AUSTIN — In his new book, Texas Gov. Rick Perry uses the Boy Scouts to draw a battle line in what he considers a "culture war," defending them against the American Civil Liberties Union and what he sees as a moral struggle for the country's future.
Perry was scheduled to be in New York today to launch a book tour promoting On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For.
He will make some appearances on cable television news programs as well as syndicated radio. He also expects to do some book signings in Texas over the next few weeks.
In a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Perry said his support of the Boy Scouts is "intensely personal."
"Scouting teaches young men the responsibilities of freedom, it teaches them how to be leaders. It instills character, it instills courage," Perry said.
The book extols the virtues of the Boy Scouts and its impact on Perry as he was growing up in rural Paint Creek. "Life revolved around school, church and — for most boys — the Boy Scouts," Perry wrote.
Perry would eventually achieve Scouting's highest honor, Eagle Scout, as would his son Griffin years later. Perry often wears his Eagle lapel pin.
The book also traces a 30-year history of litigation involving the Scouts — most of which they won — which Perry considers an attack on traditional values and faith in God.
Perry, a Republican, targets the ACLU as the primary force behind a leftist push to accept homosexuality and challenge Scouting's duty to God.
"The ACLU and its allies seemed determined to force the Boy Scouts to bend to their version of what is right and wrong," he writes.
On homosexuality, Perry says he is tolerant of gays he knows: "I believe in valuing their lives like any other, as our God in Heaven does," and is open to the idea that sexual preference may be genetic.
But he says any discussion of sex — heterosexual or homosexual — has no place in Scouting.
On religion, Perry writes that Scouting is firmly nonsectarian, but expects members to express a belief in the Almighty, and to live according to that faith in their daily lives.
On My Honor is published by Stroud & Hall of Macon, Ga., which specializes in books from a conservative viewpoint.
The timing of its release raises questions of whether Perry is trying to bolster his conservative credentials and the chances of an appointment to a federal post if Republican John McCain is elected president.
Perry has said he's not interested in moving to Washington after his term is over, but "he should be on John McCain's short list for a running mate or Cabinet post," said Ray Sullivan, a Republican consultant who used to work for Perry.