What Went Wrong with the Boy Scouts?

Founded in 1910, over the years the Boy Scouts of America has expanded to include the involvement of up to 2.3 million youth, both girls as well as boys, and is coordinated with the assistance of 900,000 adult volunteers. The Scouts were originally founded to “to teach patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred values” to boys.

boy scouts in nebraska

Boy Scouts in Nebraska, 1913

However, changes have been made to the Boy Scouts, starting with a new name, In 2019 the title was officially changed to Scouts BSA, and its values and guidelines have altered in the last 100 or so years. In 2010 girls were allowed to join the scouting organization. Then in 2013, the BSA between lifted any restrictions on sexual orientation and, in 2015, the BSA lifted its ban on allowing gay scoutmasters  – despite the organization’s history of sexual abuse by the same.

However, the latter was not a choice made by the BSA but forced on the organization by litigation. Let’s look at some of the history.


The Boy Scouts of America Once Furthered Morality

The expectations of a good BSA member, both the youth participants and the adult volunteers, are laid out within the Scout Oath and Law. An upstanding Scout is described as trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Each BSA unit employs activities centered around these qualities in order to strengthen the same attributes in its members.

Every Scout and Scoutmaster is expected to act in accordance with the Scout Oath and Scout Law, which call the young Scouts and adult Scoutmasters to fulfill a threefold duty: to God, to others and to themselves. The duty towards God includes following the religious instruction of those who know and serve God; the Catholic Church is in the top three organizations associated traditionally with the Scouts. All scouts should remember those who made sacrifices to ensure the safety and prosperity of its citizens. A duty towards others is fulfilled by helping those in need and having a positive attitude. And finally the last duty, towards oneself, is upheld by staying “physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight” [emphasis ours].

The US Scout Service Project very loosely defines “morally straight” merely as keeping relationships honest and open. Members are also encouraged to “respect and defend the rights of all people.” This includes clean speech and actions that adhere to one’s religious beliefs. The USSSP wraps up the importance of moral integrity by stating, “The values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.”

So, though vague in specifics, the BSA still alleges its aim is to raise virtuous men in the American community.


BSA Embraces Homosexual Scouts and Scoutmasters

In 1990, James Dale’s involvement in BSA was revoked on the grounds that homosexuals were banned from membership.

Shortly thereafter, 19-year-old Dale filed a lawsuit in New Jersey, saying that the Boy Scout’s action violated the state’s civil rights laws. After the Boy Scouts lost in the state court, the organization appealed to the Supreme Court, who oversaw the case. In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled in Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale that the BSA, a private organization, had the right to include or exclude whomever it wanted, based on the First Amendment. At the time, the organization stated that having gay Scoutmasters contradicted the Scout Oath in keeping its members “morally straight.” However, this decision was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000.

In 2013, the Boy Scouts decided to admit openly gay Scouts and in 2015 the ban on gay Scoutmasters was lifted. The organization leaves it up to each individual troop and their sponsors to decide whom they will associate with, but this hands-off approach usually leads to endorsement. In fact, BSA dedicates a whole paragraph in its eligibility requirements in becoming a Scout or Scoutmaster to those who have homosexual inclinations, encouraging them to enroll. In just a little over a decade, BSA completely reversed its values regarding homosexual members.


Turning its Back on its Top Supporters

In its actions, the BSA turned its back on many of its staunchly Christian members and in fact, the Catholic Church has been among the top three organizations working with the Boy Scouts over time. Now alternative groups that shepherd morality more closely have sprung up. But why the concern?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms homosexuality, the inclination of being sexually attracted to the same sex, is inherently disordered (CCC #2357) because the sexual act is reserved for marriage, and open to the procreation of children. It should be stressed that same-sex inclinations, though disordered, are not sinful unless acted upon. All members of the Church indeed are governed by chastity, according to their state in life. (For instance, all singles practice abstinence.)

Understanding this, the Church exhorts its members to receive those who experience same sex attraction with “respect, compassion and sensitivity” (CCC #2358) and loved as children of God. Holy Mother Church recognizes the dignity of all mankind, made in the image of God, without deviating her teaching Christ’s Gospel message. Needless to say, though, the BFA could assign your child a scoutmaster who may as a role model be a source of confusion as each learns the faith.

Sexual Perversion Within the BSA

The Boy Scouts of America, in changing its policies to include homosexuals, opened Pandora’s box. An all-male organization including gays should have secured the protection and safety of the young Scouts participating in the BSA. When looking at individual cases, as in the case of the Catholic Church, there are many situations where underage men, as in teens not boys, were preyed upon. While often termed “pedophilia,” the term can be misleading, as attacks on older boys may quantify as same-sex assaults/rapes.  To the misfortune of communities across America, over 7,000 cases of pedophilia have have surfaced to date.

An L.A. Times investigation revealed that BSA often covered up the abuser’s tracks for the sake of the reputation of the organization, endangering thousands of children’s lives. In 2012 the Oregon Supreme Court demanded that these “perversion files” go public, and since then the LA Times has built a database tracking the sexual abuse allegations found in these files, dating from the 1940’s to the 2000’s.

New cases continue to surface and the BSA had to weigh filing for bankruptcy.


BSA Continues its Downward Moral Trend

The BSA first introduced a program to protect children, called the Youth Protection program, in the 1980’s, 40 years after the first documented sexual abuse case. Only in 2003 were criminal background checks required of all new leaders, and in 2008 all leaders before 2003 were required to have a criminal background check.

In 2018, the BSA required that all leaders complete Youth Protection Training and have a background check. In addition to this, guidelines strictly outline failure to comply with the Scouter Code of Conduct, which specifically prohibits any sexual conduct with Scouts, may result in revocation of membership in BSA. Although these policies are a good step toward protecting the lives of children, they will not prove beneficial left unenforced.

Despite its history, the BSA continues to cave to ideological social pressures. In 2017, the organization publicized that it would give transgender “boys” (girls who self-identified as boys) scouting membership.

In a separate incident, the Boy Scouts also shocked many of its councils and associated organizations when it announced that condoms would be readily available at its July 2019 global convention. Scouts Canada, the Boy Scouts of America, and Asociación de Scouts de México were all compelled to participate.

Needless to say, encouraging sexual promiscuity is hardly raising the moral leaders of tomorrow.


How to Protect Your Children

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers a few suggestions on how to ensure Scouting remains safe and sticks to Catholic values at the local level (see question 10).  If one opts to remain in the BSA, it encourages a strong relationship between BSA troops and religious education programs, troop members and diocesan workers. Parental involvement in local BSA councils is highly recommended.

Courtesy: whitehouse.gov

The alternative is to seek out a new scouting organization. The USCCB also enumerates many other Scouting options that are available to young boys and girls, such as:

  • National Catholic Committee on Scouting
  • National Catholic Committee for Girl Scouts and Camp Fire
  • American Heritage Girls National Catholic Committee
  • National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry
  • National Catholic Committee of Trail Life USA

These organizations and committees essentially partner with their local church and respective Scouting administration to create a more personalized Scouting experience for their youth, focused on strong adherence to Christian values.

It is to be regretted that a once-valuable organization for the formation of young boys has degenerated into a poor ghost of itself. In deviating from its original values, it fails appallingly in promoting moral integrity in its youth.


  1. Matthew Lanser on August 1, 2019 at 10:45 PM

    I’m a former Boy Scout, Summer camp Boy Scout counsellor at age 17, inducted into the Order of the Arrow, and Boy Scout Troop Leader when my sons were growing up. I’m now a long retired School Social Worker. I was appalled at the turn scouting has taken and as a result have made no financial contribution for some years. It’s clearly Satan’s attack on our young boys for which he has prepared by corrupting our schools and society, restricting prayer and God as an offense to non-believers. I’m not afraid to say this, so publish it or not as you prefer.

    • HLI Staff on August 2, 2019 at 9:44 AM

      Matthew, thanks for your comments, and for your years of service to youth in your community.

    • Patrick Hackett on October 17, 2020 at 9:45 AM

      I Was A Boy Scout in my father was a scoutmaster decades and decades ago. Was a Christian organization we had morals and we have to abide by the rules and regulations. But then come the Satan’s Soldiers the homosexuals and I knew exactly what was going to happen to the Boy Scouts once they allow these perverts in correct I was right. Now looks what happened to the Boy Scouts.

  2. Glenn LANHAM on August 15, 2019 at 1:12 PM

    I am an Eagle Scout, circa 1986, no more association with this new perverse group!!

  3. Mary on August 15, 2019 at 4:07 PM

    In still baffled by those parishes near me who advertise BS in their bulletins. Their new guidelines and actions not to mention abuse cases should be ample proof that this group is not safe or good for boys. Sad, my former husband was an Eagle Scout and our son was in scouts too. Our daughter was also in GS and I was a co-leader if her troop. Now I would never recommend them to anyone. Join the alternative groups.

  4. Kevin B on August 15, 2019 at 5:33 PM

    I have not found where the BSA V. Dale decision was ever overturned. LGBT groups pressured corporate donors, which BSA were beholden to. Corporate donors threatened withdrawing support from BSA, which would have left them in financial ruin. The BSA executive board was stacked with pro-LGBT advocates. In 2015, the BSA board voted against the wishes of a majority of its overall membership to allow openly homosexual leaders. In summary, BSA was not forced by the courts to change their policy. They were threatened from without and betrayed from within. It was a well-executed plan.

  5. F. Wood on August 18, 2019 at 9:31 PM

    Beyton Powell would be appalled at what has become of the Boy Scouts. I will never support them until they truly return this group to what it was intended to be. So sad and wrong!

  6. David Swanson on April 7, 2020 at 4:51 PM

    I have been raised in the cub scouts advanced to the boy scouts and finaly to the us millitary,served 4 years during Viet Nam war to now living in the USA . The changes that have been pushed upon the upstanding members of our nation because of greed from our leaders not acceptable to me looking back on all the past experience I have gained in my life. I am now 65 years old and still look up to how our lives are and have changed as unacceptable, your truly a real boy scout.

  7. Robert Makosky on May 4, 2020 at 9:35 PM

    It’s a disgrace that some low life member of the homosexual community had an agenda to destroy the Boy Scouts by dragging them into court over membership and now that The BoyScouts were forced to violate their own code of ethics, they face a whole new set of problems. They must allow pedophiles to be scout leaders and now when the pedophile homosexual scout leader molests the boys on a camping jamboree, then the Boy Scouts will be sued by the parents of those boys which is no surprise there. The whole thing makes me sick.

  8. Gay and proud on June 18, 2020 at 12:13 PM

    What an amazingly dishonest column you have written. I know that this comment will last about 30 seconds, but nevertheless you need to be told. it’s my Christian duty to inform you when you are lying, reviling, slandering, and earning yourself a place on the eternal barbecue

    It’s very true that the Boy Scouts had a problem going back many many decades with scoutmasters abusing boys. The problem was for your argument was that they allowed no gay scoutmasters, no gay scouts, and no gay anything. It was preferred by the scouts that all scoutmasters be heterosexually married. I knew that because I worked for them.

    So who is doing the molesting for all of those decades? Men who would be described by themselves, their wives, their families, their communities, the churches, and the scouts as being heterosexual. Who is doing all the coverups in the scouts, for which the scouts are now paying big-time? Men who would be described by themselves, their wives, their families, their communities, their churches, and the scouts as being heterosexual.

    So who is doing the molesting for all of those decades? Men who would be described by themselves, their wives, their families, their communities, their churches, and the scouts has being heterosexual. Who is doing all the coverups in the scouts, for which the scouts are now paying big-time? Men who would be described by themselves, their wives, their families, their communities, their churches, and the scouts has been heterosexual.

    One of the reasons abuse problems continue, as they have in the Roman catholic church in particular and in many churches in general, is because people are looking for a scapegoat to blame for yet another failure of heterosexual morality. They’re willing to lie in order to slander gay people, They are willing to blame innocent people for their own failures, and feel holy at the same time.

    These facts are incontrovertible. It says worlds about your so called morality that you were willing to continue to engage in the lies because you have a political And religious agenda.

    • Steven Taylor on June 27, 2020 at 6:49 AM

      As an Eagle Scout (as of 2005) who fully supported BSA’s ban on open homosexuality, I want to thank you for writing this comment. Although my beliefs and opinions for the most part regarding that issue has not changed, you bring up a very good point. What you stated is unfortunately correct. Thanks again for your comment.

    • Paul on August 23, 2020 at 5:58 AM

      Many same-sex-attracted men hide in heterosexual relationships and in the clergy, especially in earlier years. Your conclusion is not supported by reality. Increasing acceptance of disordered behavior over the last 70 years has fueled the exponential explosion of sexual abuse – slippery slope. Only faith-based moral fortitude can turn the tide of sexual objectification and exploitation.

  9. Daniel Paul on July 23, 2020 at 5:01 AM

    Who could have seen this one coming?

    Allow homosexual perverts to take a group of small, young, boys into the woods for a week… what could possibly go wrong????
    And now, the BSA is no more. Lawsuits left and right. And, hundreds of young boys lives ruined instead of finding the leadership to become upstanding men that their parents have trusted the Scouts to provide for over 100 years.

    Get WOKE == GO BROKE. The scouts had to learn it the hard way just like hundreds of businesses did, but the real victims are always the children. These people are sick… They hate themselves, they hate GOD, and they hate everything good about America.

    As a former Scout I literally cried on the day that this decision was made… any fool could see the writing on the wall…

  10. Darin on September 2, 2020 at 12:43 PM

    I’m sorry, you can’t both point to the decline of the Boy Scouts while also pointing out that issues have been around since 1940. The logic you use could also be flipped on any situation where a heterosexual male takes advantage of an underage female. Using your logic this would tar every heterosexual man as dangerous and unworthy to be around any underage female. If you are against any group of people, that is your choice to make, but don’t try to hide behind “morally” or protecting the children. I realize you think that is what you are doing but IMO you are actually neglecting what Paul identified as the greatest of these. (Hint, it wasn’t keeping BSA morally pure)

  11. Rob on October 30, 2020 at 10:35 AM

    Daniel Paul is right on the money while Darin, who may be a homosexual trying to defend rape, pedophiles, molestation, and other horrible acts. You know why there’s not a bunch of men in the Girl Scouts it’s common sense because the men would sexually assault them, while it may not even be most men one is too many. I think the Supreme Court and defendants should sued should be held liable as well. Would they offered their children to spend a weekend in a cell or tent with a child molester? Well that’s exactly what they ruled for disgusting

    • Noah on June 19, 2021 at 7:36 PM

      Why do you assume all LGBT people are pedophiles? You act as if gay and being a paedophile are synonymous, this might be news to you; but they aren’t. Just because you like the same sex doesn’t mean you want to touch little kids. They’re are straight pedophiles and gay paedophiles. Accepting the LGBT comes with the good and bad just as it comes with accepting any other community.

  12. Cody Walls on January 15, 2021 at 9:16 PM

    This is what happens when gays are given the ability to have special treatment because they are gay. Homosexuality is a disease and should’ve never been aloud to infiltrate this organization. As the sickness grows so will abuse!

    • Imagine Lying on July 7, 2021 at 12:50 AM

      You understand that this sexual harassment and the Catholic Church is correlating so well with the sexual harassment cases in boy scouts right? Your so-called heterosexual morality strategies is not working for y’all. But you want to cover that just to find another excuse to hate a bunch of people that literally aren’t even affecting you.

  13. David on May 24, 2021 at 11:29 AM

    Why is it the church and scouts being punished for the actions of the gay community? The LBGT should be taken to court. Now the BSOA is actually bankrupt because they forced themselves onto our children and have been silent on the destruction that was entirely their fault.

    • Jesus Christ on June 19, 2021 at 7:41 PM

      They’re suing Boy Scouts for the money and the fact that they didn’t set in the right protocols. How are they going to call in the LGBT to court, just pick a couple random people? That’s like a woman being raped by a man and wanting to sue straight people. It just doesn’t make sense that a whole minority should be punished for one mans paedophilia. LGBT and paedophilia do not go in hand in hand

  14. No on June 13, 2021 at 12:41 PM

    Seeing a Catholic organization screeching, “Won’T sOmEoNe pLeAsE pRoTeCt tHe cHiLdReN!” is pretty rich.

  15. S. Barnard on July 25, 2021 at 10:37 PM

    Pedophiles are becoming more dangerous. They have their own activists working to make them a protected class. MAPS. Minor Attracted Person’s. Claiming they must be legally accepted because they are born that way. Cannot help who they are. And that their sexual preferences should also be accepted. Do you see the slippery slope getting worse. How much longer will it be before their ultimate goals are met in this “woke” country we now live in? A decade? Or less?

Leave a Comment