Cover Story

Scouts in the balance

"Scouts in the balance" Continued...

Issue: "Boy Scout dilemma," May 18, 2013

The Scouts divide geographically into about 300 local councils. They have their own professional leadership and budgets, run their own Scout camps, and do their own fundraising. Representatives from both the denominations and the councils will be among about 1,400 delegates who will vote on the new proposal on May 22 or 23 at a gathering near BSA headquarters in Irving, Texas.  

Southern Baptist churches operate more than 3,000 units and serve nearly 100,000 Scouts. Frank Page, an Eagle Scout and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), predicts the proposed rule change will fail, but if it passes he says the SBC will take immediate action, beginning with a resolution “expressing condemnation” at June’s SBC annual meeting. “Southern Baptist churches are independent,” he said, “but to be a Southern Baptist church you can’t affirm or condone homosexuality, so I’m sure many of our churches will pull out of Scouting.”

On an April 19 conference call with BSA officials, Page told CEO Wayne Brock, “If this move is an attempt to reach more boys, you are shooting yourselves in the foot. You’re listening to the wrong people.” Because of the governance structure of Scouting, BSA’s professional leadership could implement the rule change even if the vote goes against it, but Page says Brock “gave me his word he would abide by the vote.”

Conservatives suspect the rule change, if affirmed, is only the first step in a gay BSA agenda. James Dale lost his Supreme Court case, but he’s now 42 and giving “diversity lectures” at universities like Harvard and Yale and corporations like Microsoft and Verizon. Dale, attacking the proposal and “BSA’s homophobia,” says “there can be no halfway.” That leads Family Research Council (FRC) head Tony Perkins to say, “On its surface the proposal to allow openly homosexual boys could be seen as having merit, [but] membership criteria would be just the first change. … An admission policy change of this nature, centered around sexuality, would necessitate changes in Scouting curriculum and training for Scout leaders.”

FRC and other groups planned to hold a live webcast on what they called “Stand With Scouts Sunday,” May 5, to mobilize conservative and Christian scouting families regarding the implications of the decision. The SBC’s Frank Page argues that a defeat of the proposal will put the Scouts in a stronger position to “defend biblical morality for both men and boys.” He noted the importance of Christians not just being “against homosexuality, but for biblical standards generally, which would include setting a high bar for heterosexual behavior as well.”

PASTORAL SCENE: Boy Scouts from Dallas, Texas, cheer at the start of the arena show at the 2010 jamboree in Bowling Green, Va.
P. Kevin Morley/Richmond Times-Dispatch/AP
PASTORAL SCENE: Boy Scouts from Dallas, Texas, cheer at the start of the arena show at the 2010 jamboree in Bowling Green, Va.
JUST THE FIRST CHANGE? Stephen Cyr, 13, (left) and his brother Paul, 15, of Boy Scout Troop 21 in Oak Cliff, Texas, attend the Feb. 6 “Save Our Scouts” Prayer Vigil and Rally in front of the Boy Scouts of America National Headquarters in Irving, Texas.
Associated Press/Photo by Richard Rodriguez
JUST THE FIRST CHANGE? Stephen Cyr, 13, (left) and his brother Paul, 15, of Boy Scout Troop 21 in Oak Cliff, Texas, attend the Feb. 6 “Save Our Scouts” Prayer Vigil and Rally in front of the Boy Scouts of America National Headquarters in Irving, Texas.

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Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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