NOM BLOG

NOM Chairman John Eastman: "The Boy Scouts -- Is It All About the Money?"

 

Dr. Eastman, a constitutional law professor at Chapman University and Chairman of the Board of the National Organization for Marriage, is, like his grandfather before him, an Eagle Scout, and served as a volunteer adult leader in the Boy Scouts as a Cub Scout Den Leader, Cubmaster, and Assistant Scoutmaster as his son advanced through the ranks to become an Eagle Scout as well.

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Thirteen years ago, in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, the Supreme Court upheld the right of private organizations to make their own decisions about membership.  The particular issue was whether the Boy Scouts would have to accept into its leadership ranks an openly homosexual Scoutmaster, as required by New Jersey’s public accommodations law.  The organization insisted that to do so would counteract its associational view that homosexual conduct was incompatible with the requirement in the Scout Oath that one be “morally straight.”

The Boy Scouts of America recently celebrated their hundredth anniversary as an organization and of adherence to that policy even in the face of increasingly strident pressure by “gay rights” activists to abandon it.  But this past week, the national office of the Boy Scouts announced that it would likely be eliminating that policy and leaving it up to each individual sponsoring organization to determine whether to infuse homosexuality into the core of the local troop organization.  It does not take consultation with the oracle at Delphi to predict that this “house divided” solution is unstable and will not last.  Every scout and scoutmaster who moves from one council, where homosexuality was permitted, to another, where it was not, will quite reasonably expect that the local troop in their new neighborhood will accept them into the ranks.

In short, the Boy Scouts will become all one or all the other, and the tea leaves are not encouraging for those who share their century-old view.  Once the organization’s leadership has capitulated by taking an agnostic position on the question, it will become increasingly difficult for the constituent parts to adhere to the view that homosexual conduct is immoral.

The leadership of the Boy Scouts must certainly know this, so why, after decades of fight, are they throwing in the towel?  I did a little digging and fear that I have uncovered the answer.  It is not pretty.

As anyone who has been involved with Scouting knows, it is largely a volunteer organization.  The local troops are run by volunteers, who devote countless hours (“just an hour a week,” the joke goes) to supervising boys ranging in age from 7 to 17 in the running of pack and troop meetings, weekend outings and major, 2-week long excursions or summer camps, and of course, fundraising to finance the group’s activities, etc.   According to the latest IRS 990 Form available for the Boy Scouts, there were 1,111,453 such volunteers affiliated with the organization in 2010.

But the Boy Scouts is also a major corporation, with revenues in 2010 of more than a quarter billion dollars.  The “business” side of the organization is managed by 3,771 employees, from the national Chief Scout Executive down to the clerk in the local scout shop, overseen by a large, 70-person Board of Directors.  The Directors are also mostly volunteers, but the chief executives are most certainly not.  Indeed, the Chief Scout Executive in 2010, Robert Mazzuca, drew a salary of more than $1.1 million.  Regional director Tom Fitzgibbon pulled down more than three quarters of a million.  R. Tuggle, the Assistant Chief Scout Executive, pocketed $598,533.  Wayne Brock, the Chief Operating Officer: $676,545.  James Terry, Jr., the Chief Financial Officer:  $586,878.  Mike Ashline, Supply Group Director:  $311,068.  Gary Butler, Council Operations:  $411,843.  David Park, Chief Legal Counsel:  $502,483.  Bradley Farmer, Assistant Chief Scout Executive for Development:  $458,733.  Eleven national leaders of this “volunteer” non-profit organization earning more than a quarter million a year, with six of them making more than a half million a year.  I’m guessing that there are some pretty lucrative retirement plans/pensions in place as well.

So, when members of the national board, CEOs of major corporations like AT&T and Ernst & Young, start pressuring the executives at the national office to give up the fight on homosexuality in the ranks (or, presumably, risk losing the philanthropic support of those corporations) because it is not consistent with policies those own corporations have adopted for their adult employees, someone with his own million dollar salary at risk might, just might, have a personal stake at odds with the Boy Scout’s long-standing policy against interjecting homosexuality into a youth organization.

The scout executives and members of the national board need to be reminded of the tenth point of the Scout Law:  “A Scout is … Brave.”  That requires doing what is right even when it costs you, even when it is painful.  If you agree, call them and let them know your views.  The number for the national office is 972-580-2000.  Or you can contact them through their website.  Also contact your local BSA council and ask them to stand firm in opposition to this policy change.

Please do it today – the Board’s meeting is this coming week, as early as Monday.