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The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) reconsiders ban on gay youths

2013-MAY-23/24: Reaction to the BSA national council
vote by Utah National Parks Council, and two Baptist
churches in Alabama.

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This topic is a continued from the previous essay.

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Reaction by the Utah National Parks Council (UNPC):

The UNPC "... is the largest BSA Council in the United States with 6,079 units comprised of 83,827 youth, and 43,836 adult volunteers."

They issued a statement:

"The Utah National Parks Council believes the adoption of the new membership resolution by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America is a win for everyone involved in Scouting -- especially for the youth who will be the greatest beneficiaries. The resolution states in part, 'No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of American on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.'

This, along with other items found within the resolution, fully meets the goals the Utah National Parks Council has always endorsed - the long-standing support of its youth, its local chartered partners and the BSA mission.

The new membership policy ensures 'all youth who meet the specific membership requirements to join the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Sea Scout and Venturing programs' will have the opportunity to participate in the Scouting program.

The Utah National Parks Council also supports the National Council of the BSA moral and sexual behavior standard expressed in the resolution, which states, 'Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.'

The Utah National Parks Council reiterates its policy on ensuring strong, high-quality adult leadership, as well as emphasizing the virtues of Scouting. The BSA's Youth Protection program and policies has always "place[d]...[great] importance on creating the most secure environment possible for our youth members." The Youth Protection program is a series of policies, procedures and leadership selection criteria for parents and leaders.

The Council wholeheartedly supports the mission of the Boy Scouts of America to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

Now that the voting has concluded and the membership policy change has been approved, the Utah National Parks Council will continue to work closely with the BSA and its chartering partners as plans are developed for implementation of the policy change.

The Utah National Parks Council remains dedicated to its leadership role in the BSA to provide the resources, funding, activities, training and programs needed to give all youth, volunteer leaders and BSA units the greatest experience possible.

The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, reiterated the following information regarding passage of the resolution of the BSA membership policy:

  1. At the Boy Scouts of America's National Annual Meeting on May 23, the voting members of the National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place.

  2. This policy change is effective on Jan. 1, 2014, allowing the BSA the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units.

  3. America's youth need Scouting, and by focusing on the goals that unite us, we can continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the youth we serve.

Utah National Parks Council and BSA Mission:

The Utah National Parks Council is the largest BSA Council in the United States with 6,079 units comprised of 83,827 youth, and 43,836 adult volunteers. The Council supports the mission of the BSA, which is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices during their lifetimes by instilling the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

In so doing, the BSA provides programs designed to build character, train youth in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, develop personal fitness, develop leadership skills, and to combine educational activities and values with fun." 1

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Reaction by two Baptist pastors in Alabama:

Troop 2 in Helena, AL, is sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club. For the past six months, they had met in facilities supplied by the First Baptist Church of Helena. One week after the BSA changed its membership rules to allow celibate gay scouts to join and openly serve, the lead pastor of the Baptist Church said that the troop would no longer be allowed to meet at his church.

Joey Kiker is the program and marketing coordinator with the Greater Alabama Council of Boy Scouts. He said that within:

"Moments after the pastor went on camera and declared that this troop would need to find someplace else to carry on the mission of Scouting, several churches in the area graciously offered to host Troop 2. The troop is very excited about the new facilities that they have been offered and they are preparing to go to summer camp in a few weeks. ... We know that there are mixed feelings regarding this change among churches and civic organizations that charter our units. Most of our Chartered Partners understand that vast value that Scouting has in their community and in the lives of the young people they serve." 2

Before the BSA national meeting in Grapevine, TX, the Greater Alabama Council had polled their local volunteers and partners that sponsor Boy Scouts troops about the proposed change in national policy. They found that 78% of them favored the earlier policy that prohibits gay youth from joining the BSA and requires the immediate expelling of any gay youth whenever they were found within the Scouts. So, the Council's delegates voted against accepting the membership policy. It passed by a vote of 61% to 39%.

In spite of the Council doing all it could to retain the BSA's previous national discriminatory policy, Pastor Greg Walker of the First Baptist Church told WBRC-TV:

"It's hard on a personal level to say to a troop of young boys who have done nothing wrong and to the leaders, 'You're not welcome here."

He concluded that he could not let a group:

"... openly support a sinful lifestyle under the umbrella of First Baptist Helena."

Meanwhile, the Rev. Mike Shaw, pastor at First Baptist Church of Pelham, AL said that his church would also be ejecting his church's troop. He said:

"We're not doing it out of hatred. The teachings of the Scripture are very clear on this. We're doing it because it violates the clear teaching of Scripture." 2

There are six or seven "clobber" passages in the Bible that are interpreted by most religious conservatives as banning homosexuality. All of the passages refer only to same-gender sexual behavior; none refer to homosexual orientation. More liberal theologians often interpret these same passages as referring to very specific same-gender behaviors:

  • same-gender rape,
  • same-gender sexual activity in Pagan temples,
  • same-gender sexual activity by persons with a heterosexual orientation which is against their basic nature,
  • men sexually molesting boys, and
  • bestiality -- sexual activity with another species.

They suggest that the Bible is silent on consensual same-gender sexual behavior by persons with a homosexual orientation.

The two pastors' decision to eject the BSA troops may have been the result of a misunderstanding about the BSA's new policy about gay youth. They appear to have rejected the Troop over a concern that it would allow same-gender sexual activity among the Scouts. In reality, sexual activity -- whether between two male youths, or between a male and female still represent grounds for dismissal from the Scouts. The new BSA policy only allows celibate youth with a homosexual orientation to join Scouting and stay there.

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Statement on Adoption on New Membership Resolution," Boy Scouts of America - Utah National Parks Council, 2013-MAY-23, at: http://www.finanznachrichten.de
  2. Bethany Monk, "Faith-Based Organizations React, Cut Ties with Boy Scouts of America," 2013-JUN-04, at: http://www.citizenlink.com/
  3. Fr. Derek Lappe, "Fr. Lappe's Response to New Boy Scouts." Our Lady Star of the Sea, 2013-MAY-26, at: http://starofthesea.net/

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Home > Religious conflict > U.S. & Worldwide > Boy Scouts > Reconsider gays > here

or Home > Hot topics > Homosexuality & bisexuality > Homophobia > Boy Scouts > Reconsider gays > here

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Original posting: 2013-MAY-23
Latest updated: 2013-JUN-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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