The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
Seems to me the Boy Scouts are in a predicament. From where I stand, they are being forced to define themselves after years of trying to be all things to all people. Don’t know how they are going to get out of this one, but I can guess and I would imagine that they are going to take some lumps and bruises along the way. Furthermore, I’m predicting that the Boy Scouts of tomorrow is going to be much different than the Boy Scouts of today and yesterday, no matter what path they ultimately choose.
I think the proverbial law of unintended consequences happened when no one was looking as Boy Scouts tried hard to make itself relevant in today’s world. I mean, how can you force a policy that dictates a belief in God, but then allow all religions, even the ones that don’t believe in God? Furthermore, how can you expect to strictly define moral standards using a code of ideals that are defined differently and sometimes diametrically by the various moral authorities (churches) that you welcome into your fold.
The only answer that I see is the route in which they seem to be taking, where the Chartered Organization codifies membership criteria. (The claim is that the Atheist dis-qualifier is not on the table, but does anyone really believe that?) I get that there will be turmoil in the ranks and that there will be gnashing of teeth, etc by those that are disappointed in the National Organization’s capitulation from the one side and probably more boycotts and turmoil from the other side because the policy doesn’t formally endorse their lifestyle, but it seems the predictable choice.
Please understand, I’m not advocating here, I’m sticking my finger up in the air and trying to see where the wind is blowing. By relinquishing the control to the local charters, the Boy Scouts can focus on being just a curriculum and service provider, which they kind of have been for the past few years, and stay out of the uncomfortable spotlight of national ethics debates. By going this route, the Boy Scouts of America will be marginalizing itself, but the tools of the Scout Oath and Law, the Patrol Method and the rest of the groundwork laid back in the early days can be licensed to Chartered Organizations to use as they see fit.
While I foresee this move being inevitable (whether at this next vote or a future decision), I think this will ultimately marginalize the National Organization’s claim of moral relevance. Some units will be presented as a values driven program, some will be a camping club, some will be a merit badge factory and many will fall somewhere in between, all led by well meaning people that want to help out the youth of today and leaders of tomorrow… but that’s kind of how it is now, isn’t it? The only thing different is that the romantic, iconic, Norman Rockwell-ish image of the Boy Scouts of America, as a youth movement rather than a youth program, will finally draw to a close. (Maybe I’m too pessimistic?)
Seems to me, if this goes the way it seems, their mission needs to change to: The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare Youth Organizations to help young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.