Things Change Slowly

This came out of the blue:

The Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation’s largest private youth organizations, is actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders, according to scouting officials and outsiders familiar with internal discussions.

If adopted by the organization’s board of directors, it would represent a profound change on an issue that has been highly controversial — one that even went to the US Supreme Court. The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts.

“The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” according to Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ national organization.

I guess if the military can have openly gay members, so can a youth program and the country will survive.

113 replies
  1. 1
    Ted says:

    I was just about (ie visited them las weekend) to sign my 5-year-old for a similar group called the Spiral Scouts because of the Boy Scouts’ policies. Wondering if I should rethink that. But, the Boy Scouts are WAY behind on this…

  2. 2
    artem1s says:

    Still keeping the God thingy, I assume? Seems they are creating a breeding ground for fundy bullying, a la Mittster and his scissors.

  3. 3
    different-church-lady says:

    Obama could have ended this years ago with an executive order.

  4. 4
    Gin & Tonic says:

    The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting

    is the money quote. You can’t have a BSA troop without a sponsoring organization. Lots of them are LDS churches (or temples, whatever, I don’t know the right term.) I sense this will accomplish much less than you hope, unless lots of other, more-tolerant organizations step up as local sponsors.

  5. 5
    shortstop says:

    I guess I’m not sorry I accidentally made a young Boy Scout cry recently. He and his scoutmaster father were shilling popcorn at a highway oasis and I calmly and politely explained why I couldn’t support them. The kid listened to every word and then started hiccuping and gasping, “Dad, I don’t want to be a bigot!” Dad was unpleased.

  6. 6
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @artem1s: Actually, quite surprisingly tolerant on *which* God.

  7. 7
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @artem1s: Actually, quite surprisingly tolerant on *which* God.

  8. 8
    aimai says:

    Not only survive but be fabulous.

    I’m thrilled. Things are changing so fast.

  9. 9
    JPL says:

    Let’s wait until it happens.

  10. 10
    c u n d gulag says:

    YAY!!!

    Now I can go back to not giving a sh*t about what the Boy Scouts do.

  11. 11
    Bulworth says:

    Wingnut heads exploding in 3…2…1

  12. 12
    catclub says:

    @shortstop: When small members of organizations realize what they are being asked to sell
    ( and it usually is selling) it is not a happy time.

    I have always hated those candy bar fundraisers, which I suspect benefit the candy salesman far more than the schoolchildren who are hawking the stuff.

  13. 13
    Amir Khalid says:

    Is it conceivable that some righty parents might sue to force the Boy Scouts to maintain a ban on gay scouts and leaders?

  14. 14
    burnspbesq says:

    @shortstop:

    You’re lying about that having been accidental.

  15. 15
    Scott S. says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it. And even after I see it, I’ll need to wait another six months before I believe they’re not going to backtrack it…

  16. 16
    A Ghost To Most says:

    When they stop discriminating against those who choose not to believe in sky fairies, then I will reconsider my antipathy.

  17. 17
    Calouste says:

    Couldn’t have anything to do with companies like Intel and UPS stopping donations to the Boy Scouts, explicitly because of their discriminatory policies, now could it?

    In the end the Boy Scouts are a right wing organization, so money trumps principles every time.

  18. 18
    MattF says:

    @Amir Khalid: More likely some will drop out and form a new ‘Real’ Boy Scouts that holds to the old policies.

  19. 19
    Patricia Kayden says:

    NOM members must be somewhere weeping at this news. So sad for them.

  20. 20
    rikyrah says:

    this is a move in the positive direction

  21. 21
    Soonergrunt says:

    Even here in Oklahoma, the Cub Scout pack and the local district council had an attitude about the whole thing which was “meh.” One of them said straight out that they wouldn’t openly disagree with the policy (cause that could cost them their charter) but that they wouldn’t do anything to support the anti-gay policy either, and this was 10 years ago. The Scout troop was the same way. The boy stayed in Scouting till he was fourteen and realized (as many boys do) that he’d rather hang out with girls at the mall and movies than freeze his butt off camping.
    Of course, our sponsoring organizations were the PTAs at the elementary school and middle school in Norman, OK–the last bastion of pseudo-liberalism in the state.

  22. 22
    Pincher says:

    @shortstop: Yeah, I haven’t given the cub scouts anything in a while because of this issue. But their popcorn sale is a scam anyway – most of the money goes to the popcorn company. Much better to just hand the kid a dollar.

  23. 23
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Amir Khalid: BSA is a voluntary organization. I’m not a lawyer, but my understanding is that they’d have no grounds to sue. The remedy would be for them to withdraw their children from the organization and attempt to start their own.

  24. 24
    Anonymous At Work says:

    Well, still not the right organization for children unless all children (non-Christian/Jewish, atheist, etc) are allowed as well.

  25. 25
    shortstop says:

    @burnspbesq: I’m glad he decided he didn’t want to be a bigot. Tears weren’t central, or even necessary, to my objective.

  26. 26
    The Dangerman says:

    @A Ghost To Most:

    When they stop discriminating against those who choose not to believe in sky fairies…

    Now, how do they discriminate against Atheists? Yes, there are words related to God in oaths, but God shows up on your money, too. About the same level of impact with the Scouts.

    Sorry to disappoint.

    Well, still not the right organization for children unless all children (non-Christian/Jewish, atheist, etc) are allowed as well.

    Same as above; you are wrong. Eagle Scout here and I had many Jewish, non-Christian, etc, in my Troop.

  27. 27
    Pincher says:

    @The Dangerman: Scouts are not permitted to be atheists. You can believe in any God you want, as long as you believe he (it?) exists.

  28. 28
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Anonymous At Work: BSA does accept Buddhist and other non-theistic religious affiliations. They do not accept atheists or agnostics.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    shortstop says:

    @The Dangerman: As far as I know, no one has been forced to conduct trade outside the U.S. currency system for being an atheist. The BSA doesn’t accept atheists as members or leaders.

  31. 31
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Amir Khalid: The decision has been left to the local organizations, which I read to mean that when someone accuses the Boy Scouts of being bigots, they can say “It’s not us, it’s the local groups.”

    As for the parents, since joining the organization is not mandatory, they won’t really have anything to sue for. They can either live with the rules, or pull their kids out.

  32. 32
    Nicole says:

    Nice to see the Boy Scouts finally starting to catch up with the Girl Scouts. Now, if the Boy Scouts could also start selling delicious cookies, too…

    The Girl Scout Pledge, at least back when I was a scout, also made reference to God (as did my favorite scout song, “On My Honor”). And I still ended up agnostic. References to God don’t bother me. Excluding kids and adults who might make terrific scouts and scout leaders really bothers me. Props to the Boy Scouts if they follow through.

  33. 33

    @The Dangerman:
    This is from 2002

    As far as I know, the BSA still discriminates against non-believers. It’s shameful, really, and it’s a reason why I won’t let my 6YO son join, since our family is atheist.

  34. 34
    The Dangerman says:

    @Pincher:

    You can believe in any God you want, as long as you believe he (it?) exists.

    I’ve been around a lot of Scouting activities; again, there may be some token language (see “In God We Trust” on your bills), but that’s about it.

    Now, to be fair, there might be some troops with Leaders that aren’t tolerant; it comes with the deal with volunteers. You’re painting with a very broad brush.

    ETA: Regarding the KOMO thing from 2002, I don’t know the current rules for Leaders. I do suspect there are non-proselytizing rules in place, so if this gentleman was proselytizing (if that’s the right word) his non-belief, that could be a problem.

  35. 35

    @The Dangerman: Google the atheist Daryll Lampert. I may have the spelling of his name wrong, but he was on track to be a scout master when they figured out that he didn’t believe in any of the approved deities and cut him loose.

    While I have heard of individual troops circumventing the ban on atheists using creative means (like allowing a scout to claim George Lucas as his spiritual mentor), they are rare, and amusing.

  36. 36
    Calouste says:

    @Pincher:

    Has someone tried that with Zeus or Odin?

  37. 37
    Roger Moore says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Is it conceivable that some righty parents might sue to force the Boy Scouts to maintain a ban on gay scouts and leaders?

    It is conceivable that some American will sue another over almost anything you can think of, real or imaginary. I wouldn’t put much faith in their chance of winning, though.

  38. 38
    Ben Franklin says:

    I guess if the military can have openly gay members gunz, so can a youth program and the country will survive.

    http://www.americanrifleman.or.....f-america/

  39. 39
    Pincher says:

    @Afferent Input: Yep. There are basically two reasons why I pulled my kids out of cub scouts. First was the antigay bigotry. Second was the intolerance of atheism.

    Oh and also, it was a pain in the ass trying to get the other parents to help organize stuff. The other Dads were a bunch of bums. Maybe that was the main thing really ;)

  40. 40
    shortstop says:

    @The Dangerman: It’s not “token language.” It’s a requirement for membership.

    The Boy Scouts of America’s official position is that atheists and agnostics cannot participate as Scouts or adult Scout Leaders in its traditional Scouting programs.

    “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, ‘On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.’ The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members.”[2]

    The BSA believes that atheists and agnostics are not appropriate role models of the Scout Oath and Law for boys, and thus will not accept such persons as members or adult leaders.[2] The Bylaws of the BSA contain a non-sectarian Declaration of Religious Principle which all Scouts are required to subscribe to as part of the membership application process. The Declaration of Religious Principle was adopted in the first decade of the organization to assuage the Catholic Church that the work of the YMCA in getting Scouting established in this country did not mean that it was a Protestant proselytizing organization.

    The BSA does not require adherence to any particular religious beliefs or ethos beyond this. The Boy Scout Handbook goes on to explain that “A Scout is Reverent” simply means that “A Scout is reverent towards God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.” Buddhists, followers of Native American religions, Muslims, Jews, Christians of all denominations, and many others, including those who define their own spirituality, can be and are members of the BSA. The BSA recognizes religious awards for over 38 faith groups including Baha’i, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Hinduism, and 28 varieties of Christianity.[15] Boy Scouts of America–approved religious emblems exist for most religions.

  41. 41
    Roger Moore says:

    @Calouste:

    In the end the Boy Scouts are a right wing organization, so money trumps principles every time.

    Don’t think of it as money trumping principles; just think of it as money being the most important principle to which everything else must take a back seat. Mammon is a jealous god.

  42. 42
    Maude says:

    @redshirt:
    Are we talking about colanders?

  43. 43
    The Dangerman says:

    @shortstop:

    Buddhists, followers of Native American religions, Muslims, Jews, Christians of all denominations, and many others, including those who define their own spirituality, can be and are members of the BSA.

    Seems pretty wide open to me; yes, I see the text about Atheists and Agnostics, but, with rare exceptions, where the rubber meets the road, nobody gives a shit.

  44. 44

    @Pincher:

    I think that would do me in, too. I don’t need to carry the load for a bunch of deadbeat dads.

    We take our sons camping and hiking all the time regardless of membership in the BSA. We’ve found other organizations geared towards kids that share our love of nature AND do not exclude others due to religious discrimination. We’ll give our money, time, and effort to those groups.

    BTW, GSA does not discriminate against nonbelievers. I’m more than happy to buy cookies when that time of year rolls around (Although their religious policy has less to do with it than the unholy alliance of chocolate and peanut butter).

  45. 45
    alhutch says:

    I’m glad the national organization is looking to join us all in the 21st century, but the real issue will be how this plays out at the local level (troop and/or council).

    If the troop you are interested in is filled with bigots and assholes, move on to another. Another point is that many troops (at least back in the 80s) are sponsored/aligned with local churches (providing meeting places, storage, etc). The more progressive the church…I think you see where this is going.

    So much depends on a strong Scout Master (adult) to drive change at the local level. Not sure how much of a real difference it will make. Have a great one (like I did) and it can be a great experience.

  46. 46
    redshirt says:

    I am a Jedi, like my Scout Leader before me.

  47. 47
    shortstop says:

    @The Dangerman: Right, those damn little nonbelieving kids and godless would-be leaders can just take false oaths to get and stay in. What’s the big deal, anyway, and why should they mind? It’s not like any deity’s going to come after them for lying or compromising their own principles, amirite?

  48. 48
    shortstop says:

    @alhutch:

    If the troop you are interested in is filled with bigots and assholes, move on to another.

    How does this work in very small towns and rural areas?

  49. 49
    Chris says:

    I was in the Boy Scouts for one year. It’s where I met the first gay person I ever knew. And it wasn’t a secret, either, or any kind of big deal.

    (He was an asshole, but to be fair, this was seventh grade and so were most people).

    Granted, this was Paris, France (though still an American troop, attached to the local school). But I always figured there were plenty of troops in America that chose not to enforce the rules, the same way ours had chosen not to.

  50. 50
    The Dangerman says:

    @shortstop:

    Right, those damn little nonbelieving kids and godless would-be leaders can just take false oaths to get and stay in.

    When I see video of you burning your money, I’ll find your position consistent, else, you’re full of shit.

    ETA: I’m sure there are exceptions – again, it’s a big organization with local volunteer leadership – but God just isn’t any bigger deal in the scouts than with your money (well, some troops meet in Churches as mentioned above, but Religion, in a formal way, isn’t pushed).

  51. 51
    Chris says:

    @shortstop:

    AHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    Oh man, that’s awesome. Well done!

  52. 52
    Raven says:

    @Afferent Input: God don’t dredge up the fucking cookie whiners. We went through all that just this morning.

  53. 53
    Violet says:

    The “no atheists allowed” thing is very real. Some religious friends of mine have a son who is going for Eagle Scout. He’s also going through an “I don’t believe in God” phase. Whether or not it’s a permanent decision or just a phase, no one knows. However, if he’s a declared atheist or even agnostic, he won’t be eligible to be an Eagle Scout.

    This is a kid who struggles in school and getting the Eagle might open a few doors for him (I think it gives you some bonus points on your application for the police academy or something), as well as be a culmination of all the hard work he’s put into scouting. His parents are nervous he’ll be asked about his religious beliefs during his interview, or whatever the panel inquisition is called, and they won’t approve him for Eagle. Plus they’re worried for his “mortal soul” since they’re very religious.

  54. 54
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Chris: Way off topic, probably, but how many 13-year-old humans can credibly understand their own sexuality, let alone define it?

  55. 55
    Chris says:

    @A Ghost To Most:

    This.

    It’s a great step forward that they admit gays, but as long as they refuse to admit atheists, they’re still on my shit list.

    (Actually, as long as it’s anything other than “all are welcome.”)

  56. 56
    Roger Moore says:

    @redshirt:

    I am a Jedi, like my Scout Leader before me.

    Yeah, right. Where’s your Scout Leader now, big boy? Always two there are, a master and an apprentice. We know which side of the Jedi/Sith divide you’re on.

  57. 57
    alhutch says:

    @shortstop:

    How does this work in very small towns and rural areas?

    Start your own troop with other like minded individuals. Even the smallest towns will likely have more than one active troop though.

    If one truly can’t be found, you might be living among too many assholes/bigots.

  58. 58
    shortstop says:

    @The Dangerman: Right, because participating in the U.S. monetary system while living in this country is totally optional. Not for the first time (or the third or the tenth), I’m seeing signs that critical thinking isn’t high on your list of preferred activities.

    Look, if you want to effectively defend the Scouts for banning atheist and agnostic members and leaders, take a more courageous position that simply pretending it’s not happening. We’ve shown you why what you’ve been saying in this thread is simply untrue. You think it’s okay for the Boy Scouts to ask people to lie about and hide their religious beliefs or lack thereof in order to join an organization? Cowboy up and say so. Work with the BSA reality, not what you wish it were because you’re emotionally attached to the organization.

  59. 59
    Chris says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Now, how do they discriminate against Atheists? Yes, there are words related to God in oaths, but God shows up on your money, too. About the same level of impact with the Scouts.

    When I was in the BSA, the troop flat-out refused to accept anyone who wasn’t religious. You didn’t have to be a Christian or even a monotheist, but you did have to have some sort of religion. And this was the same troop that had no problem accepting the gay kid, mind you.

    So yes, it’s my experience at least that they do discriminate against atheists.

  60. 60
    Chris says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    I honestly didn’t ask, but the age of thirteen is when I first started noticing that girls were actually quite interesting. I would assume that he started noticing boys in the same way.

  61. 61
    shortstop says:

    @alhutch:

    Even the smallest towns will likely have more than one active troop though.

    Really? If so, that’s good news. Can you point us to some data on this?

    If one truly can’t be found, you might be living among too many assholes/bigots.

    No doubt. Do we just write off the kids and potential leaders who are living among too many assholes or bigots?

  62. 62
    shortstop says:

    @shortstop:

    This should have been:

    You think it’s okay to ask people to lie about and hide their religious beliefs or lack thereof in order to join an organization? Cowboy up and say so. Work with the BSA reality, not what you wish it were because you’re emotionally attached to the organization.

    It’s not the BSA telling people to lie — it’s Dangerman.

  63. 63
    alhutch says:

    @shortstop: Now you are just being difficult. First suggestion I made was to ‘start your own troop’ if none of the existing ones are to your liking.

    Number of troops in any area will be determined by the number of boys interested in being members and (more critically) number of adults willing to make the time to be leaders.

  64. 64
    Walker says:

    What the hell is the popcorn thing everyone talks about? I was in scouting for 10 years (I am a former Eagle Scout that broke with the organization after its ridiculous policies ousted one of my old scoutmasters). We never had a national-based fundraisers. All fundraisers were local and per troop.

  65. 65
    Raven says:

    @Walker: Did you go to Philmont?

  66. 66
    Avery Greynold says:

    Kids can just lie about their religious beliefs and join the scouts. Perhaps you can ask gay kids to just stay in the closet too. Maybe you can get women to promise to be subservient to their husbands. But if we aren’t conservative fundamentalists, haven’t we stopped accepting this?

  67. 67
    Ohio Mom says:

    @MattF: Yeah, we have a ultra-fundie breakaway from the Girl Scouts in the northern Cincinnati suburbs, or at least we did. I forgot what they were calling themselves. Heritage girls or something like that.

    Oh dear, I just googled them. They’re American Heritage Girls and they’ve spread all over, even in Alaska. Yuck. Well at least the real Girl Scouts don’t have to deal with them anymore.

  68. 68
    different-church-lady says:

    @Bulworth:

    Wingnut heads exploding in 3…2…1

    Well, you have to admit, their worst nightmares are coming true, one by one. It’s just a few paces from the Boy Scouts accepting the gay to state recognition of human-animal marriage.

  69. 69
    Raven says:

    @different-church-lady: I wonder what my uncle did with his Silver Beaver?

  70. 70
    different-church-lady says:

    Someone on this thread needs to look up the definitions of “de facto” and “de jure” and then take a chill pill.

  71. 71
    shortstop says:

    @alhutch: I’m really not trying to be difficult with you. I just don’t think you’re being realistic about how Scouts work in less populous areas.

    It’s been my experience that very small towns have one troop at each level if they’re lucky, and slightly bigger burgs will have one troop at each level at each school. Again, if that’s not the case any more, please point us to the stats.

    Nor do I think you’re being realistic about the difficulties involved in “starting your own troop with like-minded individuals.” Most kids, and many parents, will find it exceedingly challenging to go against the local culture and customs, which tend to be more homogeneous in smaller towns, to strike out and form a competitive troop. And that’s assuming that everyone can locate enough “like-minded individuals” in the face of the open hostility that often gets dished out to progressive people in smaller towns.

    The bottom line is that “Form your own troop” may be workable advice in certain circumstances, but it really isn’t a fix-it for the bigotry and exclusion that ails the larger organization. Because the BSA is the way it is, too many people are left out in the cold without really viable options for creating a comparative experience.

  72. 72
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I have far fewer problems with the Boy Scouts requiring religious belief than I do with their ban on gays.

    ETA: Straight and agnostic.

  73. 73
    different-church-lady says:

    @Raven:

    [looks up “silver beaver” on Urban Dictionary]

    EWWWWWWWWWWW….

  74. 74

    @The Dangerman: I dug up some more info on the atheist the boy scouts kicked out.

    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=darrell+l.....boy+scouts

    I was off on the name. Darrell Lambert. He was expelled from the scouts for being an out atheist.

    When I was a scout, I was an avowed Catholic so I was able to get my Eagle Scout award. However, as an atheist now, I couldn’t be a scout master or in any leadership role in the scouts. Since I plan on raising my son without gods or demons, we are explicitly excluded from scouting.

  75. 75
    Raven says:

    @different-church-lady: add boy scouts

  76. 76
    different-church-lady says:

    @Raven: On Urban Dictionary? I think that would just make it worse…

  77. 77
    karen marie says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Exactly. The group overall gets a boost in favorability ratings without having to actually change their discriminatory policies. “Look, ma, my hands are clean!”

  78. 78
    karen marie says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Exactly. The group overall gets a boost in favorability ratings without having to actually change their discriminatory policies. “Look, ma, my hands are clean!”

  79. 79
    alhutch says:

    @shortstop: I didn’t say it would be easy, just that it’s possible.

    If your local community is so against the ideals you want reflected by the local Scout troop, that’s on the community, not the Troop (which is, after all, made up of members of said community). If you live in a small town, you already give up varied selection in many things (shopping, entertainment, etc), so why would Scouts be any different?

    In my limited (personal) experience with Scouts, the Scout Master really sets the tone for the troop and drives how it will function. Very demanding, thankless job for some poor soul, when done right. Why not be the difference you want to see?

  80. 80
    Chris says:

    @shortstop:

    Well, at the risk of being an even bigger downer, my suspicion is that even if the national level BSA starts allowing gay people and atheists, if the culture is that imbued with assholes, they’ll find a way to continue the exclusion de facto – either by not letting gays and atheists in under some bogus reason, or letting them in but making sure they feel as unwelcome as possible until they “choose” to leave.

    ETA: the local culture, I mean. In the kind of small town you’re describing.

  81. 81
    Soonergrunt says:

    @shortstop: If the very small town or rural area is filled with bigots and assholes…

  82. 82
    Raven says:

    @Chris: Guess what? You can legislate people out of being assholes.

  83. 83
    shortstop says:

    @Soonergrunt: You won’t catch me living in one. But not everyone has the right circumstances and means to pick up and go.

  84. 84
    alhutch says:

    @shortstop: Just to be clear, I am not defending any bigotry or exclusion practiced by the BSA. I’ve had a few friends send their Eagle badge back to BSA HQ with a letter of protest regarding the current stance on gays in Scouts. With this type of feedback, I think the BSA might finally be realizing they must adapt to the times or die.

  85. 85
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Walker: Popcorn is the BSA’s version of Girl Scout Cookies. It’s much less effective for raising money because everybody can get popcorn pretty much whenever they want, unlike GS Cookies and also the company that supplies the popcorn gets a much higher percentage of the take than the GS Cookie supplier.
    Come to that, don’t the Girl Scouts own the cookie company outright?

  86. 86
    Chris says:

    @Raven:

    How? I thought the point of “voluntary” organizations like the BSA (or many churches) was that they were where the assholes coalesced after legislation had stripped them of their power to impose assholish views on society at large. Like a country club – you can’t make everyone play by your rules anymore, so you retreat to a world where you can still make the rules.

  87. 87
    karen marie says:

    I totally didn’t double post.

  88. 88
    shortstop says:

    @alhutch: Sigh. This isn’t about my circumstances. I live in a huge city. And yet I’m having no trouble understanding and empathizing with people living in rural areas and small towns who lack the ability to leave right now. I’m having trouble understanding why you can’t.

    One of the things that’s frustrating about these discussions is how hard it is for people to get out of their own heads and experiences: “Well, she can go to another state to get an abortion,” “They should start their own lunch counters if this one won’t serve them,” “Find another pharmacy to fill your contraceptive prescription,” “They should just move out of the south to a politically hospitable blue state,” “Just start your own troop,” etc.

    These are far from perfect analogies (not least because some involve public accommodation laws), but they do illustrate the mindset that falsely believes that when people are in inhospitable or unjust situations, they always have perfect control over changing the basic premises. Here we are discussing at great length how people can get around the BSA’s bigotry rather than the fact that the BSA is exclusionary and biased! We can’t force the BSA to change except perhaps by changing the weight of public opinion, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t identify the actual problem here.

  89. 89
    shortstop says:

    @alhutch: Sigh. This isn’t about my circumstances. I live in a huge city. And yet I’m having no trouble understanding and empathizing with people living in rural areas and small towns who lack the ability to leave right now. I’m having trouble understanding why you can’t.

    One of the things that’s frustrating about these discussions is how hard it is for us to get out of our own heads and experiences: “Well, she can go to another state to get an abortion,” “They should start their own lunch counters if this one won’t serve them,” “Find another ph.armacy to fill your contraceptive prescription,” “They should just move out of the south to a politically hospitable blue state,” “Just start your own troop,” etc.

    These are far from perfect analogies (not least because some involve public accommodation laws), but they do illustrate the mindset that falsely believes that when people are in inhospitable or unjust situations, they always have perfect control over changing the basic premises. Here we are discussing at great length how people can get around the BSA’s bigotry rather than the fact that the BSA is exclusionary and biased! We can’t force the BSA to change except perhaps by changing the weight of public opinion, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t identify the actual problem here

  90. 90
    Ed in NJ says:

    The Boy Scouts are dying in my neck of the woods, probably due to many reasons not related to their anti-gay practices (kids have alot more choices for extracurricular activities these days). But I can tell you that the 5 years my son was a scout, there was not one instance of preaching or bigotry exhibited by the troop. I’m sure that this is not the case everywhere, but here in NJ, the scouts are a service organization, not some vessel for bigotry. Changes at the national level might just save an organization that actually does alot of good for many boys.

  91. 91
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: man:

    So you don’t care if they are religious bigots, as long as they aren’t sexual bigots.

    Good to know.

  92. 92
    A Ghost To Most says:

    And just for the record, my son was asked to leave the only troop in town because he wouldn’t lie and say he believed in a deity.

  93. 93
    TooManyJens says:

    @shortstop:

    The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God.

    Apparently religious bigotry is part of the “best kind of citizenship.”

  94. 94
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @A Ghost To Most: No, I do not have a problem with an organization deciding that religion is important and making it a condition of membership. Religious belief is a way in which one views the world. Sexuality is not. Choosing to limit membership in a voluntary group to those who share a certain viewpoint is fundamentally different than barring people because of their basic nature.

  95. 95
    alhutch says:

    @shortstop: Oh, you are tiresome. I am a results oriented person. Rather than wringing my hands about a situation I can’t control, I was trying to illustrate real world options for someone who really wanted to join Scouts, not defend the BSA or their exclusionary rules.

    I like that you kept throwing up “roadblocks” in your obviously heartfelt attempt to “help me understand and empathize” with rural folk and their reduced life options. Consider me educated. You can now check that off your list of accomplishments for today, all-knowing huge city guy.

  96. 96
    unspiek says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: And, if one’s ‘basic nature’ prevents him from believing in judgmental invisible friends with Mad PowerZ, what then?

    The BSA holds a Congressional charter under Title 36 of the US Code. That should oblige them not to attempt to end-run the First Amendment — but, alas, it doesn’t.

  97. 97
    shortstop says:

    @A Ghost To Most:

    And just for the record, my son was asked to leave the only troop in town because he wouldn’t lie and say he believed in a deity.

    Really sorry this happened to your son. Fortunately, the good news I’ve picked up in this thread is that a) it didn’t really happen except in theory and b) he was just hanging around with the wrong kind of Scouts and didn’t look hard enough for results-oriented solutions reliant upon him changing his own behavior.

  98. 98
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    So, no problem accepting pedophiles (sexual orientation), but no buddhists.
    (belief).

    Just trying to understand the rules here.

  99. 99
    Walker says:

    @Raven:

    No. I belonged to a high adventurer troop that did our own trips. My understanding from the Philmont alums that I have talked to is that it is a step down from our custom trips.

  100. 100
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @A Ghost To Most: Where the fuck did I say anything about accepting pedophiles? Also, the Boy Scouts do accept Buddhists. But, then, it appears that you are trolling, so good day to you.

  101. 101
    A Ghost To Most says:

    Not trolling. Just way tired of casual and institutionalized religious bigotry, something you seem to care little about. Good day, “sir”. .

  102. 102
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @A Ghost To Most: But you are cool with the casual association of homosexuality with pedophilia?

  103. 103
    Don K says:

    @Chris:

    Mmmm, yeah, I’d say 13 or so is a pretty normal age to start noticing whether the naughty bits you’re interested in are innies or outies

  104. 104
    A Ghost To Most says:

    Not cool at all, but sexual orientation is what it is, not a choice.

    Put another way; would you be cool if they only allowed self-confessed conservatives? Would you be happy with public funding of an organization that would discriminate only against liberals?

  105. 105
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @A Ghost To Most: The statement that I made with which to took is was:

    I have far fewer problems with the Boy Scouts requiring religious belief than I do with their ban on gays.

    Just off hand, where in this do I say that I am fine with the religious belief requirement? You, otoh, said:

    no problem accepting pedophiles (sexual orientation),

    Seems to me like a pretty fucking casual association of the two.

  106. 106
    A Ghost To Most says:

    I wasn’t distinguishing (i.e. making a moral judgement) between heterosexuality.homosexuality,bestiality, or humans who are willing to have sex with lawyers (lowest of the low, in my opinion). You did that.

  107. 107
    pkdz says:

    My son is a Webolo here in Madison, Wisconsin. The sponsoring church is an ELCA Lutheran one, which has a sign saying that they are a welcoming church. His pack is down to 15 members; there were over 30 just two years ago. An entire den quit this past summer over the discrimination policy. If this decision takes place, than progressive churches will be able to allow gay members and leaders. I hope the 75% churches that are not Mormon or Catholic will be able to make their own decisions.

  108. 108
    steverino says:

    I was only in Cub Scouts (one of several packs? dens? troops?) in a town of 15K. I don’t recall any religious things, except the oath. We never did more than basic crafts, and grilling frozen hot dogs on a stick over a backyard fire. My mother yanked me finally because she thought I was slacking on merit badges (I was, though the other kids were worse, because she was not cracking the whip on them).

    I wouldn’t join it with my present sensibilities, because of the gay/religious thing: I was later in DeMolay (like a Junior Masons), and that was non-denominationally religious. Though presumably no Catholics, from what I hear, though I never paid attention. After high school I decided, as a new-minted atheist, that I didn’t care for any hypocrisy on my part, so I faded out of the organization, and never followed up with the Masons.

    I was in the Navy, and I didn’t mind invocations at, say, ship christenings, because that isn’t religious, that’s only common sense, having worked for hundreds of years: don’t sail on Fridays, salute the quarterdeck because there used to be a cross hanging there in the British Navy, invocations at launchings, all that.

  109. 109
    cckids says:

    @Raven: Of all the weird Scout names for things, that takes the cake. One woman I know who earned it last year said that it sounded like a lifetime achievement award for prostitution.

  110. 110
    cckids says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I have far fewer problems with the Boy Scouts requiring religious belief than I do with their ban on gays.

    This. You choose your religion or lack thereof. Your sexuality is inborn. All the difference in the world.

    And my son is an atheist Eagle Scout. Not all troops & leaders give a shit about inquiring into kids sexuality or religious beliefs. Ours emphasizes the real-life application of the values Scouts teach, they don’t just talk about them. We’ve had several atheists & also gay kids, no one cares.

  111. 111
    patroclus says:

    I’m an Eagle Scout, multiple Philmont trips and I loved Scouting (partly because of all the gays and atheists I met there). The stated discriminatory policy was absurd and I’m overjoyed to see it gone – not that it was ever enforced while I was in Scouting.

    This thread is bizarre…

  112. 112
    Original Lee says:

    @Walker: Popcorn is primarily a Cub Scout-level fundraiser. Boy Scouts can sell popcorn if they choose, but most of them prefer their own fundraisers. This is at least in part because the boys only get to keep one-third of the gross when they sell popcorn. OTOH, if parents and Scout leaders are not creative about fundraisers or if they want an off-the-shelf program, popcorn meets that need. Also, Trail’s End has started offering a college fund program for the real go-getters in popcorn sales, and some
    Councils offer some pretty cool prizes for the top sellers. So it’s not a bad thing, just not everybody’s cup of tea.

  113. 113
    Original Lee says:

    @Soonergrunt: IME, the boys get to keep 30-35 percent of the cost of their product, while the girls get to keep 15-17.5 percent of the cost of their product. The cookies are cheaper (in our area, $4/box), but there are fewer cookies inside than there used to be, while the cheapest popcorn ($9 bucket of caramel corn) has maintained the volume pretty consistently.

    Having been both a popcorn kernel and a Cookie Manager, I think it’s easier for a boy to sell one small container of popcorn and keep $3 of that than it is for a girl to sell 7 or 8 boxes of cookies to get to keep the same amount of money. My son’s unit consistently sells $10,000 worth of popcorn (net: $3,500 for the troop), while my daughter’s unit is doing well to sell $3,000 worth of cookies (net: $525 for the troop).

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