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Eagle Scouts drop Clinton signature
Posted By David M. Bresnahan On 08/24/2000 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Following complaints from “thousands of parents” nationwide, Boy
Scouts of America has quietly removed the signature of President Bill
Clinton — the honorary president of BSA — from the certificate
presented to Eagle Scouts.
“We had about a zillion complaints about Clinton, so I think they
just took him off. I don’t know if they’ll put a president back on or
not when there’s a new one,” said Chris who works in the Great Salt Lake
Council office in Salt Lake City, Utah. She said the change came from
the national office.
Not only were there many complaints, but a large number of Eagle
Scouts actually returned their certificates and asked for a replacement
without Clinton’s signature.
“I don’t really know. I know that there were a lot of people that
asked that the president’s signature not be on them. I think they
reprinted them without it. I don’t know,” said Sandra at the national
“When they reprinted the Eagle Scout certificates they left off the
president’s signature because we’re in the process of a change of
presidents. And, we’ve had so many problems with the president’s name on
the certificate — so many people objecting — that they just decided to
put just the board president on the certificate from now on. It just
created a lot less controversy,” she explained.
No special announcement was made when the Boy Scouts of America
changed the award certificate earlier this year. The certificate is
presented to boys who earn the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank a
Boy Scout can attain. There have been no complaints now that Clinton’s
signature is absent from the certificate.
“They’re printed documents. It’s not like President Clinton actually
signed them,” explained Greg Shields, national spokesman for the BSA.
“When we exhausted our supply we gave it a little thought and we decided
to just put the signature of the actual president of the Boy Scouts. He
represents a volunteer who’s personally involved in the administration
and direction of the Boy Scouts of America.”
Shields confirmed that BSA council offices all over the country
received thousands of complaints following the Monica Lewinsky scandal
and the impeachment of Clinton. He said those complaints had nothing to
do with the change. He insisted the change was simply to have focus on
the signature of the “real” president of Scouting on the certificate
instead of the “honorary” president.
“That’s all it reflected. Nothing more,” said Shields.
Congress may take the issue one step further. A bill has been filed to strip BSA of the national charter Congress gave it in 1916. A group of homosexual rights activists has been fighting the popular organization — despite the recent Supreme Court ruling in BSA’s favor — to change its policy of excluding homosexuals from youth membership and adult leadership, and they want the charter revoked.
Scouting for All has organized a national campaign against the BSA and has rallied many homosexual organizations to its cause.
Democratic Rep. Lynn
Woolsey, District 6 Calif., filed
H.R. 4892 entitled “The Scouting for All Act: To repeal the Federal
charter of the Boy Scouts of
“It’s not in response to that either,” said Shields of the proposed legislation, noting that the change on the certificates took place many months before the bill was filed by Woolsey.
Local Scout leaders in Utah claim Clinton is the first U.S. president not to make a speech at the Boy Scout National Jamboree, and that he is the first to have his signature eliminated from the prestigious Eagle Scout award certificate.
Shields said he hasn’t been around long enough to confirm or deny those reports.
Shortly after Clinton took office in 1993, he failed to show up at the National Jamboree, located only 70 miles from the White House. The press at the time blamed the snub on Clinton’s effort to please the homosexual lobby — a major source of campaign donations.
The next jamboree was held in 1997, and this time Clinton attended.
“We are grateful. Please recognize that he did come. That’s significant,” said Shields.
Shields did not know if press reports in 1993 stating that Clinton was the first U.S. president to turn down an invitation to speak at the National Jamboree were accurate. He pointed out that jamborees began at the time of the Roosevelt administration.
Calls to the White House press office for clarification of Clinton’s position regarding the Boy Scouts and the complaints of the homosexual groups were not returned.
“We made the change to reflect the current leadership, personally and deeply involved in the Boy Scouts of America. While President Clinton is involved in the Boy Scouts of America — and we deeply appreciate that he came to our last National Jamboree — no one would say that he’s personally and deeply involved,” said Shields.
Regardless of the real reason the signature was removed from the Eagle Scout certificates, the complaints have stopped and no one complains that Clinton’s signature is missing.
Scouting for All announced it would conduct protests at 36 BSA offices across the country on Monday. Six of the locations produced no protesters, many had only a handful, and just a few had a dozen or more. One of the largest was in New York City where about 30 came to demand that the Boy Scouts admit homosexual adults as leaders, according to Shields.
“Everybody has a right to their opinion. We simply ask everyone to respect our values and our beliefs and our right to hold those, and tolerate — to use their parlance,” said Shields. “I really mean that from my heart,” he added.
He questioned the size and strength of the Scouting for All coalition, and said the numbers manifested at the protest locations did not reflect the degree of concern from the general population suggested by the activists.
“The thing is, we’re not asking everyone to join us. We’re just saying that we have a place in this world, in this country. Give us a little space. We’re not asking for government support. We’re not asking for anything other than our little space,” said Shields.
Despite the efforts of Scouting for All and other homosexual activists, the Boy Scouts of America is growing as an organization and prospering. Although activists have attempted to convince United Way officials to stop providing donations to BSA, they have succeeded in only a few locations. Activists have also asked boys and adults to resign in protest of the policy on homosexuals.
“All across the country, Scouting is prospering and growing. Virtually every council has had healthy growth in both youth members and adult volunteers. Every council is enjoying improved financial support, to the extent that many are making capital improvements in their camps and council service centers for the first time in years. Many councils are now able to begin building endowments or add to existing ones that will enhance programs for years to come,” explained Robert M. Gates, president of the National Eagle Scout Association.
The largest number of boys to achieve Eagle Scout Scouts set a historic record in 1999, according to Gates. There were over 47,000 boys who earned the prestigious award, beating the record previously set in 1973.
Gates also confirmed that financial support and community support for Scouting is increasing.
“These people clearly see Scouting as an important part of the life of their communities and, even though many of them don’t have a child in Scouting, they are prepared to support Scouting with their time and resources. They clearly understand the importance of our commitment to character building in young people — and the success of our efforts,” said Gates in a report to current and former Eagle Scouts.
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