My name is Kenneth J. Hager, and Scouting has always been my life. I am an Eagle Scout, Order of the Arrow Vigil Honor member, recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, and former national youth officer.
In the first publication of the Boy Scout Handbook, a Scout is instructed on the “Scout Virtues.” The passage reads,
There are other things which a scout ought to know and which should be characteristic of him, if he is going to be the kind of scout for which the Boy Scouts of America stand. … He should so learn to discipline and control himself[.] He should keep such a strong grip on his own life that he will not allow himself to do anything which is ignoble, or which will harm his life or weaken his powers of endurance.
There are things a Scout and the world ought to know for which the Boy Scouts of America stand. I am not willing to rewrite the union of virtuousness, morality, and sanctity for the appeasement of a few to alter this stance. I am a leader, as trained by the Boy Scouts of America, to endure – even if alone – at the precipice of utter darkness, and look into the very face of lustfulness, self-pleasure, and fallacy to stand my ground as a representative of what is good, and right, and true.
In 1986, I was born into a Scouting family in Uniontown, Pennsylvania as the only son of Carla and J. Richard Hager. My father lovingly instilled in me the virtues of Scouting and the principles of courage and boldness. Rather than a vast narrative about my upbringing, suffice it to say this of my father’s teachings: being a man requires sacrifice, integrity, discipline, and a sense of right and wrong. It also requires respect of others without forfeiting your inherent values.
Serving as a national youth officer offered me the view of a broad cross-section of Scouting and its geographically different attitudes and ideals. It would be a delusion and a lie for me to say I have not built friendships with homosexuals through Scouting or in my community. A call to love one another, however, is different from the heresy of relativism. Truths are undeniable, and to hold any other posture is to divide man from nature and from God.
To inquire why Scouting possesses membership restrictions of any kind is to inquire of truth. Regarding homosexuality, I recognize the virtues and characteristics of sacrifice as taught by my father, of the reservation against ignobility as taught by Scouting, and of discipline as taught by God Almighty.
First and foremost, there is a clear difference between homosexual orientation and homosexual acts. Whether by choice or by design, homosexual orientation does exist. Homosexual acts, however, are always volitional. The human body, as a creation of God and attached to the bounds of reality, may not be treated as a mere instrument of self-pleasure. To do so voluntarily is to damage the integrity of a person as a dynamic and sanctified unity of body, mind, and spirit. Intercourse takes place for a reason: biological and spiritual unity, procreation, and the gift of self to another.
Homosexuality does not require a sacrifice of partners. With human unions, the woman offers her body with the possibility of bearing a child, and the vow of nurturing that child. The man offers care, support, and defense of both his wife and child. This self-sacrifice does not and cannot exist in homosexual unions. Marital acts are defined by human genital intercourse. Homosexual acts, even if marital, are an act of self-pleasure exclusively and not of self-sacrifice. Scouting cannot mold boys into men without placing upon its membership some guidance of what being a man is about.
This embodiment of man and of sexual interaction is at the heart of the current proposal. Opponents of Scouting and its policies oppose Scouting because of its core purpose to empower boys to become strong-willed, sacrificial, and disciplined men. Nothing is more appalling to the opponents of Scouting than an inspired male leader who understands virtue, sacrifice, and why manhood should be preserved. Perhaps others who are sympathetic or apathetic towards the current proposal have not considered what is in the mind of the opponents of Scouting.
Scouting would surely never divest itself of its values nor would it ever alienate the very people who hold it deepest in their hearts. Those who oppose Scouting do so not because they wish to be members, but because they stand against the very purpose of Scouting. Those who are opposing Scouting today for its membership qualifications regarding homosexuals today will be the very same dissenters next week opposing Scouting because of religious purposes.
A proposal for charter organizations to set their own guidelines is a “no win” situation. A house divided against itself cannot stand. To allow chartered organizations to set their own membership guidelines – if that is to be the case – is to create a division in the national body. Scouting will lie, as a shell of its former wonder, as two broken halves without unity.
I pose several scenarios in response to the proposal whereby the charter organizations are empowered to decide membership guidelines pertaining to homosexuals.
1. Charter Organization of Troop 1 chooses to admit homosexuals. Scoutmaster of Troop 1, who does not support the change, quits. Troop 1 is left without leadership and folds.
2. Charter Organization of Troop 1 chooses to admit homosexuals. Scoutmaster of Troop 1, who is indifferent, remains. Charter Organization, in an effort to “diversify,” demands Scoutmaster take on homosexual Assistant Scoutmasters. Scoutmaster quits, Troop 1 is left without leadership, and folds.
3. Charter Organization of Troop 1 chooses not to admit homosexuals. Charter Organization of Troop 2 chooses to admit homosexuals. Troop 2 is sponsoring the Spring Camporee at the public park. Troop 1 chooses not to attend the Camporee, or alternatively, Charter Organization of Troop 1 does not permit Troop 1 to attend the Camporee.
4. Charter Organizations of Troops 1, 2, and 3 choose not to admit homosexuals. Council Camp employs homosexual Camp Director. Troops 1, 2, and 3 choose not to attend Council Camp or alternatively, Charter Organizations of Troops 1, 2, and 3 do not permit Troops to attend Council Camp.
5. Charter Organization, a non-religious organization, of Troop 1 chooses not to admit homosexuals. Homosexual Applicant applies to Troop 1, the only Scout Troop in Applicant’s town. Applicant is refused membership. Applicant sues charter Organization, as a non-religious organization and without the protections of “expressive association” afforded to the BSA at large.
6. Council, preparing for the National Jamboree, is confronted with choosing Scoutmasters for Council’s two Jamboree troops and must choose between: a) Homosexual Scoutmasters are rejected generally; b) Homosexual Scoutmasters are Scoutmasters of Jamboree Troop 1 only; c) Homosexual Scoutmasters are excepted exclusively; d) Homosexual Scoutmasters are mixed between Troops 1 and 2. Options (a-d) each result in Scouts not attending the Jamboree because of homosexual Scoutmasters.
7. Council, selecting advisers for the Order of the Arrow lodge, is confronted with choosing homosexual adults. Scouts choose not to participate in Order of the Arrow activities when Council chooses homosexual Lodge Adviser.
Further scenarios could be listed ad nauseam of how the bulk of the Scouting program centered beyond the micro level will be confounded by contentious choices that would otherwise be avoidable under the absence of a unifying national guideline.
I trust the members of our national board – many of whom I met during my tenure as a national youth officer – do not give in to vanity or emotion. There is a reality anchored in truths where Scouting is to remain, not to be set adrift in the futile search for a non-existent utopia bounded in relativism.
With absolute sincerity, I pray for the guidance of our national board in this trying time. Let Scouting’s legacy be that we stood for virtuousness, truth, and God’s eternal will.
Kenneth J. Hager, J.D.