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

2013-MAY-23 to 27: Reaction by additional faith
groups. Brief debate on CNN by Stemberger & Wahls

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This topic is a continued from the previous essay.

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Reactions by Roman Catholics:

  • On MAY-26, Father Derek Lappe of Our Lady Star of the Sea parish in Bremerton, WA posted a letter on his parish's web site. He condems the new BSA policy because it comprimises:

    "... the good of their mission and the good of the boys they serve for the sake of political correctness. ... Our parish cannot be involved with a group that has decided to ratify or approve the self-identification of a 10-18 year old boy as 'gay' or 'homosexual.' To me it is cruel, and abusive and absolutely contrary to the Gospel to in any way confirm a teenager in the confusion of same-sex attraction, which is what the New Boy Scout policy will do. ... I am very aware that my objection to the change in the New Boy Scouts is increasingly considered bigoted and backward. I know that there are many good people within the Catholic Church who will disagree with me. I am aware that in many people’s minds 'homosexual' identity is the new civil-rights issue and that there has been huge swing in public opinion on this issue over the past few years. But I won’t put public opinion ahead of the good of the boys and young men in my parish, and I won’t pretend that polls can trump the truths about sexuality and humanity that are revealed to us, first of all by natural law, and confirmed in Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Catholic Church."

    Fr. Lappe has decided to pull his parish out of the BSA. Much of his letter deals with his belief -- supported by the Catholic Medical Association in the year 2000 -- that same-sex attraction is caused by a person's upbringing and not by genetic factors.

    His letter received 210 comments within tend days of being published on his web site. 1

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Reactions by other groups:

CitizenLink, an Evangelical information source affiliated with Focus on the Family, reports:

  • Frank Page, President of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), said that the denomination will probably recommend that its congregations withdraw their support of the Boy Scouts because of the latter's decision to allow celibate gay Scouts to join and remain in the agency. The ultimate decision is made by each individual congregation. Page said:

    "I can say with pretty strong accuracy that the vast majority of Southern Baptists are very disappointed in the latest change in policy … deeply disappointed. We just felt like there’s got to be some objective standard, and we felt they were maintaining that until recently."

    He expects that the SBC will shortly vote on a non-binding resolution that recommends its congregations to disaffiliate from the BSA.

    It is not clear how their new policy of allowing celibate gays to join the BSA is subjective, while the earlier policy of expelling any gays who are found in the BSA is objective.

  • The Assemblies of God [AoG] released a statement in late May stating:

    "We believe — as do a majority of Boy Scout volunteer leaders, and parents — that this is not the best policy for BSA. ... [The] vote to allow homosexual youth members negates BSA’s ability to legally defend it position regarding leaders and opens the door to more efforts by lesbian, gay and bisexual and transgender (LGBT) lobbies to make further policy changes."

    Since the BSA's National Council voted 61% to 39% to adopt the new policy, it is difficult to understand how the AoG can claim that most BSA leaders and parents do not approve of the new policy.

  • The American Heritage Girls (AHG) has decided to terminate all ties withthe BSA.

  • Ernest Easley, pastor of the Roswell Street Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA, recommended during a sermon that parents withdraw their children from the BSA. He said::

    "I never dreamed I’d have to stand up publicly and say to parents: 'Pull your kids out of the Boy Scouts.' If you would have asked me five years ago, 10 years ago, I would have laughed. And even as I was saying it Sunday morning, I thought, I cannot believe I’m having to address this and encourage parents to take their children out of the Boy Scouts of America." 2

Much of the religious media's reporting on the BSA policy is missing a vital piece of information: it is only celibate gay youth who will be allowed into the BSA and permitted to stay in the BSA. This is an important omission, because many conservative Christians define homosexuality in terms of behavior, not orientation. By not emphasizing that gays are allowed in only if they remain sexually inactive, many adults might well incorrectly assume that sexually active gay youth will be entering the BSA.

We have not noticed any similar announcements by mainline, liberal, and progressive Christian denominations and congregations. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. The Mormons) has accepted the new policy. Roman Catholic Church leaders have only issued ambiguous comments.

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2013-MAY-27: CNN broadcasts debate about BSA's new policy:

John Stemberger, founder of debates on CNN with Zach Wahls, author of "My Two Moms." and founder of Scouts for Equality:


This video resulted in 54 comments by viewers. They expressed a wide range of views. For example:

  • "CovertGhost" wrote:

    "Boy scouts should be about teaching these kids to be decent people, that's the intent of the organization. Shunning and not allowing someone based on their religious beliefs, sexual preference, skin color, etc. is laughable coming from members an organization who pride themselves on being altruistic. Compassion is the only way forward. Disrespect and hate from both sides only brings us back to where we were."

  • "Thumm99" wrote:

    "I'm an eagle scout and my biggest problem with this policy is it will have bigger ramifications. My troop is well established and has produced many eagle scout but it is likely to be disbanded because of this policy. Our troop is specifically a christian troop and many of the scoutmasters and parents are leaving now. On top of that our charter organization will no longer support us, and the troop will need to find a new home."

  • "Ethercruiser1" wrote:

    "My son was in the Cub Scouts, not Boy Scouts, as his interest in the Scouts faded. But now I'd never let my son in the Scouts again. It's a sign of the End Times that we are in as the USA descends into immorality, black is white, white is black, good is called evil & evil is called good. Our nation has lost all of its moral bearings and cannot be trusted any more. Our collapse is inevitable... and this is just one glaring sign of it."

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More information will be added in the future

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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. Fr. Derek Lappe, "Fr. Lappe's Response to New Boy Scouts." Our Lady Star of the Sea, 2013-MAY-26, at:
  2. Bethany Monk, "Faith-Based Organizations React, Cut Ties with Boy Scouts of America," CitizenLink, 2013-JUN-04, at:
  3. John Stemberger and Zach Wahls debate, CNN, 2013-MAY-27, 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-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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