scouts-l Mail Archive for July of 2000: Philosophy 101 - Part 1
Anthony Mako (ajmako@NLS.NET
Sat Jul 22 2000 - 22:07:44 CDT
I rise today in response to several comments recently made by my learned
<G. John Marmet wrote>
Sadly, the "public perception" side of this issue is vastly more important
than the reality of it. If we lose our federal charter we are one step
closer to merely being a conservative religiously based uniformed youth
group, like those mentioned above. A group marked by doctrinal correctness
instead of inclusiveness. We once welcomed all youth and all religions.
It's true that public perception of the organization is vastly more
important than any federal paperwork. I can't agree with the conclusion that
the BSA could become anything like the groups John mentioned, or become less
inclusive. My reason for believing this stems from the 90 year history of
It is NOT the BSA that has become less tolerant or other lifestyle or belief
systems. The BSA has always welcomed anyone willing to subscribe to a
particular set of values. Those values haven't changed. Not in 90 years.
That the BSA seems to be attacked more and more for those values is sad
evidence of increasing intolerance in society as a whole. Where once the BSA
was held up as an example to the rest of the country of what American
boyhood was all about (character, citizenship, fitness), it is now being
attacked by forces in society who have tolerance only for groups that agree
with THEIR values.
And what do these values encompass? Victimhood. Narcissism. Amoralism. These
values are upheld by a segment of society that believes that fundamental
rights only apply to people who agree with them, all others are evil and
therefore have no rights.
The BSA hasn't changed its values in its entire 90 years history. What has
changed is society's definition of "morally straight", and "reverent." The
BSA today uses pretty much the same words to define those terms as it did in
the first handbook. Consider this quote:
<Handbook for Boys - 2nd Edition, 37th Printing - May, 1927>
The Boy Scouts of America maintain that no boy can grow into the best kind
of citizenship without recognizing his obligation to God. The first part of
the boy scout's oath or pledge is therefore: "I promise on my honor to do my
best to do my duty to God and my country." The recognition of God as the
ruling and leading power in the universe, and the grateful acknowledgement
of His favors and blessings, is necessary to the best type of citizenship,
and is a wholesome thing in the education of the growing boy.
If it sounds familiar, it's because the first sentence has become the
opening line of the Statement of Religious Principles. The difference
between 1927 and 2000 isn't that the BSA's position has changed - it's that
society has changed. There were atheists in 1927 as well, and they generally
steered clear of the BSA. In today's society, however, atheists are "victims
of a vast, unconstitutional, establishment of government-sponsored
<G. John Marmet continued>
I believe we picked a side, wrongly. Not that we picked the wrong side.
But that, the BSA, actually picked a side at all. We are aligning ourselves
with one side or the other and that will make us, the BSA, less of what we
were and more of what Awana is.
Here is the problem. The BSA would have preferred remaining silent on this
issue. We didn't pick a side, it was picked for us. When victimhood becomes
more important than anything else, even those who aren't concerned with the
subject are forced to choose a side. Victimhood propels a group to see
itself not as equals in a society, but as victims of anyone who doesn't
agree with them. Any vocal opposition to their values or lifestyle is seen
as prejudice and oppression. The BSA would rather remain silent on the
question of sexual preference, but, since society has decided that people
with a certain lifestyle are victims, anyone who doesn't agree with that
concept are bigoted and evil.
<G. John Marmet continued>
Once we start picking sides in these issues when will we stop?
Excuse me, but who picked the side and started the fight?
A. J. Mako, Scoutmaster, email@example.com
Old Portage District, Great Trail Council