by Rob Schwarzwalder
April 16, 2012
Last fall, FRC was privileged to welcome Dr. Byron Johnson of Baylor University to our Washington, DC building for a tremendous lecture based on his book, More God, Less Crime.
Now, Dr. Johnson, Baylors Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences, director of the Program on Prosocial Behavior and co-director of the universitys Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR), has issued a new report about how Eagle Scouts benefit our country.
With his colleague Sung Joon Jang, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology at Baylor and an ISR Faculty Fellow, Dr. Johnson has written, Merit Beyond the Badge, which documents the significant, positive impact Eagle Scouts have on society every day.
I confess that I am drawn to this study not only because of my admiration for the Boy Scouts of America, but also because my sons are both First-Class Scouts and are on their way to Eagle rank, Scoutings highest. My wife and I are grateful for the wonderful influence of Scouting on our sons. Scouting has reinforced in them the need for high character, given them skills that literally could save their lives (and those of others), and built into them a measure of confidence and diligence that they otherwise might not have.
Beyond the Merit Badge shows that Eagle Scouts:
- Exhibit higher levels of participation in a variety of health and recreational activities.
- Show a greater connection to siblings, neighbors, religious community, friends, coworkers, formal and informal groups and a spiritual presence in nature
- Share a greater belief in duty to God, service to others, service to the community and leadership
- Engage in behaviors that are designed to enhance and protect the environment.
- Be committed to setting and achieving personal, professional, spiritual and financial goals.
- Show higher levels of planning and preparedness.
- Indicate that they have built character traits related to work ethics, morality, tolerance and respect for diversity.
I see these things ever week at our regular Scout meetings. Of course, Scouts are boys, not angels, and as with every institution that involves people, there are periodic problems and difficulties to overcome.
Yet some of those problems are not of Scoutings making. Those committed to advancing a pro-homosexual social agenda have targeted the BSA because the latter believes:
… an avowed homosexual is not a role model for the values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law … The BSA does not equate homosexuality with pedophilia, but neither avowed homosexuals nor pedophiles are appropriate role models for Scouting youth … The Boy Scouts of America makes no effort to discover the sexual orientation of any member or leader. Scouting’s message is compromised when members or leaders present themselves as role models whose actions are inconsistent with the standards set in the Scout Oath and Law.
The Supreme Court, in 2000, upheld the Scouts standing as a private organization with the right to set its own membership and leadership standards. For that past 12 years, at least, this has meant that Scoutings conviction that homosexuality is incompatible with its mission and activities has been sustained throughout the BSA.
Many of the boys in Scouting come from fatherless homes. Scouting provides them with role models, both older Scouts and men in leadership capacities, who can help make up what is lacking in their lives: The interest, respect, and affection of a man. It is because so many of these boys are vulnerable that the BSA not only prohibits homosexuality, but will not even allow a single Boy Scout to be alone with an adult, even for a short walk. The Scouts buddy system exists for a reason.
There are Scouts in 155 nations. Many religions participate in Scouting, making Scouts a sore spot for avowed atheists and agnostics. Yet Scoutings affirmation of a Creator to Whom all are accountable is foundational to Scoutings emphasis on remaining morally straight. And many Scout troops are chartered by churches, which enable people of various faiths to retain both their unique religious identities and share in the common fellowship of Scouting.
Scouting remains a pivotal activity for an estimated 2.7 million boys (and 1.1 million adults) nationwide, teaching them how to serve, volunteer, protect others, and work effectively and cheerfully with boys and young men of various racial, religious, ethnic, economic, and educational background.
Tonight, with about 50-60 other boys of every race, height, and home-life, my sons will be at our church gymnasium taking an oath. They will raise their right hands and say, 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.
One of the boys will pray briefly and the flag will be saluted, and then myriad activities will get underway.
I cant wait.