Are the Boy Scouts Creating a Safe Space for Faith?


Jul 20, 2015 4:16 PM

In an ongoing story that we have been covering since 2012, the executive committee of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) recently approved a resolution ending its blanket ban on adult gay leaders—while allowing local scout troops to set their own policies on the long-divisive issue.

In a statement released last week, BSA staff said the 17-member committee unanimously approved the resolution on Friday, July 10th—noting that the policy would become official immediately if ratified by BSA’s 80-member National Executive Board at its upcoming meeting on July 27th.

Here, it appears that BSA is creating a safe space for faith by allowing troops sponsored by churches that oppose the change to maintain the ban.  In our increasingly pluralistic society—with many groups asking for their legitimate needs to be met in the marketplace—this is a move that we at Faith Driven Consumer applaud.

According to BSA’s statement, "This change allows Scouting's members and parents to select local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families.” Further, “This change would also respect the right of religious chartered organizations to continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own."

While it’s too early to tell whether this safe space for faith will withstand likely challenges from within and outside the organization, at this point the BSA seems committed to local autonomy on the culturally contentious matter of sexuality in the ranks of the organization. Last Monday, BSA officials released a memo to local scout leaders nationwide noting that its religious partners had been consulted beforehand—pledging to defend the right of any church-sponsored units to continue their current policies.  Here, the BSA said it “rejects any interference with or condemnation of the diverse beliefs of chartering organizations on matters of marriage, family, and sexuality." 

Echoing this commitment, the Mormon Church, which sponsors 40% of BSA’s scout units nationwide, said, "As a chartering organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always had the right to select Scout leaders who adhere to moral and religious principles that are consistent with our doctrines and beliefs.  Any resolution adopted by the Boy Scouts of America regarding leadership in Scouting must continue to affirm that right."

For many Faith Driven Consumers with deep loyalties to the Boy Scouts, the policy changes over the last two years at the troop and now leadership levels of the organization have been disappointing—prompting prayerful soul-searching:  Should we stay or should we go?   

In response, a number of outstanding, faith-focused, consumer choice alternatives to BSA have welcomed those who are looking for other options. It also appears that—for now—Faith Driven Consumers who wish to remain in the Boy Scouts will find a safe space that respects their deeply held religious viewpoint—while perhaps offering a model for other organizations and companies to emulate. 

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