By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
February 20, 2020
It’s been more than five years since the Christian Action League began urging churches to end their relationship with the Boy Scouts of America. Tuesday, the organization announced it has filed for bankruptcy amid hundreds of sex-abuse lawsuits.
“I wish we’d been wrong about the trajectory of the BSA, but it was easy to see the path the organization was taking, in the exact opposite direction from its roots, which called on boys to stay ‘physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight,’” said the Rev. Mark Creech, the CAL’s executive director. “Not only were the leaders making poor decisions by embracing the homosexual agenda, but for a long time, they were covering up abuse that was wrecking young men’s lives.”
In fact, the 2012 discovery of the so-called “perversion files,” (carefully guarded lists of ousted leaders suspected of misconduct) confirmed that BSA administrators had reason to believe that thousands of children had been abused by former Scout leaders during the 110-year-old organization’s history, including 1,200 abuse cases reported between 1965 and 1985.
“The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologizes to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children,” BSA President Roger Mosby said this week in a press release announcing the bankruptcy filing.
“While we know nothing can undo the tragic abuse that victims suffered, we believe the Chapter 11 process – with the proposed Trust structure – will provide equitable compensation to all victims while maintaining the BSA’s important mission.”
Recent tax filings show the Boy Scouts’ total revenue at more than $285 million. The organization’s assets in 2018 totaled $1.4 billion, including substantial land holdings across the nation.
Reports show the Boy Scouts had been considering a possible Chapter 11 filing since at least December 2018, when the organization hired a law firm adept at the legal maneuver, which halts all current litigation. Already embroiled in legal battles over earlier sex abuse claims, in recent years, the BSA wound up suing its insurance companies when they refused to cover resulting settlements, saying the abuse could have been prevented.
Scout officials say local troops will continue to operate. In an open letter to sex abuse victims, National Chairman Jim Turley said the BSA has worked over the years to implement multilayered safety policies.
“As knowledge on child sexual abuse prevention has advanced, so have our expert-informed policies, including mandatory background checks and training, a ban on one-on-one interactions between youth and adults, and mandatory reporting of any suspicion of abuse to law enforcement,” the letter states. “Today, we believe the BSA’s youth safety measures are the strongest and most effective policies found in any youth-serving organization.”
Although it is still the largest youth organization in the nation, the BSA’s membership numbers are dropping even as it casts a broader net. From 2012 to 2017, the number of Cub Scouts dropped by 18.5 percent, and the number of Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts went down 8.4 percent. The BSA began admitting openly homosexual Scouts in 2013, gay leaders in 2015 and transgender boys in 2017. Last year it started accepting girls, prompting a trademark infringement suit from the Girl Scouts.
At each juncture, Creech called on congregations to end their affiliation with the Boy Scouts.
“The League contends that there is no good reason for churches to continue their partnership with the BSA, when doing so poses a serious risk to their mission and the loss of religious freedoms because of the litigation that may be directed at them,” he said in an official CAL statement in 2018.
This year, Creech says that “denominational groups and churches have been taking necessary steps to discipline sexual abuse within their own ranks and distance themselves from churches that cover or coddle it. So it would seem to me that breaking away from the Scouts would be a natural next step for them.”
As a better alternative, Creech pointed churches toward Trail Life USA, a Christ-centered organization that launched in 2014. Trail Life has more than 30,000 members and has grown by 25 percent in the last year alone.
Supporters say the boy-only organization’s popularity is based on its emphasis on spiritual growth, its acknowledgment that the sexes are different, and it’s model of father involvement, which trains not only boys but also encourages adult men to step up and accept leadership.
“Our nation needs men who know what they believe and aren’t afraid to let those beliefs be known. We need men who aren’t afraid to show their masculine side in a quiet strength that protects the vulnerable. Finally, our nation needs men who value children and recognize the responsibility a man has to provide a role model for leadership in his own home and to the little ones he is raising,” wrote Intellectual Takeout editor Annie Holmquist in response to the BSA’s bankruptcy filing.
“In recent years, it seems the Boy Scouts have drifted from promoting these principles, and have instead chosen to focus on political correctness,” added Holmquist. “But if the growth of Trail Life USA and the decline of the Boy Scouts are any indication, political correctness is the last thing boys and their parents are looking for.”