The BSA, Catholics, and Religious Freedom

crossroads

Last year, my 17-year-old Eagle Scout came home every weekend in summer, bubbling with energy and ENTHUSIASM (that word is all-capped for a reason and Scouts will understand why), regaling us with stories of how he taught the young boys this and that at the Camp where he volunteered his time and got paid $100 a week. He was there full time for 10 weeks, dealing with the occasional unruly scout or bed bug. But at 17, he was proud of being in the business of building men. He knew, from life experience, that not every boy has been blessed with good male role models like he has. But he can be one to other boys. This year, all that was snatched away from him. Working at Camp is still fun, but when even the BSA says that manhood is nothing but an abstract concept or preference, with no real substance, then what my son does there is very much just like any other job. He could very well work at Kroger instead and make five times more money. It’s funny how when you take morality out of the picture, money often takes its place.

In February 2013, the Liberty Institute drafted a letter to the BSA warning about the possibility of lawsuits that could arise against churches and faith-based organizations, if there is a change in policy. The BSA decided it wasn’t their problem; they couldn’t afford to lose billions of dollars in funding.

As for the bishops, it would be comforting to think that they are just so naive as to be taken in by homosexualist sophistry. Perhaps they are unaware that the language, and hence the discussion, is being deliberately controlled by those with an agenda. But it is now painfully apparent that this is but a chess game for them, where playing smart means you anticipate your opponent’s moves and choose what risks to take. Unfortunately, the potential anti-discrimination lawsuits and losses were deemed more important that that which hung on the other side of the balance: the faith, moral, spiritual and physical well-being of scouts who remain in the program. By saying “we can live with it”, Bishop Guglielmone and the NCCS help muzzle the voices of the faithful, and allow the continued erosion of morality. In an increasingly hostile environment, it is not hard to see that one day soon our voices will be completely unwelcome anywhere, not just in the public square, and we will have to choose between silence and martyrdom. That Catholic young men would be left without a clear understanding of what sexuality or morality is, is not their problem either. (Helpful reading: And Without Gender He Created Them ).

For the NCCS, the overriding concern became the half-a-million boys who would “miss out”. Scouting activities vs. Conscience Formation and Religious Freedom: they chose the former. Considering that the USCCB just concluded a two-week prayer and awareness-raising event called Fortnight for Freedom, it is ironic that the very freedom which Catholic leaders ask us to pray and fast for, they are not willing to defend, and families are left without guidance or protection. Well played indeed. The question that remains is, who played who?

In a lot of ways, the decision to opt out of the BSA is similar to our decision to homeschool. For us, the risks are just not worth it. I would not risk damaging a child, and then have to spend years trying to undo that damage, when we could be growing an adult, healthy and unbroken, to become a positive contributor to society. That boys will talk about girls, attraction, sex, relationships, is perhaps inevitable; that’s a big part of adolescence. That they will be exposed to the idea that any and every kind of attraction and lifestyle is normal or even desirable, is not. By choosing to homeschool, many of us have refused to stay in programs where our parental rights are often undermined or even denied, where voices of faith are silenced. We are making the same choice here. We’re called to be salt of the earth and light of the world, but we cannot be either, if our own flavor has been diluted and our own vision obscured by those we trust the most.

I understand and applaud people like Todd Aglialoro, who has made the decision to stay; he goes into this with eyes wide open. And it is so very true that Catholics are still needed in that arena; I regret that we cannot do the same. We applaud and pray for all the Catholic families who have decided to stay. May our Lord and Mama Mary bless your efforts.

For our part, we will continue the work we have begun in our own sons. We also invite you to take a look at the following organizations that look promising and that we are looking into ourselves:

Federation of North American Explorers
Columbian Squires, a Knights of Columbus organization.
Scouts of Saint George
Faith-Based Boys

St. John Bosco, pray for us.
St. George, pray for us.
St. Joseph, Mama Mary, Jesus, pray for us.


I originally started this post with background information, but decided to post those instead on the following page, which you can get to by clicking on “Page 2″ below:

  • Catholics and Christians on the Policy Change
  • The Challenge of Adolescence
  • Homosexuality in Scripture and in the Catechism

2 comments

  1. David Smith says:

    If you are looking into the Federation of North-American Explorers (FNE) I would encourage you to send an email to Christopher Hasson at akela(at)northstarexplorers.org letting him know of your interest.

    FYI, some people seem to have the impression that FNE is co-ed but it isn’t — we have separate units for boys and girls with boys led by men and girls by women.

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