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Jan 04 2014

Boy Scouts Doing Just Fine After Allowing Gay Kids to Join

As of Jan. 1, gay teens are now allowed to join the Boy Scouts of America without hiding their identity (though gay scout leaders are still banned). And the predictions from anti-gay religious groups that sponsored scout troops of a “mass exodus” due to the policy has not materialized.

A few religious groups objected to even this partial change. The Assemblies of God, an anti-gay Pentecostal denomination, and the Southern Baptist Convention both promised a “mass exodus” from the organization and a small group of anti-LGBT activists have launched a Christian-only BSA alternative.

But the mass exodus has simply not materialized. A BSA spokesman noted that the vast majority of religious groups have stayed with the organization despite the policy shift. The BSA estimates that less than 2 percent of its 116,000 Scout units were abandoned by their sponsors.

And even in some very conservative places, those abandoned troops have found new backers. Joey Kiker, spokesman for the Greater Alabama Council in Birmingham, told a local newpsaper that while a few churches that sponsored Scout units have left, “every single unit that lost a charter partner, within an hour, had a new charter partner.” And Brad Haddock, a national board member from Wichita, Kansas likened the warnings to the Y2K scare. “There hasn’t been a whole lot of fallout,” he told the Associated Press, observing that “If a church said they wouldn’t work with us, we’d have a church right down the street say, ‘We’ll take the troop.’”

This is very good news. I suspect the new alternative groups will crash and burn.

23 comments

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  1. 1
    Modusoperandi

    Typical! Big Homo strikes again, ruining yet another fine organization that fosters the best in people simply by being there. Now they’re forcing pro-family organizations to leave and forcing other organizations to join and subsidize them ramming their sexuality down our throats! I pray to God that the spin-off BSA is a success, and helps to ensure that America’s Children learn the important things in life, like tying knots and not having homogay mansex.

  2. 2
    raven

    Well, it would have been a win-win for the boy scouts.

    They would have gotten rid of a few bigoted Oogedy Boogedy xian troops and the fundies get to run something like morons for jesus scouts or whatever.

    The fundies threatening to leave is a lot like cockroaches in an old house threatening to leave. Umm, OK, we will get your coats.

  3. 3
    raven

    The BSA still has one large group to hate and discriminate against.

    Atheists. They hate us more than the gays.

    And it is a much larger group. Xians make up 68% of the US population and falling. Nones are 22% are rising. Around 2030, xians will fall below 50% of the population.

    1. I would favor making it local option by troop. The Mormons, which make up a huge number of BSA troops would kick.

    But really, who in the hell in their right mind would want to join a Mormon troop anyway? The Mormons use the BSA as a sunday school extension.

    This isn’t just rhetoric either. AFAICT, the Mormons troops are all 100% LDS and in the rare cases where a confused gentile tries to join, they just point them to the nearest normal person troop.

  4. 4
    raven

    wikipedia:

    The Boy Scouts of America’s official position is that atheists and agnostics cannot participate as Scouts or adult Scout Leaders in its traditional Scouting programs.

    “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God.

    Oh really? This is a demonstrably false statement.

    The fundie xians are mostly the Tea Party. A group of seditionists, treasonists, and open America haters who want to overthrow the US government and set up a theocracy. This is when they aren’t threatening to assassinate Obama, the president, trying to take away food aid for poor people, or screaming because a few million people got Affordable Health Care.

    In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, ‘On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.’ The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members.”[4]

    I wouldn’t have a problem with this oath at all. My duty to god is exactly the same as it is to any other imaginary being. I owe the xian god the same duty as Tinkerbell, Frodo, Thor, Zeus, Freya, Tlaloc, or Mickey Mouse.

    The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members.”[

    This is bullcrap and pure bigotry. Which god? There are thousands. All equally real, not that this is saying much. And it is the other way around. You can be a good person and be a xian. It just makes it harder, a lot harder.

  5. 5
    WithinThisMind

    I’m an atheist and just got promoted to assistant cubmaster. The official policy might be one thing, but a lot of packs are mature enough not to care.

  6. 6
    Modusoperandi

    raven “…they just point them to the nearest normal person troop.” (emphasis mine)
    Congratulations. You just made me empathized with the Mormons.

  7. 7
    John Pieret

    From the original story:

    The BSA continues to face pressure to lift its ban on LGBT adults. In December, Lockheed Martin became the latest corporate sponsor to announce it would no longer fund the organization due to its discriminatory policy.

    Once again, corporate America … you know, the keepers of the sacred flame of free enterprise economics … know which way this trend is going and are getting, if not exactly out in front, at least not too far behind. Too bad for the wingnuts that they aren’t listening to their idols.

  8. 8
    Marcus Ranum

    But the mass exodus has simply not materialized.

    But we DID get massive runaway inflation!!!!

    right?

  9. 9
    Doc Bill

    Nope, the mass exodus did not happen. In our Council less than 1% of unit charters were pulled by chartering organizations and all of those were Baptist churches. Of the 1%, 80% of those wanted to continue with the BSA program and were found chartering organizations (civic clubs and some churches).

    Overall, a non-event.

    As for “Trail for Life” it remains to be seen how well they fare. Adult leaders are required to sign a Christian “Statement of Faith” and the entire organization is nothing more than vacation Bible school with camping. They’ll need a lot of effort to compete with a 100-year old worldwide organization with a polished training program, facilities, trained leaders and so forth.

    In international news, UK Scouting revised their Scout Promise as of Jan 1, 2014, to allow a secular version. Here is the change:

    The existing Scout Promise:
    On my honour, I promise that I will do my best To do my duty to God and to the Queen,
    To help other people And to keep the Scout Law.

    New alternative wording of the Promise:
    On my honour, I promise that I will do my best To uphold our Scout values, to do my duty to the Queen,
    To help other people And to keep the Scout Law.

    In Denmark the Promise is :
    On my honor I promise to do my best
    To be faithful to my country,
    Be helpful at all times
    And to keep the Scout Law.

    Baby steps. The BSA does change with the times, albeit it slowly. It will get there.

  10. 10
    matty1

    @7 Remember that a corporation by definition exists to make profits for its shareholders, if there is more money in opposing bigotry than supporting it that is where the corps have to go.

  11. 11
    D. C. Sessions

    A picture is worth a thousand words:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BcMXukWCEAA2Kko.jpg

  12. 12
    D. C. Sessions

    @7 Remember that a corporation by definition exists to make profits for its shareholders, if there is more money in opposing bigotry than supporting it that is where the corps have to go.

    Corporations do a lot of things that are bad for the corporation but good for the management (especially when “good” includes ego stroking.)

  13. 13
    Erp

    The amusing thing about the Assemblies of God statement is they already had their own youth organization (Royal Rangers) and have never been a major BSA sponsor and the SBC was always underrepresented for their size in the BSA.

    Note that the less than 2% abandoned can mean one of two things. One the unit remains but has moved to a different chartering organization or two the unit was dissolved and a new non-BSA unit set up with all the old one’s assets (since the unit is owned by the chartering organization not the BSA this is legit). I note the BSA has not listed what number of adult and youth members have announced they are leaving; this is much more significant since units do vary in size (LDS units for instance are far smaller than average) and units can remain while losing (or gaining) members. The actual figures probably won’t be available until next year since most people renew or join at the beginning of the school year and membership is for one year (short of explicit resignation). I don’t expect many to join because of the change though some boys may come out of the closet since the ban on atheists and adults who are gay or lesbian remains.

    The major replacement organization is Trail Life USA which is closely affiliated with American Heritage Girls (a Girl Scout replacement set up in the mid 90s after the Girl Scouts explicitly let in non-theists). AHG claims about 17,000 youth and I expect that Trail Life USA will have about the same within the first year or so. The BSA has about 2.6 million youth. I did a quick browse and apparently some in Trail Life are claiming 500 troops in 48 states already (others claim ‘dozens’ which I think is nearer the truth).

    BTW Trail Life is apparently encouraging troops to choose numbers that are Biblical verses; however, their scheme doesn’t allow the book to be included (the troop number does include the two letter state designation so for instance OK3:14 could be a troop number). The fun will come in what the same verse in other books in the Bible is.

    In addition Trail Life is not allowing women to be the equivalent of scout masters (“troop masters”) and assistant scout masters (“trail guides”) (they are allowed though not recommended as assistants in the youngest ages). The BSA has allowed women to be scout masters since 1988.

  14. 14
    Doc Bill

    One final point to make it crystal clear exactly what Trail Life USA is, from their website:

    “Initially, the focus of program development is within the United States. The organization depends on God’s leading to determine the long-term reach of its ministry.”

    TLUSA is a Christian ministry. Personally, I would call it a “Christian” ministry since it appears that anybody with a Bible and a 501c can be a ministry.

    Make no mistake, this is an insular, Christian cult determined to withdraw from mainstream society. Undoubtedly they will blame their ultimate failure on atheists or pink unicorns or possibly Ed Brayton, his own self!

  15. 15
    Dr X

    DC @ 11,

    Great photo!

  16. 16
    Samuel Clement

    I hope no one expected that there would be a measurable decline/increase in BSA Membership on Jan 1, 2014 as that would only be determined by memberships expiring or being added as Dec 31, 2013. As has already been mentioned, it will be at least a year before any impact to membership can be measured and perhaps 2-3 years out as young men who are considering leaving the Boy Scout program wait to do so until they have completed requirements for Eagle Scout. Other factors such as lawsuits aimed at removing the ban on leaders who are open and avowed homosexuals and those who cannot agree to the Declaration of Religious principles may also have future impact on membership either positively or negatively and the annual reports in 2015-2017 will give us a better picture of membership impact than we can gather right now.

    We all know membership has been decreasing for several years now and one part of it has been dissatisfaction with the direction the BSA has been heading. For some of us, it has come to a head this year as it seems that the BSA is no longer playing a major in role in influencing the training of men in society but rather, is being influenced by society as to how men should be trained up. Perhaps those of us who have been involved in the beginning of Trail Life USA should have made the decision to build a new program years ago but we did not.

    I cannot speak for any others but it is my desire to have a outdoor program which teaches traditional scouting skills while recognizing the creator in all that we do. For myself, this should not be any different than what I desired to do within the BSA programs. One difference is that the Trail Life USA program is expected to be treated as a ministry of the church or other christian organization and not just a group of young men and adults who use the facility and the charter organization’s name. The expectation is that those in leadership live out their faith in their daily lives and hopefully the boys will recognize this. I know this is true of some BSA units but at least in the council where I served as a District Executive, this was not true in general. Of those others whom I have met either at the National Leadership Conference in Nashville or since, I sense a desire to get back to the original concept of Scouting as seen in Scouting for Boys. I sincerely hope we will not fit the “Vacation Bible School with camping” description mentioned previously.

    Concerning the number of Trail Life USA troops forming, here is a link to the troop locator which has just been made available to us, http://www.traillifeusa.com/start-a-troop/troop-locator/. A few more than a couple of dozen. We shall see what the future holds for Trail Life USA.

    I wish the BSA the very best and I have many friends who will be renewing their membership with the BSA when the time comes for each of them to do so. At this point, I am very thankful for the 26+ years I have had the privilege of being a youth member or serving as a professional/volunteer. For each of you who are serving within the BSA, thank you for all you do for the boys, young men and young ladies of the BSA.

    Here’s to a great 2014.

  17. 17
    Michael Heath

    Samuel Clement:

    I cannot speak for any others but it is my desire to have a outdoor program which teaches traditional scouting skills while recognizing the creator in all that we do.

    There is no evidence for a creator. So to assert there is as if that’s an unassailable fact as you do here, rather than an evidence-less assertion is dishonest. Dishonesty is directly contra the creed of Boy Scouts.

    If you’re going to never misinform anyone – especially children, then it’s imperative to always honestly frame the assertion. That would require always noting that your belief in a creator is without evidence and therefore is completely dependent on your faith.

    Asserting the nature of the creator you believe is even more problematic. To remain honest while asserting certain attributes to this supposed creator, would require you to always note there is no evidence for these attributes.

    If you were to reference the Bible when making assertions about the supposed nature of this supposed creator, you’d have to once again note that these references are not evidence but mere assertions by human authors and subsequent editors in the relevant time period. You’d also have to always make your assertion within the context of all other biblical passages that contradict the very references you’re using to make your claims.

    The end result of informing others rather than misinforming them, yet still claiming the supposed existence of a creator and his supposed nature, you’d end up with an absurd argument no reasonable person would accept. This is exactly why religionists always lie about their faith just like you do here, i.e., claiming the existence of a creator as if that’s fact when the actual fact is, there is no evidence of such, just evidence-less claims of one wrapped around arguments. No empirical data independently validated exists, none.

  18. 18
    Sastra

    Yes, in support Of Michael Heath’s point above, consider this:

    The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members.”[

    The “recognition” of God assumes that everyone knows that God exists. You either choose to admit this or choose to pretend you don’t know. Same with talk of “duty” to God or “acknowledgment” of his favors.

    The image is of boys who hear their father calling to them to perform some chore, but pretend they don’t hear him because they don’t want to do it. “My dad? No, that’s not my dad. I didn’t hear nuthin’.” And then, when Dad gives his son a gift, the ungrateful wretch chooses to not say ‘Thank you.” It’s just like that. The position of God is that obvious. Citizenship and “wholesome precepts” are not being reflected in a child who would cop out of their duties and obligations with such sorry and blatantly self-serving tactics as “pretending you don’t see the authority.”

    But nothing could be further from the truth. The existence of God is not like the existence of the sun, or trees, or your own father. Nor is it like the existence of love or honor or duty. God is an invisible person who communicates through some sort of mystical ESP and is known through intuitive magic and a ‘choice’ to arbitrarily pick the right holy book of revelations. It’s untestable. It’s subjective in the worst sense.

    Being an atheist — or an agnostic — or simply not being convinced enough of God’s existence that you can’t swear an oath to it — is not a sign of rebellion or being slack. It’s a perfectly rational and reasonable stance from conscience. And no amount of casual references to “recognizing the creator” makes it anything else.

    I wonder — how many of the Scout leaders who want to keep out atheists ALSO believe that “deep down, everyone knows God exists?” I bet it’s virtually 100%. It’s the only way to justify the reason for the discrimination.

  19. 19
    raven

    cannot speak for any others but it is my desire to have a outdoor program which teaches traditional scouting skills while recognizing the creator in all that we do.

    Well fine. Free country and all that.

    But that isn’t or shouldn’t be the Boy Scouts of America. It’s supposed to be an outdoors adventure group not a xian sunday school!!!

    There is a place for xianity. In your closet, backyard, or church. And not around my kids.

    You have made the right decisions to leave the BSA. Tens of millions of parents and their kids are cheering wildly. Now could you take you co-cultists who can’t tell a church from a camping group with you.

  20. 20
    raven

    cannot speak for any others but it is my desire to have a outdoor program which teaches traditional scouting skills while recognizing the creator in all that we do.

    Which gods? There are thousands at least. In some religions including some versions of xianity, there are many hanging out together.

    I’m guessing you mean Republican Jesus. The Aryan white guy they worship on Fox news.

    It’s Hitchens rule again. Religion poisons everything!!!

  21. 21
    sailor1031

    It’s still always irritating to see ignorant morons claim that Y2K was a non-event. Had thousands of companies around the world not spent billions to ensure that there were no major catastophes I can assure that at the very least the entire international financial payments industry would have been shut down until all the problems were repaired, which given how long it took to remedy systems ahead of 01/01/2001 would likely have been three years or more. The recent financial debacle would be nothing compared to it.
    Imagine no check clearing, no debit card transactions, no credit card transactions, either at POS or at Interchange clearing. Imagine unavailability of all account information for months, maybe years. Don’t know what the effects might have been on other industries but I can imagine they would have been equally dire.

  22. 22
    dingojack

    Sailor – and the evidence for that assertion is….?
    Dingo

  23. 23
    Michael Heath

    sailor1031,

    I was one of the leaders in my company working to overcome Y2K in our own systems. Not just within our walls, but also directing traffic on monitoring the progress of hundreds of our key suppliers and all our customers.

    And you’re absolutely right, entire supply chains would have crashed and burned if an energetic competent effort hadn’t been expended. Crashed and burned even prior to Y2K given the up-front planning needed to have long-lead parts delivered on-time for factory production schedules supporting demand on/after Y2K.

    There’s long been a lack of appreciation for avoiding fire-fighting duties vs. those who are glorified for fighting fires. That primitive defective thinking has changed in some sectors (tech, automotive) but not in others (big oil, see mistakes made prior to and after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico). I also see these differing mindsets between U.S. political parties, where moderate Democrats are much more in tune with the thinking of running a competent organization than the GOP (or liberal Dems) now are.

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