Future of Boy Scouts Cloudy as Churches Consider Dropping Chapter Sponsorship
There hasn't been a widespread exodus of Boy Scout Troops being dropped by churches, but the future of Scouting is uncertain.
Many have been watching closely to see what would happen after the governing body of the Boy Scouts of America adopted a new policy concerning same-sex membership May 23rd. The national council left the matter up to it's local and regional voting members, who approved allowing gay youth to join, but still prohibited gay scout leaders.
The vast majority of troops are sponsored by either the Mormon Church, or Baptists. The Southern Baptist Convention, who are considered the national governing body of most such churches, did not call for a boycott of scouting. They however, did leave it up to individual congregations as to whether they would continue sponsorship. Some 3,981 troops have Baptist church sponsorship and support.
What has been happening since the May 23rd decision is individual churches scattered across the country, or small groups of affiliated denominations are severing ties with Scouting. Six churches in Florida and a trio of West Texas churches have dropped support, and the Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, GA has severed ties with it's troop after 68 years of support. Similar reports are filtering in from around the country, especially in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky.
The Southern Baptist Convention recently adopted a resolution that while they are not boycotting scouting, they are urging churches to drop their sponsorship. Reverend A.J. Smith, president of the Association of Baptists for Scouting says while the SBC doesn't agree with the Boy Scout policy, it's still to early for Baptists to give up on scouting.
However, SBC leader Russel Moore says many Baptist leaders, including himself, believe this is just the first step, that the ban on homosexual Scout leaders will be lifted eventually. He says:
"The current policy is unsustainable."
According to USA Today, Moore believes:
" Southern Baptists don't want to kick boys out of Scout troops because they have same-sex attraction. But he thinks the Scouts no longer teach that sex is moral only when it takes place in a marriage between a man and a woman."
20 years ago, the SBC voted to ban churches that openly support homosexuality. Some congregations now fear that because of that stance, they could be tossed out of the convention for sponsoring Scout troops due to their new policy.
Whatever happens, the future of Scouting remains very much up in the air, and with an uncertain future.