"On my honor I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." (Boy Scout Pledge)
That has been the Boy Scout pledge since 1910 but somehow that pledge no longer means what it used to mean.
Robert Baden-Powell was the international founder of the scouting movement. A decorated war hero, Baden-Powell wrote the first book on the Scout Movement in 1908 entitled Scouting for Boys. It has sold more than 150 million copies and remains the fourth bestselling book of the 20th century.
Baden-Powell knew the role that faith played in developing young minds. He once stated that the entire scouting movement was designed to help "young people transcend the material world and go in search of the spiritual values of life." He also wrote that the aim of the scouting movement was for the "practice of Christianity" in the everyday lives of the scouts and "not merely the profession of its theology on Sundays."
Baden-Powell took seriously the admonition that, as Christians, we are not just to be "hearers of the Word" but "doers" also. In 1908 he penned these words:
"There is a vast reserve of loyal patriotism and Christian spirit lying dormant in our nation to-day, mainly because it sees no direct opportunity for expressing itself. Here in this joyous brotherhood there is vast opportunity open to all in a happy work that shows results under your hands and a work that is worthwhile because it gives every man his chance of service for his fellow men and for God. " (Scouting for Boys 1908)
It should come as no surprise that scouting continues to come under attack. Membership has been declining for the last five years. The organization's devotion to God and to morally straight living has caused several challenges to the scouts. So far, they have remained true to their mission statement. But, things are about to change.
A proposed resolution announced recently, calls for a continued ban on homosexual leaders but would allow for the admittance of gays into the ranks of membership. The resolution states that "youth membership in the Boy Scouts of America is open to all youth…" and that no one should be denied membership on the basis of sexual orientation.
This bizarre compromise satisfies no one. The gay rights crowd thinks the resolution doesn't go far enough and those who support the historical position of the Scouts wonder why same-sex attraction is alright if you are under 18 but over that age, it is unacceptable. The resolution is to be voted on in a few weeks.
Baden-Powell once made the statement "No man is much good unless he believes in God and obeys His laws." If he were in attendance next month for the vote on the resolution, there is no doubt he would wonder what had become of his idea of building godly character into young men. Let's hope the Boy Scouts keep their oath.