When the Mormon church announced it was severing all ties with the Boy Scouts of America by the end of 2019, this represented an astonishing 1 of every 5 boys in the organization. Some 185,000 boys are already out and this moves the final 425,000 into its own faith-based youth program. A relationship that has stood for nearly a century was ended pretty much when the Scouts made their decision to welcome gay scouts and gay leaders and then to open the doors to females. Now, to be sure, the Boy Scouts are practically an automatic organization for Mormon boys and the Mormon Church has long been the biggest sponsor of Boy Scout troops in the United States.
Now we wait to hear what the other big presence in Scouts, the Southern Baptist Convention, will do and whether or not they will follow the Mormon lead. It has been known for a long time that the Baptists are unhappy with the direction the Boy Scouts has taken. That would mean a drop of some 100,000 more from an organization already declining significantly since the sex decisions of 2014. Not to mention the fact that the Girl Scouts are unhappy with the decision of the Boy Scouts to become coed. Add to that is the uncertainty about how long Roman Catholics can continue to support Scout troops. The National Catholic Committee on Scouting announced that the changes to scouting will have little impact on the operations and programs in Catholic-chartered units. The NCCS, a committee of Catholic laity and clergy that serves as an advisory body to the Boy Scouts of America, said the Boy Scouts stipulated that religious partners will continue “to have the right to make decisions for their units based on their religious beliefs.” The Roman Catholic committee explained that scouting serves the Roman Catholic Church through a charter concept, similar to a franchise, so that a Boy Scout troop chartered to a Catholic parish is owned by the parish and, for now has the right to uphold their own moral standards within the units they charter. How long this can continue to exist given the changes elsewhere is uncertain.
At an organizational meeting in 2013 in Nashville, Bill Bunkley, one of the group’s leaders, said, “We’re here to honor the legacy of the Boy Scouts of America but now, quite frankly, we are called in a new direction.” In other words, this ain't your grandpa's scouting troop anymore. What is fascinating, however, is how the Scouts have chosen to embrace rather cutting edge positions on sex and rushed to redefine themselves -- knowing that this would cost them perhaps a third of all boys! Clearly this reveals that the influence lies not with those who have traditionally sponsored troops or been heavily invested in the BSA for a very long time. In fact, the BSA organization is doing everything in its power to reshape its organization, purpose, and identity to fit the pattern of those who have small numbers of boys invested in the program but have a larger than life mouthpiece in the media. For a time it seemed the BSA was running scared. Now it appears at least some of the leaders have drunk the koolaid of modernity and decided to honor the Scouting legacy by abandoning much of it.
My point in writing this is simple. We are so often told that Christians need to participate in endeavors like this in order to provide an alternative voice. But it is clear that with Scouting that voice is being muzzled and the only voice that counts is the one that heralds the GLBTQ agenda. Perhaps this will signal the end for any traditional and orthodox Christian churches to support an organization like Scouting that is intent upon adopting a purpose, plan, and program at odds with that traditional and orthodox Christian identity. Yet the decline in numbers does not seem to have slowed the passage of the BSA into an organization that has fully adopted and implemented some of the most modern ideas of gender, sexuality, and diversity. If Christians, who have in the past had a big stake in Scouting, cannot make their weight known to slow or stall or eliminate the drift of the BSA away from its historic purpose and identity, who is able to?
The numbers of Trail Life boys swelled instantly when the Scouts first announced their decision several years ago. Perhaps this group, very small in comparison to the BSA, will gain some ground on their competition. If you have boys in Scouting, now is the time to consider which organization is best for your boy and your faith. . .