Posted May 24 2013 - 01:20 PM
I have mixed emotions about this decision. My visceral reaction is that it is repugnant. Some may view "morally straight" as being subjective, but I do not. When it comes to interpretation of our Constitution I am an originalist. I believe the same approach is valid when examine what "morally straight" means. We must look at how a reasonable person living at the time the Scout Oath was conceived would have defined the term. Moreover, there is no doubt Baden-Powell himself believed in traditional Christian values.
As I examine the issue in greater depth my thoughts immediately go to what my grandfather would make of this decision. He was born in Italy, but spent his formative years in England, living in West London. He was not only a part of the Scouting Movement from its infancy, he also knew Baden-Powell personally. In 1915 Baden-Powell presented him with the Gilt Cross for his actions in dragging a woman out of bombed out burning building following a German Zeppelin raid. Following that event Baden-Powell not only recalled his name every time he saw him but often conversed with him at length. As my grandfather was coming of age he wrestled with the decision of whether he should follow his older brothers example and join the British Army or if he should return to Italy to fight for his native land. It was with Baden-Powell's counsel and blessing that he ultimately served in the Italian Army, fighting in the Alps against Austro-Hungarian and the German Alpenkorps.
After the war is stayed in Italy for a time, starting a Boy Scout Troop. Then in 1920 he came to this nation and within five days he was affiliated with a troop. He continued to actively participate in the Scouts until his death in 1986. He was something of a regional legend in the Scouts. His involvement in the movement led to personal friendships with Nelson Rockefeller, Cardinals Spellman and Cooke and numerous other figures. He also corresponded for years with Robert Baden-Powell's son Peter. All of these associations were formed upon the foundation of my grandfathers commitment to the Scouts and the difference he made in the lives of countless young people.
My grandfather was also a devout Catholic and certainly viewed homosexuality as a sin. Yet he was a man who treated everyone with respect. The Priest who eulogized him was an old friend who had travelled the city with him on many occasions. He was humbled by the example he set in his dealings with homeless people, treating them no differently than he did the likes of Rockefeller and Spellman. He was also impressed by the fact that every time they would travel into the city together at least one man would approach and thank my grandfather for what he meant in is life.
I can't imagine any man loved the Scout's and what they stand for more than my grandfather, except possibly Baden-Powell himself. My initial belief was that he would view this as a sad new chapter for the Scouts. But the more I think about my grandfather and the example he set, the more I think I may have been wrong. I have no doubt he would draw a hard line on barring homosexual adults from being Scoutmasters. But something inside me is telling me he would welcome these boys, despite their lifestyle, believing that they shouldn't be deprived of the profound difference the Scouts could make in their lives. It would be like Father Flannagan turning a kid away from boys town because he was too bad. Is homosexuality morally straight in the tradition of the Scouts? Clearly not. However, the Scout Oath is aspirational. Thus if a boy of any stripe seeks out the many blessings of Scouting is it right to turn him away? At present my inclination is to welcome these boys as long as they don't disrupt the larger mission of the Scouts.
SteveWolf and Arisaka_99 like this