JAKE DePEW: No longer proud to say he’s an Eagle Scout

TO THE EDITOR:

During the past few years there has been much hatred spread throughout our country.

For instance, Ryan Andersen from Boy Scout Troop 212 in Moraga, Calif. completed the requirements to receive his Eagle Scout Award. The BSA denied him because of his sexual orientation and failing his “duty to God.”

I am a proud Eagle Scout and have been a member of the Governor’s Honor Guard for four years, but the recent headlines about the BSA and their anti-gay stance is something I am not proud of.

In the Boy Scouts, we have an oath: “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.”

“Morally straight” has been defined by the BSA to mean “heterosexual.” The definition of moral is “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.” Nowhere does it say that moral means “heterosexual.”

“Help other people at all times” – How is attacking someone for their sexuality “helping” them?

“Duty to God,” by the BSA definition, is “adherence to spiritual principles, loyalty to the religion that expresses them, and acceptance of the duties resulting therefrom.” It does not state which church or religion you must be a member of in order to become a Scout. There are several churches around the world that accept homosexuals: Hinduism, Reform Judaism, United Church of Christ, United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and many others. So why take such a strong stance in this subject?

What about the recent BSA conspiracy to cover up firing or relocating Scoutmasters who were fired for having inappropriate relations with boys in their troops? BSA will move a child molester from one troop to another to prey on innocent boys, but they have a problem with boys who are openly gay?

The first two words in the Scout law are “trustworthy” and “loyal”. The BSA has not led by example when it comes to being trustworthy or loyal. The BSA has become an organization that infects the minds of young boys to spread hate throughout our country.

We as a society have the responsibility to promote equality regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender. The BSA has the same responsibilities. BSA does teach some great values and has helped thousands of boys become men. We need to take seriously the mentoring of young, vulnerable minds. It is time we move forward as a country and to stop intolerance and the spread of hate.

I am not saying homosexuality is right or wrong, just that we need to start accepting people for who they are or we will never end hatred in this country.

I am no longer proud to say I am an Eagle Scout knowing that another young man who worked just as hard as me was denied this honor because of his sexuality. My Eagle Scout Award now symbolizes hate, and I am not a hateful person.

JAKE DePEW

Big Rapids

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