Boy Scouts Face Major Decision on Allowing Gays to Join


Good scout

The future of the Boy Scouts could face a major change come Monday. That’s when the organization is expected to release new guidelines on whether or not to allow gays in Scouts.

Then next month, hundreds of delegates will decide if those recommendations become policy.

In January, word that the Boy Scouts might lift their ban on gay members erupted in a PR nightmare. Gay activists gathered more than a million signatures and the Scouts stalled making a decision.

“I think Scouting right now is trying to manage some tensions, said John Stemberger, founder of On My Honor, a new coalition that opposes open homosexuality in the Scouts.

“One tension is a lot of troops and units in the Northeast that are sponsored by more liberal churches against the tension in the South and Texas that have a lot of conservative churches,” he said.

Churches sponsor more than two-thirds of all Scout units. The largest are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the United Methodist Church, the Catholic Church and Baptist churches.

So far, Southern Baptist leaders and Catholic bishops have taken public stands against allowing gays, and at least one group is coming together to oppose it.

Stemberger says the Scouts stand to take a huge hit if they allow open homosexuality.

I think you’ll see a mass exodus not only of major denominations but of common sense parents saying ‘We can’t trust Scouting anymore,” Stemberger said. “There’s not that moral consistency throughout the program.”

Many conservatives point to Canada as an example of what could happen.

After making a similar change in 1999, Scouting membership there has dropped more than 50 percent to less than 100,000 today.

And problems aren’t limited to the boys. Girl Scouts in the United States have been losing ground since 2003. That decline could be traced to 1993 when they dropped the word “God” from their pledge of honor, allowing girls to substitute whatever word they wanted.

That move, plus concerns about a liberal curriculum, prompted Patti Garibay to found American Heritage Girls.

“Parents want to teach their kids right from wrong, and they want to do it not just through Sunday school, but through everyday life,” Garibay said.

At more than 600 troops and growing, this new organization emphasizes biblical principles, outdoor activities and a pledge to love God.

Whatever decision the Boy Scouts make, it may no longer be possible to move forward without losing members on one side of the issue or the oth