First the Catholic Church, now the Boy Scouts:


Does anyone else notice a pattern?

Thank goodness I sent my Eagle pin back to them a few months ago in protest of their discriminatory policies.

Oh, and in case you're interested in the sciences:

Are homosexual adults in general sexually attracted to children and are preadolescent children at greater risk of molestation from homosexual adults than from heterosexual adults? There is no reason to believe so. The research to date all points to there being no significant relationship between a homosexual lifestyle and child molestation. There appears to be practically no reportage of sexual molestation of girls by lesbian adults, and the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be homosexual (Groth & Gary, 1982, p. 147).

In a more recent literature review, Dr. Nathaniel McConaghy similarly cautioned against confusing homosexuality with pedophilia. He noted, "The man who offends against prepubertal or immediately postpubertal boys is typically not sexually interested in older men or in women"

Somebody's picture

With regard to the research

With regard to the research quoted, I have to admit I am a little confused, and since the quoted information is not linked, I can't go look for clarity myself.

1. "The research to date all points to there being no significant relationship between a homosexual lifestyle and child molestation." O.K. I understand that statement.

2. "There appears to be practically no reportage of sexual molestation of girls by lesbian adults..." I understand that statement.

3. "The man who offends against prepubertal or immediately postpubertal boys is typically not sexually interested in older men or in women" I understand that statement, I think.

4. "the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be homosexual..." I don't understand that statement.

The point that is being made, I think, is that being gay does not predispose a person to also be a pedophile. O.K., I can believe that. The last statement quoted above, however, seems to be toying with definitions in order to overstate the argument. Items 3 and 4 combined seem to try to create a definition for someone who is both a pedophile and asexual (neither hetero- nor homosexual). That seems to be an odd and unnecessary fiddling with definitions, when it is clear enough to say that being gay does not increase the likelihood of being a pedophile, and just leaving it at that.

Average Guy's picture

Tin hat on

Does anyone else notice a pattern?

These are the organizations consevertives hold up as bastions of society.

Think about what goes on in their secret societies.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


These are the organizations conservatives hold up as bastions of society.

Some of us liberals do, too. In fact, some of us liberals are quite active in Boy Scouts of America, including several in my son's troop.

Our troop was chartered over 50 years ago and is led on any given day by nine to 12 registered adult men. Three or so women also continue to register with the troop each year and all pitch in.

Statistically speaking, we'd expect such a group to be about half-and-half where its members' political affiliations are concerned and, in the course of working with my community's voter lists over the years, I've learned that that's the case in our troop, too--not that any discussion on that topic ever need come up in a troop or leader meeting.

A topic that has come up in our leader meetings, though, is the national organization's policy barring homosexuals from volunteering with boys.

I have previously objected to it, during the years when I was my son's Cub Scout leader, not only on the basis of the argument Steve makes above, but also in regard to the higher costs the policy imposes on den/troop travel (WRT sleeping arrangements/accommodations required per the national organization).

I was heartened just recently to learn that the troop committee chair for my son's troop, a man who has volunteered with BSA for nearly thirty years now, shares my sentiment.

He and I agree, though, that there is plenty enough of value in the program to motivate us to offer BSA our continued support--maybe like Madeline continues to practice the Catholic faith?

And absent any desire on my part to trivialize or otherwise discount this report in today's paper, I do think that readers should read it critically and search for a context in which to understand its various "counts."

During the period from 1970 to 1991, it says, 101 Scout leaders were "accused of sexual molestation" and "had faced previous allegations of abusing Scouts", but they "had not been kicked out?" Shouldn't our first question be "was this because the accusations were unfounded or was this because someone dropped the ball?" The article simply doesn't tell us.

During this same period, "in at least 88 cases, Scout officials failed to conduct adequate background checks and allowed men with prior criminal convictions, often for child molestation, into Scouting." Shouldn't we try to determine whether the fault lay in the availabilty of adequate methods for researching volunteers' backgrounds (in 1970, for instance), or whether the researchers themselves expended too little effort? I do hope the question crossed your minds.

And as to this report that during this same period "at least 46 men booted from Scouting because of sexual misconduct were later able to return, often by changing troops or moving to another state," please see again the above question I pose as to "availability of methods."

Then too, the various "counts" in this report are less meaningful absent some indication of just how many adult males volunteered for BSA nationally during this 21-year timeframe.

In that regard, I can tell you that I have been personally acquainted with probably 100 adult male leaders working in some capacity and at the community level with my own son's den/troop, just during the ten year period of our involvement.

Surely many tens of thousands of adult male leaders volunteered with BSA nationally over the 21-year period examined in this report?

Of course one case of child abuse is one too many, but is this problem truly epidemic within BSA?

All I can tell you is that, as a parent, I have felt and continue to feel very fortunate that my son has benifitted so from the mentoring of the many men to have devoted their time, effort, and personal finances to boys through BSA--and this appreciation I extend to the nine men and three women registered as adult leaders in his troop this school year, too.

My son is now six months from Eagle rank, our family's Scouting experience continues to be very rewarding, and I have just agonized over this recent newspaper coverage so contrary to our family's experience.

Sigh. I do hope I have been careful enough in writing this rebuttal that I do not offend anyone whose experience may have differed from ours. It took me longer to write it than may be apparent...

reform4's picture

Quite reasonable

There are
Otis of great troop leaders and great troops out there. I don't expect the problem to be pervasive.

That being said, the number of coverups documented.... That's a serious problem that the National leadership has to answer for- the same national leadership that promoted and defended the homophobic policy.

Average Guy's picture

From the Scout Oath ..,"and

From the Scout Oath

..,"and to obey the Scout Law;"

Scout Law

A Scout is:
Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful,
Friendly, Courteous, Kind,
Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty,
Brave, Clean, Reverent

I understand those words can help build good men. They can also be used to help cover for monstrous men.

"Be loyal to the program" a head coach would tell an assistant coach to cover for a serial molester.

"Be trustworthy to your fellow officers" a high ranking officer would tell a lower rank to cover abuse of power.

"Be reverent to your faith" a pedophile priest would tell an alter boy to cover his acts.

Of course I understand what I've laid out is the exception, not the rule.

But I'll stand by my statement. You identified yourself as a liberal. I've never known one that didn't want the world as an audience when on a roll about their beliefs.

On the contrary, conservatives will qualify their audience before exposing beliefs. For example, the overt racism you hear now is not new, they're just angry enough not to care to keep it hidden anymore.

When one uses words as a bastion, or fortify a position, one shouldn't forget words can become and used as code words.

bizgrrl's picture

Good job, Tamara.

Good job, Tamara.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


During the ten year period my son has been enrolled in Scouting--six years of which I served as his leader--BSA has required all adult leaders to complete mandatory Youth Protection Training.

Even adults volunteering to accompany Scouts on a single overnight outing must register as adult volunteers and complete the YP Training.

Leaders filing with their respective Councils the Local Tour Permits required for such outings must document that all chaperones, male and female, have completed it.

This YP Training is just one aspect of the organization's overall policy and procedure focused on preventing and/or exposing child abuse.

BSA's site now has a lengthy and detailed response to stories running nationally about its "ineligible volunteer files," here.

I regret that KNS isn't allowing any discussion of its story on the subject, or I'd link the BSA response there, too.

reform4's picture

And they should be applauded

For taking steps and instituting procedures and training that most assuredly reduced the number of incidents, probably by a large margin.

I guess I cant put my finger on it, but seeing them drum out gay Scouts, some within days or weeks before attaining Eagle status... there's something about the moral turpitude of THOSE actions that made me not surprised when this scandal broke. I can't put the correlation into words, but there a blackness in the soul of an organization that would do one evil to kids (discrimination) that leads to another.

Back in the 80s, my troop assuredly had one or two kids that, looking back with 20/20 hindsight might have been gay, or we're struggling with their sexual identity quietly. And assuredly, some of the kids gave those kids a hard time. But, by god, if our Scoutmaster found out about it, that harassment never would have been tolerated. He would have come down on them like a damn big hammer. Back then, *that* was the definition of "morally straight".

Not their modern, corrupted definition.

fischbobber's picture

Your experience with scouting

Echoes mine. The local council has been especially pressing on two deep leadership (to the point where getting to and from bathrooms in emergency situations can lead to tense words with leaders not in a big enough hurry) this year. This is tough because it puts troops in a position to curtail events if there are not enough volunteers. It seems there are never enough volunteers.

In addition, the more one involves ones self with scouting, the more things one is likely to see that one finds troubling. We had a nod nod wink wink speech from a local politician whose clear intent was to convey that money was the standard by which success was measured. When he was speaking of a local prominent business man starting from nothing, he neglected to mention the love and support he got from his family, friends, and community. He also failed to mention that his profession was one of the most tightly regulated in the state and that just getting that license requires the help of people intimately associated with that profession. In addition, the material nothing he alluded to was a family farm,that while hardly ostentatious, was certainly beyond any material possession I am likely to achieve, and I've been working forty hours a week or more since I was sixteen years old. (I'm not counting school). I've known of this businessman for over thirty years and known him personally for over fifteen and this is the first time I ever looked at him through a window of his worth being measured by money. I'd always admired him for what he accomplished and what he gave to the community and was genuinely proud to say I knew him because I felt like he made good use of his talents and opportunities in life. In addition, I'd always viewed him as an equal that happened upon a break or two and made the most of them.

The politicians speech got me thinking that perhaps it was all about money and that maybe they felt that those of us that hadn't achieved wealth and tremendous financial success were perhaps not worthy. Maybe we didn't belong. I never begrudged the guy his wealth, so why was the congressman shoving it in my face that I wasn't as successful, by his terms, as the businessman. On top of that, who is to say that the effort I expend on my family isn't every bit as valid a measure of success as a large amount of money?

My point is this. The Boy Scouts are not perfect, nor do they profess to be. There are many adults, local politicians included, that would prey on young men in order to conquer a particular goal, whether it be sexual gratification or brainwashing kids to establish a certain social order. That's why we have two deep leadership. That's why being involved with your child and your child's troop is important. That's why talking to your child about what goes on and establishing open, clear lines of communication is important. Scouting is skills and leadership training. There will always be less than ethical people. Even if the scouts eliminated all pedophiles, there would still be folks cheating on merit badge requirements, taking more than their share of food, or doing less than their share of work. In the end, it boils down to what kind of parent you aspire to be and what kind of scout your child aspires to be. On a personal level, your scouting experience will be what you make it.

And on the drive home, when talking about all this, I told him that if he ever got into politics and stole from the taxpayers, the Sentinel would be the least of his problems and if he thought I was going to threaten commissioners instead of kicking his ass down Gay Street,he was dead wrong, because I was raising him better than that and I wasn't going to put up with that from my son. Then I gave him a smile. We both know that's not his way.

reform4's picture


On a personal level, your scouting experience will be what you make it.

Well said.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


That's nice, but they have to pay for enablers in the past. I'll never let my son near BSA.

But you send your children to Catholic school?

Presumably, you find value in its instruction?

Personally, I favor the "Tom Hayden Approach," namely that we're more effective to change an institution from within than to change it by standing outside it, casting stones?

Pam Strickland's picture

My friends' son, now 20,

My friends' son, now 20, started Cub Scouts, and I would rotate in the activities with him. He's the closest thing to a son I'll ever have. His parents and I always taught him and his older sister that gays and lesbians are equal. The Boy Scouts won the case to prohibit gay leaders his second year in Scouts. He went to his parents and told them that he didn't want to be part of an organization that didn't treat gays as equals. It was bittersweet for his mother because she had grown up in Scouts, but she was proud that he was taking in the message of equality and that he was willing to take a stand for it.

He's a political science major at Loyola-New Orleans now. Wants to be a journalist. He has an internship at WAMU in DC this semester. Yep, he left New Orleans to find a hurricane in Wasington.

reform4's picture


Clearly, he found a higher definition or morality than what the modern BSA could offer him.

Pam Strickland's picture

He's a great young man.

He's a great young man. Started watching indie movies when he was 10 because of another friend. Once we got him through that stage when he read Catcher in the Rye 32 times, things got smoother....

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Yeah, the "Tom Hayden Approach." Let's try that with the KKK.

I guess I have a hard time associating Boy Scouts with the KKK in part because of the people I've come to know personally through the former group.

Among those nine adult males serving as our troop's registered leaders this school year, seven of them no longer have sons young enough to remain in the program as Scouts. In fact, three of them haven't had sons young enough to remain in the program for fifteen years or more. These men are in it not for their own boys, but for their community's youth more generally--and I think that speaks volumes for their dedication.

Then too, our troop's leaders come from all walks. The Troop Committee Chair, who's hardly missed a meeting in nearly 30 years, is a retired lawyer who undoubtedly reaches into his own pocket to fund our activities more often than some of the other adults do. Our Scoutmaster, in contrast, drives a UPS truck. We also rely on the talents of a doctor of geology and a doctor of environmental science, as well as the talents of a machinist and an HVAC guy.

The difference in their ages is as broad as the likely difference in their personal incomes and spans thirty years.

Each has his own gifts, though, and they are really tight. Sometimes, these guys go hiking and camping together without the boys! Like me, I guess they put great stock in the ablity of a communal campfire to build close, trusting relationships among people--especially when we sit around it hours past "lights out."

My observations were the same when I volunteered in the Cub program for younger boys, where my den probably camped more often than most such groups. Over the years, I came to know to pack extra bananas for Tim, the dad who would want Banana Boats baked in the campfire's embers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I knew to pack some book or magazine clipping of likely interest to Ed, because it would be he and I who finally doused the fire around 2:00 a.m., hours after everyone else had turned in. The woman accompanying us on her very first camping trip ever was obligated to wear the baseball cap I packed, along with a button reading "Hair by Wind and Weather," and she could trust that the other females among us would take her under our wings.

It's funny, when we once again stood in some local parking lot at trip's end, unloading our boys and sorting out their gear, it was generally an adult who would ask me "so when are we going camping again?"

The last trip our Cubs made together, just prior to our boys "crossing over" into the Boy Scout program in the spring of their fifth grade year, attendees were our ten boys and sixteen adults! Especially since the program standard for camping with fourth and fifth grade Scouts does not require that a parent attend with each boy, I considered that head count a triumph.

But maybe I digress from my true point with these sentimental anecdotes...

WRT how BSA has improved over the years its processes for minimizing and/or confronting any incidents of child abuse, I think it's helpful to review at their site the timeline there, detailing how society in general has altered its response to this problem.

Just as many of us are old enough to recall a time when a female rape victim was thought to have somehow been "asking for it," so, too have society's ideas about the causes and appropriate responses to the problem of child sexual abuse evolved.

These changes are for the better, of course, so as much as it pains me to see some of BSA's past transgressions placed in the bright light of public scrutiny, the exercise can be a helpful one, provided it results in the public's increased awareness of how it is the organization has worked and continues to work to keep boys in their charge safe.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


But looking at the info at their site concerning their response to potential child sexual abuse today, Toby, what additional measures do you suggest BSA might take? What I mean is, in what manner do you believe that their response is now "limited?"

I expect you're right that some volume of lawsuits against BSA may arise as a result of this publicity--and some of them may well be decided for the plantiffs.

I don't think, though, that such a consequence to this publicity will "bankrupt" BSA.

Not to trivialize the number of youth who may have been abused in this setting, we are nevertheless aware that the volume of volunteers to have been transgressors of this sort pales in comparison to the many tens of thousands of volunteers nationally--possibly even the hundreds of thousands of volunteers nationally, over the decades--who do not deserve our disparagement.

I do not believe for a minute that BSA's many worthy volunteers will allow these few bad apples to destroy the whole barrel.

I expect that the organization will emerge stronger and more deserving of our respect as a consequence of this painful chapter.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Today's KNS story opens with an anecdote concerning Brian Liska, a former Assistant Scoutmaster in Illinois who had been convicted in 1997, when he was 22 years old, of having had a sexual relatinship with a 14 year-old girl.

Liska had at that time served 120 days in jail and had told his prospective peers in this Boy Scout troop about the incident prior to the time he submitted a volunteer application to BSA in 2011.

It apprears that Liska was initially able to register with BSA (I say "initially" because the story says he was arrested and removed from his post within a few months of volunteering for it) not because the national organization's processes and procedures were inadequate but because some volunteer at the local level was sadly remiss in encouraging Liska to submit any volunteer application in the first place.

Per the timeline at BSA's site, which I linked previously, BSA has conducted third-party, computerized criminal background checks on all new adult volunteers since 2003.

BSA has also made Youth Protection training mandatory for all registered adult members and required that it to be repeated every two years since 2010.

Meanwhile, this April 2012 news story indicates that at that juncture the State of Illinois, where this incident occurred, required most sex offenders in Illinois to register for just 10 years. Liska's 1997 offense would therefore not have been reflected on his state's Sex Offender Registry after 2007. Again, the story says he was arrested in October 2011, just a few months after he submitted his volunteer application to BSA, where it was presumably forwarded to this third-party to perform a criminal background check.

Provided that BSA at the national level adhered to its own policies and procedures--and the reporter does not allege that it failed to--we can possibly fault the State of Illinois for not maintaining a lifetime Sex Offender Registry, we can possibly fault this third-party investigator for failing to perform a thorough criminal background check, and we can certainly fault the poor judgment of this local-level Scoutmaster who erroneously submitted this Assistant Scoutmaster application in the first place.

Short of reprimanding this local-level Scoutmaster after-the-fact, though, I cannot immediately see what BSA at the national level might have done differently to have precluded this incident involving Liska--and I believe that the Scripps reporter had an obligation to readers to have acknowledged as much.

Furthermore, I find the reporter's assertion that "Boy Scout officials declined Scripps’ repeated requests for specifics about its current protection program" to be nothing short of outrageous.

I don't believe that BSA "declined" this reporter's requests for specifics fot the organization's decades of attempts to address this problem, I don't believe that the reporter lacked Internet service to have linked the same materials from BSA's site that I link here, and I don't believe that the reporter was unaware of the 22-page tear-out Youth Protection insert that BSA has published immediately inside the front cover of every Scout handbook for every program level, as well as within its leader training materials, for the 22 years since 1990.

This Scripps story is purposefully omissive and unnecessarily inflammatory, so I call BS--and that doesn't stand for "Boy Scouts."

The question here is how BSA might have precluded an incident like the one involving Liska.

The reporter doesn't answer that question and neither can I.

fischbobber's picture

Excellent Overview

I think Tamara has nailed it.

One thing that gets lost in a story like this, is the great work done overall by the million plus volunteers that scouts have annually. Most systemwide concerns can and are dealt with at a troop level. Following a rule and blind acceptance of a rule without critically examining it, are two different things.

As a group, Boy Scouts has aggressively been fighting the sexual exploitation of its members the entire time I have been involved in a leadership capacity. We do monitor each other and we do stress adherence to the rules and we do follow up. Two deep isn't just policy, it's the way things are done. And yes, it's a royal pain in the rear.

For example, if a child had to poop and the bathroom hasn't been cleared and you have one adult, the options would be to recruit another scout to go to the bathroom with the first, on the buddy system while the adult is watching from a vantage point where another adult could see him. Or you could find a second free adult and check out the bathroom for the scout and monitor that another adult isn't in the facility alone with the scout. Or you could get four scouts total and send them off in a group. Or you could get the whole troop together for a bathroom break, but what you can't do is go to the bathroom alone with the scout. You can't ride in a car alone with a scout, other than your own child. The point is this; the problems of the past have been addressed and today's leaders have strict training to avoid these circumstances. We take this training seriously, perhaps more so than leaders of the past. Scouts, being an organization of humans, is not perfect. But we do take our responsibilities seriously, more so that the Sentinels writer seems to have taken his obligation to report the story fairly.

Finally, it is a cheap shot to lump the Scouts policy on homosexuals and their predator protection policy together in an article or commentary. It does however expose the p.r. nightmare involved in separating two distinctly different issues in the eyes of a general populace that would have a tendency to blur the lines between the two. It mirrors the misconceptions that blur homosexual issues everywhere (i.e. the difference between marriage as a sacrament and marriage as a licensed entity by the state) tend to face. In other words, there are fundamental human rights issues involved that are not being addressed because people running the arguments have blurred those issue by insinuating there is a broad based homosexual conspiracy to recruit and convert people to homosexuality. Until a realistic dialog is entered into by society as a whole, it is both unfair and unrealistic to hold B.S.A. responsible for being an instigator of this social change. While it is true that right wing rhetoric is at its base both discriminatory and a moral outrage, I don't believe forcing Cub Scouts to stand up and lead this social charge is the proper method of this sociological change.

gintn's picture

The Boy Scouts Pediophiles and Gay Scouts and Scoutmasters

Unfortunately the Boy Scouts like many other fundamentalist Christian groups don't understand there is a big difference between pediophiles and gay scouts and scoutmasters. Too many fundamentalist preachers and others have taught forever that gay men (especially) and women are all pediophiles. There is evidence that more straight men are pediophiles than gay men and everyone working with children should have a background investigation. However, who cares about the facts when discrimination suits one's purpose better!

fischbobber's picture


I think there are quite a few people within the organization who understand it, I just don't think the time exists for those people to address it and still deal with the everyday functions of their troops.

djuggler's picture

Boy Scouts is not a Christian

Boy Scouts is not a Christian organization. It is a non-denominational religious organization. Participants in Boy Scouts may be Baha'i, Buddhists, Roman Catholics, Mormon, Episcopalian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Lutheran, Meher Baba, Moravian, Presbyterian, Zoroastrian or a number of other religions.

Robert Baden-Powell founded the Scout movement as a youth organisation (with boys as 'Scouts' and girls as 'Guides'), which was independent of any single faith or religion, yet still held that spirituality and a belief in a higher power were key to the development of young people.

[Source, Wikipedia, Religion in Scouting]

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Pee possees and other bathroom brigades

Ditto here, Bob.

I used to volunteer annually with the Cub Scout's summer Twilight Camp event, at which hundreds of Knox County boys who were rising first- through fifth-graders convened for just three hours nightly, for a week.

At the event, the Cubs, of course, were all routed to their respective age-appropriate program classrooms. We also delivered an age-appropriate program for school-age girls who were the daughters of the various leaders volunteering to work with the Cubs that week and we ran a third program to attend to the youngest children (infant through pre-K) of these leaders working with the Cubs.

Knowing that I then directed the nursery at the church my family attended, I got "stuck" year after year in that third program, as a caregiver for these youngest infants and toddlers.

Even in that setting, we had to employ "two-deep leadership," which meant I could not take an anxious potty-training toddler to the bathroom without another adult in attendance, nor could I change an infant's diaper without another adult in attendance.

One summer, on the very first night of Twilight Camp, an adult who had previously volunteered to work with us in this room for infants and toddlers failed to show, leaving only three adult caregivers in the classroom.

I had to phone my husband at home to quickly deliver our teenaged daugther to us for help, else EVERYBODY--scores of leaders, dozens of sisters, and hundreds of boys--would have had to just go home.

So yeah, this "two-deep leadership" business is taken darned seriously, in every setting.

And on your final point, I agree that it isn't fair of us to demand that BSA, a private organization, should lead the charge to end discrimination based on sexual orientation. So far, we can't even get law in place to ensure that municipalities don't award state contracts to businesses that discriminate against their employees. Let's attend to our own "public" house first, eh?!

(Point of information: You referred to the author of this news story as a "Sentinel writer?" The story is actually a Scripps piece, not a Sentinel piece, and it's also running in at least today's Commercial Appeal. It may be running today in all 13 Scripps newspapers nationwide, I don't know.)

fischbobber's picture

Point of information

(Point of information: You referred to the author of this news story as a "Sentinel writer?" The story is actually a Scripps piece, not a Sentinel piece, and it's also running in at least today's Commercial Appeal. It may be running today in all 13 Scripps newspapers nationwide, I don't know.)

I stand corrected. Good catch.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Unfortunately the Boy Scouts like many other fundamentalist Christian groups...

Second point of information, gintn: BSA is a pluralistic organization recognizing multiple faiths.

Groups chartering dens and troops may be any number of religious institutions or they may be secular groups, including schools and businesses.

I certainly agree with you that too many people confuse homosexuality with pedophilia.

Please carry on.

reform4's picture

Wiccans need not apply

While I applaud the BSA's visible policy supporting *most* other religions (incl Buddhists and even GASP! Muslims!!), they are hardly consistent:



Again, not the official BSA policy, but bad apples here and there set loose by an absurd policy that divides kids into the 'worthy' and 'non-worthy' category. Such policies teach a lesson that, IMHO, is antithetical to the core purpose of the BSA as I knew it.

Andy Axel's picture

Second point of information,

Second point of information, gintn: BSA is a pluralistic organization recognizing multiple faiths.

Except that the boy in question is forced to profess belief in order to be a scout.

Such tolerance.

fischbobber's picture

The point

The point is not what you believe, but rather that you believe in something. I took my son down to a church on University Avenue that I read about in David Hunter's columns with canned goods for their ministry for several Cub Scout requirements. We didn't attend the church, but my son learned about the nuts and bolts of helping others in the real world.

I would appreciate it if you would be more specific about your use of the term, "bad outdoor skills." I will assume you are talking about using a three finger technique with a casting net rather than holding it in one's teeth. The reason I teach this method is threefold. A) It's the way I know. B)There is a giardia issue involved in East Tennessee water's as well as fecal coliform and other bacteria. I'm just not big on exposure of scouts I'm training to untreated water. C) Orthodontics are not cheap and getting a casting net caught in ones teeth is a grand invitation to major dental work.

We would certainly welcome a demonstration of your superior outdoor skill set for our troop at any time you would care to share your advanced knowledge. We're always eager to learn.

redmondkr's picture

Second point of information,

Second point of information, gintn: BSA is a pluralistic organization recognizing multiple faiths.

With the possible exception of the Metropolitan Community Church.

I quit donating to the boy scouts years ago when I realized I was giving them money to pay lawyers hired to keep people like me out of their organization.

fischbobber's picture

People like you

If they let me help out that ought to tell you they'll take damn near anyone.

Seriously, most of the leaders I work with are open minded, thoughtful, people dedicated to the idea that making the world a better place is a bunch of like minded individuals working toward a common goal. In other words, we are people like you.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Third point of intormation...

No, no guys.

You have to understand the manner in which Scouting units are organized--the "chartering relationship" in the vernacular of BSA--in order to correctly process the info in those two links of Steve's.

And yes, Steve, you're correct that BSA's notion of pluralism extends to potential members of the Buddhist and Islamic faiths. And you left out Hindu. Also Baha'i.

That second link of yours is incorrect, though, to suggest that BSA doesn't recognize or "allow" members of the Morman faith. They do.

You'll see at this official BSA site that BSA offers religious instructional programs and grants corresponding award insignia, all through the respective religious institutions serving as religious chartering organizations, for all of these faiths--including for Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormans).

I do not know the manner in which people of the Wiccan faith organize or whether any such organization of Wiccans has ever approached BSA at the national or council level to express interest in chartering a unit (which means sponsoring a Cub Scout den/Boy Scout troop), so I can't suggest whether or not they would be approved. So far as I know, they would be?

Unless you know for certain of some instance in which a Wiccan group has been refused a charter, though, you can't say for certain that they wouldn't be approved, either.

Returning to the role of the "chartering organization" in Boy Scouts, though, the "chartering relationship" is explained pretty well in that link Steve shares about the two Wiccan boys, here:

“Boy Scouts own the program but does not control the unit,” said Legare Clement, executive director of the Boy Scouts for southwestern Louisiana. “We partner with community organizations and churches as sponsors to present the program, which is actually a youth outreach for them. They approve leaders by our standards, but they have a right to choose members,” Clement said.

You see, then, that the parents of the two Wiccan boys may have been mistaken to have enrolled their sons in a unit chartered by a Methodist church when they themselves were not Methodists (although I read further in that link and discovered that the district-level Methodist organization subsequently reversed the decision of the church-level pack leadership to ask the boys' family to leave their pack).

And even if the district-level Methodist organization in that scenario had not reversed the decision of the church-level pack leadership (and even if we were to learn that BSA would not, in fact, allow any Wiccan group to charter unit), the two boys in question would still likely have found a good match in "chartering organizations" had they just sought some unit chartered by a secular group, like a school or business.

Anyway, bloggers at both those sites linked lack an understanding of the manner in which Scouting organizes its members into units, so they have consequently drawn incorrect conclusions to the effect that BSA discriminates on the basis of religious belief.

BSA doesn't.

reform4's picture

Thanks for clarifying that.

The "sponsor" of our Troop never tried to micromanage the faiths of the individual troop members- of our whole troop (40-80 kids), I think only 2 of us were actually members of the church that hosted us (and mine was a tenuous membership at that, it being an evangelical church... And our Scoutmaster and ASMs were Catholics.. go figure). I suppose I thought that was the norm.

Come to think of it, through my rise to Eagle, I was never asked what I believe that I can recall. Did we pray at the start of each meeting? Sure. That was pretty much it. I think I learned a lot about religious tolerance (and other tolerance) from my SM. Im glad we had a hands-off sponsoring church, then.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


So sad--Toby might have become Cheerful and Friendly...


Tamara Shepherd's picture


Oh...and I neglected to say so, Kenny, but surely you know that I will continue to urge BSA's inclusion of "people like you" and that I think "you," in particular, would make an outstanding mentor for boys.

You have my word on it.

Meanwhile, thanks for the time you give my son. I'm awful fond of you.

redmondkr's picture

Thanks Tamara, But......

I wouldn't dream of doing work with scouts simply because of that 'gay = pedophile' mantra that is so common in an ignorant society such as ours.

I'll just continue working with my Rottie rescues.

Back in the dark ages of the fifties my friends who were in scouts were always bragging about things they were doing there and it seemed to me that it was mainly an opportunity for them to get together and share ingenious new ways of getting into mischief.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Yeah, the chartering organization for my son's troop is an area Presbyterian church which neither my family nor most any other family in the troop attends.

In appreciation of our sponsor, though, we sometimes assist the church in its service projects and boys are invited (but not required) to attend the April church service on Boy Scout Sunday each year.

I don't think any of our troop's leaders or committee members (including the obligatory committee members who belong to the sponsoring church) have ever suggested that the boys should earn any of these religious insignia nor asked any of the boys about their personal religious beliefs, either. We don't even pray at any of our troop functions.

However, given the way BSA goes about chartering its units, I do understand that if the troop's leaders or committee members should ever choose to make Presbyterianism a larger part of the program they deliver, the onus would be on any family uncomfortable with that to seek out a better match in chartering organizations.

I'm unsure just which area schools serve as chartering organizations in Knox County, but I am aware of a Cub Scout pack operating out of Brickey-McCloud Elementary here in my community and I know the Great Smoky Mountain Council uses paid staff to deliver program in a number of urban school settings in Knox.

I would expect to learn that some businesses, neighborhood associations, and other non-profits also serve as chartering organizations locally.

redmondkr's picture

Not Really

In other words, we are people like you.

With all due respect, Bob, no you're not.

An openly gay man working with a group of scouts is an invitation for disaster. All that's needed is some kid convincing his friends that it would be such a hoot to pull a prank on the old queen by telling their parents some tale about alleged misbehavior. The truth of the situation wouldn't matter; the pitchforks would soon follow. This is Tennessee, civilization hasn't quite caught up with us yet.

I'll stick with my rescued Rotties, thank you.

fischbobber's picture

I feel your pain

The truth of the situation wouldn't matter; the pitchforks would soon follow. This is Tennessee, civilization hasn't quite caught up with us yet.

I've been a union worker since I was eighteen. I put a sign for Al Gore in my yard in 2000. The only reason I don't get pitchforks and burning crosses in my yard is that I cultivate a reputation as someone maybe not quite sane. Fear works both ways.

I don't worry much about sexuality stuff. I'm married. I ain't getting any. If you are, regardless of your orientation, good for you. I'm not going to waste my life running around cheating, crying in my beer, or judging others private affairs. It's just the way it is.

Finally you are probably correct about the kids, but it goes deeper than homophobia. Kids have an innate ability to sense a person's Achilles heel. I have stomach issues. If I was to try to pass gas in private during a campout, I would be found out and vilified in front of the group, likely unmercifully. If I step in the middle of four kids eating lunch and let one rip, I'm a folk hero. The problem with the scouts policy on homosexuals is it does not allow the second option (letting it rip) which neutralizes the issue. That's just my take.

Hang in there Kenny. The times they are a-changing.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


It's a cryin' damn shame, really...

The only difference between a retired homosexual and a retired heterosexual is the content of our futile dreams, eh, darlin'?!

redmondkr's picture

Yes, Changing a Bit

I will be eternally grateful to Madeline for walking in last summer's pride parade. She took on a boatload of political enemies with that gutsy move.

I'm reading a good book right now, Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution by Linda Hirshman, and I'm in the midst of the Reagan era response to the AIDS crisis with instructions from Health and Human Services to the CDC to "look pretty and do as little as we can".

I watched a friend die almost exactly 20 years ago as a result of that crap. That and the book are probably coloring my responses here.

And, of course, there was the uni-toothed preacher yelling about 'sodomites' and hurricanes yesterday as I waited for my breakfast in the local diner.

fischbobber's picture

Lost friends

I lost a couple friends myself in the early years of the epidemic. And I have no doubt the Reagan's response to the disease cost thousands of lives. But the fact that Stacy Campfield is widely regarded as an idiot by the vast majority of the people speaking publicly on the matter, even here in Tennessee, shows how far we've come. Change comes slow, but it does happen.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Following the three-part series Scripps ran in KNS, this story appeared on the KNS home page for about an hour this aft, but has since scrolled off without comment:

APNewsBreak: Boy Scouts host anti-abuse forum


Even as its past policies on sex-abuse prevention fuel controversy, the Boy Scouts of America is hosting an unprecedented closed-door symposium Thursday with other national youth organizations, hoping to share strategies to combat future abuse.

The 10 participating groups, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the YMCA and Big Brothers Big Sisters, will hear presentations from some of the nation's top experts on child sex-abuse prevention. They also will discuss the sensitive topic of how uncorroborated information about potentially threatening adult volunteers might be shared among youth organizations.


The other participating youth groups are Girls Inc., USA Swimming, Camp Fire, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, the American Youth Soccer Organization and The First Tee.

Conference organizers plan to summarize the conclusions of the meeting for a report that will be made available to other youth-serving organizations that did not participate.

The article indicates that adult volunteers now with BSA number 1.1 million.

Guess my off-the-cuff estimate of volunteers over the 21-year period reviewed at "tens of thousands" or "hundreds of thousands" was something of an understatement.

What, then? "Tens of millions" of adult volunteers over the 21-year period reviewed???

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Blanket edit

I was scrolling through this conversation last night and noted that in virtually every reference I made to BSA's Cub Scout program, I mistakenly used the word "den" where I should have said "pack."

As many posts as I made on this thread, I'd drive you nuts going in now to make all those separate edits--and it isn't hugely relevant, anyway.

Oh, well. Please make a note of it?

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