May 23rd, 2013
06:16 PM ET

My Take: Why my family is quitting the Boy Scouts

Editor's Note: John Stemberger is an Eagle Scout and president of On My Honor, a coalition of concerned parents, Scout Leaders, Scouting donors, Eagle Scouts and others affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America who are united in their support of Scouting’s timeless values and their opposition to open homosexuality in the Scouts. Find more information at www.OnMyHonor.net.

By John Stemberger, Special to CNN

(CNN)– On Thursday, delegates to the Boy Scouts of America’s national conference met in Grapevine, Texas, to determine the fate of one of the most beloved organizations in this country’s history. This organization that has stood the test of time will probably be destroyed now that they have decided to admit openly gay boys as Scouts.

Sex and politics have no place in the Boy Scouts, and allowing open homosexuality will lead to myriad bad consequences.

First, the new BSA policy is logically incoherent and morally and ethically inconsistent. The BSA had never discriminated against homosexuals. The BSA membership application did not ask about sexual orientation, and there has never been a witch hunt in the BSA to find or remove its gay members.

Now, however, open homosexuality will be officially consistent with the Scouting code throughout a Boy Scout’s life until the moment he turns 18, when it suddenly becomes a problem. (The Scouts maintained its ban on openly gay leaders.) How does that make any sense? Will we then discriminate against that Scout after he announces his sexuality?

Further, the new policy forces every chartered Scouting unit, irrespective of religious convictions, to facilitate open homosexuality among boys in their program. The policy fails to respect or revere the religious beliefs, values and theology of the vast majority of Christian churches, which charter more than 70% of all Scouting units.

The new policy also leaves all Scouting units with no options and no legal protection if they refuse to allow open homosexuality among the boys of their units. Any Scouting unit that refuses to accept or abide by the new policy will either have their charter revoked by national BSA leadership or become fully exposed to legal attacks for alleged violations of nondiscrimination ordinances. Litigation would permeate the organization.

Most important, the new policy robs parents of Boy Scouts, like me, of the sole authority to raise issues of sex and sexuality with their kids.

Parents should have the exclusive right to raise issues about sex and sexuality with their children in their own time and in their own way, in the privacy of their homes, not brought up by other older boys around a campfire. Allowing open homosexuality injects a sensitive and highly charged political issue into the heart of the BSA, against the wishes of the vast majority of parents.

This is why my wife and I have decided to disengage from BSA and remove our children from its programs. We are concerned for the safety and security of our boys, as are many other parents who are considering leaving as well.

When it comes to young boys, parents have the final say, not the gay rights activists who pressured the BSA to fall in line with their agenda and have turned Scouting into yet another cultural battleground.

The delegates who voted for the new policy must therefore realize that the change guts a major percentage of human capital in the BSA and will utterly devastate the program financially, socially and legally.

The BSA’s own “Voice of the Scout” surveys provide solid evidence that tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of parents, Scoutmasters and Scouts will leave the program, and internal estimates project an estimated $44 million of lost annual revenue.

The Boy Scouts are one of the great jewels of American culture. And the success of the Boy Scouts of America is due in no small part to their commitment to a set of ideas and principles that have guided the program for more than 100 years.

I love the Boy Scouts and want my boys to enjoy the same great experiences as I and millions of others have had over the years. That's why I regret that Thursday's vote refused to keep sex and politics out of the Boy Scouts and stand firm for those timeless principles.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Stemberger.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture wars • Gay rights • Opinion • Politics • United States

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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.