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Jewish World Review Feb. 21, 2001 / 28 Shevat 5761

Don Feder

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Will public rise to the Scouts' defense? -- SINCE the Supreme Court decision last June upholding the Boy Scouts of America's freedom of association, homosexual activists have waged unconditional warfare on the Scouts. More is at stake than the future of a revered institution.

Last week, the United Way of Central Massachusetts voted to withhold funding from the Scouts and other bastions of bigotry that "discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation."

Paul Mina, who heads the United Way chapter encompassing Boston's Metro-West area, hasn't been infected by such silliness. "If we stop funding the Boy Scouts, thousands of kids are going to go without the support they need to participate in a very good program," Mina comments.

If the Central Massachusetts chapter polled its 30,000 donors, how many would approve of the move? Will its new guidelines be applied across the board, by denying donations to the charities of churches that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation by refusing to solemnize same-sex unions?

Besides persuading roughly two dozen United Way chapters to cut off funding, groups like the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network are fighting the Scouts on other fronts. The Los Angeles City Council voted to sever the city's ties with the Boy Scouts, including troop sponsorship by the L.A. police and fire departments.

Public schools in Broward County, Fla., won't allow the Scouts to distribute membership fliers. A bill was recently filed in the Arizona legislature to reverse the decision of several municipalities not to allow their employees to contribute to the organization through payroll deductions.

Others are moving to fill the void. Fort Lauderdale churches raised $5,000 for the Scouts after the city stopped its funding. Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the Scouts, reports that last year an anonymous donor, who said he admired the group's stand for decency, wrote a check for $1.5 million.

The Scouts have been described as America's premier character-building organization. It instills virtues like honor, duty and patriotism in adolescents, preparing them for manhood. Writing in The Weekly Standard, Joe Loconte noted that Scouting's "approach to 'family values' is to stress abstinence, fidelity and traditional marriage as the ideal."

"The Boy Scouts of America has always taught youth the traditional values of Scouting families," the group explained in a 1994 statement. "We do not believe that a person who engages in homosexual conduct provides a role model consistent with those values."

This is not an aggressive policy. The organization takes the same don't-ask-don't-tell approach as the military. Nevertheless, leaders who are in-your-face about their sexuality are weeded out.

But nondiscrimination based on bedroom behavior has become a litmus test of righteousness for the left. Freedom of conscience will not be tolerated.

In its decision requiring the Scouts to abandon their core values (overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court), New Jersey's high court sneered that the Scouts' ban on homosexual leaders was based on "archaic moral views."

The antiquated morality of Scouting has brought us generations of boys reared to be gentlemen, adhering to an ethic of service. The progressive views of their opponents have brought us a culture resembling a bordello and, for the past eight years, the ethics of a pimp in the highest office in the land.

In shaping the identity of millions of boys over the past 90 years, Scouting has done immeasurable good (even more so in an era when kids go on shooting rampages at their local high schools). If gay activists can succeed in demonizing the Scouts and eventually bending the group to their will, anything is possible.

The action of knee-jerk United Way chapters will test how much the public is willing to endure. In a recent Portrait of America/Worldnet Daily poll, 70 percent said their favorable impression of the Scouts had either not changed or improved since learning of the group's policy of excluding homosexual leaders. Only 28 percent said they had a less favorable view. By better than a two-to-one margin, respondents said the policy was correct.

Last week, the investment firm of Morgan Stanley apologized for paying Clinton a six-figure fee for a Florida speech. Morgan Stanley was brought to its senses by the persuasive power of the dollar -- i.e., enraged investors threatened to pull their funds. If enough United Way contributors in offending chapters followed suit, it would have a similar impact. For those of us who aren't willing to lose our nation by default, it is an option.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.


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© 2001, Creators Syndicate