Last week I had the distinct honor of being the master of ceremonies at Ryan Rammell’s Eagle Scout court of honor. Ryan is a tall, fine-looking recent graduate of Smithson Valley High School where he was a percussionist in the band. He has successfully reached Scouting’s highest pinnacle—The Eagle.
When he became a Boy Scout he took an oath, a promise, that “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.”
The Scout Law that he pledged to obey says, “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.”
The Scout motto he adopted is “Be prepared.” The Scout slogan is “Do a good turn daily.”
How many mothers would wish to have sons who actually adhered to such noble precepts? How many fathers would be proud of sons who not only believed in such things but who actually put them into daily practice?
How many schools wish their classrooms were filled with such young men? Would our nation not benefit from and be stronger for young men like Ryan who grow up with more on their minds than “what’s in it for me?” or thinking that “society owes me”?
In order to complete the requirements for Scouting’s highest honor, Ryan had to plan and carry out a major service project. That and other requirements provide the Scout with the ability to engage in career exploration, academic stimulation, discipline, and the ability to work under pressure.
All of this is good, right? Not according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), gay and lesbian activist groups, atheists and militant feminists.
The first shot across the bow of the Boy Scouts of America was fired in 1976 by lawyers for the mother of a nine-year old girl who had been refused admission to the Cub Scouts. From this stemmed a long-running volley of lawsuits challenging Scouting’s traditions and its right to keep those traditions into the future.
“Some have called this an assault on the Boy Scouts,” says Texas Governor Rick Perry. “Others see it as part of a much larger phenomenon, a ‘culture war’ between determined secularists and the traditional values of American society. It is all of the above.”
Thirty subsequent lawsuits have fallen into four categories: girls seeking membership in the BSA; Scouting’s “duty to God” requirement; Scouting’s duty to be “morally straight”; and Scouting’s access to “government forums.”
Boy Scouts of America has had to expend scarce resources defending itself from those who demand that a belief in God should be removed as a requirement for membership.
From its earliest days, Scouting has welcomed boys of varying religious faiths whether Christian, Muslim, Jew or other. The one thing they have in common is belief in a supreme being. Scouting does not accept atheists or agnostics as adult leaders.
But the ACLU insists that unless Scouting does away with the “duty to God” requirement, Scouts should be denied access to public facilities such as schools and military bases.
Openly gay adults want to lead young boys into the woods and to be role models for them. BSA’s position is that a homosexual or a heterosexual who makes his sex life a public matter is not an appropriate role model of the Scout Oath and Law for adolescent boys.
“If Congress would have intended that girls be allowed in the Boy Scouts and vice versa, it would have chartered one organization, i.e., Scouts of America.” Congress chartered Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts separately within a few years of each other. As for adult leaders, there are no gender requirements. Women can serve in any capacity.
The culture war plays out on many fronts across the nation—not just with the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scout issue, however, is symptomatic of the assault in general on our long-standing traditional American values. In one California city, city government employees who wanted to advertise an event promoting “the natural family,” “family values” and “marriage” were denied access to the bulletin board on the grounds that their flyer would promote “harassment based on sexual orientation.” However, it was O.K. for gay rights advocates employed by the city to promote “Happy Coming Out Day.”
Governor Perry said, “We did not want King George to force his Anglican beliefs upon the colonists, but our war was not to protect children from the ‘corrosive presence’ of a Christmas tree.
“Some intolerant things are done in the name of ‘tolerance.’ Christmas wreaths, displays of the Ten Commandments, and other religious symbols are torn down in the name of pluralistic tolerance, but such acts are in their own way a great display of intolerance. And for what? To prevent one child in a schoolroom from feeling ‘uncomfortable?’”
Ryan’s parents and most of his family were present at the Eagle Scout court of honor last week. The pride showed in their faces. I’m proud of you, too, Ryan. You are a positive role model for your siblings and for the rest of us. God bless the BSA and God bless America!
(For more detailed information read, On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For, by Governor Rick Perry. Stroud & Hall Publishers, 2008)