The Boy Scouts of America and Same-gender Attraction

These are not my words, but are those of my son, Paul Freeman, which he posted on Facebook yesterday following the BSA’s vote on admitting gay boys into their troops. Since he voices my own thoughts so well, I am reposting them here.

Here’s my response to the recent resolution passed by the BSA. Here’s a link to the resolution: http://bit.ly/14F8tKJ. Read it.

I don’t see this as [the] BSA lowering its standard of morality. I see this as [the] BSA reaching out to young men who are afraid to admit they are attracted to males instead of females for fear of being bullied and ostracized.

[The] BSA is not saying that practicing homosexual behavior is acceptable. The resolution BSA passed actually says, “Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting…”
I believe that sexual activity should be reserved for the lawful marriage of a man and woman, and youth should be taught the sacred nature of the family and the powers that bring life into this world.

Nevertheless, young men with same gender attraction need the scouting program just as much as other young men.
The burden is on parents and leaders to teach all young men to live the Scout Law, the Scout Motto, and their Duty to God.
And if straight young men are uncomfortable being around young men with same gender attraction, that is a good opportunity to teach them how to handle their concerns instead of attacking someone who they’re afraid of.

It may very well be that scouts today could face sexual harassment as adults. While it’s a crying shame to think youth will have to face such a problem, women have had to deal with harassment for centuries.

Look at the state of how women are being treated in the military today. Commanding officers are using their influence to get away with horrendous acts of harassment against their subordinates.

This is a great opportunity to arm young men with the virtues that will set them apart in this new generation.

Finally, here is the link to LDS Newsroom where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responds to the vote results. The Church is the single largest religious denomination which supports the BSA. Scouting is integral to its youth ministry for young men.

Exclusion of gay boys never has and never will be Church policy. Rather, it encourages all to participate, as it encourages all to follow the high standards of moral cleanliness as their “duty to God.” When Boy Scouts are abiding by the Scout Oath and Scout motto, sexual orientation is not an issue. As my brother put it, “scouting is asexual.”

As the mother of two Eagle and one Life Scout, I know that the Scouting program has made an incalculable difference in the lives of my sons. All have received their undergraduate degrees and all have or are completing their post-graduate studies. They are proactive in their religion, strong in their faith, and true to their professed beliefs.They are engaged fathers, supportive husbands, and attentive sons.

I know that the youth programs of the Church, including the BSA, and the men who have led by example, are in large measure responsible for my sons becoming who they are today.

But, Scouting is not just about going on camping trips and earning merit badges. It is about developing one’s faith in God and loyalty to country. Citizenship in their community, both sacred and secular, are the foundations upon which the BSA is built and upon which the boys are encouraged to structure their own lives.

I believe that participation in the Boy Scouts would equally benefit all boys, as it has my own sons; from its educational and recreational activities, from its fostering of faith and self-worth, and from its exposure of growing minds and hearts to the excellent men and women who devote their energies to the program.

It seems to me, young men with same-sex attraction, with all the challenges they face in this life, require that bolstering most of all.

Finding the Common Ground

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, an LDS candidate, spoke at commencement exercises for Liberty University, a Baptist institution, about how important it is that we as a people stand together for what is right to protect our society and our nation.  I strongly agree with the opinions he expressed in this speech and so wanted to share it.  He says it much better than I can.

In this article, the editor of an online Catholic magazine reported on the speech and used it as the lead article of that day’s issue.  He refers to the 2012 presidential race as “one of the most important Presidential elections in the history of the United States” in commenting on the unlikely convergence of three very disparate denominations at Liberty University.  He goes on to state:

The fact that a Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, would be the commencement speaker at the Baptist University founded by Dr Jerry Falwell speaks to the urgency of the hour. Add to this the fact that this Catholic Editor in Chief of Catholic Online would consider the speech important enough to make it the lead article, and the point is made even clearer.

All too often, people of faith find themselves bickering and quarreling over the differences in their beliefs, until anger and animosity overcome all hope of a reasonable exchange of ideas.  I have seen, much to my dismay, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exchange words of bitter acrimony with others whose beliefs challenge their own.

This is not only regrettable but counterproductive—even harmful to all parties concerned.  It is especially sad because of the great commonalities members of the Church share with other Christian denominations.  We believe and strive to follow so many of the same tenets and principles, our faith shares far more commonality than differences.

It is those shared beliefs—the sanctity of marriage, the importance of family, the necessity of freedom of religion—that we must protect when they come under assault in the public forum.  Only by setting aside our differences and banding together to stand against the forces destructive to our society will we effect any change for the better.