You wrote and asked me:
"I saw an e-mail from you concerning wether the Eagle rank can be taken away at this web page:
------------start of included email from the Scouts-L youth discussion group-----------------
David Vaughan wrote on Scouts-L and asked:
>Can anyone verify for me whether or not the rank of Eagle can be taken away
>from a Scout or adult who has defamed the rank and the BSA in some way. For
>years I have been told that the badge is actually owned by the National and
>that by permission Eagles are allowed to wear the badge.
No. It's NOT like that exactly...and YES, ANY rank (not just Eagle) can be withdrawn.
In the earlier days of the BSA (before 1970 *smiling from ear to ear*), a Scout who commits a crime or has "tarnished the good name of the Boy Scouts" can have his rank
removed and returned to the BSA by the Scouts' Scoutmaster. This was even written in the Boy Scout Handbooks of that day and time. (there was no word about Scouters, but seeing how we're all supposed to be adult positive role models for the youth of the program, it could apply to us as well...)
In 1970, the BSA abandoned that model, basically because it felt that a large number of urban youth would feel "not worthy of any badge" based upon past experiences and in some cases, present activity. The wording was changed to merely state that a "Scout's word is his bond". Newer books don't even mention this "Scout history" for fear of scaring off new Scouts. I write about this fact in part in my book ("Patches and Pins").
Let's first talk about ALL of the badges and uniforms of the Boy Scouts of America. They ALL belong to the BSA. Every badge -- even the local Council ones -- belong to the CORPORATION. This is how the BSA is described in the Charter and Bylaws of the BSA.
When the BSA applied for the Congressional Charter it received, the Corporation ("Boy Scouts of America, Inc.") also received a very important "insurance policy" of sorts. Here it is from the Charter:
"The badges and other official insignia and uniforms of the Boy Scouts of America shall be made available to, and used only by, registered Scouts or officials and other members who have satifactorily complied with the requirements prescribed by the National Council."
"All badges and insignia shall remain the property of the Corporation subject to recall for cause by (my emphasis) the NATIONAL COUNCIL OR ITS DULY AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE."
(this is all found in *any version* of the BSA's Charter and Bylaws; you can get a photocopy of this section simply by talking with your Council's Scout Executive or Council Executive)
This was done because the young BSA thought that anyone could get an old Army uniform, find the local Scout distributor, and get all kinds of badges and items and volla!! I'm an Eagle Scout (or Scoutmaster) (or Commissioner). In some cases, that's EXACTLY what happened and the BSA had to exercise their rights to retain their badges and uniforms....which, by the way, forced the BSA to abandoned using military uniforms as a substitute for their own official uniforms!
Has the BSA done this -- taken away badges and uniforms from someone?? YES, they have. I was an unwilling witness in one such instance, when a longtime pedophile living in a town south of Nashville, was served with a court-issued demand for return of property. Two sheriff's deputies, along with the Area Director at that time and myself, went into this person's home and as the demand for return of property stated "any material containing the registered indicia of the Boy Scouts of America, which contains the wording "Boy Scouts" or "Boy Scouts of America", and any property containing the official seal of the Corporation is hereby demanded to be returned to the Corporation in accordinace with it's federal charter and with formal request from the National Council, Boy Scouts of America."
They (because I was not a "commissioned officer of the Corporation") removed uniforms, badges, insignia, books and BSA Supply Division items. Only those items which have been labeled or identified as the personal items of that individual were left. Five trunkloads of materials. I had to serve as witness (and view a very important personal life lesson in the process) and insure that only those materials in the demand order were being removed. Many patches -- because they did not contain the small
fluer-de-lis emblematic of the BSA back then -- were picked up and then returned.
In this case, the individual was using the Boy Scouts' name and the fact he was a former Scoutmaster to lure young men into his home, despite the fact that the individual was removed from membership and was basically given a "cease and desist" order.
(Someone asked me after the first time I explained this back in 1992 or 93, if the BSA paid for the items taken. I never did get to ask William Joe Woodall, my mentor and at that time the Area Director in Tennessee -- he died before I returned back from Europe in the middle 80s; but I did get to ask another Area Director and the answer is "we provide the individual with a BSA counter check to cover the value of each item as listed in the Supply Division catalog." When I asked him about other things not in the catalog -- local patches and insignia, other items, older insignia -- he shugged his shoulders and said "Oh well...")
The National Council, as represented by the National Executive Board of the BSA, can recall the badges, insignia and other items being held by anyone. The stuff belongs to the BSA and the BSA has "allowed you to borrow or use it".
Okay...now that the legal basis has been established....let's go back to your question:
>Can anyone verify for me whether or not the rank of Eagle can be taken away
>from a Scout or adult who has defamed the rank and the BSA in some way.
Yes. The National Executive Board (and ONLY the National Executive Board!) can remove a rank from a Scout or adult under "extreme circumstances". Just being in
jail doesn't do it; a survey I saw back in 1994 or 5 listed some 1 or 2 THOUSAND Eagle Scouts in some sort of confinement or jail. Those individuals still hold the Eagle Scout badge and they probably have a uniform at home somewhere with the Eagle still attached (if they didn't pawn it off!)
I had a listing somewhere around the officeroom of five or six Eagle Scouts who had criminal behavior so bad that the BSA's National Executive Board did indeed remove
their status as "members in good standing", and removing their Eagle Scout rank. I've got to do some digging around for it this weekend sometime....
[note: that information is in storage and I can't get access to it until after I return from Germany later this year...]
But for being arrested or having a criminal record does not invalidate the Eagle Scout Award; ONLY the "National Council" (which as a body only meets once a year and the
National Executive Board acts on the behalf of the National Council) can remove or
demand that a badge be returned to the Corporation.
(What they do with the items, I don't truthfully know.)
> For years I have been told that the badge is actually owned by the National and
> that by permission Eagles are allowed to wear the badge.
No. There is no "permission", David. If you have earned the Eagle Scout Award, or Quartermaster, or Silver or Ranger or even the Arrow of Light....it is yours until such time the National Executive Board says otherwise. The insignia is "the property" of the BSA and the BSA can demand it be returned; in reality, it really takes you doing something REALLY bad or misusing the insignia as I illustrated above in order for the BSA's risk management (lawyers) people to take action to recall that material.
>Can the rank of Eagle be taken away from an individual who National deems
>undeserving I.E.: a convicted felon or the like...?
Only and this is a BIG only, the person has committed a series of crimes or one really brutal crime, and IF the BSA's National Executive Board (not a Council Scout Executive not a Council Executive Board!) says so.
-----------end of included email from the Scouts-L youth discussion group-------------------
In that e-mail you said that Eagle awards could only be revoked under extreme circumstances, such as brutal crimes."
That's true. ONLY the National Executive Board can revoke an Eagle Scout Award, because they are the body which grants the Eagle Scout Award (and other national awards) on behalf of the National Council, Boy Scouts of America.
I have been tracking this over the years since 1970, and as far as I'm aware, the National Executive Board has only revoked eleven or twelve Eagle Scout badges awarded to criminals or to individuals who have caused extreme harm to the program. I am curious to see what the National Executive Board will do in a current case of an Eagle Scout who made another Scout drink urine as a "punishment" during a campout.
"Also, at this site I read that only nine people have had their Eagles "stripped" from them:
-----inserted information I previously provided as part of the "EagleTip" project----------
----------------end of inserted information from my "EagleTip" project-------------------------
My actual number is either eleven or twelve -- but out of more than two million Eagle Scouts, that's a really, really low number indeed.
"However, I have seen many cases on the internet where Eagles have been revoked because of controversy over religeon or sexual orientation."
No. There has only been ONE case in which an Eagle Scout Badge was revoked due to an issue with the individual's lack of faith and NONE has been revoked due to an individual's sexual orientation.
What HAS been revoked is their national registration -- which is a LOT DIFFERENT than their attainment of the Eagle Scout Award. Once you've awarded Eagle, that's that. Only the BSA's National Executive Board can take it away. But a local BSA Council or the National office CAN revoke registration as a member of the BSA -- which only means you cannot be a member of a unit, local Council or one of their Districts without the BSA's expressed written permission. It doesn't mean that whatever honors or awards are revoked...only that when people ask you "where are you a Scout at", you can't really answer that question without more questions being asked.
Several of those cases, the Scout was not awarded Eagle simply because the local Council didn't forward the application to the National office so it could make its rounds to be certified and the Eagle granted. So in those "technical Eagle" cases, one can make a case that their "Eagles" were refused or revoked but it's not completely accurate.
"I was wondering if you could clarify for me exactly what conditions need to be present in order for the Eagle rank to be revoked?"
I can't only to say that the BSA's decisions over the years have to deal with murder, multiple rapes, child abuse on a grand scale, larceny, and similar type crimes. As I stated, the 37 members of the BSA's National Executive Board -- four of whom are professional Scouters; the rest are corporate presidents, leaders of national social, religious and educational bodies; and two retired military officers; I believe that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is still a member of the BSA's National Executive Board (not sure about that; I know as the former CIA director, he was a member of the National Executive Board) -- make the decisions about retention or revocation of the Eagle and/or other national awards (Silver Buffalo, Beaver, Antelope, World).
There's no guidelines on what will "revoke your Eagle" -- not on paper, anyways.
Hope this clarifiies things a little bit more, Jason...thanks for asking me!