December 14, 2018

Bankrupting the Boy Scouts of America

Due to escalating legal costs for sex abuse, the BSA board is considering bankruptcy.

As a former Scout, a Scout leader, the father of two Eagle Scouts, a BSA Executive Council member, and a Scouting supporter for decades, it grieves me to report that the National BSA board is considering Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to the Wall Strret Journal, the consideration is due to “dwindling membership and escalating legal costs related to lawsuits over how it handled allegations of sex abuse.” It is the latter issue — protection against legal action from Boy Scouts who have been the victims of homosexual predation and assault — that is the primary motivation for bankruptcy consideration.

The national board noted in its latest annual report that it was “aware of threatened and expanding litigation” regarding sexual abuse. Recently, other organizations have sought bankruptcy protection regarding primarily cases of homosexual predation, including more than 20 Catholic dioceses and religious orders.

According to national BSA Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh, “We have a social and moral responsibility to fairly compensate victims who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting. … We care deeply about all victims of child sex abuse … [and] we sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in our programs.”

I have been a critic of the national BSA board since 2013, when, under the leadership of wealthy corporate execs who had no connection with grassroots scouting, they made the socially and morally irresponsible decision to removed membership restrictions against homosexuals. In an open letter, I wrote, “While all homosexuals are not molesters of teens and pre-teens, where same-sex molestation occurs, homosexuals are almost always the perpetrators. So, why would the national BSA board consider a motion to remove its restrictions on homosexual members and leaders?” The answer: “Several corporations have pulled their support for the BSA because of its sexual-orientation policies…”

I concluded that this was a “Faustian bargain” — that compromising the high moral standards upheld by the Boy Scouts since its 1910 inception would trade a one problem – criticism from homosexual advocacy groups – for a much bigger problem – the degradation of a institution. And now, the BSA is considering bankruptcy because of declining membership associated with this degradation, and lawsuits related to sexual assault in recent decades.

Moral bankruptcy leads to monetary bankruptcy.

In a follow-up column, “The ‘Gay Pride’ Merit Badge,” I noted, “In May of 2015 the BSA’s national board announced that it was surrendering to the ‘gay lobby’ and would open its ranks to adult homosexual leaders, a self-destructive policy which the board approved two months later.”

Apparently the national BSA board was unable to discern any lessons from the horrendous record of predatory sexual abuse by homosexual leaders in the Catholic Church. Even Pope Francis recently declared, “The Church urges that persons with this rooted [homosexual] tendency not be accepted into ministry.”

Let me emphasize that local BSA councils across the nation are separate entities from the national organization. They are 501(c)(3) entities incorporated in their respective states, and their assets are owned and controlled by their local executive councils. But policy changes by the national BSA board have caused local councils to suffer membership and funding drops.

BSA membership is down 30% over the last three decades, and has dropped precipitously in the last five years. In response, last year the national board decreed that Scout Troops should welcome so-called “transgender boys.” Earlier this year, the board decided that to remain solvent, the BOY Scouts should take girls as members… That’ll fix it!

(I know, this reads like satire from some parallel universe, but tragically it is not.)

The Boy Scout oath is as follows: “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.”

For those of us who have devoted much time, energy, and resources to Scouting in order to strengthen the next generation of young men morally and spiritually, and in all other respects noted in the Scout oath, the national BSA board’s bankrupting of those values by adopting policies contrary to that oath is disgraceful. It also has a predictable consequence: The decline of a once-great and singular institution.

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