The United States Senate has designated Feb. 8 as Boy Scouts of America Day. US Senator Lamar Alexander, a former Eagle Scout, co-sponsored the bill to establish Boy Scouts of America Day which celebrates the 103 years of scouting in America. On Feb. 8, 1910 William Dickson Boyce filed incorporation papers in the District of Columbia and created the Boy Scouts of America. Since that time more than a million American boys have participated in scouting programs that build character while training young men in the responsibilities of citizenship and developing personal fitness, as expressed in these two commitments:
Boy Scout Oath (or Promise)
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,
courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty,
brave, clean, and reverent.
Boy Scouts of America Day 2013 is mired in controversy, as the Boys Scouts are being pressured to lift its ban on homosexuality. The Boy Scouts of America have excluded gays from membership or leadership since the inception of the organization in 1910. The Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that they have a legal right to continue this position, and the Scouts reaffirmed this policy just last year.
However, a number of financial supporters, such as shipping giant UPS, drug manufacturer Merck, and the United Way have stopped or postponed donations as long as their no-gays policy is in force. A gay rights advocacy group gathered more than 1.2 million online signatures to protest the Scouts' position. Even President Barack Obama has encouraged the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay members and leaders. As a result of considerable pressure, the Scouts are considering giving individual troop sponsors the authority to accept gays as scouts and leaders.
Those in favor of keeping the ban in place have also been quite vocal. On Feb. 4, The Family Research Council along with 41 allied organizations ran an ad in USA Today urging the Boy Scouts of America “to stay true to their timeless values and not surrender to financial or political pressures by corporate elites on the issue of homosexuality.”
Among the groups signing onto the ad are the American Family Association, American Values, Bott Radio Network, Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, International Communion of Evangelical Churches, Liberty Counsel, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Patriot Voices, and a number of state family policy organizations.
A press release from The Family Research Council provides the following excerpts:
The ad states that a policy change would be "a grave mistake" and that, "Every American who believes in freedom of thought and religious liberty should be alarmed by the attacks upon the Boy Scouts," whose oath includes that members should be "morally straight." The ad emphasizes that, "To compromise moral principles under political and financial pressure would teach the boys cowardice, not courage."
The ad highlights BSA's policy of recognizing the right of parents to teach their children about sexual topics. The ad concludes by challenging readers to ask themselves, "How will parents be able to entrust their children to the Boy Scouts if they trade the well-being of the boys for corporate dollars?"
To see a copy of the ad and the complete list of co-signed organizations, click here:
The national board of the Boy Scouts of America is presently in conference in Irving, Texas, and the group is expected to vote on the issue and announce its decision on the controversial and long-standing ban on Wednesday, Feb. 6, two days before the official celebration of Boy Scouts of America Day.