A Badge of Disgrace: The Fall of the Boy Scouts
February 18, 2020
It's one of the saddest, most predictable "I-told-you-so" moments of our generation. The Boy Scouts, where future moon walkers and presidents learned the virtues and value of leadership, has finally collapsed. Turns out, the decade of compromise hasn't been kind to the Scouts, who turned in their moral compass seven years ago to chase the approval of critics it could never win. Now, deep into the BSA's self-imposed identity crisis, the group is filing for bankruptcy -- an unhappy ending we all warned was coming.
For those who knew the Scouts through their proud and honorable days, the demise has been slow and painful. But this is what comes of throwing up your hands on a century of conviction: irrelevance and, ultimately, insolvency. For 103 of its 110 years, the Boy Scouts were a pillar of principle -- not that it was easy. As most of us know, the fight to live out your beliefs in this world can be an exhausting one. The Scouts spent years in court just for the freedom to stick to their moral code. They won -- but to the organization's dismay -- the battle didn't end. Waves of LGBT activists kept coming. The pressure built and built until finally, in 2013, under the leadership of Rex Tillerson, headquarters gave into the lie that compromise would be their salvation. Seven years later, the irony is: there's nothing left to save.
More than a half-decade into this radical experiment, the group that counted Martin Luther King, Jr., George W. Bush, and Buzz Aldrin as members is barely recognizable. A handful of local councils have managed to squeak by on solid reputations, but after the organization opened its arms to kids and leaders who identify as gay or transgender, membership became anemic. Then in a failed effort to fill the ranks they began recruiting girls, which not only angered its base -- but pitted the organization in a legal war with Girl Scouts USA. Now, a program that used to be America's finest, is knee-deep in Chapter 11.
If you're wondering where raising a white flag on core values leads, this is it. The Scouts are a case study in moral compromise -- the story of anyone who exchanges the truth for cowardly conformism. Leaders at the BSA dropped their moral mandate to accommodate what they don't believe. In the current climate, that's called "inclusion." To everyone else, it's considered betrayal.
Right now, too many churches, Christian colleges, even businesses are dangerously close to making the same mistake. They're so desperate or fearful -- or both -- that they're willing to water down who they are to protect the small space they're standing on. There's just one problem: the gospel's truth isn't up for negotiation. And in their rush to soften the blow of its confrontation, some believers are selling out their identity as followers of Jesus.
Christians in Paul's time were no different. Like humans throughout history, they craved acceptance. "I am astonished," he wrote to the Galatians, "that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ... Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? ...If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ."
The Boy Scouts wandered so far away from who they are that by the end of 2016, they even dropped their most defining characteristic: boys. In the end, it ruined them. That's the destiny of any Christian who takes the naïve view that world can be placated. It can't. True love, I Corinthians 13:6 tells us, is truth. It's being salt and light in a draining, hostile, unforgiving culture. "Come out from them and be separate," Paul urged, because he understands that in the end, it's not our sameness with the world that transforms people. It's our distinction of standing on truth in their midst. That may not be easy -- but, as the Boy Scouts are finding out, it's a whole lot better than the alternative.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
Richard Dawkins Reminds Us: Worldviews Have Consequences
February 18, 2020
Eugenics made international headlines over the weekend after comments previously made by Andrew Sabisky, a newly-appointed aide to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, resurfaced.
In a 2016 interview, Sabisky stated, "Eugenics are about selecting 'for' good things. Intelligence is largely inherited and it correlates with better outcomes: physical health, income, lower mental illness." Many in the United Kingdom were appalled by these comments, and on Monday, Sabisky resigned and the British government sought to do damage control.
However, not everyone in Britain was critical of Sabisky. Well-known biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins weighed in on the controversy on Sunday, tweeting: "It's one thing to deplore eugenics on ideological, political, moral grounds. It's quite another to conclude that it wouldn't work in practice. Of course it would." He added, "It works for cows, horses, pigs, dogs & roses. Why on earth wouldn't it work for humans? Facts ignore ideology."
Dawkins sought to clarify his initial comments in a follow-up tweet by claiming to "deplore the idea of a eugenic policy." However, he reiterated his suggestion that eugenics "would work" and implied that "obvious scientific facts" support his assertion.
Christians who wish to think critically about this controversy -- and particularly Dawkins's suggestion that eugenics might "work in practice" -- ought to consider the underlying worldview of eugenics.
First, we must define eugenics and understand the legacy of the eugenics movement. Eugenics argues that the gene pool of the population can be improved through selective breeding. Francis Galton, known as the father of eugenics, argued in 1883 that eugenics proposed a way to "give to the more suitable races...a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable."
Commenting on the ideological background of eugenics, Patrina Mosley, FRC's Director of Life, Culture and Women's Advocacy, explains:
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution provided the basis for the eugenics philosophy, in which "natural selection" was understood to favor certain races over "lesser races," which became the foundation for eliminating "undesirables" (non-whites, the poor, the mentally and physically handicapped) so that the population was eugenically controlled to produce only the "right" kinds of people (white, wealthy, high intellect). His cousin and follower, Sir Francis Galton, is known as the father of eugenics because of his dedicated research and advancement of "the study of agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations either physically or mentally." This philosophy attracted many "elites" of society, who were often wealthy, powerful, and racist, who desired to put thought into practice.
At the heart of eugenics is a racist ideology that seeks to justify segregating certain members of society from others along subjective and arbitrary lines such as race, educational background, IQ score, and class, to weed out the supposedly "undesirable" members of society.
Second, we must remember that worldview affects much more than theory. Worldview provides the intellectual framework for policy and politics, and eugenic ideology was behind some of the twentieth century's greatest moral tragedies. For example, during the 1930s and 40s, the National Socialist German Workers' (Nazi) Party thought those they deemed genetically unfit should not be allowed to reproduce. This ideology led to the forced sterilization of anyone suffering from genetic blindness, hereditary deafness, manic depression, schizophrenia, epilepsy, and alcoholism. Tragically, this ideology was influential in the United States as well. By 1931, 29 states had sterilization laws, resulting in the forced sterilization of over 64,000 people.
Finally, we must recognize the ideological affinity between eugenics and abortion. This is most clearly seen in the work and writings of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. Throughout her career, Sanger believed that certain types of people were "unfit" to procreate based on disease, perceived mental deficiency, and race. In her magazine Birth Control Review (which for years carried the masthead "Birth Control: To create a race of thoroughbreds"), Sanger regularly endorsed eugenic ideology. In the December 1921 issue, Sanger stated, "[The] feeble minded and physically and mentally unfit should not be allowed to propagate their kind." A comment made in a personal letter in 1939 underscores the racial component of Sanger's work: "We do not want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population."
Sanger's eugenic legacy lives on today at Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider. Nearly 80 percent of Planned Parenthood's facilities are within walking distance of minority communities. According to the latest census data, just over 12 percent of the U.S. population is African American, and yet over 30 percent of abortions were committed on black babies. Thus, while Dawkins argues that eugenics "would work" in theory, it is no mere theory. We are seeing it play out right in front of us.
Thus, as we Christians reflect on the present conversation surrounding eugenics, we must always remember the history and legacy of this harmful ideology, one steeped in a worldview that fundamentally denies the dignity of entire groups of people based on the presence or absence of secondary or superficial characteristics. Such a worldview is fundamentally incompatible with a Christian worldview, which declares that all people -- born and unborn, abled and disabled, "desirable" or "undesirable," etc. -- are made in God's image, possess inherent value, and deserve respect.
Bringing Order to the Border
February 18, 2020
Monday, I led a group of California pastors to the San Diego border sector to see firsthand what's actually happening on our southern border. It was an eye-opening experience for the pastors, as it was for me when I made my first trip to border last year. While there's no denying that there was a crisis at the border last year when thousands tried to enter the U.S. illegally or gain asylum, the liberal and media's narrative is a far cry from reality.
The men and women working under the umbrella of Homeland Security on the border are there to do one job -- keep America safe. Among those agents on the border are believers who not only understand the importance of the rule of law, but also the fact that every human being is created in the image of God and worthy of compassion and respect.
The other reality is how President Trump's policies and determination have, in large part, stemmed the tide of illegal immigration. Through the president's hardball negotiations with Mexico, our southern neighbor has become a partner in guarding the border and limiting the flow of those seeking asylum in the U.S. As a result, the number of people trying to cross into America illegally has dramatically dropped -- for the eighth month in a row. Now, with more than 100 miles of the wall complete, Mark Morgan, the acting head of Customs and Border Protection, announced that "U.S. officials apprehended or deemed 'inadmissible' 36,679 migrants in January, a drop of 10 percent just from December." Amazingly, that's a 75 percent decrease from the 13-year high last May (144,116).
I have appealed to the president to ensure the U.S. provide the opportunity for those legitimately seeking asylum because of persecution can still find refuge in our country. That said, asylum should not be used as a loophole to come into the country and remain illegally. The numbers show that less than 20 percent of those seeking asylum meet the criteria and are granted asylum.
We saw the new double barrier that is being constructed that agents say, combined with other policy changes, is working. While we still must address the underlying problems in our immigration policy, the Trump administration -- despite opposition from Congress -- has made tremendous gains in securing our border, in a manner that upholds justice and compassion.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.