Monday, June 3rd, 2013
Boy Scout units hosted by Southern Baptist churches may soon dwindle in number, in response to the Boy Scouts of America’s recent vote to allow openly gay boys to be Scouts. Baptist leaders say the move is counter to their religious beliefs, and they may leave the organization “en masse.” More from CNN’s Belief Blog:
Baptist churches sponsor nearly 4,000 Scout units representing more than 100,000 youths, according to the Boy Scouts of America.
That number could drop precipitously.
The Southern Baptist Convention, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, will soon urge its 45,000 congregations and 16 million members to cut ties with the Scouts, according to church leaders.
The denomination will vote on nonbinding but influential resolutions during a convention June 11-12 in Houston.
“There’s a 100% chance that there will be a resolution about disaffiliation at the convention,” said Richard Land, the longtime head of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, “and a 100% chance that 99% of people will vote for it.”
“Southern Baptists are going to be leaving the Boy Scouts en masse,” Land continued.
Roger “Sing” Oldham, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, emphasized that local congregations make their own decision on the Scouts.
But he, too, said he expects Baptist delegates, which the church calls “messengers,” to voice their disagreement with the BSA’s decision to allow gay youths.
“With this policy change, the Boy Scouts’ values are contradictory to the basic values of our local churches,” Oldham said.
Image: Church, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
The Boy Scouts of America’s National Council has voted to end a ban on openly gay boys becoming Scouts.
The Associated Press reports that more than 60 percent of the voting members of the council approved of admitting openly gay Scouts. However, the proposal continues a longstanding ban against gay adults being Scout leaders.
According to the AP, some conservative churches that sponsor Scout units wanted to continue excluding gay youths, in some cases threatening to defect if the ban were lifted. More liberal Scout leaders — while supporting the proposal to accept gay youth — have made clear they want the ban on gay adults lifted as well.
Image: Boy Scout uniform and flag, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
The Boy Scouts of America’s current policy banning openly gay boys and men from membership in the organization will remain in place until at least May, when the group’s board has said it may vote on a proposal to change the policy. That vote had been expected Wednesday, but has been delayed, according to a statement from the BSA, because of “the complexity of this issue.” From CNN:
“After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy,” the group said Wednesday morning.
“To that end, the executive board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns. This will assist the officers’ work on a resolution on membership standards. The approximately 1,400 voting members of the national council will take action on the resolution at the national meeting in May 2013.”
Read recent coverage from Parents News Now of the Boy Scouts of America:
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Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
The fact that more than two-thirds of Boy Scout troops are affiliated with houses of worship is heavily influencing both sides of the debate over whether the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) should allow openly gay boys and men to be members or leaders in the organization. The BSA is expected to announce its decision on a new policy February 6. More from NBC News:
“I think it’s clear that the Scouts have made a sea change in who they are and that down the road they will be a different organization than they are today,” said Roger “Sing” Oldham, spokesman for the conservative Southern Baptist Convention, whose leader, Frank S. Page, urged for a prayer be held among congregations on Sunday that the board members would not allow gays.
“I think there are a lot of parents and students who will make the decision to look for other organizations that are more in line with the principles that they espouse,” he said.
The Scouts’ board meeting starts today, and a decision on the gay ban is expected Wednesday.
The Scouting movement has heavy involvement from religious groups, with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church together sponsoring more than 1 million Scouts, according to Boy Scouts data for 2011. Overall, faith-based groups sponsored nearly 70 percent of the more than 100,000 Scouting units that year, compared with civic organizations backing 23 percent and educational outfits 8 percent.
In the Scout Oath, youth pledge to do their “duty to God,” and the organization holds special celebrations in tandem with churches, such as “Scout Sunday,” just ahead of the Feb. 8 anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts in 1910. This year, “Scout Sunday” was held Feb. 3 in a number of congregations across the country, and people on social media reported troops receiving their religious medals and posted pictures of Scouts in uniform at church. The BSA offers a guide to the church observance on its website.
“Boy Scouts are like baseball and apple pie,” said Rev. Chase Peeples of the gay-friendly Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ in Kansas City, Mo., which honored Scouts on Sunday and displayed on its front lawn a banner with a rainbow background reading, “We welcome ALL Boy Scouts.”
Image: Boy Scout troop, via Susan Montgomery / Shutterstock.com
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Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
The Boy Scouts of America, which has been fielding criticism in the wake of revelations of sexual abuse by its leaders, has announced it is reconsidering its policy of barring openly gay boys and men from participating in the organization. More from CNN:
The organization, which has 2.7 million members, is “potentially discussing” doing away with its national policy after months of protest, including hundreds of angry Eagle Scouts renouncing their hard-earned awards and mailing back their red-white-and-blue medals.
Many parents of Scouts across America found the national policy excluding gays confusing — and at odds with basic scouting ideals.
Social media were abuzz with outrage over the policy; gay men who used to be Scouts spoke out in first-person blogs. On her TV talk show, Ellen DeGeneres featured a California Scout who had been denied his Eagle rank because he is gay.
Members of the organization’s national board are expected to bring up the issue at a regularly scheduled biannual meeting in February. Any change would be announced after that.
In the Scouts’ statement Monday, the group indicated that the national board may consider passing any decisions on gay membership to the local level. Each troop’s charter organization would be able to decide “consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”
“The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue,” the statement said.
The statement itself is remarkable. Some members will see the fact that Scouting’s national leadership is even discussing a policy change as a softening of its stance on gays and lesbians.
But some Scouts and Scout parents say that passing the decision to the local level will have little effect on the ground, because many troops have been ignoring the national policy anyway.
Image: Boy Scout, via Shutterstock
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