Boy Scouts, Unitarian Universalists renew agreement

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Boy Scout Casey Chambers carries a rainbow flag during the San Francisco Gay Pride Festival in California on June 29, 2014. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Noah Berger
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-SCOUTS-REACTION, originally transmitted on July 14, 2015.

Boy Scout Casey Chambers carries a rainbow flag during the San Francisco Gay Pride Festival in California on June 29, 2014. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Noah Berger *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-SCOUTS-REACTION, originally transmitted on July 14, 2015.

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(RNS) The Boy Scouts of America and the Unitarian Universalist Association signed a new agreement Thursday (March 24) after the two organizations had previously been divided over gay rights.

“BSA Scout Law defines a Scout by qualities that Unitarian Universalists also lift up,” reads the memorandum of understanding signed by Scouting and Unitarian Universalist officials at the BSA headquarters in Irving, Texas.

It also notes “both Scouts and Unitarian Universalists strive to be good stewards of Earth.”

Left to right, back row, Gene Butler, Jill Goddard, Rev. Richard Gilbert, Rev. Aaron Stockwell, Lee Shaw, seated left to right, Michael Surbaugh, and Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, during the signing of an agreement between the Boy Scouts of America and the Unitarian Universalist Association on March 24, 2016, after the two organizations had previously been divided over gay rights. Photo courtesy of Photo by Boy Scouts of America

Left to right, back row, Gene Butler, Jill Goddard, the Rev. Richard Gilbert, the Rev. Aaron Stockwell and Lee Shaw; seated left to right, Michael Surbaugh and the Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, during the signing of an agreement between the Boy Scouts of America and the Unitarian Universalist Association on March 24, 2016, after the two organizations had previously been divided over gay rights. Photo courtesy of Boy Scouts of America

The UUA dissolved a previous agreement with the BSA in the 1990s because the Scouting organization had banned openly gay members. In July 2015, the BSA dropped its ban on gay adult leaders, two years after it allowed gay youths.

“I am happy to see our two organizations form new bonds of mutual understanding which will allow Unitarian Universalist boys and young men who want to participate in scouting to be able to do so within their own Unitarian Universalist community,” said the Rev. Peter Morales, president of the UUA.

Zach Wahls, co-founder of Scouts for Equality and a Unitarian Universalist, also welcomed the juncture, calling it “a good day for the future of scouting.”

Boy Scouts officials said they look forward to renewing their work with Unitarian Universalists.

“America’s youth are better off when they are in Scouting, and the Boy Scouts of America is successful because of its relationships with valued chartered organizations like the UUA,” the BSA said in a statement to RNS.


RELATED STORY: Mormon church sticking with Boy Scouts


Since the BSA’s 2015 decision, other religious groups — which have long been the majority of chartering organizations — have resolved or dissolved their relationships with the Scouting organization. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the BSA’s largest sponsor, announced last year that it would continue as a chartering organization.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod cut its ties to the BSA in December, saying their previous agreement was “no longer tenable.”

Other groups renewing relations include the United Church of Christ and the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism.

(Adelle M. Banks is production editor and a national reporter for RNS)

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  • I am happy to see that we still have some decent churches who do not discriminate based on hatred. We all appreciate the churches which support the boys. Thanks.

  • John T

    As a Scout Leader, I’m very happy that this “disagreement” has been resolved. I have had the privilege of leading two fantastic Scouts of UU faith as they have come up through our ranks.
    Part of the Scout Law is to be reverent, ‘to be faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.’
    This has been one of the points really emphasized over the years because too many times, we see religion being a dividing force in people.
    Last year, one of the UU Scouts earned a religious award and wanted it to be presented in his church in front of his congregation.
    I was a bit apprehensive at first and wondered if his pastor would even allow it because of the history between the BSA and UUA but after we met, discussed the award, reviewed the presentation, and she realized the importance it meant to the Scout, she was extremely pleased and allowed it.
    Let’s just say that to date, this has been one of the highlights of this Scout’s life and I was happy and honored to be a…

  • Billysees

    Aren’t these laws excellent?

    Practical and with better detail than anything in the Bible.

    1. A Scout is TRUSTWORTHY. A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is a part of his code of conduct. People can always depend on him.

    2. A Scout is LOYAL. A Scout is true to his family, friends, leaders, school, nation, and world community.

    3. A Scout is HELPFUL. A Scout is concerned about other people. He willingly volunteers to help others without expecting payment or reward.

    4. A Scout is FRIENDLY. A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to others. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs that are different from his own.

  • Billysees

    5. A Scout is COURTEOUS. A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that good manners make it easier for people to get along together.

    6. A Scout is KIND. A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated He does not harm or kill anything without reason.

    7. A Scout is OBEDIENT. A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and group. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.

    8. A Scout is CHEERFUL. A Scout looks for the bright side of life. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.

  • Billysees

    9. A Scout is THRIFTY. A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for the future. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.

    10. A Scout is BRAVE. A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him.

    11. A Scout is CLEAN. A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals. He helps keep his home and community clean.

    12. A Scout is REVERENT. A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.

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  • John

    12 Is a problem. Does he respect the non-belief of others? Is the atheist welcome?

  • Billysees

    John,
    ” Does he respect the non-belief of others? Is the atheist welcome? ”

    Good question of course.

    I meant to say at the start that the word ‘scout’ can easily be replaced with the word Christian, or Jew or Muslim or Hindu or any other person.

    Strangely, some in the Christian world look down on unbelief. Their holy texts promote this attitude. But how important are those texts? Can’t we find texts that encourage a better and more loving attitude towards all folks? Yes we can is the easy answer here.

    But is there anyone who will promote them?

    Here’s a few verses, among multitudes, that should be shoved down peoples throats until they choke on them, until they gasp for air. That way, they’ll be remembered —

    1. …stop passing judgment on one another….….Romans 14:13

    2. Accept one another……Romans 15:7

    3. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven…..Luke 6:37

  • Billysees

    4. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love…..Ephesians 4:2

    5. …all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble…..1 Peter 3:8

    6. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…………Philippians 2:3

    7. Be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone…….Titus 3:2

    8. Above all, LOVE EACH OTHER DEEPLY, because love covers over a multitude of sins………..1 Peter 4:8

    9. Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near……….Philippians 4:5

    And on and on and on…

    So, the answer to your questions…
    1. Does he respect the non-belief of others?
    2. Is the atheist welcome?

    …considering the few verses I quoted should be —

    YES, of course.