Bench Memos

Catholic Statement on Proposed Change to Boy Scouts Membership Policy

The National Catholic Committee on Scouting has issued a statement that, if properly applied, ought to require faithful Catholic scout leaders to vote against the Boy Scouts of America’s proposed resolution to allow openly gay youth members. The NCCS statement reads in part (emphasis added):

The Catholic Church teaches that those who experience same-sex attraction are always to be treated with dignity and respect. The Church also teaches that sexual acts belong within marriage, and that everyone – young or old, married or single – is called to chastity, through which we grow in our understanding of love. These teachings are especially important for those who serve as role models for young people. Because of this, the Church reserves the right to seek to place those who live by its teachings in leadership positions that serve our youth, as well as the right to continue to call our young people to live by the teachings of our faith and by moral truth which can be known by all.

As I have explained, although the proposed resolution purports to retain the BSA’s prohibition of adult leaders who are “open or avowed homosexuals,” its adoption would fatally undermine the BSA’s legal basis, under the Supreme Court ruling in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, for maintaining that prohibition. In other words, the entirely foreseeable effect of the resolution would be to compel Catholic-sponsored troops to allow openly gay adult leaders who don’t “live by [the Church’s] teachings.”

The NCCS statement is far too generous in crediting the BSA “for the seriousness with which it has approached the inclusion of adult leaders and youth who experience same-sex attraction.” In fact, the BSA within the space of three months has floated two dramatically different proposals that have in common only the feature that in practice each would lead readily to a wholesale repeal of the BSA’s policy against openly gay adult leaders. What the BSA leadership seems to have been most intent on is finding a way to snooker local scout leaders and parents into supporting a revision that is unworkable and unsustainable.

Indeed, the BSA leadership appears to have given more careful thought to the theatrics of its upcoming meeting than to the substance of its resolution. Minutes that I have obtained of a recent conference call of the BSA’s Membership Standards Policy Committee set forth an elaborate script for next week’s meeting, including:

As participants enter the ballroom, a small live band will be playing pop tunes. We are creating a light mood/atmosphere for the meeting. As the start of the meeting approaches (9:30 a.m.) we will instruct everyone to take their seats. We will have the lights go down and a single spot light will be on the stage to create a dramatic effect. We will have one of our volunteers start off singing God Bless America and then we’ll ask everyone else to join in after a few moments. As the song concludes, the lights will come up.


The Latest