Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Local Churches Slowly but Surely Dropping Boy Scouts

I was in scouting as a youth in the days before Boy Scouts of America cracked down on homosexuality in the ranks and in its leadership. Ours was a large inner city scouting program based at a Presbyterian church. Our city also had a large homosexual community, and I was unfortunate enough to witness first hand the dangers to youth and to the scouting program that the presence of gay leaders creates.

Our local rag, The Herald, ran a reasonably well balanced article recently about a large Presbyterian church in our current town that made the decision to drop its sponsorship of a Cub Scout Pack and Boy Scout Troop (full story here).
"Westminster Presbyterian Church, sponsor of Boy Scouts for nearly three decades, has decided to sever its ties with the organization after a national policy change earlier this year that lifted the ban of gay men serving as volunteers..." 
"Westminster has been home to one of York County’s largest Boy Scouts troops and plays a central role in many local youth organizations. In a statement this week, Westminster church elders called their move to not renew the church’s charter agreement with the Scouts 'one of the most gut-wrenching decisions we have ever had to make.'" 
I am familiar with this church's elders, and I am sure that they made the decision after study of scripture and following much prayer. They are not the only local Presbyterian church to do this,
"Westminster is the second local church to drop its charter with the Scouts since the summer. There are nearly 140 children who participate between Troop 205 and Cub Scouts Pack 205 at Westminster." 
"In August, First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church of Lancaster announced its decision to drop its sponsorship of Boy Scouts – also over the Boy Scouts of America vote to allow gay volunteers. That church said the 63 Scouts affected by the decision were invited to join troops with other sponsors, or join the church’s newly formed Trail Life USA – a Christian club with a similar outdoor activities focus as the Boy Scouts." 

Here are a couple of interesting statements from the local scout leadership,
"Despite the adults debating the issue, Leitch (Greg Leitch, Scout executive/CEO of the Palmetto Council) says the BSA and all local volunteers take serious that discussions of sexuality are never appropriate with children involved in Scouting programs.”
Tell that to the scout leaders in Seattle who let their boys march in that city's gay pride parades.
'We are a character education program that develops young people to achieve their full potential in adulthood. Leaders who violate the behavioral standards of the BSA by discussing these issues will be removed from Scouting.'"
I am confident that the current adult leaders of Troop 205 are doing their best to raise their boys right, but what assurance do parents have that their children will not be exposed to risk at regional or national scout gatherings?

Word on the street is that a large local United Methodist church will take in the homeless scouts. Pity, because there are alternatives to Boy Scouts of America.

One of these is Trail Life which has a 127 acre camp in Greenville, South Carolina. Their web page shows their Christian foundations reflected in the following,
Our vision is to be the premier national character development organization for young men which produces Godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens.
Our mission is simple and clear: to guide generations of courageous young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure.
“Walk Worthy”
Colossians 1:10  “… that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;…”
On my honor,
I will do my best
To serve God and my country;
To respect authority;
To be a good steward of creation; And to treat others 
as I want to be treated.
Local churches that stand firm will stand apart from churches that don't.  Churches can expect negative press and worse when they reject BSA troops, but the Boy Scouts have left them with no choice. For the Church the question is, "Who will you follow, Jesus or the Boy Scouts?"

Maybe this is a litmus test for our churches.


  1. Pewster,
    The WELS has never had an agreement with the BSA.
    The LCMS said they would make a decision but have not done so yet that I can see. This is a bit of a puzzle.

  2. A case that attracted a great deal of media attention in the late 1970s and early 1980s was the New Orleans Boy Scout sex ring. See "Boy Scout files show nearly 20 sex-abuse cases with New Orleans connections" at I began working in the field of child welfare in New Orleans at that time and have some knowledge of the case. A group of sexual predators used the Boy Scouts as a cover to recruit boys for pornography and prostitution. They also recruited boys from poor families in the guise of church friendly visitors.

    Yet in the first decade of this century when I served as a troop committee member and chaplain for my grandnephew's troop, there were adult troop leaders who favored permitting gay adults to serve as troop leaders. They were a minority but they were also a persistent voice.

    My troop was very strict in observing the youth safety code that the Boy Scouts had implemented to protect the boys from sexual abuse and exploitation. But there were troops in the district whose adult leaders were very lax in their adherence to Boy Scout regulations--even bring beer to campouts and showing pornographic movies.

    1. That is the city I was talking about. Those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it.