Letter to the Editor: Further changes to Boy Scouts policy could endanger religious freedoms

Philip Keeve, Weinberg Junior

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Dear Daily Northwestern,

While I agree with some of the sentiments which Mr. Oliver and Mr. Ferraro put forth about the changes to the Boy Scouts of America program regarding sexual orientation and membership, I fear that further changes they want to the Boy Scouts’ policies will violate religious freedoms.

As a Scout, I was in a troop under the leadership of the local Young Men’s group, a ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). The notion that individual organizations, like church groups, should not be able to enforce an anti-gay policy is, in my opinion, an overreach. The last line of the Scout Oath contains the phrase “morally straight.” Defining “morally straight” can have different meaning to different people and different groups. Is there not room for interpretation of this clause between different religions or other organizations which run the troops?

The Boy Scouts of America is a private organization, as are the troops and councils under its jurisdiction. These further changes that Mr. Oliver and Mr. Ferraro seek would be akin to forcing churches and other private locations to allow gay marriages on their premises. New Hampshire legalized gay marriage only after Gov. John Lynch insisted on a clause protecting churches from lawsuits if they refused a gay couple.

I think the new policy is best and does not need to be advanced further. In fact, to advance further would be damaging to those who have different beliefs because those troops might be forced to shut down, depriving deserving, capable young men of the Scouting experience. As a Northwestern student, a political science major, an Eagle Scout, and a devout Mormon, I ask Mr. Oliver and Mr. Ferraro to respect different religious beliefs within Scouting.

Philip Keeve, Weinberg junior