The Right Opinion

The Scouts vs. the Ugly Moods of 2013

By William Murchison · Feb. 12, 2013

The Boy Scouts of America got front-page ink, as we say in the newspaper trade, for their currently postponed meditations on the topic of admitting avowed gays to membership.

Word had leaked out that the Scouts were considering a local option solution to the vexed question of their supposed right to determine who can become a member and who can't. At a top-drawer meeting in Irving, Tex., the topic proved too vast and complex for immediate resolution. Consultation and deliberation will take place prior to May meeting of Scouts' national council.

I spoke of the Scouts' “supposed” right to oversee their membership rolls. A decade ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that right in the Scouts' case, in response to court challenges seeking the overthrow of policies that “discriminate” against gays. That might have settled matters, but for restlessness and motion in the larger society whose present values sometimes cause the Scouts, with their old-fashioned devotion to God and country, to look more and more like outliers.

What courts can't accomplish, social pressures sometimes bring about. The up-tilted eyebrow, the sneer, the lordly putdown in elite journalistic commentary – such events and occasions collectively have the power to overwhelm.

The oddness of the Scouts' situation has to do with the oddness – the bizarreness, really – of efforts to overwhelm an organization whose core principles, you might think, were beyond impeachment.

“On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” So goes the Scout oath – the pledge that millions of boys have conned and recited. What is wrong with it? A Scout promises to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. There is something the matter here? We'd prefer disloyal, boorish, mean, disobedient, cowardly and so forth?

It could be so. The war against the Scouts has about it a littleness of spirit, an un-generosity that should be unthinkable. That it no longer seems unthinkable is among our modern blights. That the Boy Scouts of America are bidden by the intellectual-political community to roll over, bark cheerily, and change their practices and thought patterns along lines improvised by the enlightened is further, scarier testimony to the cultural mess we're in.

If an ex-Scout of mediocre attainments may speak – on his honor, naturally – I wish to observe that society's increasing spite against scouting is likely bigger than the gay members thing. With non-heterosexual marriage winning acclaim in some states, the topic of gay rights and privileges indeed comes up constantly. Nonetheless, the flap over scouting's membership requirements reflects modern America's weariness with norms of any kind. That is the larger point.

Norms – e.g., do my duty, keep myself thus and so, to this or that end – look down from a towering height onto the squiggling mass of personal tastes, outlooks, biases, caprices, humors and moods that make up modern life. A norm counsels or reproaches: this is right; this isn't. A mere mood sticks out its tongue: shut up, lemme alone, none of your business. Guess which mode we lean toward in 2013.

The Scouts, its American branch dating from 1910, is a wondrously old-fashioned bunch, generally ignoring the Mood of the Moment, upholding truths deposited with them by generations of the wise and the able. If such a disposition makes the Scouts seem out-of-date, by the standards (if any) of 2013, more power to the Scouts and infinitely less to the shriveled standards of 2013. The America of the present could stand to learn from past Americas that understood the durability of truth.

We all know, we ex-Scouts and ex-Scouting dads, that ideals and behaviors don't routinely fuse; that becoming a Scout isn't the same as putting on sanctification. All the same, give me the Scout Law over any passel of uncooked, unexamined, morally incoherent 2013 notions.

Leave those guys alone – you hear?



Howard Last in Wyoming said:

As a former Cub Scout, Boy Scout and now Scout Leader I appreciate your Column, but you did miss one of the 12 points of the Scout Law, "Cheerful". A Scout is, Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful,Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty,Brave, Clean, Reverent Two of the Merit Badges I teach are not PC, Rifle Shooting and Shotgun. Could this be another reason why the Boy Scouts are not in favor?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

My first Scoutmaster, Reverend McDaniels, was a Presbyterian Minister.He was a tough ,but fair leader. He would add additional requirements onto those needed for merit badges. I guess you could call him a Harry Truman double!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 7:10 AM

Bob in Hattiesburg, MS said:

Just another sign of our moral and spiritual rot.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Mindblown in Flyover USA said:

BSA bigwigs need to assert the BSA's First Amendment rights to freedom of assembly, association, speech and religion. They need too truly uphold and adhere to their "Oath." This decision must be organization wide not decided locally.

Mr. Murdoch is correct -- "What courts can't accomplish, social pressures sometimes bring about. The up-tilted eyebrow, the sneer, the lordly putdown in elite journalistic commentary -- such events and occasions collectively have the power to overwhelm."

And, again, if gays want to be scouts they can form their own organization.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Ted R. Weiland in Nebraska said:

"The Boy Scouts of America are being pressured by today’s perverse society to renounce their long-standing policy and allow sodomites to join. This would not even be a consideration if this organization were still truly righteous. If they change their policy to accommodate homosexuals, they will find themselves fulfilling King Solomon’s proverb:

'Like a trampled spring and a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.' (Proverbs 26:5)...."

For more see blog article "Will the Boy Scouts Fawn at the Feed of the Wicked" at

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Lawyer Ron in Acton in Acton, California said:

Ted R - you are absolutely correct. Pv. 26.5 is the most accurate call to duty for those of us who view the erosion of our core values. As an Eagle scout over 40 years ago, I can affirm that the values, skills, and morals ingrained through scouting have had a significant and positive effect upon my life as a man, husband, father, grandfather, attorney, professor, and judge. I pray that the volunteers who comprise the scouting corps will affirm the vision of Baden-Powell without resort to PC.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 1:27 PM

JAC in Texas said:

You ask, "There is something the matter here?" It's that sticky phrase "morally straight" that bothers the leftists. We can't have a national organization being judgemental of the country's morals, now can we?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Rob in Texas said:

Back Up Jack:"Morally straight;" A scout is TRUSTWORTHY, LOYAL, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, CLEAN, REVERENT,
ON MY HONOR - I will do my best to do my duty TO GOD.........
God does not ALLOW diversity of doctrine, period. TRUTH is that when we TOLERATE anything left of YAH's standards then that DIVERSITY becomes PERVERSITY.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 4:53 PM

JAC in Texas replied:

I don't get your point. Are you agreeing or disagreeing with me. And if it's the latter, who cares?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 5:50 PM

Orf in Pittsburgh said:

I am also an ex-Life Scout, ex-dad/physician Scout leader, and I find the current trend abhorrent. The only reason the homosexual lobby is interested in getting membership in the Scouts is to destroy that group. The same thing happened with all-male colleges; there was no especially strong desire for women to go to these schools, it was just to destroy an all-male institution. They did the same with the military service, which will suffer as a result. The same with homo marriage; they are not really that keen on marriage so much as to destroy the traditional institution of marriage.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 7:29 PM

Chris in Wisconsin said:

Regarding the sexual pervert problem in the scouts or anywhere else in this nation. Here's the only solution:

First, there’s the need for the offender(s) to turn back to The Great I Am that became flesh and dwelt among us, with Confession of Him as your salvation and Kinsmen Redeemer, repentance and baptism (full immersion) in His name. Acts 2: 38.

If the sin continues: 1 Corinthians 5: 4-5.

For those who will not repent: Leviticus 18: 22 – 29; 20: 13

See how simple The Almighty's system is?

The only solution for this nation is to turn back to Him, His Laws, Statutes and Judgments, His Kingdom/Will on earth.

Friday, February 15, 2013 at 5:03 PM