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Boy Scouts to allow gay youths after resolution passes May 23comment (0)

May 30, 2013

By Julie Payne

In a vote cast May 23 by roughly 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) national convention, the 103-year-old organization overturned its longstanding membership policy on the issue of homosexuality.

The delegates met in Grapevine, Texas, during the three-day annual meeting and voted to allow youth who identify as gay to join the organization. The resolution was approved by more than 60 percent of the votes cast, according to news reports.

The resolution to allow gay youths into the Boy Scouts varied from an earlier proposal this year that would have permitted both openly gay leaders and scouts to join. The proposed change to allow only gay youths was announced April 19.

In the hours leading up to the vote May 23, many people were taking to social media to express their differing views on the issue. The vote culminated a months-long debate that had groups from both sides of the issue speaking out. 

Opponents of the proposal included The Family Research Council, who launched the national simulcast “Stand with Scouts” in early May. The online simulcast urged viewers to preserve Scouting’s traditional values by opposing the policy change, and organizers said the simulcast’s purpose was to offer information about the significance of the proposed change and how people could become involved, according to a news report by the Baptist Press.

BSA was incorporated in 1910 and currently has 2.6 million youth members nationwide. According to the BSA website, 70 percent of all Scouting units are chartered to faith-based organizations. And with many churches hosting Scouting troops, the outcome May 23 was heavily watched.

Gary Cambron, Scoutmaster for Troop 404 chartered by First Baptist Church, Pelham, has been a registered Scout leader since 2006 and said he is extremely disappointed by the voting results.

“I feel that the core principles of the Boy Scouts of America as outlined in the Scout Oath and Scout Law have been compromised. We as an organization have ‘sold out’ our values to maintain funding on the national level, and that is wrong.” 

Cambron added while almost 80 percent of the leadership in the Greater Alabama Council was against the change, “it is evident that on a national level we do not hold the same values or biblical view of the issue. Our Unit’s leadership will be praying for God’s guidance in determining our next step in dealing with this decision.”

R. Chip Turner, national chairman of the Boy Scouts’ Religious Relations Committee and past national president of the Association of Baptists for Scouting, issued an open letter to Southern Baptists, noting that with the resolution’s passing there are outreach and evangelism opportunities within church-based Scout units to take into account. He also noted that the Great Commission remains unchanged and no vote can alter that, adding the local church still owns its Scout units and is responsible for selecting the leadership.

The new policy will take effect Jan. 1, 2014, according to news reports.

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