The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced on Wednesday that it will postpone deciding whether to reverse its long-standing membership policy regarding open homosexuality. The decision will now take place at an annual meeting in May.
The announcement last week of a potential policy change appeared to be in response, at least in part, to intense outside pressure. For now, the Scouts have decided to stand strong, maintain their policy, and study the issue more carefully.
For years, the BSA has been targeted for upholding traditional moral standards and belief in God. Since last summer, when it reaffirmed its membership policy regarding open homosexuality, the pressure has only intensified.
But following the recent announcement that it was reconsidering its position, the BSA received an outpouring of feedback from the American public. It is clear that many Americans continue to support the BSA standing up for its moral convictions in the face of outside pressure to cave.
The Scouts’ situation involves more than just the merits of its viewpoints and policies; it also illustrates a growing trend to marginalize and exclude people and groups that hold firm to traditional viewpoints on issues such as sexual morality, family, or the definition of marriage.
Today, instead of encouraging a robust pluralism, too often debates about such issues resort to pressure tactics that try to force people and groups to abandon their beliefs or pay a price. That’s a phenomenon Heritage President-Elect Jim DeMint documented in his 2007 book Why We Whisper with co-author J. David Woodard. There he praises the BSA for standing by its principles in spite of pressure to cave:
Because the Boy Scouts of America stood up and fought for what they believed, they have displayed courage as an organization that deserves the trust and respect of all principled Americans. Despite the onslaught of government sponsored attacks, intimidation and ruinous publicity, the Boy Scouts have stayed true to their values. They did not cower, they did not whisper.
For more than a century, “the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, providing its youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.” Countless Americans have benefited from this private association, directly or indirectly. Even those who may not agree with the Scouts’ moral viewpoints should be able to agree that the organization enriches the diversity of American civil society.
In the coming months, people who support the Scouts should continue to take advantage of opportunities to make their voices heard. Those who oppose the Scouts certainly will.