A Dangerous Precedent?

It seems like every time I check my news feed I see half a dozen articles that piss me off.  I should really just stop reading the news, it always puts me in a bad mood.

Today I read a piece on the Huffington Post, “Why the Boy Scouts new policy on gays sets a dangerous precedent.”  Article.

Before I go into the wrongness of the article I’ll give you a little background on myself.  I was an active member in boy scouts for many years, during that time (fifteen years or so ago) were the first debates about homosexuals in scouting.  I came down firmly on the side of gay rights.  It was too early then, the changes were shot down.  Many boy scout troops are also sponsored by religious organizations, mainly Christian, something else I was not a fan of, but that was the driving force behind the ban on homosexuals in the organization.

However… I think the BSA (Boy Scouts of America) just made a step in the right direction and opinion pieces like the one in the Huffington Post are steps in the wrong direction.

To summarize the writer’s problem with the BSA, they lifted the ban on homosexual scout leaders, something that has been in place for a long time, but the BSA isn’t forcing individual troops to accept homosexuals.  In other words, it’s up to each sub group of scouts to decide whether or not to allow gay leaders.  This is a huge problem for the writer of the article because it still allows for discrimination.  He basically calls this a “cop out”, a way to side step the issue without looking like they are discriminating.

But that’s really, really a stupid way to look at things and contributes to the rising tensions between LGBT groups and religious organizations.

Look at it like this, LGBT groups want acceptance and respect for their beliefs and lifestyle… but want to force that acceptance and respect on others?  You’re a religiously sponsored scout group, well you have to accept homosexual scout leaders.  Or, if you want to broaden the argument, forcing other Christian businesses to provide services to support homosexual marriage, etc.

Wait?  Isn’t that what LGBT activists have been saying that religious groups have been doing to them forever?  Forcing their religious beliefs on society and LGBT people?

The bottom line here is that if people want others to respect them and their beliefs the first step should be respecting other’s.  We’re all different, with different experiences, expectations, and backgrounds.  Either side trying to force their beliefs on anyone else is going to create even more distance between diverse people instead of finding middle ground.  A religion has no more right to impose on others than someone else has to impose on them.

In the case of the BSA, I think they made the right call.  They lifted the ban, allowed each troop to make the decisions that are right for them, without forcing the changes on everyone.  I think that’s a win, it opens the doors to change without hammering the issue.  You can’t change decades of tradition (good or bad) and long held belief systems overnight, and trying to will only make them dig in their heels and resist even more.  Over time homosexual leaders will be more accepted and more widespread, but it’ll happen organically and without pressure.  That’s how real change is made, over time as people understand and accept them, not through legislation or force.

In the larger picture with social issues, what really needs to happen is for all these groups on both sides to step back and take a deep breath.  If everybody gives a little maybe we can all find a way to happily coexist, and isn’t that the goal?

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7 thoughts on “A Dangerous Precedent?

  1. I so totally disagree with your analysis, Id. Allowing individual scout troops to decide based sexual orientation is a slippery (and scary) slope. Our country LOVES to rank “sin”. So a scout troop won’t allow a gay man to lead but will allow an adulter? A habitual pot smoker? A child abuser? A president of a pyramid scheme? And the list goes on. If we allow exclusion based on an organization’s perception of “sin-rank” , then we need to figure out how we can call ourselves Americans. Honestly and not tryin to be heinous, but the businesses that refuse to serve others based on their own biases, I believe need to find out if gay money is different than straight. Hint: there’s no difference. 😜
    Members of LGBT communities pay taxes like the rest us. And the irony is that BSA gets tax exemptions. In my mind, they get to be bias AND get tax exemptions. I have a problem with that.

    • Then by your own argument Churches themselves wouldn’t be able to regulate themselves, since they get tax exemptions.

      And that’s a slippery slope since there are plenty of organizations that get similar exemptions. If we were to start legislating what and how those organizations were able to observe or practice their beliefs… where does the fascism end?

      The basis of our whole country is individual freedom, when we start forcing changes on various groups where does it stop? And just like I said in the post, simply legislating something into effect doesn’t change anyone’s opinion or tradition. Forcing a church or organization to behave a certain way only creates anger and friction, and how is that supposed to help anyone?

      • Ok, so. You’re talking separation of church and state. I’m totally down with that. BSA is not a church and even its name infers inclusion (boyscoutsof America).
        And yes, the tax status arguement was flawed, thanks for pointing that out, Socrates. (not). Kidding.
        But ranking the percieced flaws of others to determine leadership? That feels totally irrational. Nothing in the Scout motto or law implies organized religion.
        Years of legislating equal rights, civil rights, voting rights, etc does little to change opinion or friction, I completely agree with you there. But I also feel like knowing that doesn’t give us license to NOT legislate.
        I’m a devout member of a religious organization that is upset by this change, I also married an Eagle Scout. (it rocks!). And we still think it’s down right bigotry not to allow gay men to be scout leaders. Believing that means yes, we not only support the change, we wish it was a change that would apply to all troops who join the BSA.
        I don’t think the act of forcing change alone is what causes anger or friction. I think all the biases that inform this kind of emotive response from churches is the core issue. And I think it’s the BSA’s responsibility to be the voice of reason amongst all this adolescent-acting outcry. Churches threatening to leave BSA over this?? Totally lame. And one can make the argument that it’s against the scout oath. 😜

      • I wasn’t talking about the separation of church and state, you were the one that brought up tax law. You argued that because they get a tax break they shouldn’t be biased. There’s a difference. If the BSA were sponsored by federal or state agencies I would totally agree, but they aren’t. And if you’re going to argue that anyone getting a tax break should be forced into certain values, well, like I said, that’s a slippery slope because many different groups also get similar tax breaks.

        You seem to be fixated on this perceived flaws to determine leadership. You say that’s irrational. It’s not. We all do that everyday by evaluating the skills and traits that we appreciate in our leaders. The problem here is a difference of opinion. In those specific subgroups of scouts there is an opinion that homosexuals are blasphemous. While I don’t agree with that assessment, what makes my opinion more valid than theirs? This isn’t some kind of legitimized discrimination, it’s simply allowing each group to make a choice for themselves.

        We’re a country based around individual freedom, specifically religious freedom. While there should absolutely be laws to protect individuals from discrimination, that’s a totally different subject than mandating religious organizations change long standing beliefs.

        Forcing change is exactly what causes anger and friction. Imagine what would have happened if the BSA made this decision forty years ago? Or the supreme court marriage decision? There’d have been riots in the streets. What’s the difference in the last forty years? The popular opinion has changed, organically over time… and that’s what led the BSA, a traditionally conservative organization to make a very liberal decision.

        I think BSA is the voice of reason right now. They made a compromise that will lead to more compromises down the line. Once there are homosexual leaders for a while, once people get used to the idea and accept it, it will be more widely approved. In the long run, it might even help sway religious opinions toward LGBT rights as these different scout groups interact. Gradual popular change, acceptance, and understanding… That’s how you combat dogma, not with legislation.

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