The Boy Scouts of America’s decision to accept openly gay members— but not leaders—has made neither Kentucky’s Christian conservative leaders or LGBT activists happy.
Chris Hartman, director of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, was disappointed by the caveat leaving gay Scout leaders unwelcome.
“We find this decision a half-hearted acknowledgement of LGBT acceptance that unfortunately deepens stereotypes and prejudice, along with raising serious concerns of the message it sends to scouting youth, particularly those who are gay and bisexual,” Hartman said in an e-mail. “Will they be ferreted out by local troops to ensure their membership is revoked at age 18?
“The move is puzzling, at best, and bodes of far more organizational confusion and strife to follow.”
He elaborated in a Courier-Journal op-ed:
The whole premise that being openly LGBT is acceptable as a young person but not as an adult is absurd and quixotic, at best. Either the assumption is that LGBT people automatically become pedophiles upon reaching maturation (ignoring the statistics that the vast majority of convicted pedophiles are heterosexual), or that there is some ability for LGBT young people to be “converted” or “cured,” which is practically more insidious than the outright ban itself.
Christian conservatives are quite unhappy, too.
Southeast Christian Church has decided to withdraw from the Scouts, WAVE reports.
Tim Hester, executive pastor for the megachurch that has campuses throughout Louisville, told WAVE:
“We have enjoyed our association with Boy Scouts for a lot of years,” said Hester, “and our local leaders are great leaders and we are with them in sharing their disappointment of the direction the National Boy Scouts have decided to go.”
A nationally leading Baptist figure based in Louisville predicted such moves. Albert Mohler, president of Louisville’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, took to Twitter after the Scouts’ national council made its decision:
The movement to force the Boy Scouts of America to change its policy on homosexuality is evidence of a vast cultural change.— albertmohler (@albertmohler) May 23, 2013
On his blog, Mohler (prior to the decision) wrote:
The religious liberty issues are already urgent. About 70% of all B.S.A. units are chartered by churches and religious organizations, the majority of which believe that homosexuality is a sin. Some units chartered by Christian churches require boys to affirm a specific faith commitment and a set of moral guidelines. Will those now be forbidden by national B.S.A. policy?
Mohler describes the Scouts decision as catastrophic for the organization. Scout groups that stem from religious groups unhappy by this decision could, hypothetically, move to an alternative organization.
And the movement to create such an organization appears to be taking root in Louisville.
John Stemberger, a conservative activist who has campaigned against the Scouts proposal to admit openly gay members, is organizing a June meeting in Louisville to “discuss the creation of a new character development organization for boys.”
As both Hartman and Mohler indicated, the Boy Scouts of America has settled nothing yet.
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