Whether or not the Boy Scouts of America are associated with a political party is a question worth asking. The organization is essentially a club, which means that scout leaders are technically allowed to teach the kids whatever they like. Considering the current scandal regarding the abuse of our children by scout leaders, knowing who the organization does or does not support — and which organizations support the scouts — seems even more important.
The Boy Scouts of America (or BSA) does not enforce a political party. BSA leaders seem to subscribe to the “country before party” doctrine, which means they support whichever leaders best embody American values — something that political parties rarely do when there’s a choice between that and getting reelected.
That’s not to say they don’t participate in “political” events. BSA Eagle Scout Bryan Wendell wrote in 2018: “Troop 605 from Rocky River, Ohio, provided [a color guard flag ceremony] at a 2016 political event in Cleveland. (Nice job Nick S., Tristan A., Grayson N. and Erik H.! The troop served as color guard and then immediately left the stage and the premises. They provided a patriotic service and departed before things got political.”
BSA members are allowed to conduct these types of ceremonies even at an individual candidate’s rally or campaign event, but there are rules they must follow. Most importantly, they can stay only for as long as it takes to present the scout colors and perform the Pledge of Allegiance, and no longer. Individual members can stay if those members want to support someone on their own, but they’re required to remove uniform and any other means of scout identification first.
The reason is that the BSA does not endorse specific candidates or their parties. Should the BSA members be allowed to stay beyond what is deemed “patriotic,” then it might be portrayed as such by the media and other organizations. The BSA considers presentation of colors and recitation of the pledge as one of those aforementioned “patriotic services” and not an endorsement. The BSA does not ask individual members not to vote.
The BSA still takes several controversial stands, such as can be conveyed through its own “Scout Oath”:
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
And to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
Mentally awake, and morally straight.
The associations with religious belief are why it took so long for the scouts to condone homosexuality and allow scout leaders to be openly gay. It is also for this reason that the BSA did not allow scouts to be openly agnostic or atheist. What’s controversial about these stances? Simple: young children have impressionable minds, and they are much more apt to misunderstand what it means to support God and country — if they can conceive of these concepts at all.