A Cloudy Future for Catholic Boy Scouts

I am the wife of an Eagle Scout and the mother of three Eagle Scouts. I spent many years as a Cub Scout leader, my husband did a stint as a Scout Master, and one of my sons served as an assistant Scout Master. Our family has been heavily invested in the Boy Scouts of America. Perhaps this explains why I feel so heartbroken over the Boy Scouts’ decision to allow openly homosexual boys to be members of the Boy Scouts.

When the policy change was first being discussed, the possibility of openly gay Scout leaders was considered. The national organization would take a hands-off approach and leave each troop free to restrict membership according to the chartering organization’s moral principles. This would allow the Catholic troop to ban Scout leaders living active homosexual lifestyles, while the Episcopal troop down the road could say, “no big deal” and have leaders representing the full LGBTQ spectrum.

The policy that finally emerged and was approved on May 23 retained the ban on homosexual Scout leaders but stated that sexual orientation alone would not be a barrier to boys joining the Boy Scouts. However, this loosening of the membership standards is not as broad as is being reported in the media. One of the introductory clauses states:

AND WHEREAS, 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; 

At first glance this appears to be consistent with Catholic teaching. Same-sex attraction is not a sin, but acting on such inclinations is disordered and immoral. A young man who claimed to be homosexual but lived chastely would be treated no differently than his heterosexual counterpart doing the same.

However, a Scout who insisted on engaging in homosexual acts could be barred for failing to live up to the Boy Scouts standards for virtue. Bishop Robert Guglielmone, the USCCB liaison to the Boy Scouts, was not pleased with the policy change but seemed resigned to it. Bishop Guglielmone stated it was a change that could accommodate Catholic teaching. Canon lawyer, Dr. Edward Peters, seemed to reach the same conclusion in his cogent analysis of the membership resolution.

When dealing with this issue isolated to the theoretical realm, Bishop Guglielmone and Dr. Peters are correct. However, when looking at this in the context of a real Boy Scout troop and real Catholic families, it is difficult to see how it can be workable. Consider the seemingly exculpatory clause cited above.

What constitutes sexual conduct? It would be normal for a high school age Boy Scout to post pictures on Facebook of his girlfriend. He might be seen holding hands with her. He might even be seen giving her a kiss. None of this would be considered as inappropriate sexual behavior. Now consider the Boy Scout with a same-sex attraction. Would it also be acceptable for him to hold hands and kiss his boyfriend? This policy opens the door to a Clintonian parsing of the definition of sexual relations. Will the Scout invite his boyfriend to the Court of Honor to share in the celebration of his Scouting achievements? Will other Scouts and their parents be expected to look upon this behavior with tolerance and acceptance? For Catholics, that would be impossible.

An integral aspect of Scouting is the development of leadership. Older Scouts teach and guide younger scouts. As a parent, I would not be comfortable with a high school boy who felt the need to openly declare his sexual attraction to other males being a mentor for my son.

Most parents would never allow a teenage son to share a tent with a girl, no matter how much he promised there would be no sexual activity. Propriety and avoidance of temptation demands such a prohibition. How could a Scout attracted to members of the same sex expect to be treated as one of the guys with no concern about potential sexual encounters on a camping trip? The very fact that a young man felt compelled publicly to define himself based on his sexual orientation raises the concern that he will view other Scouts from a sexual perspective. Protecting this Scout’s virtue as well as the virtue and innocence of other Scouts requires the same segregation used for coed activities.

Finally, the Boy Scouts of America have shown their hand: they can be bought. This issue came to the forefront, not because of some ideological epiphany, but because corporate sponsors of the Boy Scouts are cutting off donations in response to pressure from gay advocacy groups who oppose funding an organization that does not embrace homosexuality as normal. The Boy Scouts are trying to bend just enough to stem the loss of corporate money. There is no reason to trust that they will not compromise further in order to attract donors.

So what is a Catholic Scouting family to do? Should they go or should they stay? There is no single right answer. The National Catholic Committee on Scouting is taking a wait-and-see approach according to its public statement:

Since the change in policy will not take effect until January 1, 2014, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting has adequate time to study its effects. The NCCS will determine how it may impact Catholic chartered Scout units and activities. In doing so, we will work within the teachings of our Catholic Faith and with the various local bishops and their diocesan scouting committees.

Since there is no clear-cut moral obligation to dissociate from Scouting, current senior Scouts may just want to finish up their Scouting career and move on. Families with younger boys, however, may want to reconsider a significant investment of time and resources to Scouts.

The potential conflicts with Catholic moral teaching are not going to get easier and will most likely get worse—especially if the national leadership of the Boy Scouts provides further accommodations to those seeking to abolish any moral opposition to the homosexual lifestyle. It is time to seek other options that can be trusted to provide a strong moral formation of boys to men. Perhaps it is time for parish Knights of Columbus councils to push hard for the formation of Columbian Squires Circles as an alternative for Catholic Boy Scouts.

The Boy Scouts of America tried to preserve their financial stability by making honor and virtue a matter of opinion. By tying their principles to the shifting sands of popular culture, the Boy Scouts have forfeited their credibility as a solid pillar of moral authority. With this change in membership policy, the Boy Scouts of America today cannot be compared to the Boys Scouts of yesterday and it does not bode well for Catholic Boy Scouts of tomorrow.

Dr. Denise Jackson Hunnell is a Fellow of Human Life International. She graduated from Rice University with a BA in biochemistry and psychology. She earned her medical degree from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. She went on to complete a residency in family medicine at Marquette General Hospital, Marquette, Michigan. Upon completion of her training, Dr. Hunnell served as a family physician in the United States Air Force. She was honorably discharged. She continued to practice medicine all over the country as her husband’s Air Force career kept them on the move. In order to better care for her family, Dr. Hunnell retired from active clinical practice and focused her professional efforts on writing and teaching. She has contributed work to local and national Catholic publications as well as to secular newspapers including the Washington Post and the Washington Times. She also teaches anatomy and physiology at Northern Virginia Community College Woodbridge Campus. Dr. Hunnell serves as an elected member of the Board of Directors for the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. Other affiliations include the American Academy of Family Physicians, The Catholic Medical Association, and the National Catholic Bioethics Center. She received her certification in health care ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center in 2009. Dr. Hunnell has been married for nearly thirty years to Colonel (ret) John F. Hunnell, an Air Force test pilot. They have four children and are blessed with three grandchildren so far.
Articles by Denise:

  • David L Alexander

    First, this is an excellent article, one that nails it on the head by taking the “official” Catholic response beyond the theoretical, as has been the preoccupation of the NCCS up to now, for whatever reason. As a practicing Catholic, an Eagle Scout, and a local Scout Commissioner for nearly a decade, I decided that resigning immediately leaves me in no position to advise the local bishop on the matter, as he has expressed reservations about the BSA resolution, reservations which I share. A great deal also depends on how the resolution is implemented, and how the BSA responds to the inevitable fallout.

    As to alternatives, while any number of youth organizations may be a good thing for young Catholic men, those who leave the BSA would be best served to find an alternative that is actually a Scouting program. Such alternatives have been a fact of Scouting life around the world for decades, with countries often having multiple associations along ethnic or sectarian lines, and not always affiliated with the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), as is the BSA. One of them is the International Union of Guides and Scouts of Europe (Federation of European Scouting), or the UIGSE-FSE (uigse-fse.org). Founded in 1956 by Catholic Scoutmasters from France and Germany, they have 24 associations in 20 countries, including Canada and, most recently, the United States (northstarexplorers.org). In 2003, the Holy See granted the UIGSE-FSE canonical status as an “association of the faithful of pontifical right.” You don’t see that every day for a Catholic youth movement.

    While there are alternatives to Scouting that actually ARE Scouting, I would be loathe to make any hasty decision, and if I did, I would look to something well established, rather than try to re-invent the wheel, especially when most such efforts fail.

    Besides, a lot can happen in the next six months.

    • D Hunnell

      Thanks, David. This is excellent information. I heartily agree that we do not need to re-invent the wheel and should look at established alternatives to BSA if that becomes necessary. I was unaware of the Northstar Explorers. It is critical that our response to this membership changed be thoughtful and deliberate. A knee-jerk response will diminish our the significance of our response.

      • David L Alexander

        I am told by someone that a gentleman in Fairfax, Virginia, has already contacted the Federation of North American Explorers (FNE), the Canada-based association to which this Group belongs, in the hope of starting a Group in the DC area. I have forwarded my contact info via this someone, but have not heard back yet. I may contact them directly.

    • Old Bird

      A scout greeting to you, David. My prediction: within two years the requirement to believe in God will be gone. The scout oath will be modified to read, “I will do my best to support the government, live up to the Scout Law, and be physically healthy.” The Scout Law will drop Reverent and replace it with Tolerant.
      I wouldn’t be surprised if Boy and Girl scouts merged, then the combined organization be absorbed by the US Gov’t AmeriCorps.

      FYI, most scouting organizations in the world do not have reverent in their Scout Law. Most have something relating to caring for the environment.

      • David L Alexander


        1) It is more likely in the next two years that the restriction on adults will be removed. “Duty to God” is fairly basic to Scouting throughout the world. Unfortunately, the official BSA policy is not thought through very well, in my opinion. Many do not know that Buddhists have been in BSA for over half a century, even with their own religious award, and they do not believe in a personal God. It would be enough (and consistent with world Scouting policy) to require belief in a Higher Power, that which is larger than oneself. No, it won’t satisfy all atheists. I don’t see much pressure to do so once this little spat dies down.

        2) A merger with the GSUSA was contemplated in the 80s and 90s. (Remember the “Scouting/USA” branding? There was a reason.) Among other things, they could not agree on the chartering policy. BSA units are chartered to sponsoring institutions, which hold the franchise. GSUSA units are not. It is more likely that an option for co-ed units would be tolerated, in the next decade if one had to guess, a trend already at work in most of the Scouting world. Of the hot button issues known as the “three G’s” (gays, girls, God) I consider this one the least volatile — all things being relative. I could make the case one way or the other.

        3) The original Scout Law devised by Baden-Powell had ten points. When the BSA was established, their founders revised them to the twelve points we know today, and “brave, clean, and reverent” were added. But “Duty to God” is universal to the Scout Oath.

        • http://www.facebook.com/susan.masten.9 Susan Masten

          Actually that is not the case (that “duty to God” is universal). Lord Baden-Powell approved the use of promises with reference to a higher ideal, higher truth,
          an optional reference to God, or without a reference to God, for
          Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and

          • David L Alexander

            (Zeus? You’ve got to be kidding me.)

            While making concessions to non-Judean-Christian traditions as the Scouting movement spread, B-P nonetheless stressed the importance of a distinct moral code as a basis for the formation of young men (specifically Christian, especially in his early writings), one which was carried “across the pond” with the founding of the BSA. “Robert Baden-Powell as an Educational Innovator” is an 1997 essay by Mark Smith for London’s George Williams College.

            “Robert Baden-Powell had become concerned about the well-being of of the nation – and of particular young people … Physical ‘deterioration’ and ‘moral degeneracy’ became themes in many of the talks and speeches that Robert Baden-Powell gave …”


          • http://profiles.google.com/dcs.trad David Smith

            Dieu is derived from Latin “deus” which is in turn derived from “Zeus”. But “Zeus” comes from a proto-Indo-European word meaning “god”.

          • http://profiles.google.com/dcs.trad David Smith

            P.S. “No man is much good unless he believes in God and obeys His laws.” (Lord Baden-Powell)

    • The Truth Will Set You Free

      Take a look at Scouts of Saint George:


  • http://theeverblessed.com/ EB Admin
  • pastorneale

    I think this is actually a plot by activist gays and whoever their backer is, or backers are. There have probably been gay boy scouts for decades but they knew not to come out of the closet. Now they can, but kids can be cruel, and the first time a gay boy scout is ridiculed or bullied his parents, goaded by activist gays, will scream “sexual harassment!” Then either BSA will be sued, or more likely the organization hosting the scouts will be. Seventy percent of those hosts are churches. Churches, throw out all your troops, now! It will save you a fortune in the end.

    • marinemama

      Good point about the lawsuits. I can see it happening, which is really ironic; it was surely concern over lawsuits and over withdrawal of financial support that played a big part in the BSA decision.

    • JohnH

      The BSA hasn’t changed it’s legal protection policies. As long as the chartered organization hasn’t been officially encouraging/protecting the bullies, the chartered org will be fine. Paranoia won’t help.

  • Disappointed Mother of Boys

    Thank you for this excellent insight into the new Boy Scouts. My husband (Den leader for 6 yrs) and I have 2 Boy Scouts and 1 Cub Scout, in addition to our 3 non-scouting girls. We came to very similar conclusions and have resolved to cease our participation in Scouting. Perhaps the next few months or years could be tolerable (if we stayed), but it is only a test of time as the BSA has shown they are now a branch of the political agenda. We did consider the investment in item and money and decided it is time to leave…start fresh with courage and retain the innocence of our young boys. Thank you for your wise words!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dphilippart David Philippart


    The National Committee on Catholic Scouting:

    • Scouting is still the best youth-serving program available to all youth

    •We should be encouraged that the change in BSA’s youth membership standard is not in conflict with Catholic teaching

    •We need to use this opportunity to show our commitment to making Catholic Scouting a safe environment for all youth in which the Catholic faith is taught, practiced and nurtured.

    • D Hunnell

      Mr. Phillppart, while I appreciate the opinions of Mr. Martin, the chairman of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, the statements you quote above are exactly that, Mr. Martin’s opinion. The first statement is certainly up for debate in light of the recent membership changes. With regards to the second statement, I hardly think the fact that the membership change is not as bad as it could have been is cause for celebration. Finally, every Scout must be treated with dignity. There should be no tolerance for bullying any Scout on the basis of sexual orientation, disabilities, appearance, etc. But no Catholic Scout should be expected to accept homosexuality as normal. Treating persons with same-sex attraction with dignity does not imply that homosexual behavior must be condoned and tolerated. Thus the point of my article. While it is easy to assert this policy is in concert with Catholic teaching such a narrow view ignores the practical implications.

  • Bill Foley

    Wonderful article. I think Dr. Peters left out common sense in his article; also, he quotes the Catechism about not discriminating, but he should have studied the Vatican document of July 1992, Some Considerations Concerning The Response to Legislative Proposals on Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons, which states that just discrimination is fully condoned, e.g., military, teaching, etc. Who wants their 11-year old son in a tent with a 17-year old open about his same-sex-attraction disorder!

    • Luke Jenson

      I am an Eagle Scout, and at no point in my years of scouting have I ever witnessed that type of age discrepancy in tent assignments (which were almost always voluntary among the scouts, so friends tented with friends). Your hypothetical is purposely alarming (“watch out! the deviant 17 year old scout is going to trick the 11 year old into sexual acts!”) but lacking in practicality, which was the point of this thread.

      • M Chenevey

        I have been involved as an adult leader for years and I have seen older Scouts assigned to tent with younger Scouts in order to “teach” them. I objected that this was an all around bad idea but the SM thought otherwise.


    Columbian Squires are not scouts. It is a boring insurance organization. What is exciting for a boy to know the names of the state K of C officers?

    How are the boys going to be protected from abuse? The boys do not follow the child abuse protection guidelines. Those are for the leaders only.

    No, if the BSA goes under even more, than we form the Catholic Scouts of America and associate with the European scouting organization, FSE. We participated in such a scouting organization in another country and the boys loved it. It was very Catholic and they had to work hard on their campouts. They also did a lot more music and theater on the campouts and in the meetings. Can you imagine: the scouts all came together and had their own orchestra and full choir which sang and played in competitions, just like in the Sound of Music. It was a much fuller experience.

    • http://profiles.google.com/dcs.trad David Smith

      The FSE’s member association in North America (Canada, United States, and Mexico) is the Federation of North-American Explorers. http://www.fneexplorers.com/

  • Ed Peters

    Hello Doc. Good article, though I would not say that my comments were
    limited to the “theoretical” for I assessed the actual language of the
    policy, and that’s all I assessed. You go on to discuss other topics,
    and I think you do it rather well. I do wish, though, some folks below,
    e.g., Bill Foley, would read the BSA policy itself (not media rephrasing
    of the policy), what I actually said about it, and show me how ANY thing I said violates common sense, let alone Church teaching. Anyway, I can only control what I write, now how people read what I write.

    • D Hunnell

      Welcome Dr. Peters. Glad to have you stop by. When looking at this policy decision, it needs to be evaluated in two ways. I think your essay written last week is the best analysis I have seen on what the resolution on membership actually says. You are absolutely right in determining that nothing in the words of the resolution are contrary to Catholic teaching. That is the first level of evaluation. To be fair, you did say in your article that people could not be faulted if they choose to leave Scouts over this issue so I do not think you ignored the practical consequences. I hoped in this article to explore in more detail what this policy looks like in actual practice. It is there that things get very tricky. Again, thank you for your contribution to the discussion.

    • Mark Mathias

      Maybe the policy doesn’t contradict Church teaching directly, but it certainly violates common sense. The phrase “any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting…” is false, depending on the definition of sexual conduct. Holding hands in our society has sexual overtones except between the very young (say, age 5), and yet most Catholics faithful to Church teaching would not consider it immoral between persons of the opposite sex, but would consider it immoral between persons of the same sex.

      • Mark

        Really? Show me where the Catechism or ANY document addresses the “morality of hand-holding.”

        As far as I know, the only bright line Catholic moral teaching draws is at marriage. There are things allowed only after that. Anything allowed beforehand is, apparently, equally non-controversial for everyone.

    • LeticiaVelasquez

      The problem with your opinion, Dr Peters, is that it becomes the basis for policy making when, with all due respect, Dr Hunnell’s opinions are more practical and should have been taken into consideration. The problem with celibate clerics is that they tend to be a bit over- theoretical and should learn to listen to laymen who have spent some time in the trenches of family life. What looks good on paper often turns out to be a nightmare in reality.

      • Ed Peters

        Will someone else please say it? Please, folks, don’t make me say it. The problem with this sort of ad hominem response to me is hilariously obvious. Please someone else point it out, okay. Best, edp.

      • The Gadfly

        Nota Bene: Dr. Ed Peters is not a celibate cleric. He is a married lay person, who has “spent some time in the trenches of family life.”

  • Robert Bledsaw III

    Catholic Scouts of St. George is getting off the ground in response to this issue. Check them out. They need volunteers to help jump start this.

    • Robert Bledsaw III
      • David L Alexander

        While Dr Marshall is leading a valiant and well-intentioned effort, the reality is that a multi-national Catholic scouting association was founded more than a century ago, and has canonical status. There is, unfortunately, an impression being propagated that the FNE is co-ed. While it does have boy and girl members, their units and activities are organized separately.

  • Marinemama

    Thank you so much for your article, Dr. Hunnell. My husband and I have been involved in Scouting for many years as adult leaders and have a son who is an Eagle Scout and another whose road to Eagle ended when he left for the University of Notre Dame at 16. We are concerned, as you are, with not only the moral aspects of the BSA decision but with the practical implications you cite. I expressed the same concerns, both as the representative of the charter organization and as an individual, to our local council and to national. We’re both disappointed and disgusted that he Scouts have caved, and we do fully expect that this isn’t over. Next the gay activists will be after the inclusion of homosexual adults in the program, and surely duty to God will soon follow as the subject of attack. Even more distressing is the failure of the Catholic Committee on Scouting, and the USCCB, to take a firm and courageous stand. It seems like another instance of the shepherds failing the sheep.

  • Seejay

    Well said. Dr. Peters analyzed canonical hypotheticals.
    But in the real world thinking fathers and mothers know this will amount to the introduction of sanctioned and uninhibited sex-talk and social sexuality in a children’s program.
    Only fools, canonists, and corporate endowment funded BSA leaders want children in that hypothetical tent.
    Otherwise, mothers and father protect your children! Protect their innocence! Stand up for something that is right, not ‘ok.’ Say not to a license to child sexuality by shaking the dust from your sandals of the BS of A.
    God will smile on you.

    • Mark

      For goodness sake, what exactly do you imagine happening? Concretely? You talk about theory versus practice, but the alleged theoretical evaluation of people like Dr Peters actually seems a lot less vague than the “practical” concerns being expressed.

      Newsflash: there have always been gay boys in scouting. Second newsflash: there have also, especially in the past 15 years, been more or less openly gay boys in troops that didn’t think it was a big deal and took no action.

      What, concretely, do you think is going to happen? Do you think that these boys haven’t already been exposed to the idea of homosexuality in their schools, in the media, on the internet, from their peers? Do you think keeping gays out of Scouting is going to do anything, concretely, if there are out gay boys in their classes at school?

      Also, do you think that there isn’t already a strong undercurrent of “sex talk” among groups of boys put together? There is. And it isn’t all unambiguously heterosexual either, even among boys who are or will be straight. Trust me, in scouting there is (if out of earshot of the adults) plenty of vulgarity and subsequent giggling, sexual information and misinformation propagated among the boys, there are gay jokes, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” type exploration in tents and cabins, “truth or dare” sessions with dubious outcomes, all sorts of innuendo and titillation and general coming-of-age angst. Anyone who has ever been part of or around a group of boys knows how much sex is already in the mix. As I said above, in such a situation, I’d be more worried for the safety (emotional and physical) of the gay boy, not the “innocence” of the straight boys.

      • seejay

        Perhaps Mark, and that immature tent practice — and worse (expressing any and all “orientations” and any and all “preferences”) is now official policy.

        You can do what you want.

        But for many families including my family that’s a, “No thanks.”

      • LeticiaVelasquez

        Mark, of course boys who are in scouting have been exposed to homosexuality, especially if they are in public school or have even watched TV. No doubt they have seen murders, rapes, drug use and robbery too. The idea of Scouting was and is character formation, and parents have a duty to keep their sons in the best company possible, and with the most morally upright adults they can find. Lowering standards so that confused boys can find acceptance, while putting others in danger of losing whatever innocence they have left, is hardly the answer.

      • Jambe d’Argent

        Making the moral rot an official policy is not really helpful.

      • David L Alexander

        Third newsflash: Experienced Scout leaders already know this, and have been able to use their discretion with the boy’s parents and spiritual leader, to facilitate guidance in a time of sexual confusion that is not unheard of in adolescence. What IS unheard (or at the very least, extremely rare) is a Scout being kicked out for an accidental discovery of being gay. We used to have those kind of options. Starting next year, we only have one. Fourth newsflash: Some of those Scouters were once Scouts themselves, including this one.

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  • Mark

    I don’t quite understand you here. Holding hands, even kissing a girlfriend would be fine, and would not constitute sexual behavior for a straight scout, and this is apparently obvious. But doing the same thing would be “sexual behavior” for a gay scout, and to say otherwise is “Clintonian parsing”? It seems to me that something is either sexual behavior or it isn’t. If holding hands or even light kissing is not inherently unchaste for unmarried teenagers (indeed, teenagers unlikely to ever be married, given how teen relationships go), it seems hard to imagine how it could be for ANYone. To make a distinction here for a same-sex pair seems, then, not rooted in any objective moral maxim, but only in bigotry or at the very least a sort of invalid “hypervigilant over-extension” of moral ideas; I know of no teachings of the Catholic Church regulating hand-holding, kissing, or the hardly-sacred institution of the teenage sweetheart.

    And this stuff about needing to segregate people for propriety and the protection of everyone’s virtue is just moral panic. First, lots of parents don’t have an absolute problem with opposite-sex socialization anymore, even in settings that would have previously been considered too intimate. Have things happened? Of course. And parents need to be careful. But they also know how to apply common sense nowadays, and realize that people really do have platonic friendships that there is simply no worry about. It is always an amusing phenomenon when heterosexuals assume homosexuals are attracted to ALL members of their preferred sex. Combine that with the fact that this would be in a group setting in which the gay boy would likely be the only one, and there is no real fear of anything happening; the straight boys won’t want to go along with anything, anyway, and knowing the boy is gay will probably be extra careful to be modest. If anything, I’d worry about the gay boy’s safety, not the safety of the straight boys. Nothing is going to happen to them. Indeed, isn’t it better to KNOW that a homosexual is present?

    Which is the final point: banning openly gay scouts doesn’t actually prevent homosexuals from being in the tent with your boys, it just prevents them from being known. It’s not a recipe to keep scouting free of any tinge of homoerotic dynamic, merely to keep it all repressed and denied and underwraps. Hardly useful.

    • cestusdei

      Kissing another boy in a romantic way is morally wrong according to Catholic teaching. The point of the article is how long can we say that in the BSA? Those parents who do have a problem with this kind of behavior are being driven out of the organization at the behest of the 2% of the population who are homosexual and demand approval from everyone no matter what. This is just another example of homosexual activists destroying something that is good and wholesome. How long are we, the 98%, going to put up with this?

      • Mark

        “Kissing another boy in a romantic way is morally wrong according to Catholic teaching.”

        Again, I’d like to see the document or teaching which discusses the morality of the (relatively recent) construct of “romance” or the morality of kissing.

        As far as I know, the only “line” Catholic morality draws is for those things that are only appropriate after marriage. If a kiss is lustful, that is to say if it involves or is motivated primarily by sexual arousal, then it is forbidden for anyone who isn’t married (including people in serial ‘dating’ relationships). If it is not objectionable on THOSE grounds, however, it is unclear what other line you are drawing to divide “premarital” acts like this.

        • http://profiles.google.com/dcs.trad David Smith

          Most of the Church’s moral teaching (probably 90% or more) is not found in documents or catechisms.

    • misterheche

      Anthony Esolen has a good essay on this issue (linked below)and captures the reality that there are so-called “chaste” behaviors that derive from one’s sexuality (holding hands, professions of love, etc.).

      If one assumes that such “chaste” behaviors are not banned under the new boy scout policy it seems clear that a male scout engaging in such behaviors with another male (perhaps even a another male scout) would not violate Boy Scout rules. Such behavior would, however, violate Church teaching, becuse the behavior is homosexual by nature.
      Thus, it seems to me that the new rule is incompatible with Church teaching, and the concept of Catholic Boy Scout troops is no longer possible.

      Esolen’s essay:


      • Mark

        Once again, show me a document. If a behavior can be considered chaste outside of marriage, I know of no Catholic moral principle that draws any other lines besides marriage. You seem to be attempting to draw a line that makes certain premarital “heterosexual” behavior okay (even though many of these relationships end and don’t lead to marriage) but makes the same behavior wrong if it is “homosexual.” As far as I see, however, Catholic moral teaching draws one line: marriage. Not two.

        • http://profiles.google.com/dcs.trad David Smith

          One of the saddest things about the prominence of the homosexual movement is that behaviors that would have once been considered chaste (e.g., boys holding hands) really aren’t.

          A young man kissing his lady friend and holding her hand is chaste behavior, yes, but only because these acts are ordered toward marriage. A young man kissing another young man — what, in our society, could that possibly be ordered toward? It’s not male friendship and brotherhood.

  • http://22Catholic.com/ Matthew P. Schneider, LC

    I agree with your analysis and had done a similar analysis on my blog previous to the decision.

    However, I think we need to go beyond just complaining: let’s promote the positive alternates that are out there. Many go beyond just this policy to make Catholicism an integral not accidental part of the program. I blogged 3 possible options a few months back and someone added a 4th in the comments. http://22catholic.com/?p=150

    • http://profiles.google.com/dcs.trad David Smith

      Unfortunately, none of those organizations could be described as a scouting organization.

      • misterheche

        Taylor Marshall is aggressively working to create an authentically Catholic scouting organization, to be called the “Catholic Scouts of St. George.”

        He has made much progress in a short time.

        Details here:


        AND HERE:


        AND HERE:


      • http://22Catholic.com/ Matthew P. Schneider, LC

        I’m not sure exactly what you mean by a “scouting organization”. They are not exactly like scouts but I think they are similar. I was a cub scout in Canada as a kid and have directed Conquest as an adult and can say that the boys’ experience seems similar – the biggest difference being that my scout troop was secular and this is Catholic.

        • http://profiles.google.com/dcs.trad David Smith

          Isn’t Conquest for boys 11+? That is usually the age at which they’re leaving Cubs behind and moving into the patrol method.

          • http://22Catholic.com/ Matthew P. Schneider, LC

            No Conquest is 5-18
            The parallel girls program, called Challenge, focuses on the 11-18 age bracket and when they are presented together the younger conquest ages will usually get only a brief mention.
            Age brackets:
            * 5-7 (K-2)
            * 8-10 (3-4)
            * grade 5-6
            * grade 7-8
            * High School (personally I hope we can split this 9-10 and 11-12 in the next few years but we still need to prepare the material)

          • http://profiles.google.com/dcs.trad David Smith

            My apologies Br. Matthew. I was thinking of this (from the Conquest web site): “Membership in a Conquest club is reserved to those between the ages of 11 and 16.” If Conquest is similar to cub scouting, then the program really needs to be developed in order to appeal to older boys who have been involved in other scouting organizations.

          • http://22Catholic.com/ Matthew P. Schneider, LC

            Thanks for the heads-up. I need to tell the webmaster.
            5-10 year-olds are like tiger or cub scouts; they are considered Conquest “programs” rather than the club itself.
            It used to be up to 16 but that was switched to 18.
            I admit our audience is a little different. We often market as a Catholic youth ministry program.

  • http://sfomom.blogspot.com/ Barb S

    My husband has resigned as a Boy Scout leader and has removed our younger son from the troop. Several issues: what of the boy who doesn’t want to share a tent with an openly homosexual Scout on a camping trip? You know who’d be the one penalized there… Also, Eagle Scouts, once 18, are considered Assistant Scoutmasters. It’s a matter of time before some of these young men demand to continue as leaders despite open homosexuality. My husband said the same as you–the BSA has proven that they can be bought.

  • misterheche

    The tent issue raised by Dr. Hunnel is an important one, and to my knowledge is an issue the Boys Scouts did not address.

    As Dr. Hunnel notes, no reasonable adult would think of putting teenage males and females into a tent together overnight due to privacy issues and also the temptations that would ensue.

    What then about the boy scout who suffers from same-sex inclinations? By the same reasoning he could not be assigned a tent with other boys, be they straight or gay. Would he get his own tent? How awkward would that be for both him and the troop?

    It seems that there are many practical details that have to be worked out, and the more one thinks about the rule change, the more difficult it is to reconcile the change to Catholic teaching and morality.

  • LeticiaVelasquez

    Excellent analysis; I agree wholeheartedly.
    As a former public high school teacher, I would bring out one further point. Once homosexual boys are in the Scouts, the homosexual activists will further insist that the BSA include ‘anti-bullying’ measures which are effectively apologetics for their lifestyle. Look at the outrageous programs which have been implemented in public schools; girls instructed to kiss other girls in class, cross-dressing days at school, etc. Once you allow self identifying homosexuals, you are admitting a re-education program and what’s worse, a penalty imposed on those who would oppose it on ideological grounds. They will be silenced and isolated as ‘homophobes”. I wish the bishop and academics who saw inclusion as a good thing would re-visit this ill advised decision, or l will have to assume that they learned nothing from the sexual abuse scandal in the Church.

  • Jambe d’Argent

    The door has been opened a crack; it is only a matter of time for the whole edifice to come down. Keep away or be buried under the rubble.

  • Gene Leader of 20+years

    Interesting article, but, as in most arguments, it takes the gay issue to extreme.
    Let me point the other direction – namely the heterosexual scout who does drugs and sleeps with girls outside of the scouting program. These boys are not excluded from the scouting program as long as their outside activities do not affect the program. I have seen the same with adult leaders that I have encountered.
    The Boy Scout policy up to now on the gay issue excluded a child from the program simply because they are gay. If their gay tendencies do not affect the program, then we simply are serving another child.
    Many examples presented of a gay older boy hitting on a younger non-gay boy are examples of pedophilia, which is a crime and against scouting policy.
    The policy to this point was to eliminate any child who is, or is even suspected of being gay. In effect the policy to this point has been “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

  • The Truth Will Set You Free

    Dr Taylor Marshall’s Scouts of Saint George may be the answer:


  • helgothjb

    Should we leave scouts if openly sinful boys are allowed to join? How about working with them by loving them were they are at and refusing to leave them there. If a boy refuses to attempt to live the ideals of scouting, then he should be asked to leave. I’m certain this has been pushed to a degree by the gay lobby. However, I’d have to agree with BSA that it is better for a boy to be in scouts (assuming it is a troop run by leaders that share the ideals of scouting and the Catholic faith – which is becoming increasingly more difficult to find) than not. It seems the sexual sins are the ones that get all the press, yet other sinful behaviors are far worse and more damaging. Everyone yells about the homosexuals but let other, far worse, things go. Seems to me there is something not so Christian going here. Do these same families refuse to let their boys take part in sport teams, public education, theater groups, etc.? Many think the BSA has some sort of control over the individuals troops and packs that they simple do not hold. As with anything, base your involvement with a prayerful and reasonable assessment of the leadership and families involved at the local level. Then trust God with the lives of your children.

  • D Hunnell

    The commenters “helgothjb” and “mark” bring up some points that need to be addressed. First, “helgothjb” asks if it is Christian to expel a boy from Scouts because he openly admits he is sinful. Also, if parents do not remove their sons from sports, theater groups, or other clubs because of gay members, why worry about Scouts? Mark says there have always been gay Scouts so what does this policy change? The answer to each of these commenters begins with the new Boy Scout policy “normalizes” homosexuality. To address “helgothjb”, we are all sinners. And we each have a multitude of sins with which we struggle. Homosexual activity is a serious sin. I do not believe that anyone is anxious to expel a boy just because he is struggling with any sin–same-sex attractions, pornography, sloth, or habitual lying–as long as that boy understands such behavior is wrong and is seeking to grow in holiness and sin no more. A boy with such an attitude is probably not going to come into a troop, announce he is gay, and openly advertise his same-sex attractions. Under the new BSA policy, if a boy comes into the troop and proudly declares he is gay, fellow Scouts and leaders are expected to say, “That’s wonderful!” That is a response that is impossible for Catholics. We are called to love and extend mercy to every sinner. What we cannot do is call good, that which is evil.

    In answer to Mark’s concerns about accepting behaviors such as hand-holding between a heterosexual couple and not between a homosexual couple, I think again this has to do with the acceptance of homosexuality as “normal”. Not every specific behavior is addressed in a Church document, but we can still judge the morality of behaviors not addressed based on principles that are addressed. Church teachings are clear that homosexual sexual relations are always immoral and disordered. Hand-holding and a light kiss, while chaste are still sexual in nature. They are a chaste prelude to more intimate relations. Not every couple who holds hands will progress to conjugal relations but their behavior suggests the possibility of such progression. Within the marital relationship, such progression is moral. Hand holding and kissing between two boys sill project the progression to more intimate relations but these relations can never be moral.

    • http://profiles.google.com/dcs.trad David Smith

      It’s amazing how people don’t consider the ramifications of what they’re saying. Courtship is an occasion of sin, but one that is necessary in western society for marriage. Since homosexuals cannot marry one another (and I hope I need not explain the reasons why) it follows that any dating between same-sex couples must be forbidden.

  • EdinburghEye

    What if your sons were gay? Wouldn’t you want them to be supported and happy and grow up to be decent men who fell in love and got married? Why should young gay men have to lie and be dishonest about their feelings in order to stay in the Scouts?

  • jwrwau

    The reality is that having gay scouts is a burning issue for some parents and theologians but for the boys it is a non issue. Scouts are in it for the camping. Furthermore, whether you want to admit or not, our children are successfully coping with gays in their school, neighborhood, and community. Most have no trouble have no problem looking past sexual orientation and seeing them as simply people. Perhaps there are a few things we could learn from our children.

  • Tony

    Excellent article.
    My answer is straightforward: Get them out. The BSA has denied the very principle of its existence.
    I saw yesterday a picture of two good looking, smiling teenage boys, one with his hands held gently on the hips of the other. They were voted “Cutest Couple” at their high school prom.
    What about that, you daft, cowardly, or duplicitous leaders of the Boy Scouts of America? You don’t find that picture to be sick, and heartbreakingly sad? You’ve forgotten what boys ARE, yet you still want to call yourselves the BOY Scouts? If you do find that picture sick and saddening, then would you please explain why, and please continue to explain why one of those boys in that picture would be just a peachy-keen scout and a model for the younger boys, just so long as he doesn’t engage in sodomy, so far as you know?
    If you DON’T find that picture sick and saddening, then not only do I think it is criminal and hardhearted to expose vulnerable younger boys to the example of one of these boys — I don’t think you should be around them, either.

  • mom of boys

    A Catholic alternative to scouts is forming called Scouts of St George – check it out!

  • Hunnell = Coward

    If Denise Hunnell couldn’t complain about what other people were doing,
    she would have nothing to write about. This holier-than-thou woman lives
    to sit in judgement of others. Like the Pharisees that Christ so often
    mocked, she loves to point out how others are sinning, while at the same
    time ignoring her own far greater sins.

    Indeed, if Denise
    Hunnell needs to, she will just assume someone sinned in order to
    satisfy her overwhelming desire to judge others. Here is a case in
    point. Take a look at something Denise Hunnell recently wrote:


    Hunnell saw a young woman lawfully protesting in the street. Despite
    the fact that Dr. Hunnell’s religion teaches that detraction and rash
    judgments are grave sins, Denise Hunnell went on to tell her readers
    that she suspected that this young protestor had undergone an abortion
    herself. Denise Hunnell didn’t know this woman, and she certainly had no
    basis to reach the conclusions that she did; but that didn’t stop Dr.
    Hunnell from looking down her nose at this young woman and concluding
    that this woman was angry because she was a baby killer.

    Hunnell, you ought to spend more time thinking about your own sins and
    less time concerning yourself with what organizations like the Boy
    Scouts are doing.

  • Hunnell = Coward

    If Denise Hunnell couldn’t complain about what other people were doing,
    she would have nothing to write about. This holier-than-thou woman lives
    to sit in judgement of others. Like the Pharisees that Christ so often
    mocked, she loves to point out how others are sinning, while at the same
    time ignoring her own far greater sins.

    Indeed, if Denise Hunnell needs to, she will just assume someone sinned in order to
    satisfy her overwhelming desire to judge others. Here is a case in
    point. Take a look at something Denise Hunnell recently wrote:


    Denise Hunnell saw a young woman lawfully protesting in the street. Despite
    the fact that Dr. Hunnell’s religion teaches that calumny, detraction and rash
    judgments are all grave sins, Denise Hunnell went on to tell her readers
    that she suspected that this young protestor had undergone an abortion
    herself. Denise Hunnell didn’t know this woman, and she certainly had no
    basis to reach the conclusions that she did. But that didn’t stop Dr.
    Hunnell from looking down her nose at this young woman and concluding
    that this woman was angry because she had killed her baby.

    Denise Hunnell, you ought to spend more time thinking about your own sins and
    less time concerning yourself with what organizations like the Boy
    Scouts are doing.

  • Seamus

    Denise Hunnell, why do you delete those posts that are critical of what you write?

  • bluesuede

    Excellent article. Very articulate. Why do big corporate donors have to be the achilles heel of the BSA? In the early years of scouting, was it so dependent on that kind of funding? I agree with you, to look for a more trusted scouting organization and let them have it the way they want it.

  • nobamanation

    One way I could see this becoming a positive decision is if the BSA began a program to help boys learn to recover from their same-sex attraction. It would be an opportunity to be a positive influence on boys having those difficulties early in their formation.

  • tim

    I am disturbed Dr. Hunnell by this article- “no single right answer”. You addressed numerous Catholic based reasons to leave Scouting immediately and then wimped out by giving alternatives. I, a scouting person for 20 years or so, will as of this day never give any positive consideration to a scout leader or eaqle scout who remains after this date. To not leave is a cave in as it has been in all the other situations here in America where Catholics say we don’t care what you do (that is if you are going to hell) as long as you let us do our thing. Selling out of principles by BSA leaders and the potential near occasion of sin isn’t enough? BSA is mostly units supported by Churches and apparently the Corporations for a Gay America. The Catholics sold out for free textbooks in the schools and now they need Corporate Gay America to fund the boy scouts. Wow! What does it take for Catholic to see we have to be counter cultural and it is at a cost thought the rewards are much greater in eternity than those of obtaining of eagle scout.

    As for the Bishops and Theologians they are not living or preaching in the real world. Our Bishop here in Buffalo basically says business as usual after this change and boys should as always remain chase. No problem! Why was I asked to petition the Boy Scouts not to make the change when it wasn’t going to make any difference? Oh the devil is in it but most just can’t see that. Remnant Church is a coming…

  • Lori Hruy

    Great article. Though none of my boys were scouts, this still hits close to home because it is agonizing to watch the world complicate something that should be a healthy male fraternity for boys to develop into healthy men without the “noise” of the present day cultural pressures. The Catholic Church has a great fraternal organization in the Knights of Columbus that is always looking for recruits from the younger generation. What if there were a junior ‘Knights of Columbus” organization that fosters the same kind of experiences the boy scouts offer and leads into service in the church with the regular Knights of Columbus as they mature, if they desire to serve in that capacity. It seems like a great opportunity to tie the two organizations together for the good of the Church and no ‘worldly’ influences complicating a boys organization with matters that do not pertain.

  • Michael Chandler

    Just my two cents, but letting self-identified homosexual boys in the BSA isn’t a big deal *provided* that they leave their gay lifestyle and values out of the BSA as soon as they step in. I hate saying this, but my impression overall is that Catholics and Christians are generally rude and all that to anyone who identifies as homosexual, bisexual, or transgender. Guess who says Catholics and Christians are “afraid of gays?”

    Their coming into the BSA may be the only chance we have to share our Christian heritage. With kindness. Like we really believe these poor souls are also good people just like us. “I’ll leave the BSA because they just caved to the homosexual lobby” is really saying “I can’t stand gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders–they won’t be part of my life or my son’s!” So you’ll not be a good person in a sexually confused person’s life?

    It’s understandable, but the BSA haven’t fully caved yet (aka, promoting gay lifestyle to exclusion of life lessons). All that’s changed is that homosexual boys are allowed in. How about we show everyone they are good people like us? Stigmatizing and avoiding gay children is exactly what the radical homosexuals need to prove “Christians are homophobic.”

    I propose we simply make it clear: *All* are welcome in this place. We expect everyone will be well-behaved, and sexual activity will not be tolerated regardless of sexual preference. Should we prosecute homosexual boys if they break the rules? No, just dismiss them for breaking the rules. Of course their parents will have a problem with it, but make it clear up front the rules will be enforced and no one gets special treatment.

    I’m not convinced we should discuss homosexuality with the boys since anything about sex is the parents’ responsibility. We’re here to teach the boys life lessons and their Christian heritage, right?

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