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An essay donated by Susan Humphreys

What are "Right principles?" What values are groups
really promoting?" An essay inspired by controversy
about allowing gay youth to be in the Boy Scouts

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"Right Principles:"

“Right principles would be helpful” read the headline over a Letter to the Editor of my local paper, the Charleston, IL Journal Gazette-Times Courier.

I had to agree with that statement and also with what it implied: there seem to be lots of people without the “right principles.”

An article on this website covers arguments used by the group in favor of the Boy Scouts of America retaining their existing policies which excluded gay youth from membership. That is, the "traditional values" of the organization should be preserved. I wondered if realized what “principles” they are really promoting.

Old folk wisdom tells us that our actions speak louder than our words. Here, the action is to argue against the Boy Scout changing their policies.'s “values” certainly aren’t my values. They are “values” that I really don’t think we want to encourage in our youth.

They are teaching that Money trumps “right principles.” They predict that the Boy Scouts will lose, and perhaps -- most importantly -- loss of funding.  

  • A massive loss of "parents, boys, troop, denominations, and sponsoring organizations."

  • A flood of lawsuits by activist groups will be launched against sponsoring organization who refuse to follow the new policy.

  • A large loss in revenue will cause layoffs, closing of camps, and cuts to other programs. *

A loss of membership means a loss of dollars, a flood of lawsuits means a loss of dollars. They are teaching that when you are forced to make a difficult moral decision, financial arguments are more important than doing the “right thing”.

They basically teach that WINNING is everything. It is more important than right principles. They teach that If you have to resort to fear mongering, salacious comments, outright lies and misinformation in order to WIN -- then do it.

  • Children will be hyper-sexualized by being exposed to open homosexuality.

  • Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops will march in gay-pride parade with "salacious conduct and partial nudity."

  • "Physical, sexual and emotional abuse to countless boys" will result because of same-sex conduct among the youth members.

  • Boy Scout web sites will have links to other web sites "with inappropriate sexual and political content."

Whenever an individual or organization resorts to such tactics I realize they know they don’t have an ethical, or moral leg to stand on. They know there is no reasonable argument they can make to support their position. The principles they value certainly aren’t ones that I value and certainly not ones that we want to promote in our society.

Later in her Letter to the Editor. the writer mentioned the words from a song sung by a well known country/western singer at a recent concert she attended.

“Our country was founded on righteousness. The Ten Commandments were found in our courthouses, and prayer was allowed in our schools. We need to put these principles back in place. Let’s stand up for Jesus and get down on our knees and pray for the good ole’ U.S. of A.”

Then she added

“If everyone would do this our country would change overnight.”

She was right the country would change BUT it wouldn’t be a change for the better in my opinion. I realized the letter writer and I didn’t agree on what those “right principles” should be! I suspect the leaders of the organization also don’t agree with me about what the “right principles” should be.

First I thought “our country was founded on righteousness”? Self-righteousness maybe, but I was taught that really wasn’t such a good thing. From my old High School dictionary:

"self-righteous: thinking that one is more moral than others."

I would add: "while demonstrating with words and actions that one isn’t!"

The Ten Commandments were indeed found in courthouses and one of those commandments says “thou shalt not bear false witness”. Bearing false witness means creating and spreading lies and misinformation about another person or topic. There are many Conservatives and Liberals that certainly don’t want to -- and definitely don’t abide by -- that commandment. The ultra-Conservative Christians, in my biased view, seem to be the worst offenders. At least they are the ones that want Creationism taught in Science class. They continue to insist that Obama is a secret Muslim and not a US citizen. They insist that the Bible is literally true and that Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are the only truthful news sources. It makes me wonder if those that are the most adamant about having the Ten Commandments displayed in public spaces even realize what those Commandments are. Personally I think the nation would be better served if copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were displayed in public places, including schools and churches!

We don’t need prayer in public schools. We need schools that teach respect and tolerance of those that are different. Not schools that are intolerant or disrespectful of those that are different.

As I thought further I wondered if the letter writer considers honesty, integrity, respect for others, tolerance to be “right principles”? Many in our country seem to value expediency, craftiness, and getting the job done no matter what it takes as more important than those other principles.

I thought about the recent economic crises created by Wall Street and business tycoons whose “principles” are quite different from mine. Greed and self-centeredness; the desire to have it all whatever the consequence for others; and short term and instant gratification that take priority over long term sustainability; certainly aren’t “principles” that I value. It is na´ve to think that wealthy Capitalists would curb their habits if they would accept Jesus as their savior and “just get down on their knees and pray.”

Then, what about Syria? Are all of those people “without principles” or do they all just disagree over what the “right principles”are? What about Israel? How can anyone claim that denying the Palestinian people their rights, forcing them off of their land, denying them access to basic necessities (food and medicine in some cases) is a “principled” action? But then how can anyone say using car and suicide bombers, sending missiles into another country indiscriminately are principled actions. At least they aren’t justified on principles that I value.

Then what about drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Our military, our president, most of our congressional leaders, and many citizens approve of drone strikes. But what principles are they giving priority to and what principles are they ignoring or sacrificing?

What about the “principles” of the Catholic church? Look at their position against birth control. The world is over populated. Population pressures lead to civil strife, fighting over limited and precious resources, hunger and starvation, oppression and genocide.

We also know that many women in the world can NOT refuse their husbands sexual demands (they suffer beatings and forced sex). We know that too many pregnancies are harmful to a woman’s health and well being. We know that too many children are harmful for a family living on the edge of existence. And we know that malnutrition brought on from not having enough food or not enough of the beneficial food (balance of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats) for children harms their development (physically and mentally).We also know that some men when denied sexual satisfaction at home will seek it elsewhere, from prostitutes or forced rape of other women.

It is beyond my comprehension how the Catholic Church can claim that denying women in Third World countries access to birth control, where it is known a large number of children starve to death before their first birthday is based on the “right principles”.

Is the position of the Catholic Church on birth control a principled one? Or are their “principles” misguided. Is their position un-principled or are their priorities out of sync, or out of touch with reality, or out dated?

Then what about the position of many on the issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriage? Those that are against both think their position is a “principled” one. Some folks, like me, think their position and their actions are totally un-principled.

Then what about abortion? It is unprincipled in my mind to force a woman to carry a child to term that she doesn’t want, can’t care for, or that was created through rape or incest. It is unprincipled for politicians and church leaders to tell a woman what she should or should not do with her body. That is a decision for the woman and her doctor to make.

Heck; it is unprincipled, in my mind, to try to make laws that affect the rights of All people adhere to your particular religious doctrines. Unfortunately church leaders and some religious folks think that it is unprincipled for them to NOT force their values on others.

I think the concept of “separation of church and state” works both ways. The state should stay out of the affairs of the church AND the church should stay out of the affairs of the state. It is unprincipled to do otherwise! For those who don’t know what “affairs of state” refers to, I’d say it refers to the laws that govern the rights of all people. Affairs of the church, refers to doctrines and dogmas that govern the lives of the people that are members of that particular church. If you don’t want to abide by the doctrines and dogmas of that church, or find they don’t agree with your principles, you can leave and find another church if you want to. If you want the state to keeps its hands out of church business then you have no choice but to keep the church out of state business.

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Who has the right principles?

  • Is it the person who says “this is a Christian nation”, that it was founded on “Christian values?” That implies that it is a nation founded by Christians for Christians. This totally ignores all of the non-Christian people that were here before the Christians arrived, and all of those non-Christians since who played an active part in creating this nation. I have also been amazed at how angry some Christians get when I point out this nation wasn’t founded on “Christian values” it was founded on Universal values -- values that have been held by people of all religious and ethnic traditions since times before Christians walked this earth. When someone says they want to take their country back, I like to remind them this nation belongs to all of us, it is for people of all faiths and those of no faith. You can’t take back what was never yours to begin with.


  • Is it the person who says “Christianity is the ONLY true religion?”


  • Is it the person who says: “it doesn’t matter what religion you follow or whether you follow any religion, all the world’s religions and secular philosophies can help you become a either a better person or a worse person. They can help you find what you seek, or lead you astray. All that really matters are your words, your day-to-day actions, how you treat your fellow humans, -- especially those that are different from you -- how you treat other living things, and how you treat our planet.”

Yes I think that “Right principles would be helpful”. But I disagree strongly with some over what those “right principles” should be. Personally I think we should stick to the most elementary principle of all as outlined in the U.S. Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

"All men" refers to all human beings, without regard to race, gender, ethnicity, country of origin, immigrant status, sexual orientation, gender identy, and religion or lack thereof.

The words “their Creator” means whoever they consider their Creator to be: God, Allah, Great Spirit, Mother Nature, or happy chance of natural causes.

If we would all agree to abide by this principle, all humans are created equal, this world would indeed change overnight as the letter writer stated. Only this change would be for the better, not for the worse.

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Webmaster's note:

The author has expressed some strong personal opinions. If you disagree, we invite you to write and submit a rebuttal by using the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this page..

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First posted: 2013-MAY-26
Latest update: 2013-MAY-26
Author: Susan Humphreys

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