Boy Scouts to allow homosexual leaders
by Warren Cole Smith
Posted 7/27/15, 10:05 pm
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) today ended its ban on homosexual leaders.
The 45-12 vote came during BSA’s National Executive Board meeting in Irving, Texas. The outcome was not a surprise. BSA President Robert Gates has said banning homosexuals from serving as leaders was “no longer legally defensible.”
A statement issued earlier this month noted, “the BSA’s commitment to duty to God and the rights of religious chartered organizations to select their leaders is unwavering.”
John Stemberger, chairman of the Christian youth outdoor program Trail Life USA, disputed that claim. He said the churches that stand for biblical values will find it increasingly difficult to operate in the structure of the Boy Scouts since so many activities are cooperative in nature. “Camporees, jamborees, and high adventure programs such as Philmont all expose Scouts to leaders from outside one’s chartered unit,” Stemberger said. He said churches that charter Scout units can no longer be confident other leaders will share their beliefs, values, and behavioral standards.
“This change in membership policy places the churches and religious institutions that sponsor BSA troops at greater legal risk … for legal attack and litigation,” Stemberger said. “While the BSA may be well-meaning in its intent to create a local troop option for membership standards for churches, this decision will be unsustainable over time given the hostile nature of the courts and their ‘evolution’ on issues related to gay rights and human sexuality.”
The new resolution also affirms that homosexual acts can be “moral, honorable, committed, and respectful.”
But, Stemberger said, “this opinion is wholly incompatible with historic Christian theology and ethics and will make it even more challenging for a church to integrate a BSA unit as part of a church’s ministry offerings.”
The issue has deeply divided the Boy Scouts, which has lost 14 percent of its membership in the past two years alone. Gates, who was the U.S. secretary of defense when the military ended its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, called for an end to the ban on homosexual adult leaders in May.
On one point, both sides of this divide agree: This change is huge and likely irrevocable for the Boy Scouts. Zach Wahls, executive director of Scouts for Equality, told Reuters, “We are 180 degrees from where we were a year ago.”
But Stemberger said the change is not for the better: “This is a sad day for the legacy of the Boy Scouts of America and a sad day for America. This decision reverses over a hundred years of tradition and values.”
Warren Cole Smith
Warren is the host of WORLD Radio’s Listening In. He previously served as WORLD's vice president and associate publisher. He currently serves as president of MinistryWatch and has written or co-written several books, including Restoring All Things: God's Audacious Plan to Change the World Through Everyday People. Warren resides in Charlotte, N.C. Follow him on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.