For Scouts, a Badge of Dishonor
After two decades of bitter back and forth, one of the last strongholds for morality in America finally buckled. Late this afternoon, despite a relentless push by Scouts in every state, the National Council exchanged a century-old legacy for a false compromise that puts an American tradition on the pathway to extinction. After 103 years of principled leadership, the organization proved that it was incapable of the same kind of courage it's been instilling in American boys since the beginning of the 1900s. By a lopsided vote, delegates ushered into the Boy Scouts a new era of moral compromise, allowing homosexual boys and turning against a majority of members in the process.
It took strong-arm tactics, political sharks, and corporate harassment, but the national leadership of the BSA finally succeeded in forcing through a piece of policy that robs the Scouts of its innocence. And now, by opening the door to gay young people, legal experts say it's only a matter of time before the rule on homosexuality extends to everyone--including adults. Almost immediately, BSA councils, Scouting parents, and leaders of the faith-based organizations that charter more than two-thirds of the packs and troops will have to decide how to respond to this decision, which obligates every unit "regardless of their religious convictions" to comply. In the last 12 months, BSA's official estimates show as many as 400,000 boys will leave the BSA as a result, devastating the Scouts financially and leaving them very few options legally.
In the meantime, Councils that believed the lie that this was just about the youth are about to find out that the fight for the Scouts is just beginning. "The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement," a BSA statement read, "by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue." Unfortunately for them, that sacrifice was already made in today's tragic decision. Now we must stand with the troops across America who remain committed to the guiding principles of scouting that have helped millions of young boys successfully make the journey to manhood.
House of Pain
Dr. Anthony Levatino understands plenty about post-abortion grief. When the Ob/Gyn lost his little girl in a car accident, the man who had performed as many as 1,200 abortions said he couldn't finish another one without getting sick. "For the first time after all those years... I didn't see her wonderful right to choose; I didn't see what a great doctor I was helping her with her problem. All I could see was somebody's son or daughter," he said quietly.
Today, Dr. Levantino brings that passion and emotion to the debate over abortion--most recently in his testimony this morning for Rep. Trent Franks's (R-Ariz.) fetal pain bill. In a roomful of people, the longtime doctor explained with stomach-turning clarity the reality of abortion. "Imagine," he said, "if you can, that you are a pro-choice obstetrician/gynecologist like I once was... and [your patient] is asleep on an operating room table." In graphic detail, he described the instruments he would use on women who, at 24 weeks, had already felt their babies kicking. Dr. Levatino talked about a specialized clamp, whose wide jaws and rows of sharp metal teeth were for "grasping and crushing tissue." "When it gets a hold of something," Dr. Anthony Levatino warns, "it does not let go." I won't go into the horrific details, but Dr. Levatino makes it quite clear that "If you refuse to believe that this procedure inflicts severe pain on that unborn child, please think again."
Under Rep. Franks's bill, America would at least outlaw this inhumanity when babies can feel pain, at 20 weeks. Eleven states have similar laws, but Franks's H.R. 1797 would extend nationwide. Jill Stanek, a nurse who helped expose infanticide in U.S. hospitals, testified on the hypocrisy of the abortion movement. Why is it, she asks, that premature babies "are routinely given pain relief who are born at the same age as babies who are torn limb from limb?" "The World Health Organization," she told the Committee, "goes so far as to recommend analgesia for preemies getting simple heel pricks for a couple drops of blood." Do people think that "babies marked for abortion are somehow numb, while their wanted counterparts aren't"?
Dr. Maureen Condic, an expert on pain science, gave a lengthy background on the medical facts of these babies' suffering. "Imposing pain on any pain-capable living creature is cruelty," she told leaders. "And ignoring the pain experience by another human individual for any reason is barbaric."
Based on the latest polling data, an overwhelming majority of Americans agree. Sixty-four percent of the country said they would support a law like the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act--including 47% who identify as "pro-choice." They understand, as Trent said, "We're not trying to subjugate women or restrict freedom. We're trying to protect children." It's time Americans stopped trying to numb their consciences and started focusing on the real pain of abortion. Urge your Congressman to help by backing H.R. 1797.
Poll Position: Gallup Shows Moral Pessimism
When our nation is justifying the killing of innocent babies, it's no wonder our moral compass is off. This week, while the President tries to sweep a series of government scandals under the rug, the Gallup polling company released its most predictable findings of the year. Asked if the state of moral values in America is "getting better" or "worse," 72% of Americans responded "worse." Although married, churchgoing, or Republican Americans were the most negative, Gallup pointed out, "No major demographic group evaluates moral values positively overall."
But here's the irony: Many of the Americans who recognize our moral problems are also the quickest to justify them. As a country, we have a higher tolerance than ever for divorce (68% believe it's morally acceptable), premarital sex (63%), out-of-wedlock births (60%), and homosexual behavior (59%). On two explosive issues--human cloning and polygamy--the public's support has actually doubled. Believe it or not, more Americans now have a problem with "wearing fur" (59%) than aborting a human life (42%). Only adultery lost ground in the battle over values--falling just a single point, from 7% approval to 6%.
If there was ever a time that our nation needed its pastors preaching without apology, it's now. When I came to Washington more than a decade ago, it was with the understanding thatAmerica's problems were not just political but spiritual. Only through strong leadership from our nation's pulpits will our fight for faith, family, and freedom prevail. That's why, in 2003, FRC launched a new church ministry called Watchmen on the Wall, aimed at reaching pastors with the truth about these issues.
This morning, FRC kicked off its 10th annual Watchmen on the Wall conference just blocks from the U.S. Capitol. More than ever, we want to support these leaders to be spiritual catalysts for America's radical return to God--first in the church and then on the frontlines of our communities. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spoke, as did Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Joel Rosenberg, Archbishop William Lori, Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. and several others. We also presented our annual Watchmen on the Wall Award to Dr. Richard Land who has faithfully served in the ministry for 50 years. If you'd like to get involved in championing pastors to transform America, click over to our website. There, you can find information to connect your church with FRC's resources, as well as a link to our live webcast of the event.
** For more on the BSA's devastating decision, including its legal implications, check out Ken Klukowski's Bretibart column, "Boy Scouts Adopt Contradictory Policy on Scouts."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.