A few days passed since the decision of the Boy Scouts of America to lift the ban on gay troop leaders was announced.
But the echoes are heard now. The Mormon Church is considering withdrawing its support for the century old boys organization, as well as possibly establishing a new organization similar in scope that would continue to represent the values and principles of the church.
The decision to lift the ban and allow troops to elect openly gay leaders was hailed by many. LGBT rights activists view the decision as another battle won for gay rights. But the Mormon and Methodist churches beg to differ.
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and current president of the Boy Scouts of America announced:
“For too long this issue has divided and distracted us. Now it’s time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of Scouting to be a force for good”.
While the decision explicitly lifts the ban on gay leaders for the boy scouts troops, it does not make it compulsory. Every individual troop and council has the freedom to choose the leader that best represents their beliefs and interests.
Nonetheless, the Mormon church, traditionally the church with the closest ties to Boy Scouts of America views the decision as a threat. For over a century, the established order is that all boys that are members of a Mormon congregation are also members of the Boy Scouts of America.
The passage rites in the Church are mirrored in the internal organization of the Boy Scouts.
From deacon to teacher to priest, a teen in the Mormon church will also witness the same rise in positions in the boys organization.
Mormon bishops are responsible for selecting scoutmasters. An impressive part of the 16 presidents of the LDS church are also highly honored scouts. As such, it is easy to understand how the Boy Scouts represents a youth branch for the Mormon Church as the values of the two entwined. Until now.
With 20 percent of the Boy Scouts being Mormon, the statement of the Mormon Church concerning the lifting of the ban of gay troop leaders read:
“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. Those worldwide needs combined with this vote by the BSA National Executive Board will be carefully reviewed by the leaders of the church in the weeks ahead”,
adding that the church was deeply affected by the decision of the Boy Scouts of America.
As the Mormon church is considering to turn their back on the boys organization, perhaps the Methodist church will follow. Against this background, some funding issues might be looming on the horizon for the Boy Scouts of America.
Just in 2013, 37 percent of boy scouts troops were sponsored by the Mormon Church.
The decision of the the executive board of the Boy Scouts of America is not binding for the local troops. Nonetheless, it is understandable that while for some it is a small victory in the normalization of gay rights across all sectors of life, for others it is an infringement on traditional values.
One question remains: where does the Boy Scouts of America organization go from here?
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