Religious groups react to Boy Scouts’ vote to drop ban on gay adults

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
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.

(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.

READ: Oklahoma top court reaffirms Ten Commandments stone at Capitol must go

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.

Reform Judaism:

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.


About the author

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.


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  • So the only religious group which was being really whiny about it were the Mormons. Everyone else more or less shrugged. Makes sense. It was the LDS which drove for the discriminatory policy in the first place.

  • I did think it was rather rude and a bit rich for the Catholic church to express “concern” about the definition of sexual orientation. Just what are they trying to get at?

  • It will be interesting to watch how the wacky Left crusades against this half decision. But in all seriousness, it is time to begin a new organization known as the Young Men’s Traditional Development Association. Let the “boy scouts” exercise now what its name implies, and has just ratified. Let them spin off to Pluto, and beyond. But all children of traditional, church-going parents need to be KEPT AWAY from involvement in that organization going forward. It has shown its colors.

  • And the Aquarian Tabernacle Church of Wicca was heard to say:

    “We are proud of the BSA and their decision to follow the lead of organizations such as SpiralScouts in their expanded acceptance, and their commitment to base their leadership criteria on who best serves the children. In a nation that is a melting pot of ideas, faiths, and creeds, this is the only decision that falls in line with the American Dream.”

  • It comes down to, “we still want to discriminate against gays, but in this situation it will probably make us look really bad”.

  • The only ones acting like little whiny babies appears to the the LDS and Bible thumpers bemoaning one more place where their brand of discrimination is unwelcome. Christians already have sectarian youth organizations, they don’t need the Boy Scouts anymore. Trail Life appears their speed.

  • Churches, you already know what the Bible says. You already know the score.

    It’s time to leave the Boy Scouts of America. You already know that “local opt outs” can NOT survive the latest USSC gay marriage decision. The BSA leaders are simply running a delay game on you, and letting the gay gestapo and the judicial-activist courts force you into final surrender, whenever they choose.

    Churches, you already know that skin color is genetic and that “being gay” and other wrong sexual behaviors are NOT genetic. (Is adultery genetic? Nope.)

    So you must choose whether to be a Bible-believing church, or else become some other “church” like the UCC, where the Bible simply **doesn’t** matter.

    Fence-sitting time is rapidly running out. There ARE alternative Christian groups for boys and teens. Or maybe your congregation has the resources to form a similar group all by itself. Just GET OUT of the New Gay BSA, that’s all.

    Far better done sooner than later !!!

  • Remember, Rev., you will stand in Judgment one day, and “to those that are given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). And someone in your position will be held to higher standards by the Lord (Mat 18:17), even if you are only part of one of the churches established by man.

  • The Scouts will most likely fade away completely, being replaced by private groups which can focus on what the Scouts used to represent and leave behind this mess the gays have created in an effort to be viewed as civil rights defenders. Their lifestyle is incompatible with Scouting just as it would be to allow girls to join the Boy Scouts. Can’t they form a Gay Scout Org?

  • “Their lifestyle is incompatible with Scouting”?

    How the hell would you know?

    Everyone chiming in against lifting the ban so far has had little to no experience in the organization. This vote was not forced by outside pressure but came from within. Many troops and even entire councils have opposed the ban. A ban which is only 25 years old.

    The Boy Scouts are not a church’s pet youth group but a non sectarian organization they are sponsoring. In the last generation they subverted the intent and nature of it. If churches want to leave because they can’t discriminate, bye bye.

  • Yeah, Greg, and we know what an excessively vengeant a-hole your god is according to your crazy doctrine, so the Rev better worry.

  • Oh, I’m not talking just churches, I’m talking the general public will be abandoning the current BSA. So, basically, it WILL be a gay org.

  • Bob, I’m sorry you feel that way about the Just Judge. What you said is the equivalent of standing before a judge, and telling him what a low down dirty grub he is prior to your sentencing. You might want to reconsider before your own sentencing (as that sentence lasts for eternity).

  • Doesn’t look that way. All those churches raising a holy stink about the loss of their ability to discriminate are still not doing very much here. They aren’t pulling out of Scouting en masse to support the Junior Evangelical Nazis aka Trail Life. The public that stayed away from the BSA because of the discriminatory policies are looking to return to support after a 25 year absence.

    You just want to project your own malice. If you can’t find a socially acceptable way to treat others like crap, you have to foul the nest for everyone.

  • Bob if you love your mother and father, then you should Love God a thousand fold, as nobody would exist if He did not. The problem you have is you do not know God. Try praying 24/7, and see how God responds to that. You might suddenly have a change of heart. He is a softie once you get to know Him. But like any mother or father, He has an angry side.

  • A disposition toward homosexuality in humans is genetic. In many mammals homosexuality is a survival mechanism in times of short food supply. When herds or animal packs are hungry, adding population to the the herd would result in malnutrition for all. There is a need to postpone reproduction; so there will be more food for each individual. Absent sexual reproduction, homosexual behavior is the mechanism for dissipitating the sexual energy that otherwise would be the cause of conflict and injury. The genes that are activated in times of need have been passed down to humans. Humans don’t have a rutting season, so the gene tends to be latent, vestigial, like an appendix, but it can become active in a small percentage of the population.

  • No, Greg1. You are a sick man with a very pathetic delusion. Your god as described in your bible merits time in jail for human rights abuses such as torture and threats of torture. And that is just to mention some of the horrid actions he is claimed to have done. That is a horrid creature, your sky fairy of your Christian tall tales.

    As for prayer, there is no verifiable evidence that a prayer has ever been answered by a deity, ever. Your success rate with prayer is simply zero. Prayer does not get a response from your god, period.

    Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
    Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

  • Actions speak louder than words. Some Catholic churches in MN have dropped sponsor ship of troops. The church in Crosby mn is the one Iamaware of. The Biship in ND has instructed their churches to do the same.