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Religious Tolerance logo

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) reconsiders ban on gay youths

2013-MAY-23/24: Reaction to the BSA national council
vote by: Gov. Rick Perry, RedState, Roman Catholics,
and the Southern Baptist Convention.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay.

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Reactions by various faith groups, individuals, parachurch groups, secular human rights organizations, etc. in alphabetical order (Cont'd):

  • By Rick Perry, Governor of Texas:

    "The Boys Scouts of America has been built upon the values of faith and family for more than 100 years and today's decision contradicts generations of tradition in the name of political correctness. While I will always cherish my time as a scout and the life lessons I learned, I am greatly disappointed with this decision." 1

  • By the RedState morning briefing:

This is a politically conservative blog edited by Erick Erickson. He dispatches an email every morning. On MAY-24 he based his email on his belief that to be gay is not a sin, but to engage in same-gender sexual behavior -- presumably even within a loving committed relationship or even marriage -- remains a sin and is immoral. This is probably the one reaction by an opponent of BSA membership equality that is most neutral. He wrote:

"The Boy Scouts of America have decided to keep the ban on gay scout leaders, but allow gay young men to participate in scouting. The vote was not even close. More than 60% voted to end the ban.

I have no problem with this. While I would have voted against it, if a majority of scouts want that, that is fine with me. Their institution is allowed to evolve as they see fit. My father was in the Order of the Arrow. He spent a number of years fundraising for the Boy Scouts. I was in the Boy Scouts growing up in Dubai. It has been a wonderful organization.

My son will not be in the scouts. While I have no problem with the scouts allowing in self-identified gay youths, and I believe churches should welcome in gays, I do not believe an organization that works to foster morality and strong character in young men can continue to do so while allowing in young men who identify as gay if the homosexual act is to still be considered a sin.

To be sure, being gay is not a sin. All of us have temptations. But to act on that temptation and engage in sin, is sinful. We live in a day and age where many expect the government to subsidize birth control because sexual behavior in and out of marriage is the norm. Society no longer recognizes homosexual behavior as a sin, nor does it recognize sex outside of marriage generally as sin. Government now subsidizes the behavior.

While churches should not turn away gays and should preach the full Gospel to us and them and require us all to repent, an organization like the Scouts will no longer do so in the context of teaching healthy morality and character to young men. The moral component to the Scouts will collapse in favor of knot tying, tent pitching, and badge collection. ..."

"The Boy Scouts of America now begin the winding down of their ability to serve as a moral beacon teaching clear Judeo-Christian morality and while I don’t have a problem with them doing it, I do choose now to opt out of considering supporting the Boy Scouts of America." 2

Webmaster's note: I disagree with his reference to: "clear Judeo-Christian morality." Such morality was clear in the past when all or essentially all Jewish and Christian faith groups considered same-gender sexual behavior to be a major sin, regardless of the nature of the relationship. But most human sexuality researchers and professional psychological and psychiatric organizations have identified all three sexual orientations -- heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual -- as normal, natural and morally neutral, although any sexual behavior can be destructive and thus become immoral. Liberal Jewish and Christian faith groups have gradually accepted these findings and revised their versions of "Judeo-Christian morality."

  • By the Roman Catholic Church:

The National Catholic Committee on Scouting administers Scouting programs for the Roman Catholic Church. They issued a non-committal statement:

"Since the change in policy will not take effect until January 1, 2014, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting has adequate time to study its effects. The NCCS will determine how it may impact Catholic chartered Scout units and activities. In doing so, we will work within the teachings of our Catholic Faith and with the various local bishops and their diocesan scouting committees."

The Roman Catholic Church's teachings concerning the LGBT community differs somewhat from those of conservative Protestant denominations. The Catholic hierarchy teaches that homosexual orientation is discovered rather than chosen. Further it is is generally fixed in adulthood. The Church calls upon lesbians and gays to lead celibate lives, and for bisexuals to either remain celibate or marry a person of the opposite gender. They teach that certain forms of discrimination against lesbians, gays and bisexuals is important, necessary, and ethical. 3

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 2358 states:

"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. 8 [Emphasis not in the original]

The new BSA policy towards gay youth appears to be compatible with Section 2358. However, we will have to wait until the Committee makes a definitive statement on this matter.

Before the vote was taken on MAY-23 to allow gay youths to become Scouts:

  • One Roman Catholic took a strong stand: Paul Sefranek lives in Peoria, IL. He is a former Scoutmaster and currently serves on his local Catholic Committee on Scouting. He submitted a contingent letter of resignation. It was intended to go into effect if and when the Boy Scouts adopted the new proposal. He said:

    "Under the proposed policy change, one cannot remain a faithful Catholic and serve as a Catholic BSA leader. The proposed change will only lead to confusing boys as to who they really are." 7

Others might argue that -- if the policy is implemented -- that gay youths will observe older gay Scouts and learn "who they really are." Meanwhile, heterosexual youths will observe older straight Scouts and learn "who they really are." There are a massive number of personal stories recorded by gays and lesbians who thought that their same-sex attraction made them unique in the world.

  • Monsignor Donald Romito of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Irvine, CA said that if the BSA's policy changes to allow gays to become Scouts, then:

    "... that's fine with us. In fact, I'm hoping they do change it. We're welcoming to everybody, and everybody's welcome to join the Scouts. It wouldn't impact our relationship with the troop at all."

  • Fr. John De Celles announced in his church bulletin at St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church in Springfield, VA that the parish troop would terminate its relationship with the BSA if the gay youth are admitted to Scouting. 7

  • The Rev. Robert Novokowsky st St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Richmond, VA. said:

    "The proposed changes are such that they will lead inevitably not only to acceptance of open homosexuality but also the tacit approval of that sinful lifestyle. That's where compassion must draw a line. We cannot promote something we've defined as a sin." 7

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By the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC):

The SBC is probably the most actively involved American Protestant denomination trying to maintain discrimination against the LGBT community and to maintain marriage inequality.

President Frank Page of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee said he was deeply saddened that the BSA overturned its "constitutionally protected expressive message that homosexual behavior is incompatible with the principles enshrined in the Scout Oath and Scout Law." He continued:

"We know that the pressures exerted against the voting members of the 1,400 chartered organizations by homosexual activist groups have been unrelenting. We are grateful for each voting member who voted in the minority, but our sadness for the Scouting organization as a whole cannot be overstated. ... [The vote] "ushers in a sea-change in the credibility of the Boy Scouts of America as a viable boys' organization for millions of Americans who believe strongly in the principles of biblical morality. To claim that the Boys Scouts is the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training suddenly rings hollow. ... We continue to pray for our country. We believe we are in desperate need of a genuine spiritual awakening that will transform lives through the power of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Southern Baptist Convention President Fred Luter called it:

"... a sad day in the history of an organization that for years stood on Christian principles, particularly for the thousands of Southern Baptists who grew up as Boy Scouts like myself. ... My prayers go out to the parents and churches who have been forced to make decisions about being a part of the Boy Scouts organization. As Southern Baptists, our commitment to the Word of God and Christian values must take priority over what is 'politically correct."

Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land, who will be retiring from his post as president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in 2013-OCT, said:

"Frankly, I can't imagine a Southern Baptist pastor who would continue to allow his church to sponsor a Boy Scout troop under these new rules. I predict there will be a mass exodus of Southern Baptists and other conservative Christians from the Boy Scouts. ... The 'supposed compromise' satisfies no one and signals the BSA will only become more inclusive of gays. ... The supposed compromise takes away their best defense. In the year 2000, the Supreme Court ruled the Boy Scouts did not have to have homosexual Scoutmasters because the homosexual lifestyle was contrary to the core values of Scouts. If you're going to allow openly gay Scouts to participate in Scouting, then it's no longer a core value. And so what we're going to see now is a flood of litigation by pro-homosexual groups arguing that the continuing ban on gay Scoutmasters is ... prejudice and they will win. They will win, because the Boy Scouts have stripped themselves of their defense the Supreme Court used."

Land recommended that the denomination's congregations no longer support Scout troops and support the Royal Ambassadors ministry to boys from grades 1 to 6 instead. 4 The denomination also offers Challengers, a program for males from grades 7 to 12. 5

A.J. Smith, president of the Association of Baptists for Scouting, said:

"The BSA is now sending a mixed message to youth and the nation. On the one hand they are saying that sexual activity among Scout-aged youth is contrary to Scouting virtues, and on the other hand they are opening the door to youth members regardless of their self-identified sexual orientation. For Baptist churches with Scouting units, this presents a unique challenge." 6

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Rick Perry, "Statement by Gov. Rick Perry on Decision by the Boy Scouts of America," State of Texas, 2013-MAY-23, at:
  2. Erick Erickson, "I have no problem with the Boy Scouts' decision," RedState, 2013-MAY-24, at: This is a link to their home page; this article will later be moved elsewhere in their site.
  3. Ross Murray, "Faith groups react to the Boy Scouts' vote to drop the ban on gay Scouts," GLAAD, 2013-MAY-23, at:
  4. "Royal Ambassadors," WMU, 2011, at:
  5. "Challengers," Alabama Baptist Convention, undated, at:
  6. "Boy Scouts overturn ban on gay members," Baptist Press, 2013-MAY-24, at:
  7. Aaron Schrank, "Catholics torn on Boy Scouts proposal on gays," Religion News Service, 2013-MAY-16, at:
  8. "The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 6," at:

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Home > Religious conflict > U.S. & Worldwide > Boy Scouts > Reconsider gays > here

or Home > Hot topics > Homosexuality & bisexuality > Homophobia > Boy Scouts > Reconsider gays > here

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Original posting: 2013-MAY-23
Latest updated: 2013-JUN-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

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