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Trail Life USA starts own scouting group Jan. 1, opposes Boy Scouts policy on gay membershipcomment (0)

January 9, 2014


An organization billing itself as a Christian alternative to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) said it had close to 500 troops — including several from Alabama such as First Baptist Church, Pelham — preparing for its Jan. 1 launch.

The new group, Trail Life USA, was created by OnMyHonor.net, which opposed the BSA’s policy change May 2013 that permitted gay Boy Scouts — but not gay adult leaders — effective on Jan. 1.

“We have a very excited group of churches and Christian organizations that are joining us,” said Mark Hancock, Trail Life USA’s chief operating officer. 

He said the organization has “hundreds of volunteers all over the country” and would have a staff of six Jan. 1 in virtual rather than brick-and-mortar offices. Hancock said many participants are evangelical Christian, but a number of Catholic troops are starting as well.

“Our focus is not really on numbers but it’s on providing a quality program for families to help the boys become men,” he said.

Trail Life USA’s values statement includes a section on purity that reads, in part: “We are to reserve sexual activity for the sanctity of marriage, a lifelong commitment before God between a man and a woman.”

Religious groups sponsor about 70 percent of the BSA’s 100,000 troops; after the policy change was announced, most of the major sponsors — Mormons, Catholics and United Methodists — agreed to remain with the BSA despite unease in some corners about lifting the gay ban.

Deron Smith, spokesman for the BSA, said “it would be inappropriate for us to discuss other organizations,” but added “what we’re hearing ... is that only a handful of chartered organizations have decided not to renew. ... We are thankful that the overwhelming majority ... remain committed to the Scouting program.”

For more information about Trail Life USA, visit www.traillifeusa.com.  

(RNS)

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