Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Texas Gov. Rick Perry joined the Family Research Council’s “Stand with Scouts Sunday” over the weekend and had some strong words for proposed changes that would allow for the first time open homosexuality in the Boy Scouts of America: “Not on my watch.”
Perry is an Eagle Scout and author of the 2008 book “On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For.”
In a February speech to a group of Scouts in Texas, Perry, a Republican presidential candidate last year, urged the organization to not change its policy and to follow its “historic position of keeping the Scouts strongly supportive of the values that make scouting this very important and impactful organization.”
On Sunday’s webcast, Perry reaffirmed that statement: “Scouting has for over a century now been the real bedrock of values and traditions and developer of men. … Their values and principles have worked for a century now, and for pop culture to come in and try to tear that up because it just happens to be the flavor of the month, so to speak, and to tear apart one of the great organizations that has served millions of young men, helped them to become men and to become great fathers – that is just not appropriate.
“Frankly,” Perry continued, “I hope the American people will stand up and say, ‘Not on my watch.’”
The “Stand with Scouts Sunday” event was designed to urge Americans to “preserve Scouting as its founders envisioned it – as a resource for young men to develop in morally, mentally and physically healthy ways, free to be boys and teens without the invasion of cultural controversies.”
The “cultural controversy” currently stirring the Scouts – a national but private organization consisting of individual units, over 70 percent of which are chartered to faith-based organizations and churches – is whether or not to accept a resolution allowing openly homosexual boys in the troops.
The approximately 1,400 rank-and-file Scout leaders who form the BSA’s National Council will vote on the resolution at the organization’s national conference in Grapevine, Texas, May 22-23.
The resolution, a revision of a plan issued in January, seeks to forge a compromise by allowing open homosexuality by boys but not adult leaders. A previous proposal would have allowed local troops to decide whether to accept openly homosexual members and leaders.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins has said the outcome of the upcoming vote “will affect the very future of Scouting, as a shift in the policy would undermine the very principles held by the BSA for over a century.”
As WND reported, John Stemberger’s OnMyHonor.net has charged that the proposed resolution is “logically incoherent and morally and ethically inconsistent.”
“Opening the Boy Scouts to boys who openly proclaim being sexually attracted to other boys and/or openly identify themselves as ‘gay’ will inevitably create an increase of boy-on-boy sexual contact,” said Stemberger in an open letter to the Scout leaders who will vote later this month.
Stemberger asserts a change in policy would “gut a major percentage of human capital in the BSA and utterly devastate the program financially, socially and legally.”
He said internal estimates by the BSA project an estimated $44 million of lost annual revenue if the policy is changed.
He points to BSA’s own “Voice of the Scout” surveys that indicate tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of parents, Scoutmasters and Scouts will leave the program if the proposal is adopted.
Perry echoed Stemberger’s sentiments on Sunday, stating, “If we change and become more like pop culture, young men will be not as well served, America will not be as well served and Boy Scouts will start on a decline that I don’t think will serve this country well as we go into the future.”
Video of Perry’s interview with Perkins as part of “Stand with Scouts Sunday” can be seen below:
A member of the National Council who plans to vote on the policy previously told WND a decision to change the policy will prompt many at all levels of the organization to quit.
The BSA’s own official “Voice of the Scout” survey, he points out, shows respondents support the current policy by a supermajority of 61 percent to 34 percent.
The Scouts count more than 2.7 million members and more than 1 million volunteers.
Policy affirmed last year
Last July, after a thorough two-year study, an 11-member committee of professional scout executives and adult volunteers unanimously concluded the policy should be maintained.
The BSA executive committee announced that while not all board members “may personally agree with this policy, and may choose a different direction for their own organizations, BSA leadership agrees this is the best policy for the organization and supports it for the BSA.”
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right of the Scout organization to exclude homosexuals, because the behavior violated the core values of the private organization.
The BSA’s new policy proposal, as WND reported, coincides with a sudden drop in major corporate funding that began last summer after a “gay”-rights blogger for the Huffington Post published a collaborative report that named the donors and chastised them for violating their own policy of not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.