flaunt" it, said John Stemberger, founder of OnMyHonor.net, a coalition opposed to the BSA's vote in late May to change the controversial membership policy.
"We don't think sex and politics should be in a program for kids. Those are issues for parents," said Stemberger, of Orlando, Fla., who left the Boy Scouts along with his two sons over the decision in May.
"If a young man has a same-sex attraction he would not be turned away in the program, but he's not going to be allowed to kind of openly flaunt it and carry a rainbow flag," he added, apparently referring to the participation of some BSA members in LGBT pride parades in recent weeks.
"There is not going to be any kind of witch hunt in our organization for people and what their sexual orientation's are. We're going to focus on sexual purity not sexual orientation."
The article continues, describing more about the organization and their goals. But the entire time I was reading the article, and while looking at OnMyHonor.net, I kept thinking there's already an organization that does exactly what these guys are saying they want. It's called the Boy Scouts of America.

There are only two things I saw that are actually different. They are 1) the new organization is specifically Christian, although they will allow anyone from any faith to join and 2) they will actually allow gay adults be leaders where the BSA will not.

Since apparently some people just didn't get it, let me again review as logically as I can, why the new BSA membership policy is not a bad thing and certainly isn't a reason to go start your own group.

Here goes:
1) There is a difference between attraction and behavior. Attraction (i.e. orientation) in and of itself isn't immoral, but certain behaviors based on that attraction are. It doesn't matter what the orientation is, the behavior is the important part. This new group seems to recognize this in its own literature but doesn't recognize that the BSA has essentially made that distinction as well.

2) This is made evident in two parts of the membership resolution. First, all youth are eligible to join regardless of their orientation (i.e. attraction). Second, the statement clarified that any sexual behavior of any kind by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. Combine these two statements and you find that attraction is not a problem, but behavior is.

3) The resolution states that youth cannot be excluded based on orientation alone. There is nothing in this statement that would allow anyone to "flaunt" their sexual orientation. That would be a specific behavior that would allow the BSA to take action against said youth. The BSA has also had a long-standing policy against getting involved in political events. These two issues are illustrated well in this news story.

4) The BSA maintained its policy for adults (openly or avowed homosexuals are not allowed as leaders). The adult membership application states specifically that "the applicant must possess the moral... qualities that the Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive leadership to youth." Combine these facts with the points above and you get an interesting result. Whether intentional or not, the BSA looks at openly avowed homosexuals engaging in homosexual behavior as not possessing the moral qualities necessary to lead our youth and therefore the new policy actually defines homosexual behavior as immoral.

This is not to say that there won't be issues with this new policy. But most of those will probably come from people who don't really understand it.