Dear Editor:

Re: “The Secret Behind the Order of the Arrow,” by Lisa Donchak

Years ago, as a Boy Scout, I was a member of the Order of the Arrow and achieved the role of Eagle Scout.  Earlier today, however, I called the number for the brand new Eagle Scout Registry project and asked that my name be omitted from the Roll of Honor because of the group’s exclusion of gay troop leaders, gay scouts, agnostics, and others.  I oppose these policies on the grounds that they divide and exclude members of the Scouting community and potential members and allies.

I am also troubled by the poorly justified decision from the National Council about the meaning of “morally straight” in the Scout Oath.  The selective application of supposed Scouting principles also ignores the Scout Law that instructs to be friendly and kind.  As individuals we should have an important measure of freedom to define our own personal ideals.  I am ashamed to have been so closely involved with a group that intrudes upon this freedom through dictating what constitutes a “clean mind” or what is “morally straight.”  Those who relinquish this freedom in the face of the National Council’s appeals to an extremely vague and suspect thing they call “traditional values” cannot truly be “mentally awake,” in the words of the Scout Oath.

Much of what the Scouts do has the potential for great social and personal enrichment.  It is a shame that the Boy Scouts and Order of the Arrow have stubbornly enforced these policies of discrimination and intolerance.   It is fortunate that, as the article states, the attitude toward these issues in our state is different from the norm in upholding these policies.  I remember that my own troop benefited from paying little attention to directives from the National Council.  In large national organizations like this one, there should be a greater degree of democratic involvement from the grassroots level in shaping what the larger group stands for and how it operates.

Gregory Nipper<br/>La Jolla, CA