The Boy Scouts: A Case Study in Compromise

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

After 100 years of teaching future presidents, explorers, and civil rights leaders to follow their moral compass, it’s been sobering to watch the Boy Scouts lose their own bearings. And yet, the unhappy ending for one of America’s proudest traditions was easy to predict once the organization started chasing the approval of critics it could never win. Now, eight years into this experiment in moral compromise, the country is watching one of the saddest “I-told-you-so” moments of a generation. Disgraced, bankrupt, unpopular, and on the edge of extinction, the Scouts’ leadership is showing the world where cowardly conformity leads — and it isn’t where the culture promised.

For those who knew the Scouts in their heyday, the demise has been quick and painful. Since 2013, when the organization waved its first white flag on sexual orientation, the group that counted Martin Luther King, Jr., Buzz Aldrin, and George W. Bush as members has become barely recognizable. Ravaged by sexual abuse lawsuits and bleeding members, the road of moral surrender has not been kind to the 1910 institution. After years of successfully fighting to live by its moral code, BSA leaders gave into the lie that compromise would be their salvation. Nearly a decade later, the sad truth is: there’s almost nothing left to save.

“It’s a shell of what it once was,” Regent University professor Rob Schwarzwalder said mournfully. “At its peak, scouting in the United States had more than seven million members. Today, it’s about a tenth of that.” It’s a dramatic decline, the former FRC senior vice president admitted on “Washington Watch,” but a predictable one. Once the scouts walked away from 100 years of values, it was only a matter of time until the capitulation caught up with them. “They no longer are even able to define what they mean by things like honor and morality,” Rob pointed out. Once headquarters opened the tent flap to LGBT members and scout leaders, their fate was sealed. Now, after affirming everything from transgenderism to girl members, they’re having trouble even defining what a man is — let alone what character and honor are. “Scouting has pretty much been reduced to, ‘Let’s have fun outdoors, and let’s all embrace everybody’s philosophies,'” Rob lamented. “It’s moral incoherence.”

Gone is the Judeo-Christian ethic that guided scouts back in Teddy Roosevelt’s day. Now, it’s moral free-for-all that’s been reduced to: believe whatever you want — just be nice to people. Back when the BSA made their first concessions, the organization’s leaders promised to stay true to their mission. But, as Rob pointed out, every scout pledges, “‘On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and to my country.’ What kind of honor is there in an organization that for decades has refused to address pedophilia and sexual abuse in its ranks? And what kind of honor is left when you have compromised your basic mission of defining what good manhood is, what leadership is, does character matter? These are things that have been abandoned.”

When the pressure started coming for the scouts to walk away from their biblical roots, the organization lost the courage it spent a century teaching. If they’d have abided by their own oath, they would have told the bullies in corporations and on the Left, “We’re going to stand for what’s right. And if we lose, we’ll go down fighting because we’re men of principle. And principles don’t change”…..


Continue reading this article, published July 12, 2021 at FRC, Family Research Council


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