American Legion Joins Boy Scout Controversy

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

2nd Add: Includes new info on national American Legion efforts.

(CNSNews.com) - The largest veterans group in the nation is calling on Americans to "take a stand against those who seek to destroy the Boy Scouts" by defending the organization.

The American Legion issued a statement Wednesday by National Commander Ray G. Smith, criticizing opponents of the Boys Scouts "simply because they stand for what's morally straight."

Smith's remarks also targeted the film 'Scouts Honor,' which was broadcast Tuesday night on Public Broadcasting System affiliates. He accused PBS of "driving another nail into the coffin of the moral and cultural values of our society."

The film documented efforts to oppose the Boy Scouts policy of not accepting homosexuals for leadership positions, a policy that was upheld last year by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Attacking one of America's greatest traditions simply because they exercise their right to set their own membership and leadership standards is outrageous," said Smith.

The American Legion is "one of the largest supporters of the Boy Scouts, sponsoring 75,000 scouts in over 2,500 units," said American Legion spokesman Joe March.

March said the PBS presentation of 'Scout's Honor' was evidence that the Boy Scouts are under attack from a variety of directions.

The film's criticism of the Scouts' constitutional right to determine its own membership prompted Smith to say "hey, it's time that we stand up and take a position and support what we consider one of the greatest programs for youth that America has," according to March.

"The point is, enough is enough," said March. "We strongly stand by and support the Scouts and are going to mobilize our 15,000 posts and their communities."

The American Legion passed a unanimous resolution last September supporting the Boy Scouts in their "efforts to maintain and practice traditional family values with regard to their membership and leadership standards."

While each of the 15,000 American Legion posts across the nation is autonomous, the national organization is united in its support for the Scouts.

The July issue of the American Legion Magazine features the cover story "The Fight for Moral Rights" by former US attorney general, Edwin Meese III.

"The opponents of Scouting have demonstrated that they are unwilling to tolerate the views and values of others," Meese writes. "They often advocate diversity but tolerate only the lock-step cadence of political correctness."

Meese also urged American Legion members to express their concern to "city councils, county supervisors or commissioners, school boards and other local officials, urging them to resist political attacks on the Boy Scouts."

"I ask all Americans to learn the facts about the assault on Scouting and traditional values," said Smith while urging Legion members to "stand up and be counted in defending what is good and right and decent - the Boy Scout tradition."