We used to recite the Scout oath at all the formal gatherings. Of course it has all the problems of any civil religion. In the 1960s and 70s, when I was reciting the oath we all knew what honor, God, country, and “morally straight” signified.
One of the books I loved most as a boy was my uncle’s copy of the Boy Scout, Handbook for Boys (1948). I loved it because it connected me with my Dad, to my uncle (a lifeguard and a marine) and to older generations of men who seemed able to do outdoor things about which I mainly read. I grew up in scouting, in the Cub Scouts, the Webelos (Wolf, Bear, Lion), and in the Boy Scouts. I was not a very good scout—I did not have the discipline to accumulate many merit badges and my first Pinewood Derby entry was a complete failure—but I did enjoy hanging out with the other boys and the camping was fun. I caught my first fish (a 2 lb Northern Pike) while canoeing the boundary waters of Minnesota with our troop. Dad taught me to polish my shoes properly for the formal meetings. The boy scouts taught me how to stand at attention, salute, and a little bit about first aid and survival. Our scoutmaster was Ralph Violet. He gave a lot of time to us boys and I guess he hoped that it would help us turn into men. I think it helped.
As far as we knew, everyone in our troop was heterosexual. We were aware that there were homosexuals somewhere in the world but most of us never met any open homosexuals. Indeed, until 2015, open homosexuals were prohibited from joining the Scouts. In January of this year the Boy Scouts of America announced that they will begin accepting transgender Scouts.
As far as I am able to determine, however, the Scout oath has not changed. It says:
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 (p. 19).
We used to recite the Scout oath at all the formal gatherings. Of course it has all the problems of any civil religion. In the 1960s and 70s, when I was reciting the oath we all knew what honor, God, country, and “morally straight” signified. It meant no sex outside of marriage (on which many Americans gave up in the 1970s), no homosexuality (opposition to which many Americans gave up in the 1980s and 90s), and anyone who proposed that boys should dress like girls or girls like boys for anything other than a skit (see Milton Berle) would have been regarded as mentally ill.