The impact of the Boy Scouts vote to allow gays

So the Boy Scouts of America voted quite overwhelmingly (61-39% of the 1400 member national council) to allow gay students to be members. Of course, the Boy Scouts still ban participation by gay adults as scout leaders. But that change will come, sooner rather than later. This kind of backing and filling towards a goal is how religious institutions operate.

But this is still quite a big step for what is still a very conservative religious organization (it still bans atheists, for example) and you can be sure that it will have some repercussions as religion-based troops decide what they will do. There are three significant blocs: Mormons, Catholics, and evangelicals.

Interestingly the Mormon church, which has more scouting troops than any other religious denomination in the US, has supported this shift, signaling once again that they are edging away from their formerly hardline anti-gay stance, perhaps as a result of the huge backlash they suffered f\or the vigorous support for passing Proposition 8 in California.

The Catholic hierarchy was taking a hard line before the vote but may try to backtrack somewhat now that the die is cast, since leaving the Boy Scouts would further harm their efforts at youth outreach and make the church seem even more out of step with even its own followers. After all more Catholics (54%) support same-sex marriage than the population at large (47%).

The evangelical Christian groups will continue to take a hard line because opposition to homosexuality, along with abortion, has become part of their brand. The Family Research Council’s leader Tony Perkins says that it is clear that the current governing council of the Boy Scouts “will bend with the winds of popular culture, and the whims of liberal special interest groups” and that “there is little doubt that God will soon be ushered out of scouting” and suggests that they may join groups that break away.

I think the number of defections will be small, not enough to seriously damage the organization. But their departure will make it easier for the next stage of accepting gay people as leaders.


  1. dano says


    You are quite wrong. Many church based CO’s (charter organizations) in the twin cities area will be dropping their charter. As a result these troops will either fold or look for another CO. I don’t believe schools will be the answer due to still not allowing homosexuals as leaders. Most of these troops will fold as the leaders & scouts have decided the BSA has made a decision to cater to a small group of individuals that are considered sinful for their life style. The BSA will also be losing the funding given from 100’s of thousands of individuals that have decided to longer give to the BSA due to this decision but rather give straight to their troop. I am one of these individuals. We have also started a new scout like program that follows Christianity rules. I don’t believe I have to explain what I mean.

  2. left0ver1under says

    This “decision” is a disgrace. It repeats and continues the fiction and hateful propaganda of “gay pedophiles”.

    The ignorance and bigotry of “dano” is a prime example.

  3. Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters says

    I, on the other hand, am thrilled that I can more effectively intervene with Boy Scouts who use anti-gay epithets to bully other Boy Scouts. I am thrilled that boys (and girls, in the BSA’s Venturing Scouts program) can focus on learning skills for life rather than obsessing about whether their sexual desires are the right kind. I would have preferred an option that let sponsoring organizations discriminate all they want about choosing their leaders and let those of us who think gay adults who follow youth protection guidelines and want to volunteer to mentor youth choose our own leaders – the BSA already allows sponsoring organizations (especially churches) to require that all of their troop leaders be men, or church members, or whatever.

    Dano, you should know that the BSA is NOT a Christian organization. It never had been. It allows Jews (some movements of which do not believe in a supernatural divine being), Buddhists (likewise) and Unitarian Universalists. It allows polytheists, including Hindus and pagans. All that is required to satisfy the “duty to god” requirement for the BSA is a belief in powers greater than oneself and membership in a community with similar beliefs. I believe in the values of humanism and in the laws of the natural world. I am a scouter in good standing.

    Enjoy yourself as you go off to start your own organization. I’d rather you stayed and continued to work with youth, but it seems you only care about the Christian youth, and now that us non-Christians have won a tiny bit of respect from the BSA, you’re going to flounce off to play somewhere else. I have stuck with the BSA for more than 10 years, seeing value in an organization with policies that were abhorrent to my beliefs. It is ironic that Christians like you cannot see any value in scouting once kids who are attracted to kids of the same sex are allowed to participate. Sort of says a lot about where your priorities are.

  4. Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters says

    One other thing, for left0ver1under:

    The BSA explicitly said that its ban on gay leaders was due to controversy within its membership and that there was NO association between homosexuality and pedophilia. See here.

  5. Mano Singham says

    Yes, it does perpetuate that hateful view and I think the sponsors of this change know it. I suspect that this was a tactical decision because anything more might have been defeated altogether at this time. I think that further changes will come because this state is inherently unstable. As more and more openly gay scouts graduate from the program, the pressure to allow them to hold leadership positions will become too great to withstand. It is like clergy and bishops. Initially some churches allowed gay and women clergy but said they could not be bishops. The pressure immediately started to build to break that barrier.

  6. Mano Singham says


    I guess we will have to wait and see what the actual fallout will be. My reasoning was based on the fact that the leadership must have taken this into account when they proposed the resolution and concluded that the damage to the BSA (from enrollment and contributions) from continuing the old policy would be greater than from adopting the new one.

  7. dano says


    I have been in scouting as a ASM for 18 yeas, SM for 8 years, ACM for 3 years & Den leader for 4 years.

    I do not believe the BSA has any idea what the fall out will be for scouts, leaders & funding. Only time will tell. My current troop is 32 strong with 2 eagles this year. Number 88 & 89 from the troop. We as a group (scouts, committee, parents) have decided the BSA is headed in the wrong direction. We have not made a decision on whether we will drop & start a Bible based program, I intentionally did not use the word Christian, or continue with the BSA but be selective in membership as we have with leaders. This will be my last post as I am going camping for the weekend. Cheers!

  8. Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters says

    So – show of hands time – who thinks “Bible based” is code for “Evangelical Christian”? I guarantee that every single Jewish person reading this thinks it it.

  9. Seeker says

    Dano, you sulk that you are going to form a group based on the bible, but deny it’s Christian? You may think that you’re being clever, but people see right through you.

    In my community many people have not supported the Boy Scouts because of the blinkered, narrow-minded views of people just like you. Perhaps now that the Boy Scouts of America are embracing reality, more parents will consider joining the BSA.

  10. Seeker says

    @Mattir; 🙂 of course it is Evangelical; the petulance and the delusion as to the history of the BSA is your first clue. 🙂

  11. dickspringer says

    I submitted the following comment to the New York Times on its story on the BSA vote:

    The BSA website includes the following statement:

    “The Boy Scouts of America believes that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. Accordingly, youth members and adult volunteer leaders of Boy Scouts of America obligate themselves to do their duty to God and be reverent as embodied in the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. Leaders also must subscribe to the Declaration of Religious Principle. Because of its views concerning the duty to God, Boy Scouts of America believes that an atheist or agnostic is not an appropriate role model of the Scout Oath and Law for adolescent boys. Because of Scouting’s methods and beliefs, Scouting does not accept atheists and agnostics as members or adult volunteer leaders.”

    Teaching boys the bigotry in this statement is as odious as teaching by its actions similar prejudice against gays. It is time for the BSA to end religious discrimination, thereby joining the Girl Scouts and scouting organizations in many other coultries.

    I became an Eagle Scout in 1943. Last year I was one of many returning our eagle badges to the BSA in protest of their policies.

  12. scott says

    actually, he used the words bible based because the group being discussed is not secular open to all faiths. So no, it doesn’t mean evangelical. climb off your high horse. Mano-the boy scouts themselves expect to lose around 350,000 scouts. But the estimate gaining 20,000 because of the vote. So the net loss they expect is 330,000 members. But $50,000,000 from AT&T is more important. The loans are due on the new home of Jamboree. If you research, it is all there. As for adults. They did a 180 in January because even the Mormons will walk. The top 3 church sponsors say feelings are ok, and youth just have feelings. Adults however act on those feelings, and they don’t like that. Why do you think the BSA specifcally spelled out no sex. Keep as many churches happy as possible, but change enough to hopefully appease donors. period. The don’t care about these boys that are better off in scouting. And for the record, I am staying. I will give my time to the troop, but never a dime to BSA. They want corporate money so bad to use these boys as pawns, they don’t need mine

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