Sometime during the week of May 20, about 1,400 delegates representing Boy Scout troops from across the country will gather in Texas and vote on a proposed policy that, if passed, would allow openly homosexual boys to be Scouts while continuing a ban on homosexual leaders.
Most conservative Christians oppose the proposal, so the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has engaged a high-profile adviser to help them make their case: Ralph Reed.
WORLD learned that Reed, founder of the Christian Coalition and now president of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, has arranged meetings and conference calls between Christian conservative leaders and BSA officials who support the pro-gay resolution. According to John Stemberger, founder of OnMyHonor.Net, a group opposed to the policy change, “After the introduction is made, the BSA officials try to convince these top conservative evangelical leaders to support the resolution by finding friendly media venues to discuss it.”
Reed confirmed in a phone conversation with me that he had arranged conference calls in an attempt to be a “peacemaker” in the process. He said he had not personally participated in the calls and acknowledged he is paid a small retainer by the Boy Scouts. Reed would not disclose the amount of his fee except to characterize it as “de minimus.”
“[I would] deeply resent any implication that I am helping this policy to pass.” he added. “I am on record opposing a change in the current policy. Period.”
Stemberger, though, called Reed’s comment “doubletalk.” Regardless of Reed’s intention, Stemberger said, “these calls could not help but further the resolution.”
Among the conference calls Reed has set up, one was between the BSA and executives at Salem Communications, the largest Christian radio company in the country. Salem executives had no comment on the content of those calls but published a short editorial statement that aired on most of Salem’s approximately 100 radio stations. Read by Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and a member of Salem’s editorial board, the statement said in part:
“The central authorities of the Boy Scouts of America have announced yet another compromise position on how they propose to deal with the issue of homosexual leaders and Scouts. This came just a year after the Boy Scouts insisted that it would stand behind its ban on openly gay scouts and scouting leaders. But then, earlier this year, they floated a compromise policy amounting to a ‘local option’ for troops. After the outrage from that proposal, the new proposed policy will require all troops to accept boys without regard to sexual orientation, but they will retain an outright ban on openly homosexual adults serving as scout leaders. As one mother said, ‘I knew they would try to split the baby in the end.’ And that’s exactly what they have attempted to do again. In the end, it will please no one.”
UPDATE: In an email to WORLD, Ralph Reed stressed “my 43-year involvement in the Boy Scouts, the fact that I am an Eagle Scout, [and] the fact that I sit on the executive board of one of the most respected local councils in the country [the North Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts].” He said his role was to “facilitate a dialogue.” Neither Reed nor the Boy Scouts would say how much the organization is paying Reed.