February 4th, 2013

rose window

Waiting for the Board's decision and praying for God's will

The National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America votes this week on whether to allow charter partners to admit gays to their Scouting programs or not. Anyone who says he knows for sure how this will all come out is premature; still, I think the smart money says they'll approve the measure. I mean, why would they float this trial balloon and kick up this enormous ruckus if they didn't think they had the votes to pass it? If it fails to go through, they'll take a tremendous publicity beating they didn't have to take.

That said, this proposal doesn't come from outside pressure groups. BSA stood them off twelve years ago, and reaffirmed their position just last year. Oh, you'll hear pundits say that membership losses and corporate gifts being withheld are pressuring the Scouts, but this is hooey. The Scouts' decline more or less mirrors that of the various Churches in today's society. Both liberal and conservative Churches have experienced some hard times, but it should be noted (for what it's worth) that the more liberal Churches have experienced more dramatic declines than the historically conservative Churches.

No, this is a case of conscience -- on both sides. BSA leaders live in the same world everybody else does and have a range of opinions on social issues. It's the more liberal Councils and Charter Partners that have been pressing from within on this issue that bring us to this pass. Of course, the more conservative Councils and Charter Partners were caught flat-footed by this, and only woke up to find it under discussion a couple of weeks ago. By the time the Board votes, they'll have heard from a whole bunch of people who don't like the idea of admitting gays, even on a local option basis. I'm no longer on the Religious Relationships Task Force, but I almost wish I were: the National Key Three were to meet with the Task Force today in Texas, and I'll bet there's been a whole lot said with a whole lot of passion.

So, how will it come out? Nobody knows. I'd say approval still has an edge, but we'll have to see. Only a huge revolt of the biggest players could derail it, but maybe that'll happen. That's why they have Boards and votes, after all. Either way, we'll be dealing with the fallout over the Board's action (or inaction) for some time to come.