The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will complete its concession to the demands of homosexual activist bullies when it officially opens its ranks on January 1, 2014 to young men who self-identify as gay. In July 2012 the Scouts affirmed its 100-year-old policy of excluding homosexuals from membership and leadership positions within its ranks. That was followed by the release in October 2012 of nearly 15,000 pages of files detailing decades of sexual abuse of young Scouts by male Scout leaders. The pages, dubbed the “perversion files” by the media, included letters, memos, news clippings, and other documents related to both alleged and confessed sexual abuse by trusted Scout leaders during a 20-year time period between 1965 and 1985.
Nonetheless, following intense pressure by homosexual activist groups, as well as by leadership within the Scouting organization, Boy Scout officials reversed course on protecting the organization's young members, announcing on May 23 that following “the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone.”
That decision, which prompted a wholesale exodus of churches and other faith-based organizations from their many decades of sponsorship of Scouting programs, goes into effect at the start of 2014. Boy Scout officials had hoped that the change will occur with little media coverage. “My hope is there will be the same effect this Jan. 1 as the Y2K scare,” Brad Haddock, a BSA national executive board member, told CBS News. “It's business as usual, nothing happens and we move forward.”
Haddock insisted that there “hasn't been a whole lot of fallout” over the anticipated change, and membership in the compromised organization remains strong. “If a church said they wouldn't work with us, we'd have a church right down the street say, ‘We'll take the troop,’” he said of those churches that have chosen to stand on biblical values rather than follow the BSA in affirming the homosexual lifestyle.
Among those expressing their disappointment in the BSA's cave-in was Tony Perkins of the conservative, Christian Family Research Council, who said in May that the “Boy Scouts’ legacy of producing great leaders has become yet another casualty of moral compromise.” Perkins recalled that the Scouting organization was for 100 years “a force for moral integrity and leadership in the United States.” But, he said, “BSA councils, Scouting parents, and leaders of the faith-based organizations that charter over two-thirds of the packs and troops must now decide how to respond to this moral compromise. Many will separate from the organization so that they can continue to foster character among boys and respect the right of parents to discuss issues of sexuality with their sons.”
Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the major sponsors of Scouting among evangelical Christian organizations, predicted that the many Southern Baptist churches which have sponsored scouting programs would look for alternatives. “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,” said Land shortly after the BSA announcement. “I predict there will be a mass exodus of Southern Baptists and other conservative Christians from the Boy Scouts.”
One of the groups that has stepped forward to provide an alternative to Boy Scouts is an organization called Trail Life USA, organized in part by individuals and groups who had previously been involved in traditional Scouting programs. Launched earlier this year, the group said on its website that its vision “is to be the premier national character development organization for young men which produces Godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens.”
Similarly, the stated mission of the clearly Christian group is “to guide generations of courageous young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure.”
At Trail Life USA's inaugural convention in September, attended by some 1,200 individuals, the group's founder John Stemberger, who was himself an Eagle Scout, explained that most of those involved at the beginning came “from a highly-structured environment that has 103 years of culture and language and program and symbols ... and we are starting from scratch.”
Stemberger said he and other organizers hoped that the new program “will be stronger, safer, and more principled in every way” than the organization from which they had separated. He added that the plan was to foster “a prominent faith component that will be weaved into every fiber of the program. But at the same time, we are not going to become religious and churchy. This is not another church program. This is going to be a masculine outdoor program to raise young men.”
Rob Green, Trail Life USA's interim director, said in September that the group would not refuse membership to boys based on race, religion, national origin, or ethnicity, and adult leaders would be required to sign a statement of Christian faith and values. He told the Christian Post that “in addition, the organization's membership policy will focus on sexual purity rather than sexual orientation. The policy will read, in part, that the ‘proper context for sexual relations is only between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage.’”
Stemberger told the Christian Post that young men struggling with same-sex attraction would not be excluded from the group, but that there would be no tolerance for flaunting a homosexual orientation or for pushing a homosexual agenda. “I think that there's a real difference between someone who has a same-sex attraction and someone who identifies with the gay political movement,” Stemberger told the Christian news site. “That's a very different thing, and so we wouldn't tolerate any kind of open sex or politics in the program, or gay activism.”
Photo at top shows statue of Boy Scout in front of the National Scouting Museum, Irving, Texas: AP Images