Possible Boy Scout gay leadership change has religious groups weighing options

Possible Boy Scout gay leadership change has religious groups weighing options

JUNE 29th 2014: The New York City Pride March commemorating the gay rights movement.

(RNS) The phone calls and emails have been pouring in at Trail Life USA since Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates said his organization should remove its ban on gay leaders.

“I think this is the major public turning point,” said John Stemberger, chairman ofTrail Life USA, which bills itself as a Christian alternative to the Boy Scouts. “The handwriting is on the wall.”

After Gates’ remarks, Trail Life’s Facebook page “likes” increased by more than 3,000. The group that began with almost 500 troops in January 2014 now has 567 troops in 48 states. Another 200 are in the process of joining.

Meanwhile, leaders of faith groups, which sponsor 70 percent of Scouts’ units, had mixed reactions. Catholics and Mormons appear to be taking a wait-and-see attitude, Methodists plan to mull the next steps with BSA officials, and some progressive groups are welcoming the possible change but say it may take an actual revision before they see a significant boost in participation.

In a letter to “fellow Catholic Scouters” posted on Facebook, Edward P. Martin, national chairman of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, said his group supports the “viable form of youth ministry” it provides with the BSA.

“We will continue to pursue that mission until such time BSA rules conflict with Catholic teaching,” he wrote. “That hasn’t happened yet, nor do we expect it to happen.”

Martin noted that Gates said in his May 21 comments that organizations with BSA charters should be permitted “to establish leadership standards consistent with their faith.”

R. Chip Turner, chairman of the BSA’s Religious Relationships Committee, hopes more faith groups will take the Catholic committee’s approach.

“Let’s wait and find out what is actually proposed,” he said he tells groups that are wondering about leaving the BSA.

The BSA said its Executive Board is expected to make a decision by October.

The Scouts have seen a decrease in membership since their 2013 policy change permitting gay Scouts. Overall, 2.4 million youth participated in BSA programs in 2014, a decrease of about 7.4 percent from 2013.

Turner said that “in a number of cases,” units have moved from a local congregation that no longer wanted to affiliate with the BSA to another affiliated faith group. While some councils, or local groups of Scouts, have seen membership growth for years, others “had some fairly significant losses.”

He could not name a specific faith group that has altogether left the BSA.

But a BSA report on trends in membership of faith-based chartered organizations shows that most listed groups saw a decline in youth membership from 2012 to 2013, ranging from 0.4 percent in the Episcopal Church’s affiliated groups to 14.2 percent among Baptist churches. The only exception to the decline was the Mormon church, which had an increase of 1.5 percent.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will, of course, examine any such changes very carefully to assess how they might impact our own century-long association with the BSA,” the Utah-based faith group said in a statement after Gates’ speech.

“We will be in conversation with the BSA relative to Dr. Robert Gates’ remarks,” said Larry Coppock, national director of the United Methodist Church’s Scouting office.

On Wednesday (May 28), the Liberty Counsel, a legal and policy organization dedicated to religious freedom, asked its supporters to sign a petition to the BSA that declares “No compromise! Keep troop leaders and scouts morally straight!”

“We strongly encourage you to keep the BSA organization and its members doing your duty to God and country, reaffirming your goal to be ‘physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight,’” reads the petition, which will be hand-delivered to BSA leaders on June 5.

Trail Life, whose chairman expects some denominations will slowly transition out of the BSA, will be exhibiting at June’s annual meetings of the Presbyterian Church in America and the Southern Baptist Convention.

“Though we continue to be disappointed in their 2013 decision, we are not surprised that the trajectory set into motion two years ago continues to unfold,” said Roger “Sing” Oldham, spokesman for the SBC’s Executive Committee.

As faith leaders of all perspectives await word on what the BSA will do next, some churches that affirm LGBT people have strengthened their ties with the Scouts since its 2013 decision to accept gay Scouts.

“I do hear that people are encouraged by Dr. Gates’ speech, but whether it will be a catalyst for new engagement will depend on what policy change actually gets adopted and how it is implemented over time,” said the Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer, the United Church of Christ’s liaison with the BSA. “The history of exclusion will take some time to get past for a number of people and congregations.”

YS/MG END BANKS

Religion News Service

RNS is owned by Religion News LLC, a non-profit, limited liability corporation based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Its mission is to provide in-depth, non-sectarian coverage of religion, spirituality and ideas.

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Tim
Guest

LET’S ALL BOYCOT GEORGE’S POSTS !!
HE BRINGS NOTHING TO A CIVIL DISCUSSION.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Busy morning, Tim?

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Markos, here it was a right-winger whining about a lack of dialogue from a holder of the progressive viewpoint.

John – “More Christlike”? Too easy. To include the outcast in the face of opprobrium from those who falsely claim authoriteh – very little at all is more so. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, n’est ce pas?

Paul W.
Guest
10 out of 18 comments (at this point) are from George. Almost nothing he writes is intended to be part of a conversation. In these comments alone, George spouts the following vitriol: – Those who support the current UMC and original Boy Scout policies are “those who dishonor christ by using Him to seek power and control”. – “The parents who’re up in arms [about the Boy Scout policy changes] are being irrational [and if] their fears weren’t being stoked by right-wing agents of deception they’d know this.” – “Right-wingers” [with the implication that many of us fall in this… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Said the fellow who’s called UMC progressives every dirty name under the sun. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Paul W.
Guest

I would be quite interested in seeing examples of where I have used pejorative language to attack UMC liberals or progressives. Seriously. Name-calling is definitely not my style so I’m quite curious to see what you are referring to.

Kevin
Guest

Paul
You are wasting your time. You can’t dialogue with a broken record.

John
Guest

George, I’ll refer again to Chuck Smith… “If you have come to a strong personal conviction on one side of a doctrinal issue, please grant us the privilege of first seeing how it has helped you to become more Christlike in your nature, and then we will judge whether we need to come to that same persuasion.”

Markos
Guest

Anytime I hear progressives say they want to enter into a “dialogue” I know they are really saying they have left orthodox teaching, left the faith for something new, and set themselves on a pedestal above their faith ancestors who no longer have a voice. They are only interested in convincing everyone else to commit error to feel justified. “But be strong and hold fast to the traditions that were taught.”

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Dialogue to you religious right members means shouting down, and blaming the victims of your disgraceful and Unchristian bullying.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

The June 3m 7:01 PM is but a recent example of many personal attacks in which you have engaged. As to the UMC itself, you have participated in Faux “Ain’t It Awful?” type prevarication and deception.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

“Ain’t it Awful?” is one of Eric Berne’s “Games People Play” from a pop psychology bestseller in the 1970s describing various gambits in human interaction. It simply means seeking to persuade others to rally to your side by demonizing those you oppose. That’s all right wing politics is – the willingness to carry that out as far and as fast as one can and maintain or exert power and control. Other more academic observers have discussed the dsame phenomenon using the term ‘the other” for exclusionary rhetoric like you and your fellow rhetoricians employ.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest
“boorish” as used here = archaic bourgeios term for calling a spade a spade. Your post of 6/1/15 @ 9:57 PM provides examples of your willingness to prevaricate and present conclusions devoid of facts to assert your own power and control. Your willingness to bully others, misrepresent the facts, and actively seek your own power and control over others are evident. Your false chages against me are just your move in what you think is a checkers game, that’s all. If you would just choose to ignore my posts or try for once an argument based on facts, then it… Read more »
Paul W.
Guest

George, you are truly a funny guy. So, the only example you provide of my “calling UMC progressives every dirty name under the sun” is my post here where I took you to task by providing a list of examples of your own boorish behavior. Very interesting. Nice sleight of hand, George. 🙂

As for your second sentence, I seriously have no clue at all what it means except that it is probably intended to mean something quite heinous to you personally.

Mark
Guest

George is the poster child for modern liberalism.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Actually, I’m more conservative than most liberals. I hunt, own firearms, support the death penalty, welfare reform, and free trade agreements. Prior o becoming a union rep I drove a Datsun, Now I drive an Isuzu when I’m at union meetings, but I part it around the corner.

John
Guest
Paul, I also agree. Pastor Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel, once wrote, “In difficult doctrinal matters, may we have gracious attitudes and humble hearts, desiring most of all to please Him who has called us to serve Him in the body of Christ. Discussion — YES! Disagreements — YES! Division — NO! … If you have come to a strong personal conviction on one side of a doctrinal issue, please grant us the privilege of first seeing how it has helped you to become more Christlike in your nature, and then we will judge whether we need to come… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

If only those bad mouthing the UMC would listen.

Mark
Guest

I’d take a competent brain surgeon with a bad attitude over an incompetent one with a good attitude any day. In the long term, when push comes to shove, facts trump attitude every time. Facts have a better chance of changing attitudes than attitudes facts.

Kevin
Guest

George is a poster child for the progs. Keep on posting George. Your cute one liners serve a real purpose in showing just how far apart we are.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Psalm 23:5

DW
Guest

I agree completely, Paul.

Sandy Wylie
Guest

We are born into our sexual orientation, not recruited into it. This is the right step for scouting. The issue of choice is central. I’ve never heard one of us heterosexuals discuss the day he/she decided to be heterosexual. This works the same way for EVERYONE. Think about it.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

My friend, we’ve had gays in scouting since the beginning. There’s in “taking” occurring, merely acknowledging of reality.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Exactly. Thank you.Ignorance is contaguious.

Mark
Guest

Yes….”contaguious” indeed.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Mark, do you honestly seek to claim you are not engaging in bullying by criticizing the spelling of another with 20/400 vision and fumblefingers? I know how to spell “contagious” it’s just I sometimes do not see it.

Folks, here in a nutshell is what the right-wing business plan is and why persons of good character are rejecting it: boiled down, all it consists of is bullying and nothing more, represented at the top by a Drunk Daddy version of deity and at the bottom by sychopants eager to do its bidding.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

No apology, then?

Mark
Guest

Bullying? Really? And what you’re doing is pure as the wind driven snow?

“Drunk Daddy”….”sycophants”…..OMG!….Dude, you are delusional. Get some help.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

I’m just a regular mortal. What others are, I leave it to the reader to determine,

DW
Guest

So, in other words, you are a person of “good character” while most of the others on this and other blogs are not. Right, George?

Paul W.
Guest
As someone who is active in Scouting, I can tell you that Mr. Gates’ comments are not helpful. The last change hit Scouting hard causing lots of angst among parents and charter organizations. And now that things are finally starting to level out and become stable again, BAM, Mr. Gates has to go and pour more fuel on the fire. If Mr. Gates views his personal agenda as more important than the future of Scouting, that’s okay, but it demonstrates that he is the wrong man to be in the position he holds. What many don’t realize is that the… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Gay rights is not “sexual,” excxept to those obsessed with sex like the wowsers, pecksniffs, and comstocks.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest
The above post provides an uninformed opinion but no facts whatsoever. This part: “there never was a policy to remove gay Scouts UNLESS they decided to personally make their sexuality an issue!” is especially egregious, as it asserts the victims of an archaic discriminatory policy are themselves to blame for their own mistreatment and nothing could be further from the truth. Saying “I’m gay” is not saying “I porked ***** last night” as Paul deceptively implies. The parents who’re up in arms are being irrational. If their fears weren’t being stoked by right-wing agents of deception they’d know this.
George Nixon Shuler
Guest
I’m not too sure what all the hubub is about the scout leader holding hands with a cub scout, either. At church camp as a youth, I once held hands with a beautiful SMU sorority girl camp counselor who wore a white sweatshirt with a picture of a foaming beer mug and the word “Chugalugers” beneath it, whose hair hada flip at the end like Lesley Gore, but she was much more statuesque than Lesley Gore (5’2″, 100#) ever was.. Nothing untoward happened. (I guess here the dilemma for the right-wing is to determine which is more outrageous, the fact… Read more »
Mark
Guest
Quite true and well said, Paul. This unnecessary change was predictable based on the previous unnecessary change, and it will result in the further dissolution of the once great Boy Scouts. Gates said something to the effect that we must deal with the world “the way (he thinks) it is rather than the way we think it should be.” Following that line of logic if you can present any particular scenario as the way it is–e.g., Islamic dominance and all its attendant oppressions–then we must accept it because, after all, that’s the way “it is.” This is absurd. There was… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

In contrast I was once told I had to accept the dominance of the right-wing or else that of the Islamacists. I replied that I might certainly did not because free people always overcome. And if it is a choice between those who dishonor christ by using Him to seek power and control or those who dishonor Muhammed to do the same who the heck cares?

Jamie Westlake
Guest

The church I serve sponsors Trail Life Boys and American Heritage Girls, and we extend hospitality to Boy and Girl Scout Trops.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Congratulations to the Boy Scouts for finally coming around to a rational policy. Now if only the UMC could follow suit.

Thomas Coates
Guest

I hope UM local churches will both continue and adopt displaced Boy Scout troops. Despite our disagreements on human sexuality and ordination, our commitment to human rights for all people and inclusion, and dispelling the myths related to LGBT persons in leadership, I believe our Discipline compels us to welcome our neighbors, regardless of sexual orientation. BSA troops can be a safe place for all youth, Eagle Scouts, and talented leadership.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Very well said. Thank you.

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