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Bankruptcy and the Boy Scouts
This morning, I caught a squib in The Wall Street Journal reporting that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is contemplating filing for bankruptcy as a consequence of “dwindling membership and escalating legal costs related to lawsuits over how it handled allegations of sex abuse.”
I was aware of the decline in participation and I had a pretty good understanding of some of the causes. But I had somehow missed the fact that there was a sex abuse scandal — perhaps because 27 years have passed since it was exposed in The Washington Times and 24 since Patrick Boyle published his book on the subject: Scout’s Honor: Sexual Abuse in America’s Most Trusted Institution.
The article in The Wall Street Journal was strangely reticent. It did not specify what species of sexual abuse was involved. When I turned to Wikipedia, which has a good entry summarizing what Boyle and his colleagues at The Washington Times turned up, I discovered that what I suspected was true — that the misconduct involved was very much like that which plagued the Roman Catholic Church worldwide in the five decades preceding 2001. Prior to 1988 — when, in response to the problem, the BSA set up its Youth Protection Program — there had been quite a number of scoutmasters and others involved in scouting who had abused the trust of the boys and young men under their care for the purpose of sexual gratification. Put simply, in those years, pederasty was almost as much a problem for the Boy Scouts as it was for the Roman Catholic Church.
The reticence evident in The Wall Street Journal article appears to stem from the political correctness of its author and, perhaps, her editor. Here is the last paragraph in the print-edition version: “The Boy Scouts group has drawn scrutiny over its slow pace to become more inclusive, including by lifting a ban in 2015 on gay men and lesbians serving in leadership roles.”
Take a moment and read that last sentence twice. Then, ask yourself what was the sexual orientation of the scoutmasters and the others involved with the BSA who abused the boys. I do not mean to suggest that all or even most of those who are homoerotically inclined are prone to the abuse of minors. I know that this is untrue. But I would suggest that heterosexually inclined men are a much safer bet.
If this claim causes you to recoil, I suggest that you ask yourself this. Suppose that you had a child — say, a pretty daughter — who was in her early teen years, and suppose that you and your spouse were going out for an evening or away for a weekend. Would you think twice before hiring a high school or college boy to look after her?
That is, you might say, a no-brainer. To hire a young man is to risk letting the fox into the hen house. Given the fact that human beings can stand up to almost anything other than temptation, the prudent thing to do would be to hire a caretaker who is most unlikely to find your daughter alluring.
In 2015, under the leadership of Robert M. Gates and Rex W. Tillerson, the Boy Scouts of America surrendered to the Zeitgeist and did what you would never do: they invited those most apt to be foxes into the hen house. Later, the BSA opened its programs to girls and transsexual boys. For the Mormons, who were major contributors to scouting, this was the last straw, and it is their withdrawal that has brought the BSA to its knees. First, in the interests of political correctness, came moral bankruptcy. It looks as if financial bankruptcy will follow.
The Boy Scouts once had a noble mission — the formation of vigorous, manly, virtuous men at home in the great outdoors. I know something about this. I was myself an Eagle Scout. Now, however, thanks to a corporate culture in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s less interested in protecting young people than in covering up scandals and thanks also to the moral weakness in 2015 of a former Secretary of Defense and a future Secretary of State, it completely lost its way. The demise of the Boy Scouts is a sign of the miserable times in which we now live.Published in Education
Sad, and utterly predictable. We are told that society no longer wants or needs vigorous, manly, virtuous men. When some other society comes along with vigorous, manly men with virtues that include taking what we have, we will be unable to compete. If we are not proud of ourselves, who would want to be like us? If we don’t teach our children pride, where would they get it?
I have been as grieved at the trajectory of the national organization as anyone. However, I submit that the Boy Scouts still have a noble mission, and that it is most exemplified at the local level. There are still strong charter organizations, committed adult leaders, and young men with honorable aspirations. Is this true everywhere? Clearly not, and certainly the impact of an uncertain future for the national office on overall recruiting will be significant.
But I know the young men who have come up through our local organization, and I have one Eagle Scout and another who should complete it within the next year or so. I trust the values and skills they are learning, because I am a witness to it.
The brand has taken a hit, no doubt. But the “noble mission” continues at the local level, so long as there are charters and volunteers who aim to keep it going.
It seems that this quote from C.S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man becomes more appropriate every day:
“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
Get woke, go broke.
I do not think that BSA has completely lost its way. I am a proud Assistant Scoutmaster, and I will be the Chartered Organization Representative for our Troop starting in January. I am an Eagle Scout, and my son earned his Eagle in August. I can say that BSA continues to teach young people about civic and personal responsibility and duty to God.
Scouting has long served girls, in its Venturing program, and in Explorers before that. At Philmont, we encountered several mixed groups. Cub Scouts has long been a family program, with Girls tagging along and participating, they just did not get to earn any badges. My daughter would have loved the recognition. I suppose, conservatives think that they should still be shut out.
Next year, Girl Troops (not mixed units) will be able to form, and at long last, Girls will be able to participate in Scouting fully. Just like every other form of Scouting in the world other than Saudi Arabia, that great bastion of oppressing women. The program will not change for the boys. We will still go camping, still teach what is important. Girls will now have an option other than the Girl Scouts of America, which is wholly captured by the Left. BSA is not so captured, and I do not see it being so captured. I see this expansion as a good thing. It is not a sign of weakness nor a surrender. It is a change. If being conservative means rejecting all change, then I am not one.
Perhaps, conservatives think that gay boys (since it is clear you don’t want girls) should be denied what BSA has to offer. I am sure that before the change there were never any gay boys in BSA, right? Of course there were. And were their gay scoutmasters? I am sure they were. Also divorced ones, and ones who cheated on their wives, and had sex outside of marriage. And who cursed and smoked. Why is being gay such a worse sin than being divorced? Both are admonished in the Bible. Somehow, conservatives are fine with no fault divorce, but still against people being gay. One is a choice, and one is at least partially not.
However, I am in danger of getting off track. BSA has a policy of no tobacco use, no alcohol or drug use around Scouts. Scouts of more than 2 years of age difference may not share a tent. Boys and Girls may not share a tent (outside of family camping with siblings). In all events, there must be 2 adults 21 or older, fully trained, and never, never, may any adult be with a youth who is not their child. They may not tent with them, even if one is 17 and one is 18. Every adult on an outing must complete a youth protection program. Scouting is not trying to cover things up, it took steps to make changes, steps I add, the Catholic Church appears unable to take to this day. Boy Scouts do not have groups of leaders having gay orgies as seen within the Catholic Church. So yes there are lawsuits, and yes BSA is defending itself.
From an expert on this sort of thing:
So BSA is facing financial issues because of lawsuits from over two decades ago. They are acting as a normal business would. This is not because the Mormans have changed their programs. In fact, they will not leave until 2020. Also, how on Earth do you blame the world of today with the world 30 years ago? Talk about stealing a base. What we know, is that in youth programs all over the world, predators prey. There did not used to be precautions. Today, as I outlined above, there are. There is more awareness.
So, BSA is going “co-ed” by acknowledging the girls already present at the Cub level, as always been Co-Ed for 14+ in some units, and is creating Single Sex Troops in Scouting: BSA. I am happy to have this happen, and I believe had my daughter had a chance to cross over into Scouting, she would be on her way to Eagle too. I worry more about her moral strength than his, because he has had Scouting experience.
But by all means, let’s look at every change as part of the decay of society. Let’s decry trying to expand who gets to get the benefits of Scouting. Let us write off the only major Youth Organization who teaches civic duty, personal moral duty, and duty to God.
The Boy Scouts of America that I know still operates and lives by these words:
Do a Good Turn Daily
A Scout is:
And the words I try to live by daily (though, sinner than I am I fail often):
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.
God Bless the Boy Scouts of America
As far as the “corporate culture” of the twenty-teens, the canary in this coal mine just bit the dust. The future’s so bright…
Beat me to it.
He had better, and do so actively. Otherwise Scouting is doomed. May the BSA national leaders wish to become ethical again.
Well said, Bryan.
All people of the left lie, and nearly everyone employed by mass media today is a person of the left. It’s become impossible to learn anything relevant from them. They may not lie with every breath, but it’s still necessary to check everything they say. Thank you for the inside perspective and the moral context. Believing the media is a precursor to despair.
You still are, it’s permanent.
The left continues its long march to destroy everything that opposes its world view. One viewpoint they have is any discrimination is bad—unless it’s against Christians, heterosexuals, Republicans, conservatives, pro-Americanism, pro-military, the Constitution, law and order . . . the list is endless. And it all starts with a K-12 public “education” that is more of an indoctrination. Our colleges and universities have become finishing schools for these young socialists.
Unique organizations of excellence are especially despised, because said excellence counters their notion “inclusion” is always good. The Boy Scouts of America is another sad example of “inclusion” destroying excellence . . .
Bryan, sin was not my theme. I focused on the likelihood of abuse. If we banned sinners, we would be apt to ban everyone. Some sinners are, I would suggest, a far greater danger to young men than others.
I cannot possibly exaggerate how much I like this. They are all statists. Everything they do is to lie for, or excuse statism.
Diversity and tolerance are good ideas that have gotten taken way, way too far. It’s regressive.
I would say that the left has regressed and tossed diversity and tolerance overboard. I’ve heard them complaining about mere tolerance already 15-20 years ago. And when it comes to diversity, the problem is that they don’t mean diversity.
When I read the news of the bankruptcy, I , too, wondered at the excuse of “dwindling membership and escalating legal costs related to lawsuits over how it handled allegations of sex abuse,” and suspect it was more like what Prof. Rahe says: dwindling membership due to caving in to social justice warriors.
And if there are escalating legal costs, it’s probably due to frivolous lawsuits from people who insist that the Boy Scouts must accept their transgender girl or something like that.a
I think we know exactly what killed the BSA. But I don’t expect our press — even allegedly conservative outlets — to report it this way.
Many scout troops are sponsored by churches and draw their volunteers from them. But because of decisions by the leadership, churches are disassociating themselves from the BSA. (This, as mentioned above, is particularly true of the Mormons.)
So . . . if it’s going to continue at the local level, there has to be a concerted effort to let local troops run their organizations as they see fit — even if it means disregarding the new Social Justice rules set by the national organization. And I don’t know if that’s possible.
Some churches, not all. And by and large, local charters do have a significant amount of autonomy. Charters can still have a profound influence in how their packs and troops operate. And I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “new Social Justice rules”. Yes, BSA has opened up and relaxed the rules of participation. But they are not imposing quotas, not imposing SJW ideology in their curriculum, not trying to create a bunch of newly woke leftists.
There’s an outside perception of what’s going on that is certainly negative. I know of charters that have withdrawn, most certainly, in protest of decisions by BSA national. But from within, at the local level, all I can tell you is that where we are, there has been no practical difference in the experience of Scouting. Many choose to believe otherwise. But I’m not seeing it here. YMMV, though.
The Mormons are certainly not alone. The Catholic parish I attend withdrew its support from the boy scout troop hitherto quartered there. Who in his right mind would entrust his sons to an organization that has surrendered to the regnant cultural fashions?
I would like to think that Bryan is right — that, in the localities, scouting will soldier on. I suspect the opposite. Every institution I know that has embraced the Zeitgeist has gone into rapid decline. Gates, Tillerson, and their colleagues have a lot to answer for — as do the trustees of our colleges and universities.
Forcing the Boy Scouts to admit girls, for example. I’m of the firm belief that boys need their own “girl-free” spaces with positive male leadership if they’re ever to learn what it means to be men. Lack of fathers and other good male role models is destroying boys.
That’s really good to hear. I have a cousin who is very involved in Scouting, and when I see him over the holidays, I’ll get his take.
O’Sullivan’s Law states that any organization or enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time.
Just my opinion, but I think that if you take O’Sullivan’s Law Plus all of the structural centralization that continues to increase since Woodrow Wilson, it’s quite hard for conservatism or libertarianism to fight that.
I guess I not in my right mind then, sir. Because I have had two sons heavily involved for the last decade. And all I can say is that our charter remains committed, compels our organization to maintain the primary values and tenets of Scouting, and as such our troop remains active and vibrant, with nearly a dozen Eagle Scouts in the last 5 years.
And as long as BSA doesn’t compel and coerce the local organizations to embrace incompatible values as a condition of association, I will continue to support our troop. It really comes down to the local charter and the local troop leadership – if I ever have reason to question their values and their commitment, I will reevaluate. To date, I’ve had no such cause for concern.
Drew, I dispute your use of the word “forcing”. Charters are not “forced” to establish girl-only troops. They may. And there remains separation if/when they do, and the new rules define the method and the structure to be followed. It isn’t a game of semantics, here. But it is frequently misrepresented.
All I have is my own experience, witness, and testimony – I don’t expect to convince anyone. Just speaking to what I know.
Understand, of course, I’m hearing all this through a biased press, so misrepresentation is par for the course. As I say, if local groups still have strong autonomy, that’s great.
And, nary a comment on the changes BSA has put in place. Two Deep Leadership is an excellent way to keep everyone safe, youth and adults. Our Troop will not violate it. This is why we send four Trained leaders on every outing, so if something happens to one, we are well covered. The group can split in two, and still be well covered.
Further, each Charter Organization and Troop is able to make its own choices. So, our Troop can say “No Gay leaders” if we so choose. Isn’t local control on these sorts of things exactly what conservatives call for in government. BSA has taken a “federal” approach. Thus, the local units can decide what they want to do. We don’t have to have a girl troop, anymore than we have to have a Venture program, or the Pack has to take girls into a Girl Den. Freedom of choice and all that.
I dare say, Paul, that as a Therapist, one who worked in community mental health for 25 years, I know more about sexual predators than most of the people at Ricochet (Ryan M, and Gary R. being up here with me due to their legal work). If all the adults follow the rules, then the predator cannot act. And believe me, we are fast to follow the rules, and chase down people who don’t understand. They are a pain and keep us safe. No parent can come on an event without taking Youth Protection. They don’t get on the bus.
Boy Scouts of America is a great organization than now can reach more youth. That should be celebrated. It has polices and procedures in place to protect youth and adults. That should be celebrated. It is going to use the law to protect the organization from many lawsuits dealing with the actions of men long gone from BSA. That should be, if not celebrated, understood.
I admit, BSA’s PR department clearly sucks. They spend their energy on making Scouting great.
Nary a comment? I take it that you did not even bother to read my piece. I said not a word about sin, and I did refer to the changes made in 1991. Nonetheless, what was done in 2015 points in a different direction. Why did you not respond to my argument? Do I not have a point? BSA’s problem is not its PR department. It is its policy — which is why it is declining rapidly.
Local autonomy may mean that there is a remnant. National policy guarantees that there will not be more than a remnant.
Well said, Paul.
I too have invested a great portion of my life in Scouting as a youth and an adult. I have great memories with our sons, the Scout troop, and being Scoutmaster.
The Scout troop itself has been a tremendous tool in teaching life values and leadership to young men. The commitment of local charter organizations, adult troop leadership, and the local councils has been the structure that made Scouting possible.
BSA developed sound policy (Two Deep Leadership) and effective training (Youth Protection Training) with the twin goals to protect the boys and the adults in the program.
But the national organization lost its way. I had recently retired as Scoutmaster when Rex Tillerson ran through the changes accepting gay boys and then gay adults in Scout units. It wasn’t a mandated policy but it was also not perceived as a democratically driven change from the parents involved with their sons in Scouting.
Our church quickly decided that the BSA’s values were incompatible with its own. Many other charter organizations including the Latter Day Saints reached similar conclusions and took similar actions to separate from the BSA.
There are broad cultural issues in play that further drive down the participation in Scouting. The decline of two-parent families is a significant factor as well as the time pressures for school and sports. And then there’s the demographics of families with 11-17 year-old sons. The youth of the 21st century are a very different mix racially, ethnically, and culturally from the heydays of the BSA. BSA programs just don’t capture the imagination of today’s 11-17 year old boys as effectively as in the 1950s through 1970s.
Sadly, the demise of the Boy Scouts is indeed a sign of the times. I regret that our grandsons will likely never have the chance to experience Scouting.
It is all a shame. I honor those who soldier on, but I suspect that they do not understand the degree to which the decisions made at the national level will undercut their work.
It might make sense to pull out and rebuild from the bottom up. It looks as if the Mormons will do something of the sort.
Paul and Brian, it seems y’all may be talking past each other. What I took from Bryan’s comment is that while the Boy Scouts have adopted highly inclusive membership and leadership policies, they’ve taken reasonable and effective measures to keep sex out of Scouting.
Bryan, I specifically got the impression from your comment that there are no M/F mixed troops – Is that correct? (I suppose there must be troops and patrols of mixed sexuality, but as you point out that’s always been the case.)
I have to note that the comments here by people currently involved in Scouting seem to come from a different set of facts than those lamenting its fall. Had I not read Bryan’s comment I’d have been in the latter camp, having no more idea of the truth than what I read in the papers. Even “conservative” journalists lie – it’s part of the condition of being a journalist, I’m afraid.
I think the way we see things is so vastly different, that we struggle to communicate.
I do not think that declining membership is all on changes made in 2015. We compete with sports and many other alternatives for young people’s attention. You said nothing in response to my comments on Two deep leadership, and you dismiss the importance of local autonomy as nearly worthless.
And here, Sir, you insult me, for having my Son in Scouts. You don’t get to stand behind your article with this statement outstanding. There is no way to read this, no way at all, other than an insult to me, my wife, and all the parents who put their youth into BSA programs.
I am working hard to make Troop 277, and Pack 277 great. And if we add a Girl Troop, I will work hard to make that great. I have not given in to SJW’s, or surrendered to anything.
I disagree with your understanding.
Also, it is funny, when I suggested that the Reformation was a good idea, I was roundly attacked.