There’s an argument to be made that the Boy Scouts of America is one of the most patriotic organizations in the country. And while boy scouts receive a considerable education when it comes to patriotism and civics, as far as political campaigns go, using images of the Boy Scouts in political ads, campaign brochures and campaign websites is strictly prohibited.
But that hasn’t stopped two candidates for office from using photos of scouts in their campaign websites. Republican Irvine Mayoral candidate Dr. Steven Choi is using a photo of the Boy Scouts on his website (see above). Libertarian (unless he’s changed parties again) OC BoE candidate Art Pedroza only recently removed a photo of he and his family wearing scouting uniforms on his campaign website after a comment was made about it on the OC Political website.
Here’s the original image and look for the blue cap:
While Pedroza has taken his down, Choi’s pic is still up.
The policy from BSA on this has been in place for years. The Boy Scouts of America does not endorse any one political party and this rule extends to individual packs, troops, teams, or crew. During election years, though, the line between patriotism and political favoritism grows thin.
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions and the BSA’s official answers:
Q: Could a pack, troop, team, or crew provide a color guard flag ceremony for a candidate’s public speaking event or rally? A: Yes. But, BSA Policy requires our adult and youth members in uniform to leave immediately after the presentation of colors and the Pledge of Allegiance. Should they want to stay they must do so as individuals, not Scouting represenatives, meaning, they would have to change out of their uniforms.
Q: So Scouts and Scouters can’t stand on the platform for the remainder of the speech or presentation? A: No, they should not remain on the speakers’ platform or in a conspicuous location where media could construe their presence as an endorsement or symbol of support.
Q: Why is this the rule? A: The policy is meant to prevent someone from using our brand to convey support of a candidate or ideology. This prevents Scouts from being used by any party in campaign advertisements or materials.
Q: So then why is it OK to even present the colors or lead the Pledge of Allegiance at all? A: Those are displays of loyalty to the nation, something the BSA has always endorsed. Regardless of the outcome of the political race, the candidate and supporters pledge allegiance to the U.S. Because of this, it is always acceptable and deemed to be a part of the civic process. Also, this “service” is offered to any party, regardless of political affiliation.
Q: Can Scouts and Scouters pose for photos with political candidates at these events? A: Yes. But photos of candidates or Scouts in uniform or BSA marks and logos are not allowed in political campaign materials of any kind.
I’ll note I have been a past den leader and cubmaster; three of the 10 kids that started as Tiger cubs in my pack achieved Eagle Scout status. And while the BSA needs — in my opinion — a more evolved view of thinking when it comes to the term “morally straight,” there is no doubt that many elements of scouting make for good citizens and .