Boy Scouts under fire

In Canada, the Boy Scouts are recognized as a proud institution with a long and admirable history. For the most part, though, they remain below the radar screen and rarely invite controversy or scrutiny. This is hardly the case south of the border, where the Boy Scouts of America are at the forefront of a culture clash.

Outraged that The Supreme Court reaffirmed the right of the Boy Scouts of America to exclude gay men from leadership roles in the organization, gay activist groups have been on a seek and destroy mission. Because of this Constitutional victory, activists are successfully denying the organization an opportunity to carry out its good work. They have bullied and chilled numerous jurisdictions from allowing the Boy Scouts to participate in city and local activities on account of their membership rules. Notwithstanding a guaranteed right to freedom of association, cities and communities are buckling under this ?shake-down? and telling the Scouts, ?sorry, we can?t work with you.?

The United Way, long a supporter and proud sponsor of the Scouts has pulled its funding in jurisdictions from coast to coast.

The Connecticut State Government banned contributions to the organization by state employees through the state-run charity.

In Michigan; Ann Arbour and Detroit city councils voted to prohibit payroll deductions by city employees to the Scouts. Further, they banned police and fire departments from sponsoring Scout troops or any of their activities.

Corporations, terrified at the prospect of crossing the gay rights lobby, have similarly yanked funding and donations to the Scouts.

The Boy Scouts are being denied the use of public facilities such as school meeting rooms, parks, government campsites and other venues covered by local diversity ordinances. Their preferable tax status has been yanked and they no longer are invited to government-sanctioned events.

They have also been denied access to publicly owned venues because they are considered a religious organization. How did they become a religious organization? Their motto, ?do my best to do my duty to God and my country” is completely unacceptable in these secular times.

All of this is on account of the Scouts steadfastly hanging on to their traditions and beliefs.

But this is more than just the intolerance and hatred of those who preach acceptance and inclusion. The attack on the Boy Scouts, and one that?s being legitimized by all those who feel the need and pressure to sever ties with the organization, is diminishing one of the finest and most honourable groups ever conceived. This group has been an outstanding mentor and role model and always strived to instill the most righteous of values; respect, charity, commitment, self-esteem and community. And now they?re public enemy #1. In today?s culture clash, this fine and noble institution has become ?the bad guy?.

What?s missing here is a realization of the undisputable facts. The Boy Scouts, unlike other lofty programs and initiatives, serves as a containment in the face of criminal inducement. Social justice and respect for all, have always been central ideals for Boy Scouts. More than five million young boys have benefited from the selfless devotion of the organization. And now it is being torn apart. And with it goes the moral teaching and value system that is part and parcel of the organization?s legacy, which is exactly the type of institution that is a welcome companion in crime prevention through social development.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at john.martin@ucfv.ca