By Melany Gardner
May 22, 2015

Rights of the Chartered Organization central in Gates’ speech at National Meeting

The National President of the Boy Scouts of America, Dr. Robert Gates, spoke Thursday at the National Annual Meeting on possible policy changes regarding BSA membership standards which resulted in a mix of emotions and media coverage across the country.

Watch or read the full speech HERE.

Many of the news sources focused on Gates’ comments on the political and judicial changes taking place in the country, including internal challenges and potential legal conflicts that “could end up with a broad ruling that could forbid any kind of membership standard, including our foundational belief in our duty to God and our focus on serving the specific needs of boys.”

As difficult as Gates’ comments may have been for some, I’d like to focus on the latter half of Gates’ talk—the part that the gives me hope in the face of these potential changes—that would allow 70% of the BSA to make their own membership standards for the leaders of their boys: the rights of the chartered organization in the BSA and the protections for religious freedom under the First Amendment.

What is a chartered organization and what are their rights in the BSA?

churchA chartered organization is any organization that chooses to partner with the BSA to focus on helping young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values and principles taught in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Examples of chartered organizations include religious, civic, and educational organizations. Each of these organizations have specific objectives they are trying to accomplish as part of their mission to help youth and use the Scouting program as a tool to realize these objectives.

The responsibilities and rights of the organizations are listed in the Annual Charter Agreement that is signed by both parties when the charter begins and every year following the organizations charter with the BSA. The most important point in the Annual Charter Agreement to mention here is that chartered organizations have the responsibility and right to choose their own unit leaders. Click here for more information about chartered organizations.

Chartered Organizations determine standards for Scout leaders

Consistent with these rights and privileges, Gates said that the BSA must ultimately change their membership policy, allowing the chartered organizations to have the final say in determining their own standards for their Scout leaders.

“Such an approach,” he said, “would allow all churches, which sponsor some 70% of our Scout units, to establish leadership standards consistent with their faith.”

Gates said that he would support a policy “that accepts and respects different perspectives and beliefs, allows religious organizations—based on first amendment protection of religious freedom—to establish their own standards for adult leaders, and preserves the Boy Scouts of America now and forever.”

“We must, at all costs, preserve the religious freedom of our church partners to do this,” he said. “Our oath calls upon us to do our duty to God and country.”

Moving forward

Den MeetingKeep in mind that there is no official change in policy at this time and the issue will continue to be reviewed at every level of the BSA. Gates’ comments have opened the dialogue for further considerations on the membership policy.

“For now, I ask that in the days and months ahead, everyone here reflect and pray on our path forward,” Gates said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest BSA chartered partner, mentioned in their statement  that they will also be monitoring the discussion on the issue.

Despite the dialogue going on around us, Scout leaders can know one thing—they are saving and changing lives. In a world of conflict and change that can shake us off our feet, Scouting is needed more than ever in the lives of our young men.

Gates said in his closing remarks, “Every day, in every community in America, Scouting is changing the lives of boys and young men—teaching them skills and leadership, helping them build character and integrity. Every day, in every community, Scouting makes those communities better places to live. We have been doing this for 105 years. I am confident we will do so for another 105 years as long as we stand together, united in our singular mission to serve American youth. I am honored to work with all of you to give our young people the wisdom, direction and confidence to be the best they can be.”

Melany Gardner2


Author: Melany Gardner | Editor, The Boy Scout, Utah National Parks Council, BSA

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

20 thoughts on “Rights of the Chartered Organization central in Gates’ speech at National Meeting

  1. AvatarJim Bethel

    I guess we all knew this would happen at some point. I am grateful for the religious freedom we enjoy now more than ever. I am confident the the BSA will survive and thrive in the years to come.☺

  2. AvatarScott

    Even if charters have the final say on the leader requirements, this will split up the unity and meaning behind the BSA. What it means to be a Boy Scout in one part of the country will be something different in another part of the country. The BSA needs to stand and fight for what it has believed since the day it was founded. What are we teaching our boys if the leaders of the BSA roll over and allow outside entities to influence their standards? Exactly. That very lesson and example will send a message loud and clear to Boy Scouts every where. The resounding message being, “stand for what you believe until something big comes along and forces you to believe otherwise.”
    If this legal battle means the end of the BSA, so it should be. Go down fighting for our standards and let it be remembered every where that being politically correct, and that the LGBT community destroyed the BSA. Let those that wish to infringe on rights and freedoms of others take credit for destroying the Boy Scouts of America. I’d much rather remember and talk about that story, then recall the day the BSA sold their souls and changed unchanging principles all in the name of keeping the organization alive. It will be a sad day in world history when the BSA willingly changes its standards to simply survive.

    1. AvatarCosette Blanchard

      The Boy Scouts should be for ALL boys! If the BSA is destroyed, it’s because of their own choice to discriminate. My son is a gay Boy Scout and he lives up to every principle! Every gay leader I know lives those principles also. You want rights and freedoms to discriminate, but want to take away those same rights and freedoms from someone else – the term hypocrisy comes to mind!

  3. AvatarDaniel

    This plan is just an attempt to divert the lawsuits from the BSA onto the chartered organization. He’ll be able to say, “Hey, it’s not the BSA that bans gays, it’s the Mormons. Sue them instead.” They’ve already said they won’t take any action against units that defy the ban on gay leaders. When the BSA no longer bans gay leaders, how many think that the BSA will feel no pressure to sanction units who continue to ban gay leaders?

  4. AvatarKen Prigmore

    Daniel is correct that the lawsuit would likely be transferred from the BSA organziation to a local charter. The current law in the state of Utah, Senate Bill 296, shields religious organziations and their affiliates, specifically the BSA, from legal retaliation for choosing not to choose a gay leader. Hopefully this type of law will take hold throughout the U.S., though there is still a long way to go at this point. Some states have already laws attacking religious freedom, which suggests an eventual showdown (yet again) at the Supreme Court in a few years.

      1. AvatarAJ Creek

        Cosette, I appreciate the personal aspect of your comments… but calm down. Before you throw the charged words of Discrimination, Hypocrisy, (Bigotry, Hate,) etc. Just think about this:

        Is the BSA trying to FORCE others to become Scouts?
        Have the Rules and Regulations of the BSA (as well as the Scout Law and Oath) made you fearful for your safety or uncomfortable in your personal life?
        Who’s freedoms and rights are the BSA infringing on?

        These are just a few things to ponder – The BSA is not forcing anyone to join them, and it’s right to have membership standards (and change them as they see fit) has been upheld by the Federal Court System. If someone choses to abide by those requirements, then they are more than welcome to participate. If not, there is no BSA rule, law, mission statement, principle, or anything that states that they must be treated like anyone else who is not a Scout. They will never try to harm anyone or force others to change who do not wish to be a part of scouting.
        By demanding changes to a program that has a legal right to place rules of membership over it’s participants – you’re actually trying to force your views onto them… which is the only hypocritical thing about your post.

  5. AvatarErik Milton Baker

    If you don’t stand for something, pretty soon you will stand for nothing.

    I have no doubt that the BSA will survive the next 105 years unless they lose 70-80% of their membership. It will just be an organization that teaches boys “to learn stuff” through merit badges, but it won’t be a organization that teaches values that says there is right and wrong. There is a difference between respecting somebody’s values and being forced to legally accept someone’s values. Why can’t we let people be who they are and we can make a decision if we want to accept or reject what they say?

    If someone like Chick-fil-a’s CEO says that he disagrees with a gay lifestyle, then you as a consumer can decide to not support that business. If a tattoo shop says that police aren’t welcome, why would a police officer want to go in there? Should we force the tattoo shop to allow cops to enter, or would I rather be grateful that as a police officer I am being told that I wouldn’t want to go in there? If someone is anti-American, like Reverend Jeremiah Wright, do I want him to hide who he is or am I glad he tells me that I don’t want to be around him? What about someone who is anti-Jewish, sexist or is a race-baiter? Do I want them to publicly hide who they are or am I glad that they publicly express their opinion so I can decide if I agree or disagree with what they say?

    I’m fine if gays want to start their own organization. There are LGBT clubs all across America…why aren’t they flourishing? Gays want to get in to the BSA because they haven’t been able to. I realize that Robert Gates isn’t forcing the BSA to accept homosexuality, but he is obviously being influenced by many people who do want him to start allowing gays. The only reason why gays want the BSA to accept homosexuality is because they aren’t allowed. Once they are allowed in they couldn’t care less about the organization and then because it is now not an exceptional organization nobody will want to join it.

    There are plenty of organizations that allow gays, but people aren’t flocking to get in. It’s like living in America…people from other countries want to come in because of how good it is. If people come here illegally they are starting on a foundation that isn’t in harmony with the values that we live.

    I don’t know if you have ever been to a party where everyone is dressed up in suits/tux and dresses, and you come in casual clothes, but you feel out of place (at least I do). There is a sign at work that says “if it were easy, everyone would do it. That’s what keeps the rif-raf out”. I’m not saying that gays are rif-raf, but it isn’t a different lifestyle than what others want to live and we should not force someone to accept other peoples values.

    1. AvatarCosette Blanchard

      Funny, you should mention that, A huge majority of Gay Men and Boys were in the Boy Scouts!

  6. AvatarDavid Garstin

    In 1913 a prophet of God did what no President of the Church has done before or since. He embraced the BSA as the official activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood. Therefore the BSA is a divine program. Therefore before the BSA breaks its own law, then God will step in to save it. In his own way.
    Mr. Gates, who I admire, look what happened to the Boy Scouts of Canada when they accepted Gays into the leadership of its laws. We should be able to learn a lesson here.

    1. AvatarAJ Creek

      Whoa there man! Let’s not draw conclusions that aren’t true. The BSA is not a divine program. Just because a Prophet says “I prefer a Big Mac over Taco Bell” – doesn’t mean that McDonalds is inspired.

      There were no other programs like Scouting in it’s day – and the LDS Church didn’t have much of auxiliary programs of any kind back in that day. So let’s not begin to imagine that this will always be the case. The LDS Church doesn’t need the BSA… it’s helpful, and in some cases I would also agree, inspired even. But it’s not the only program out there – and the YM Program, when in the hands of good leaders, doesn’t need the BSA to lead the youth.

  7. AvatarCollin Warner

    I am grateful for the comments that have been shared. Its good to see that there are people who are feeling the same way I am. There is one point that I would like to add, when the BSA changes there stands on gay leadership and if the chartering organizations are not sued, the LGBT influence will trickle down to the merit badges them-self’s such as Family Life. Requirement 7a Discuss the following with your counselor: Your understanding of what makes an effective father and why, and your thoughts on the father’s role in the family. Please correct me if I am wrong, are there separate roles for men and women in the LGBT community?

    1. AvatarJames Francisco

      I have some thoughts on this. First a little history. The phrase ‘physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight’ only exists in the scout oath of two nations, The United States, and the Philippines. James E. West added it to the oath that Lord Baden-Powell created and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines inherited it when they were split off from the BSA when The Philippines gained their independence. No other scouting association has that phrase in the scout oath.
      Now, in the context of the BSA Scout Oath, ‘morally straight’ has never been connected to sexual morality. For over a century, The Boy Scout Handbook has defined ‘morally straight’ as “Your relationships with others should be honest and open. Respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions and faithful in your religious beliefs.” This is a properly broad statement that allows the variations is religious beliefs in the population to be taken in to account.
      What is at issue is that many people have erroneously conflated the term ‘morally straight’ with the biblical law of chastity. That is a serious fallacy that is one of the roots of the upset over membership standards. I have come to believe that the source of that fallacy is not benign and is in fact a product of the adversary. Matthew 24:24 tells us “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Two goals of the adversary are to defeat our efforts to perfect ourselves and return to our Father, and to defeat the efforts of the church to bring Christ to the world. What better way to defeat the efforts of the church than to marginalize the church and it’s members and drive us to the fringes of society. If that were to happen, that would be a big win for Satan. This idea applies to not just the LDS Church but all Christian Churches that strive to follow biblical laws of morality.

  8. AvatarJames

    I listened to the speech and I thought that Gates said during his term as BSA president he would not bring up the homosexual membership issue as it would create a rift in BSA sponsoring organizations. Did I miss something? Did he go back on that statement?

  9. AvatarBrian Habel

    First of all I want to establish VERY succinctly where I stand on this issue of Gays infiltrating our ranks. What most Gays do not want said is that ‘where do they put it’. It IS an act against nature and Gods laws. Having said that, I think some boys get confused about sexuality during puberty and some can see to think they are attracted to males as well. So, I believe the confusion often starts when they are young. I believe that few gays in boyhood do have some biological inclination only to males while most of them are not “clearly” that to begin with. I theorize that the others develop it over time through what is called in psychology “Attribution Error”. From Wikipedia, “is the tendency for people to place an undue emphasis on internal characteristics (personality) to explain someone else’s behavior in a given situation rather than considering the situation’s external factors.”
    I propose that one could make the same error with the self, prematurely attribute internal states wrongly by external things. What about explaining feelings, by attributing something about them that is perhaps wrong or premature? My heart fluttered when she walked by therefore I’m spell bound to her only… when there are other things that might make my heart do that. Thus, it is a clear distinction that they do not realize arousal has external factors that are not attributable to being one way or another. Rather they become more intertwined with the social-emotional aspect rather than considering how God has designed them to be in the world.
    Let me talk some more about how this thing develops, having some education with a masters degree in Counseling. Secondly, I’ll turn to how this helps us understand why we should not make this such a huge deal about our own worlds needing to be so affected in the very real fight of good against evil. We all do want to stand up against the evil and should. Rather I will argue, the “how we do it” as imperatively, the all important thing.
    I am somewhat split on the decision of standing against the gays to the death of BSA versus allowing chartered organizations to do their own exercise of conscience. The maturing boys sexuality through puberty, will suffer some by inappropriate role models. It will suffer with a lack of vision if they do not have society’s norms telling them it is wrong and to respond favorably. We can respond by standing up for what is right and making it known in our own scout units to be definite and it is a ‘Yes to other things’ message we send our boys and youth.
    I’d like to examine this issue of attributing something wrongfully vs. external factors both in them and also in us. The true weight of external factors being that arousal can come from almost anywhere, from eating an avocado- does not make me attracted to avocados! Further, I think the same attribution error they make have inclined them to think that just because they had a wincing thought of how attractive a certain male is, does not mean “you” or “I” must be “that” or rather attributing your personality towards it, rather than the external factors and situations. Make sense?
    I believe those that start out confused or even inclined toward a same sex person, that also responds to societies norms, will eventually, can and do change their orientation to being heterosexual. There are many witnesses to this fact. In total contrast, with those that choose another path, they will use the emotional aspect to the point of where they appear to have clear conscience and victim-hood in their wings, as similar persecuted groups in history.
    I believe that without knowing it we can give them more power when we allow for debates and resistance on the issue, to happen. If we examine intelligence as the WISE USE of knowledge, then we will want to consider external factors, and weigh-in what weapons will be the most powerful against the evil we are dealing with.
    The focus or approach of people that are against Gays may sometimes suffer with the same ‘attribution error’ that they do- that is we tend lump the sinner in with the sin. We also don’t acknowledge enough the external factors that might have a hand inside their feelings. We can find a way to stand up against it while loving the sinner. One external factor is that some of them are biologically more inclined or aroused toward the same sex. It could have happened to you from birth type thing. But hear me now loud and clear, to use an example, just because I was aroused by a female during puberty or high hormone states, DOES NOT mean I have to yield and dwell on her or give into those temptations associated with her. I can and should think about and do something else, the better ennobling and refining things in life.
    After sitting with Gays in higher education classes and hearing their expression, one part of me wanted to seriously evaluate the biological predisposition and the other part seriously want to go do something else. I don’t spend that much time sitting and confronting them with my heterosexual inclinations, so why should I have to sit and listen to them talk to me about their orientation?! I had to do it in upper educational circles though. And quite frankly it is better that they not get started or have those forums in which to stew and dwell on it. I fear that giving them something to martial against, like a lack of equality, may give them and their up-and-comings more voice. Again, the other side of me says they will always have something to complain about when their conscience is what is really at stake.
    Another attribution error we make says that the biological process for change in sexual orientation can come down to choice. Rather it IS, but over time, not in an instant. It is a developmental thing. Thus, the more punitive or judgmental you come across to these people; you can possibly manifest the same ingredient they have inside attribution error. You even attribute the biological inclination as wrong, when many of them are just like that, they did not choose it. Rather it is the acting on it that we are against. But by throwing the whole barrel out, you are in essence in their mind “displaying the same sin” of not acknowledging external factors, but rather attributing ALL of it to the individual. How gratifying this must be to them, to find you committing the same error! Misery does and will love your company? This is WHY it may be better if we don’t have to ENTER THE DEBATE.
    Not entering this debate or war, is the same thing as me saying, let me go over here and associate with someone else because you keep bringing up your orientation and I don’t do that, so why should I have to listen to it from you? We can still fight this war, we just need to do it in novel ways of avoiding them pushing it in our faces and taking control to not being a part when and if they do. This is arguably how we can best take a stand against it and AVOID having the innocent scouts and boys suffer- in areas where we would rather not talk about it because our idea is much much different. Let scouting get along! These are the types of arrangements our leader in the BSA might be trying to enable for the rest of the boys and leaders, who have no desires or inclinations, and if they did, could develop normally without all the hoopla. We AVOID that discussion and prove by our example inside scouting, how to wrestle this tiger out of our midst!
    If it is to be, where the Gays have influence in the Boy Scouts let it be a good one because they are focusing on something else, instead of proselytizing their sexual orientation. Granted it is a poor role model and innocent boys in those areas could be affected negatively. This is another reason to me it is hard to decide where I truly side because it is precisely that black and white can’t be stood up for, that for some poor victims… “Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
    Perhaps the sad reality is that we can’t save the world, just our own selves, families and communities. In those areas where the Gays were active, I’d probably not even have my boys go to scouts where there were those role models. The protection of the innocent is precisely why I might teeter back to the other side, where we needed to draw a hard and fast line. However, it is like the rest of us having to suffer and it is an overwhelming majority that would suffer, and who are innocent as well.
    I’m in favor of supporting to some degree on this issue our leaders, who from personal experience I have empathy for, are calling for pre-emptive action, that the good affects of, could only be fully realized, if it had been done pre-emptively and early, and cite a scripture. Matthew 13:27-30 “27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
    28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
    29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
    30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”
    Gays who actively propagate will have God to account to, so I’m not concerned.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.