(RNS) The Boy Scouts of America’s decision to drop its ban on gay adult leaders and employees brought a range of responses from religious groups.
On Monday (July 27), members of the BSA’s national executive board voted to drop the ban two years after the Scouting organization allowed gay youths, but not adults. The BSA said religious groups, which make up about 70 percent of its chartered organizations, may still choose adult volunteer leaders “whose beliefs are consistent with their own.”
Here’s a sampling of religious responses:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
Mormons said they were “deeply troubled” by the decision and said their “century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined.”
The Southern Baptist Convention:
The SBC has grown cooler to the BSA in the past few years. “We express consummate sadness that this once vibrant organization continues to cave to social pressure, compromising its long-held, constitutionally protected tenets,” said Roger “Sing” Oldham, spokesman for the SBC’s executive committee. Baptist churches are autonomous, so each church will decide for itself.
Roman Catholic Church:
The National Catholic Committee on Scouting expressed concerns about how Scouts define “sexual orientation” and how the new policy will be put into practice, but still supports the organization. “While this fluctuating situation will be increasingly challenging, we recognize the vital importance of providing a Catholic emphasis to Catholic Scouts and Scouters seeking ways to live out their ‘duty to God,’” its leaders said.
United Methodist Church:
Gilbert C. Hanke, CEO of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, pointed out that the new policy gives religious groups the option of selecting their own leaders.
“No church will be required to accept any volunteer as a Scout leader simply because of the new policy,” Hanke said.
The Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, which in 2001urged its congregations to stop housing Scout troops because of bans on gay members and leaders, “will swiftly review its recommendation to our synagogues,” said Barbara Weinstein, its director.
Unitarian Universalist Association:
The Boston-based association will reopen a dialogue “between our two organizations in order to re-establish right relations,” said its president, the Rev. Peter Morales.
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