17 August 2015

Trail Life Shoud Brace for Possible BSA's Downfall

BSA's Downfall
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has just lifted its ban on openly gay adult leaders last 27 July, but will still continue to allow church-sponsored units to exclude gay individuals. The move was considered a compromising effort to resolve an issue that has plagued the group since the '80s and '90s, when it began explicitly banning openly gay youths and adults.

Two years ago, the Boy Scouts compromised by accepting openly gay minors while maintaining the ban on gay adults in paid or volunteer leadership roles. However, this spring BSA's president, former Defense secretary Robert Gates, said that position was no longer sustainable, as many states are passing laws that ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

As expected, BSA's National Executive Board voted 45–12 to lift the ban. The result is a possible downfall of the institution after its major sponsors considered withdrawing all their support.

Religiously chartered units can "continue to use religious beliefs as a criterion for selecting adult leaders, including matters of sexuality," but this is not enough. Some say they may cut their ties with the Boy Scouts to avoid the possibility of being forced to compromise their beliefs.

The most serious threat to the organization came from the Mormon Church, which sponsors the most units of any religion, accounting for 17 percent of youths in Scouting in 2013.

Though the Mormon Church recently suggested it would go along with the change as long as it could pick its own leaders, on Monday the church said it's "deeply troubled" by the new policy and will have to reconsider its relationship with BSA.

"The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation," church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement. "However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America."

Southern Baptist Convention spokesman Roger Oldham said that, like the Mormons, Baptists may be ready to abandon the Boy Scouts altogether instead of being forced to eventually accept gay leaders.

"The next step, which may be a year or two down the road, seems obvious to us," Oldham said, adding that conservative groups "are being put into a situation where they have to either compromise their conviction or choose to leave. And for those for whom Biblical sexual morality is a conviction they have no alternative."

Following the 2013 decision, some conservatives left the Boy Scouts and created the group Trail Life USA. BSA enrollment had been declining for some time, and it dropped by 6 percent in 2013 and 7 percent in 2014. About 2.4 million boys and 1 million adults are currently enrolled in the Boy Scouts, but expected to drop and join Trail Life USA in a couple of weeks or so.

It is now time to bid farewell to Boy Scout of America and say hello to Trail Life USA!