The Shape of Things To Come in BSA?

Acclaimed science fiction writer, HG Wells, published a book called “The Shape of Things to Come” way back in 1933.  The book is written from the perspective of a history book that was (would be) published in the year 2106.  While clearly fictional, it offers a speculative glimpse of an alternative reality from our own IF things had gone differently in the 1930s and 1940s.  Interestingly, it predicted a world war lasting ten years from 1940 to 1950, the rise of intellectualism, the “problem” of religion and individual freedom interfering with the “State” and it’s ability to exert control over society, and the move to abolish all religion in order to build a Utopian future ruled by benevolent dictators.

Scouts historical handbook cover imageWells was not a prophet or time traveler, but had a clever ability to understand history, current events, progressive thinking and make the connections needed in his analysis to forecast likely trends into the coming decades.

BSA will shortly celebrate its 104th birthday as an official organization.  Much has happened to the organization over that century, and we can expect to see more changes in the future.

Recently, ‘scouts for equality’ published a notice (click here) that their upcoming strategic plan “intends to focus on three important goals…:

  1. End discrimination against adult leaders within the BSA.
  2. Create a safe culture of inclusiveness for all youth through bullying prevention programs and ensuring the new membership policy is implemented consistently across all levels of the BSA.
  3. Grow an inclusive Boy Scouts of America by increasing membership and creating new inclusive Scouting units.”

First, let me state that whether I agree or disagree with their goals isn’t the point of this post!  This post is merely looking at stated objectives, current events and asking — how soon will these things affect BSA?

I am primarily interested in their second point — that they feel that, at the present time, there is NOT a ‘safe culture of inclusiveness’ (not defined) for all youth presently at BSA, despite the most advanced, most thorough youth protection program of any non-profit a-bully02youth development program.  Does this expression mean physical safety, freedom from emotional duress, mental anxiety, fear, or what?  Either way, BSA is being called an unsafe institution under it’s present construct.

They state a need to have a strategic objective to promote “bullying prevention programs“. This suggests that systematic education/indoctrination is sorely needed for all BSA members to understand why their words and actions may hurt a ‘protected class‘ of scout/scouter (recall that goal #1 was to get adults into the program).  Further a call for a prevention program suggests that when prevention fails, there must be a plan for progressive discipline to be enforced against bullies who have offended the ‘protected class of scout/scouter‘.  It is no longer enough to rely on the Scout Oath and Law to guide scouts on their behavior — “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent” are evidently impotent/unable to safeguard the ‘protected class’ of scout from feeling threatened by his peers or his leaders (i.e. bullied).  (…and if the oath and law are ineffective, maybe they’ll need to be replaced eventually, too…)

Step number two concludes with this statement “…ensure the new membership policy is implemented consistently across all levels of the BSA” suggests two things:

  1. the policy is not and will not be effectively enforced unless there’s a monitoring effort to assure compliance (scouts and their CO’s are not trustworthy)
  2. CO’s must be compelled to follow BSA policy even if it conflicts with their moral beliefs (culture of biased inclusiveness towards one group over another) or face censure or expulsion from the organization.

So what other news items are happening that could influence the future direction of BSA?

Boy Scouts in the UK  (a bastion of post-modern culture) have already removed “God” from their Oath (click here).

Further, reports have arrived of not only removing references to “God” in the Girl Guide’s oath, but also reprimanding a Girl Guide unit for allowing the old oath to continue to be used — http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2524321/Girl-Guide-group-told-ditch-God-expelled-Troop-faces-removal-national-body-leaders-rejected-new-rules.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

From that article:

A girl guide group faces being thrown out of the national association after refusing to force members to drop God from the oath.  Troop leaders have rejected new rules saying that the inclusion of God should not be compulsory but a matter of personal choice.  But they have now been sent an ‘aggressive’ letter ordering them to back down or leave GirlGuiding UK at the end of the month. Critics branded the approach a ‘move for exclusion’.

The Guiding Promise was altered earlier this year so that members now swear ‘to be true to myself and develop my beliefs’ rather than the original ‘to love my God’.

But Glynis Mackie, 55, who has been leading the 37th Newcastle Guide Unit in Jesmond for more than 25 years, said the new pledge ‘sidelined’ Christianity. Mrs Mackie, added: ‘This is an example of people not realising the importance of faith, of all faiths, in our community. ‘I would go as far as saying that it is an example of faith being sidelined in society.’

‘I imagine changing the pledge was intended to include more people, but what it is actually doing is excluding those who have faith. I understand why an atheist might not want to make a promise to God, and that is fine by me, but it has to be up to the individual.’ But Chief Guide Gill Slocombe insisted the move ‘opened our arms to welcome even more girls and adults, of all faiths –  and none’.

So that final sentence says a lot — we’re opening our arms in tolerance of what society’s conformists feel is acceptable, but showing complete intolerance of religious belief by disallowing individual freedom of expression.

So let’s consider these factors:

  1. BSA is in a debt spiral (click here) as sponsors continue to leave (most recently was Lockheed Martin just this week)
  2. In order to restore funding, BSA must open membership to adult leaders who are “avowed” (out and aloud, preaching, teaching, etc.) about their sexuality as personality/personhood (i. e. I can’t be defined unless my sexuality is part of the definition – to silence me on that topic is to censure me and that is unfair, see Jeffrey Kershaw’s article in Vanderbilt Law Review titled “Towards an Establishment Theory of Gay Personhood”)
  3. BSA changed its policy to open itself to more boys and alienated many families and COs whose “voice of the scout” surveys were ineffectual at influencing the actual policy change vote (voting delegates were all appointees and did not need to represent the will of the COs or families)
  4. While critics of the membership move suggested that a wave of curriculum changes would eventually follow (and were shouted down and laughed at since BSA already has the most progressive Youth Protection Training program), we can see that “equal for scouting’s” mandate to offer “bully protection” training to ensure a “protected class” of scout/scouter is unharmed is a “beach head” step towards modifying the definition of family in “Family Life” Merit Badge and more.
  5. Further, the actions in the UK cannot be dismissed.  They’ve always trended ahead of what happens here with regard to many social and faith/no-faith issues.  Their modification of the Oath in both Boys and Girls programs has already had a foundation laid within BSA called the “one oath/one law” initiative (click here).  All cubs, scouts and venturers will be using a common oath and law starting in 2014.  This was done over the objections of local volunteers and enables a simple way to change the oath and law when the moment arrives to remove references of God from scouting ideals in the next decade or less.

Listen, I’m not advocating a position here, but looking at recent news and developing a conclusion from simple analysis.  I think anyone who dismisses these trends is simply ignoring reality and will conveniently forget this article ever existed when the reality proves the trend line was on target — whether a year from now or five years from now.

Wake Up, Tune In, Drop Out, Be Prepared, Walk Worthy.

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About Troop113

Our Troop # comes from Psalm 1:1-3 - describing the men we want our scouts to become
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4 Responses to The Shape of Things To Come in BSA?

  1. Jerry Smith says:

    Thank you Paul for this very thought provoking essay. Very much on target and I thank you for it. The USA and the world is so rapidly heading towards Sodom, it is scary. God’s Judgement looms heavy over us.

    • Troop113 says:

      Thank you for the feedback, Jerry! I think that there are many well-intentioned people within BSA who wear blinders to the long-term effects of seemingly minor changes — like ripples in a pond, they spread far and wide from a small pebble’s disruption.

      Additionally, many BSA members squash any discussion of the potential ripples by suggesting that such talk is dis-loyal and counterproductive even when it’s merely an opportunity to analyze and make preparations for tomorrow’s outcomes of today’s choices.

  2. There is a trend towards identifying bullying strictly as a “gay issue.” This piece does little to discourage that misconception; indeed, it reinforces it. Bullying can create a hostile atmosphere within a troop, and in some circumstances, be a genuine danger to its intended target. I know, because I was bullied as a child, even in Scouting. I am an Eagle Scout, I’m not the least bit gay, and I don’t like the new policy anymore than you do.

    • Troop113 says:

      David, we’re not advocating that bullying is a gay issue or a non-gay issue; however, “Scouting for Equality” IS making that suggestion and we don’t accept it. As a scoutmaster for the past three years, an involved dad for three years prior to that and an Eagle myself, I don’t tolerate hazing, bullying, name calling, rude pushing or shoving or other forms of inappropriate behavior.

      I do think that the scout oath and law are sufficient when the boys actually understand, accept and practice these ideals, but adults have steadily ignored the need to spend time explaining or enforcing these ideals as mentors and leaders within each unit.

      Bully prevention and reporting are already significant parts of Tenderfoot rank requirements, YPT and adult leader training — however this wasn’t the case thirty five years ago when I was a youth in scouts.

      Now Scouting for Equality wants to use this “issue” as a way to introduce changes to curriculum and so forth — most BSA’ers are unaware of the ramifications and that’s the point of the article — to get the word out.

      Sorry that it wasn’t clear.

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