Boy Scouts and the Christian Bubble
I’ve seen that the Boy Scouts are allowing gay scouts, maybe not leaders, but scouts. I suspect that they must have been seeing a gradual drop in scouting in the past few decades because you don’t change what works; you change what you know or suspect doesn’t work. I could be wrong. I have no statistics on scouting in the past half century.
This is what I think might have happened. Back in the 1950s, and even up to the 1980s to some degree, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) reflected the American population in general. Waves of immigrants arrived, with different customs and religions. America was becoming less white and evangelical. Meanwhile the BSA remained the same, oftentimes supported by ultra-conservative churches. Gradually, the BSA became part and parcel of the “Christian bubble.” It was a safe place for white, super-conservative parents to send their sons because their religious opinions would not be questioned.
The same reasoning that made the BSA was a safe choice for super-conservative parents is precisely why other parents gradually stopped sending their sons to the BSA. The number one skill young people need today and for future employment is the one the BSA could not teach: how to get along with a variety of people, even and especially if one’s parents disagreed with them. The lack of diversity led to a lack of relevance to the larger culture. Moderate and liberal parents, not to mention parents of different religions, did not see the BSA as teaching the social skills needed in the larger world. The larger culture was changing, leaving the BSA behind.
I do not believe the gay lobby is so strong that it can just snap its fingers to make the BSA change its policies. Someone at the top of the BSA, or a group of people, made a calculated gamble: even if we lose some conservative boys, we will probably gain far more boys that have been held back (or held themselves back) from joining. Are they right? Time will tell, but it is hard to imagine them changing their policies if their ranks were growing steadily.
Having been both inside of and outside of the “Christian bubble,” I can say that being outside of it is so very much better than remaining within: less paranoia, less circling-of-the-wagons, more variety of human contact, and an intellectual freedom that bubble-bound Christians are unaware even exists. No amount of money would be enough to make me live in it again, even if someone volunteered to pay off Sallie Mae for me.