Boy Scouts considering end to ban on gay scouts

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Pete Williams of NBC News reports:

The Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation’s largest private youth organizations, is actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders, according to scouting officials and outsiders familiar with internal discussions.

If adopted by the organization’s board of directors, it would represent a profound change on an issue that has been highly controversial — one that even went to the US Supreme Court. The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts.

“The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” according to Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ national organization.

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LafSq
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LafSq

Hello All.

I am a new commenter on this blog, and have a very deep knowledge of what is going on in the BSA, as well as a longstanding and deep relationship with TEC. I take the counter-intuitive position that members of TEC should rally to support this development -- even if it is not the purest expression of what many want to see in the way of gay rights. As this issue rolls out over the coming days, you can look to me for authoritative and inside views. Be open to this, folks.

[LafSq - please sign your name when commenting at the Café - thanks ~ed.]

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Emma Pease
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Emma Pease

"it only excludes militant atheists"

So a militant atheist is one who feels the words 'Duty to God' (with the emphasis according to the BSA on'God') should mean something and it is not something they can honestly publicly state? So what exactly is a non-militant atheist? The World Organization of Scouting Movement has a broader definition of the duty which does not require a belief in a God. I note the Scouts and Guides in the United Kingdom are considering revising their promises so as to allow atheists (Girl Scouts/Guides in Canada, the US, and Australia have already done so).

The WOSM definition of Duty to God:

"Adherence to spiritual principles, loyalty to the religion that expresses them and acceptance of the duties resulting therefrom."

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Jim Pratt
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Jim Pratt

It looks like the combination of corporate and grass-roots pressure is going to make them cave. About time, though with the level of Mormon control at the national level, I thought it would never come.

I assume that local councils would have to follow the national policy (otherwise they would still run afoul of United Way and other donor criteria), and it would be up to individual units and their chartering organizations to set their own policy. In effect, this would be no different from the policy on girls: Venturing Crews (ages 15-21) can be co-ed, but Crews sponsored by Mormon churches are all-male.

As for the last of the three G's, God, it only excludes militant atheists, not agnostics or someone questioning their faith. And again, some church-sponsored units require their members to belong to the sponsoring church.

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John B. Chilton
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John B. Chilton
Jeffrey Cox
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Jeffrey Cox

I have witnessed that the Episcopal Church has withdrawn from vibrant youth ministries in ordinary parishes. There are exceptions to this rule, but I can witness to many smaller parishes in Massachusetts that have little to none youth programming outside of Confirmation. It has gotten better at the diocesan level, but it struggles at the local church level. The national church membership numbers reflect this reality.

I believe Scouting is one tool to have youth connected to a church. What I have witnessed is that churches see Scouting as a tenant than a ministry. Scouting clearly has the local church "own" the troop. Too many clergy simply ignore the boys. This is the real problem. The gay issue is a national problem, but local churches have disown this ministry.

CampFire programs have been non-discrimatory for many years. Churches have not adopted these programs.

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