Tuesday 3 May 2011

Scouts Association gets into bed with Durex and Brook: worldwide alert

I am grateful to Anthony McCarthy, a former research fellow at the (Catholic) Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics (now the Anscombe Bioethics Centre), for providing me with the following critique of the Scout Association's recently published sexual health programme and Bishop Moth's statement praising the Association's programme.

The full seriousness of this development - both the Scout Association's sexual health programme and Bishop Moth's statement - analysed below by Anthony McCarthy, needs to be well understood by everyone who cares about young people, their children, the sanctity of human life, marriage and the family.

According to Wikipedia, The Scout Association not only controls scouting in the United Kingdom, it is also responsible for Scouting in the British overseas territories and Crown Dependencies, as well as some small independent nations.

So this blog represents a worldwide alert and I urge concerned readers to pass it on to those they know with family connections in scouting, not only in the UK but in many other countries of the world too.

Anthony McCarthy (starting with a comment from Bishop Moth) writes:

"The Scout Association has published the resources My Body, My Choice in response to requests from members. The recognition given in the document to the place of abstinence in combating the problems of STIs [sexually transmitted infections] and teenage pregnancy is welcomed. We also appreciate that Scouting recognises the importance of the religious beliefs of young people and the wishes of their parents regarding the formation being offered. The Scout Association, along with the publication of My Body My Choice, is also making available a teaching document, Cherishing Human Sexuality, which sets out Catholic teaching in this area, and draws on the Bishops’ Conference document Cherishing Life. Cherishing Human Sexuality will further an appreciation of the Gospel of life, which is at the heart of the Church’s understanding of human relationships." Bishop Richard Moth, Bishop of the Forces.

When Scouting for Boys by General Baden-Powell was published in 1908 it introduced the world to the original "Scout law". The law, intended for scouts worldwide, gave rules of conduct for scouts and promoted a moral and prudential lifestyle.

In 1911 Baden-Powell added the following "Scout law":
A Scout is clean in thought, word and deed. Decent scouts look down upon silly youths who talk dirt, and they do not let themselves give way to temptation, either to talk it or to do anything dirty. A Scout is pure, and clean-minded, and manly.
Whatever we might think of this particular formulation, which is certainly of its time, it is undeniable that, as an affirmative "law" or "code of honour", it is grounded in natural reason accessible to all and not only to Christians. The need for the difficult practice of chastity has been recognised in all societies at all times. Baden-Powell understood this need and saw it as sufficiently important to add to "Scout law".

The Catholic Church’s teaching on sexuality is grounded in the natural moral law – which Aquinas said was:
"nothing other than the light of understanding placed in us by God; through it we know what we must do and what we must avoid. God has given this light or law at the creation." (Dec. Prae I).
This light is given to all, believers and non-believers, such that the Church’s teaching is offered to all human beings and offered as comprehensible on grounds of natural reason alone. Any Catholic concerned for his fellow human beings of whatever race, creed or colour has a duty to uphold authentic sexual ethics and cannot simply stand by if others, especially young people, are being turned away from the light of natural reason given to them.

Although language changes, certain truths do not go away. With this in mind it is worth examining the most recent programme on sexual health put out by the Scout Association - My Body, My Choice: Promoting Good Sexual Health Within Scouting - as well as the statement by Bishop Richard Moth cited above.

My Body, My Choice: Promoting Good Sexual Health Within Scouting - the handout for young people

This handout, carrying a title suggestive of a highly individualistic and value-free approach to sex, begins by observing that "you might be surprised to know that about 70 per cent of young people wait until they are 16 or over before they have sex". Eric Hester, a retired headmaster and Vice-Chairman of Family & Youth Concern, said of this statement:
"What it ought to say is that anyone who has sexual relations with a child under the age of 16 is breaking the law and is guilty of child sex abuse. Children should be told to report all such incidents to the police." 
The document does not give a reference for the figure cited, nor does it mention either law or morality in this context.

In the same opening paragraph of the handout we learn that:
"Deciding to have sex for the first time is a big decision, so it’s definitely worth waiting until you feel sure you are ready." 
In light of Bishop Moth’s comments welcoming the Scout Association’s "recognition given in the document to the place of abstinence in combating the problems of STIs and teenage pregnancy" it should be noted that in the central hand-out designed specifically to be given to boy scouts, no mention of abstinence is made. There is no mention of marriage and what place marriage should have in a society aiming to achieve a common good; only the admonition that young people should feel sure they are ready for their first sexual encounter (the type of which is in no way specified). How the decision is to be informed (even legally!) is not mentioned in the handout and the crucial and significant part sex plays in human and family life, recognised by every generation, is likewise ignored. Into this vacuum a guiding hand is then introduced.

"If you decide to have sex you need to have thought about contraception first" (emphasis added).
Importantly no mention is made here of the relational nature of sex. The handout merely notes the presence of an appetite, without any hint that sexual desire can only be truly and properly fulfilled in a context of fully human commitment and respect for the dignity of others – something sexual appetite (presented as an urgent need to be satisfied, hence the need for the leaflet) of itself does not provide.

The word "need" presents contraception as a necessity for those deciding to engage in sex. Whether the encouragement of contraceptive use undermines abstinence strategies is not, of course, discussed, either here or in the briefings for Scout leaders, and the abject failure of recent government teen STI and pregnancy reduction strategies, the same strategies promoted here by the Scouts Association, is passed over in silence. Condoms are "very important" and can be obtained "FREE" from a number of institutions, including Brook Centres. The name Brook is mentioned seven times in the very short document and readers of the handout are urged, in no uncertain terms, to contact Brook, "the young people’s sexual health charity that provides information on relationships, sexual health, sex and sexuality", by text, phone or via the website.

At the website they will learn, among other things, that Brook’s idea of  "sexual health" advice includes the following (readers of a sensitive disposition should skip this quote):
Anal sex

Penetration of the anus or bum hole, sometimes called buggery or sodomy. Anal stimulation can be any kind of stimulation of the anus, including penetration of the anus with a penis, finger or sex toy, rimming (stimulating the anus with the tongue) and fisting (putting a hand into the rectum).

Some men and women get really turned on by the thoughts or sensations of anal stimulation but a lot of people just don't like the idea.

The anus is a very sensitive area, because it's got lots of nerve endings, so some men and woman get lots of pleasure from stimulation of their anus. Some people like the idea of trying something new or like the idea that it may be taboo (unacceptable or forbidden) and can find it a turn-on.

Some people are just pushing their luck and are on a bit of a power trip, and perhaps don't have their partner's best interests at heart. Remember, as with any sexual activity, it's important not to feel pressurised into doing anything that you're not comfortable with.
In short, a "sexual health" leaflet encourages boy scouts to go to Brook, which it heavily advertises – with a special web page devoted exclusively to Brook –  and with which it unstintingly collaborates. As the above example shows, sexual health is not a serious concern of Brook, which nowhere here mentions the many serious health risks associated with anal sex and the generally agreed lack of adequate protection condoms provide against those health risks.

The scouts handout proceeds to warn of the dangers of alcohol, pointing out that:
"Mixing sex and alcohol increases your chances of unplanned pregnancy and getting an STI, because if you have sex when you are drunk, you are less likely to use a condom". 
The question as to whether getting drunk and having sex is a good idea at all is not addressed, other than saying it could put you in ‘unsafe’ situations and lead to memory loss. That consumption of alcohol for under-16s is illegal, and that alcohol is a significant factor in the increase of STIs and unplanned pregnancy amongst the young are facts not mentioned in this rather mild warning.

Myth-busting and masturbation

Young readers are told the following:
"Masturbation is not harmful; it can just be a normal part of growing up." 
This statement is presented as a fact. The claim that such activity is "normal" and "not harmful" carries with it the implication that it is either morally neutral or even desirable ("a normal part of growing up"). Compare "Lying is not harmful; it can just be a normal part of growing up." The "fact" that masturbation is "normal" and "not harmful" is recorded in a way that excludes consideration of the thought that such activity could be morally harmful in some way. And "normal" is meant to indicate something statistically frequent this has, of course, no bearing whatsoever on the moral goodness or general desirability of any practice.

Contrast this advice, made available to all boy scouts, with the following from the 1975 Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which candidly informs us that:
"both the Magisterium of the Church – in the course of a constant tradition – and the moral sense of the faithful have declared without hesitation that masturbation is an intrinsically and seriously disordered act". 
The Declaration goes on to state:
whatever the motive for acting this way, the deliberate use of the sexual faculty outside normal conjugal relations essentially contradicts the finality of the faculty. For it lacks the sexual relationship called for by the moral order, namely the relationship which realizes "the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love." All deliberate exercise of sexuality must be reserved to this regular relationship. Even if it cannot be proved that Scripture condemns this sin by name, the tradition of the Church has rightly understood it to be condemned in the New Testament when the latter speaks of "impurity" , "unchasteness" and other vices contrary to chastity and continence. Sociological surveys are able to show the frequency of this disorder according to the places, populations or circumstances studied. In this way facts are discovered, but facts do not constitute a criterion for judging the moral value of human acts. The frequency of the phenomenon in question is certainly to be linked with man's innate weakness following original sin; but it is also to be linked with the loss of a sense of God, with the corruption of morals engendered by the commercialization of vice, with the unrestrained licentiousness of so many public entertainments and publications, as well as with the neglect of modesty, which is the guardian of chastity.
Why all this seriousness about masturbation? Well, in most cases it is the introductory and most accessible sexual vice. As one writer has it, "The struggle with the temptation to masturbate is the smithy in which adolescents form their character. They either learn to control themselves, with all that entails, or they do not, with all of the self-loathing projected as hatred for authority which that entails. Masturbation is, in a sense, the root sexual evil first of all from a developmental point of view – it is the child’s introduction to sexual sinning – but also because all other sexual sinning is at its root masturbatory."

Unfortunately this admittedly delicate issue is not even mentioned in the otherwise helpful document (Cherishing Human Sexuality) that Bishop Moth points to in his statement. This is a serious omission, not least because of the introductory and accessible nature of masturbation and because of the confusions about the issue that are prevalent among young and old, both in and outside the Catholic Church.

The Catholic philosopher and theologian Germain Grisez has written on the subject as follows:
Those who are trying to lead a spiritual life...ordinarily have a strong sense of realities beyond immediate experience. When such persons accept pseudosex and try to integrate it into their lives, they are likely to experience a temptation of faith. God and heavenly things begin to seem less real. If this temptation is resisted, another arises: to develop the self-alienation involved in pseudosex into an ideological dualism...The bodily self is extruded, alienated, regarded as a mere object and instrument...Because the body is depersonalized and alienated from the spiritual self, all the elements of Christian reality and teaching which essentially involve the body have to be reinterpreted. (Homiletic and Pastoral Review November 1984)
Not mentioned in the leaflet under discussion or in Cherishing Human Sexuality is the fact that masturbation generally involves the consumption of pornography and/or the use of sexual fantasy. Sexual intercourse is thereby reduced to functionless pleasure for its own sake, and the object of fantasy disrespected. As we live in an age where access to pornography is far greater than it has ever been, it is very disappointing to find that the Church in this country does not give guidance to her young members and other scouts in the face of this campaign and has nothing to say to scouts who are encouraged by the Scouts Association to go to Brook, which blithely tells them:
"Some people watch pornography whilst masturbating as it can help them to become aroused and achieve orgasm. It is natural for some people to feel attracted to pornography and to enjoy watching it." 
Masturbation has, in fact, been condemned by people from all sorts of different religious and ethnic backgrounds in a remarkably uniform way. Thinkers as diverse and as far removed from Christianity as Sigmund Freud and DH Lawrence, as well as the Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant, have stressed its damaging nature in the strongest possible terms.

The non-Catholic philosopher Roger Scruton, in his book Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation rightly states:
It is a small step from the preoccupation with sexual virtue, to a condemnation of obscenity and pornography (which is its published form). Obscenity is a direct assault on the sentiment of desire, and therefore on the social order that is based in desire and which has personal love as its goal and fulfilment. There is no doubt that the normal conscience cannot remain neutral towards obscenity, any more than it can remain neutral towards paedophilia and rape...The ideal of virtue remains one of ‘sexual integrity’: of a sexuality that is entirely integrated into the life of personal affection, and in which the self and its responsibility are centrally involved and indissolubly linked to the pleasure and passions of the body. (Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation (Continuum 2006) p. 346)
The whole tenor of the handout is one that not only appears to see no need to address the serious issues relating to infantile aspects of sex, but effectively promotes Brook which in turn promotes anal sex and pornography, in addition to far worse abuses such as surgical and medical abortion. One word which appears neither in the handout nor in any of the many, many webpages on the Brook site is "marriage". Presumably the quote below about traditional marriage, from philosopher JLA Garcia, would be anathema to Brook. If it would, we feel entitled to ask – does Brook really represent the interests of boy scouts and their families, or do their interests lie elsewhere?
"the presocial, animal, infantile aspects of sex…are properly set within such a context that they are humanized. These primitive aspects of the self that sexual behaviour should contain can be humanized by the marriage background because they are integrated into a real and mutually respectful relationship, planned as a communal sharing, and properly committed to generating, socializing, and nurturing new members of society." (Liberal Theory, Human Freedom, and the Politics of Sexual Morality, in Paul J. Weithman (ed.) Religion and Contemporary Liberalism (University of Notre Dame Press 1997) p. 230)
Links – or adverts?

At the Scout Association website there is a Sexual health directory. It provides contact details for and short descriptions of a number of organisations involved in advising on "sexual health" which include Avert, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Brook Advisory, FPA, Marie Stopes Clinics and the Terence Higgins Trust.

All of these organisations promote at very least contraception and two (BPAS and Marie Stopes Clinics) actually offer and carry out abortions. BPAS is amongst the most vociferous campaigners against any legal limitation on abortion, with representatives arguing for abortion up to birth if the mother so chooses. Also listed is the website http://www.likeitis.org.uk/ the contact email for which revealingly is likeitis@mariestopes.org.uk.

In short, the Scout Association is advising boy scouts and their leaders to make use of some of the most extreme "sexual health" organisations, some of which get their revenue from carrying out abortions. Other groups promote the virtues of anal sex. Not one group upholding the virtues of abstinence and the importance of marriage is even mentioned – any reader of the links page would be completely unaware of the existence of such groups or any groups opposing abortion, emergency contraception etc. The page, in other words, reads like an extended advert for the abortion industry, not to mention a promotion of groups which actively undermine traditional sexual ethics by forwarding the idea that the only relevant considerations in relation to the wrongness of sexual practices relate to "risk" and consent and nothing else. Marriage, unsurprisingly, is not mentioned in these contexts.

It would be difficult to compile a list of websites more antithetical to Catholic teaching on sexual ethics, let alone the views of a substantial section of the population.

For more on Catholic teaching on abortion and contraception and issues in sexual ethics, the former of which Pope John Paul II called an "unspeakable crime", see the papal encyclicals Evangelium Vitae, Humanae Vitae and Casti Connubii, all of which reaffirm the Church constant teaching on these matters from earliest times. They also make clear that these teachings are grounded in natural reason accessible to all – something appreciated by many people of different faiths and of no faith.

Sexual health and religion

In light of the above it is instructive to look at the Sexual health and religion page at the Scout’s Association website.

The section on Catholicism is broadly correct in what it says about the Church’s teaching on contraception and abortion (though there is no mention of abortion as an "unspeakable crime" and that use of contraception is a serious sin). However, to refer only to contraception and abortion in this section is extraordinary, not least because the Church’s sexual teaching on marriage, pre-marital sex, homosexuality and a whole host of issues which are directly relevant to the scouts’ material, are not mentioned. This is an extraordinary omission which makes a nonsense of the section (the same applies to the texts on other religions). Perhaps this omission, which effectively conceals these religions’ positions on premarital sex itself, can be explained because the text has been taken from a Family Planning Association factsheet (again, the FPA is a promoter of both contraception and abortion, which it is happy to recommend and wants the government to fund).

Scandalously, the websites at the bottom of the page are without exception "pro-choice", including the one for Catholics for a free choice. This organisation has repeatedly been condemned by the Church and can in no way be called Catholic. An extensive report on how CFFC has attempted to undermine the Church and is little more than a front organisation is available here.

A quick internet search reveals more up-to-date news on the organisation, including its position on China’s infamous coercive policies in these areas. These kinds of position are rejected by people of all faiths and none – it does not require religious belief to be appalled by such views being a) effectively promoted to boy scouts and b) mendaciously presented as ‘Catholic’.

Adults in Scouting:  Promoting sexual health – advice for adults in scouting
The appearance of the document is justified by its authors on the grounds that:
There are many reasons for The Scout Association to adopt a proactive stance in promoting sexual health. The United Kingdom has the highest teenage birth rate in Western Europe...Around three-quarters of teenage births are unplanned. In addition to high conception rates, at least 10% of sexually active teenagers are estimated to have sexually transmitted infections...The average age for commencing sexual activity in the UK is 16 and one third of 16-19 year olds claim to have had sex before the age of 16. Approximately 50% of teenagers say they do not use contraception.
It is not clear from the document where these figures come from. If we assume that the figures are broadly accurate we have to ask ourselves why we are in such a dire situation (and the document authors clearly think it needs rectifying). What the Scouts Association is advocating, both in its advice to scout leaders and through its website, is a strong push for the very policies that have utterly failed in the UK. There is every reason to hold that these policies have even exacerbated the problem and have done so for many years, as the work of David Paton and others suggests (see, for example, Teenage Pregnancy, STIs and Abstinence Strategies in H. Watt (ed.) Fertility & Gender: Issues in Reproductive and Sexual Ethics (Anscombe Bioethics Centre 2011).

Why is the Scout Association putting its resources into failed strategies? Aside from ignorance, one reason might be that, as we learn on page 6,
“the My Body, My Choice resource pack [is] provided in partnership with Durex.”
In case anyone still doesn’t know (though their advertising makes this unlikely), Durex is the trademark name for a range of condoms (and also of various sex toys). It would, one would have thought, have been more appropriate to have the name Durex emblazoned across the programme, so that scouts and others could have been aware of the clear financial interests of the sponsors of the programme. With Durex and Brook involved, together with free advertising for Marie Stopes Clinics, BPAS and Catholics for a Free Choice, we have to ask why the Scout Association is, so to speak, in bed with the leading abortion providers and condom/sex toy sellers while backing a teenage pregnancy and sexual health strategy that has failed over decades.

The leaders’ document recounts some of the content of the Sexual Offences Act (2003) though this remains notably absent from the handout to Boy Scouts (see above). While paying lip service to the desirability, "if asked", of encouraging young people to "resist pressure to have early sex" (p.3) it is firm about what is expected from scout leaders in the way of directing these same young people to places that will give them contraception, "emergency contraception" and pregnancy testing.

Pages 2-3 contain advice to scout leaders and make it clear that scout leaders "should" (ie have a duty to) direct scouts to their local authority sexual health services - which among other things can give out contraceptives, including emergency contraception, and refer for abortion (the Teenage Pregnancy Co-ordinator is also recommended). Later in the document (p.6) those leaders who are not comfortable discussing such matters are reprovingly told to refer the scout to another adult or their local sexual health services. Nothing is said about those scout leaders who may have a serious moral objection to such formal co-operation with a scout’s decision to e.g obtain the morning after pill (which may be abortifacient). On top of this, scout leaders are advised to look at the websites of the fpa and Brook Advisory where, naturally, no support or information is given to any scout leader who may wish to uphold traditional sexual morality and not promote its opposite to young people in his or her care. The assumption is that parents need not be consulted on any of this, although the document does suggest that leaders "highlight" to scouts the benefits of involving their parents in the case of pregnancy testing; later it cites the Fraser guidelines which see parental involvement as appropriate in at least some other situations.

Page 3 of the Advice for Leaders: Explorer Scout Section advises:
Leaders are encouraged to have leaflets with information about local contraceptive services, with telephone numbers, location details and opening hours...
and further:
It may be possible to arrange a Unit visit to, or by, a local contraceptive or sexual health clinic. This will help break illusions of what these services are and improve the uptake of advice...
At least some Explorer Scouts will be below the legal age of consent. The "services" offered will, of course, be delighted to have young people visit them – future consumers of the products they hand out – perhaps manufactured by the very company which is sponsoring the scouts guide itself

Page 4 does refer to ‘Religious and Cultural Issues’ but insists throughout that
"Whilst some Scout Groups are sponsored by religious bodies this should not be a barrier to providing appropriate advice, information and guidance to young people in line with Scout Association Policies."
In other words, on the face of it referral to the "services" mentioned above, or the provision of advice put out by them or at very least referral to someone else who will do this appears to be compulsory. Thus any religious body opposed to these "services" will have to go directly against its values and provide information promoting what it regards as gravely immoral practices – and promoting them precisely to impressionable young people. In short, scout leaders will presumably be disciplined unless they promote something they strongly object to. There is no more clarification on this issue and we will have to see what happens in practice. But the omens are not good: the recent court decision regarding the Christian foster parents who were required by their local authority actively to promote homosexual behaviour should serve as a warning. It is quite possible that anyone who disapproves of the sexualisation of children and collaboration with groups that have demonstrably promoted sexual activities abhorred by a huge section of the population – and for that reason refuses to propose to a minor a visit to a sexual health "service" which hands out contraceptives and promotes abortion - will incur official disapproval and perhaps find it difficult to remain a leader. In other words, anyone who seriously cares for the young may now be seen as unsuitable for scout leadership. Little more need be said, other than that a Bishop who has perhaps overlooked this serious threat and taken at face value official reassurances should closely re-examine the scout documents themselves.

My Body My Choice: Leaders Notes

These extensive notes, intended for scout leaders, contain the content which they are expected to hand on to the scouts under their care.

On page 3 leaders are told that they mustn’t "project [their] personal beliefs onto the young people" and also that they mustn’t "Make assumptions about young people’s sexuality and experiences."

These strictures do not, of course, apply to the highly controversial information that Brook and Durex sponsor. It is unclear in this context what would count as "projection" of "personal" beliefs, except that anyone showing divergence from the programme under discussion will presumably be counted as "projecting" and perhaps subjected to disciplinary measures. In this way, only the agenda described above can be handed down to young scouts; it alone is to be treated as authoritative and "neutral", despite the clear messages it contains concerning sexual morality.

Brook’s heavy involvement in the programme is reiterated on this page after which a list of statistics is given (again, see Paton for analysis of this data and its relation to the Government strategies for teenage pregnancy and STI reduction).

Task 1 Language Barrier

The leader is to organise a series of "Tasks". The first encourages scouts to talk about words relating to sex, body parts and relationships. Catholics and others are clear that the first responsibility for this kind of education is the family and not the state or intermediary bodies like the scouts. One of the reasons for this is the importance of modesty and the need for privacy and an intimate supporting context such as the family in which delicate matters can be discussed.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:
"Modesty protects the intimate centre of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity."
As we shall see below, stress on modesty and the dignity of persons appears to have little place in My Body My Choice, the title of which accurately reflects the programme’s underlying assumption that children and adults are mere individuals who can choose moral "truths" for themselves - despite the fact they are presented in the programme with highly suspect values and opinions which are labelled as "facts".

It is also worth pausing to consider how healthy it is to place adults with groups of young people and get them to repeat words for private parts and talk about sex publicly. It is legitimate to ask what kind of adult might be especially attracted to this kind of exercise.

Task 2 – Postbox

This involves more of the same, except that scouts are likely to be directed to material not dissimilar to what Brook Advisory has to offer.

Task 3 – Where Do You Stand?

A series of statements relating to sex and relationships are put to scouts and they can register whether they Agree or Disagree.

The questions make no mention of marriage or, of course, natural family planning: such things are treated as irrelevant to thinking about issues of sexual ethics and sexual health. While sex with under 16 year olds is depicted as less than ideal, no mention is made here of the fact that such activity is viewed by the law as statutory rape. Elsewhere the highly misleading statement made in one proposed answer is
"Only not having sex and condoms can protect against STIs". 
While abstinence does offer total protection against STIs, this is certainly not the case with condoms as a plethora of scholarly articles have shown, not to mention government surveys – articles and surveys written and compiled almost exclusively by people who have no moral objection to condom use. (Q.7) Against some STIs condoms are particularly ineffective; nor is there any mention in the Appendix relating to Task 3 of possible health problems related to some other contraceptives.

Task 4 – STIs

Given the misinformation about condoms in this section on STIs it is striking that no correction is provided here.

Task 5 – Fluid Exchange Game

This task presents the same kind of problems as Task 1, except that the cards involved in the "game" are likely to be more explicit (scenarios include “you have oral sex and don’t use condoms”), and the scenarios put forward are presented in "value-neutral" terms. The effect is to normalise such activities, especially if they can be engaged in without any risk of STIs (e.g. sharing pornographic images). Recall also that sex, for many of the scouts being taught, will be illegal. Compare "you inject heroin and use a clean needle" or "you share child pornography". And this is all in the context of sexual health strategies supported by the Scout Association that have been shown again and again to be at best ineffective or at worst, counterproductive.

Task 6 – In Their Shoes

A series of scenarios are to be presented to scouts by their leaders for discussion.

With the first the leader is to promote the idea that "talking about sex is a good thing" even, it would seem – though it isn’t entirely clear, in cases of underage sex (the age of at least a portion of the intended audience).

With the second scenario leaders are told to stress the false statement that condoms (along with abstinence) are the only method that can protect against pregnancy and STIs.

The claim is repeated in scenario 7. Other scenarios are largely built around the heavy promotion of condoms and recommendations to young people.

Task 7 – Condoms

Scouts are encouraged to learn how "to put on a male condom correctly". Exactly how this is done is not specified. Again, on the legal point, would we tell a 14-year-old to learn how to obtain and drink vodka or drive a car before reaching the legal age? The idea that a condom might not be an unalloyed good in the sexual realm is not even suggested and indeed it is likely that any young scout objecting to condom use will be, one way or another - and even with the best of intentions - marginalised and treated as scientifically ignorant. This, of course, would be a result welcomed by the likes of Brook Advisory and Durex. But why should the Scout Association be acting as a front organisation for these groups?

Returning to Bishop Moth’s statement, one can only say, with the greatest of respect, that he has allowed himself to effectively endorse a deeply pernicious programme which has been in large part put together by groups which have a completely antithetical stance to the Church’s on sexual ethics.

Final thoughts

It is written of Wilhelm Reich, the Freudian revolutionary, that:
After years of trying in vain to debate the existence of God and getting nowhere in persuading people to become atheistic communists, Reich noticed a simple fact. If you changed the sexual behavior of idealistic young Catholics in the direction of sexual liberation, which included masturbation, then the idea of God simply evaporated from their minds and they defected from the Catholic Church, and the way to successful revolution was clear. The key to bringing about revolution was changing sexual behavior, something he noticed in a communist girl whose behavior he discusses in The Mass Psychology of Fascism. The girl was in the habit of masturbating, when a woman brought up the idea of divine punishment she stopped masturbating. "The compulsion to pray," Reich writes, "disappeared when she was made aware of the origin of her fear; this awareness made it possible for her to masturbate again without feelings of guilt. As improbable as this incident may appear, it is pregnant with meaning for sex-economy. It shows how the mystical contagion of our youth could be prevented [my emphasis]. (Mass Psychology, p. 155).
To those who dismiss the idea that there might be any parallel here with positions the Scouts Association is adopting, it is worth recalling who are the partners for this project, and also the position in which it will put anyone concerned to defend even a modicum of traditional morality in the sexual realm. How much is positively planned or intended by these groups is not for us to decide. But the likely results and the dangerous and immoral messages that are implicit in the materials set before us cannot be doubted. Any defender of authentic morality in these areas must stand up to that which, under the guise of health, threatens to corrupt the young and perpetuate the already disastrous "value-free" approach to sex in this country. While the bishop refers to the Church document Cherishing Human Sexuality – which many will see as of Catholic interest only - he does not challenge the pressure put upon scout leaders of all stripes who may rightly wish to reject the My Body My Choice programme. Nor does he offer any comfort or support to those outside the Church who are to be subjected to an undermining of the natural moral law that all people of good will can recognise. Such effectual abandonment, particularly egregious when wrapped in a warm message praising the Scouts Association, is something that needs to be corrected. If it were corrected, the voice of this bishop would be heard with much relief and joy and the great many, often silent, people of all faiths and none who abhor what the scouts are doing would be able to feel confidence in and deep respect for the bishop in these battles for the hearts and minds of young people.

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