Mass exodus from scouts is not happening

When the Boy Scouts of America changed its policies last month to allow gay students, there were dire warnings by opponents of the move of a mass exodus of troops sponsored by religious groups such as the Catholic Church, Mormons, and evangelicals. Has that happened?

Not quite.

The Catholic Church issued a statement telling Catholic scout leaders and troop sponsors that the new policy of welcoming gay Scouts “is not in conflict with Catholic teaching” and that they should continue to support scouting programs.

The Mormon church issued a statement supporting the new policy, saying that as long as the commitment to god remained (i.e., atheists are kept out) they are ok with gays being members.

One of the largest evangelical denominations (Southern Baptists) had their annual convention last week and decided that they would not adopt a formal policy of boycotting the scouts, though they still opposed the new policy.

Of course, individual troops may choose to withdraw from scouting and set up their own systems and some have chosen to do so and more undoubtedly will. But there has not been a mass exodus and it seems likely that there will be. Once the heat of the moment cools, it will become even less likely that these religious groups will break ties.

For anti-gay groups, he decision by big religious institutions to not withdraw en masse from the scout movement must be a disappointment.


  1. says

    The Mormon church issued a statement supporting the new policy, saying that as long as the commitment to god remained (i.e., atheists are kept out) they are ok with gays being members.

    That’s actually pretty funny.

    But there has not been a mass exodus and it seems likely that there will be.

    You left off the un-.

  2. raven says

    At least we know what their priorities are.

    They hate atheists and agnostics more than they hate gays.

    Yea!!! We are number one on their To Hate list.

  3. raven says

    The BSA does have a problem. Declining membership numbers even as the population grows.

    The Nones now make up 22% of the population and are growing rapidly as US xianity declines.

    Follow the money. This matters because the BSA has high fixed costs due to salaried employees and owning lots of real estate, i.e. summer camps and lodges.

    Hard to say when they will drop their no atheists and agnostics requirement, which is foolish anyway. The BSA is supposed to be an outdoor adventure group for kids, not a hate organization.

    If they just made it local option, that would settle it. The Mormons wouldn’t allow atheists and who in the hell wants to join a Mormon troop anyway.

    Boy Scouting oath USA

    On my honor I will do my best
    To do my duty to God and my country etc.

    Atheists shouldn’t have a problem with this. I owe the same duty to god as to Thor, Superman, or the Easter Bunny. And for the same reasons.

  4. dano says

    Keep in mind that many CO’s (charter organizations) will not renew once their yearly charter is up. This means that either the troop, pack, explorer post, etc will need to find a new CO or fold. The organizations belonging to the CO’s that have said they will not renew are expecting a fall out rate of nearly 75%. Meaning if a troop had 100 boys and the CO will not renew they expect 75 boys to leave scouting & 25 to remain by joining another troop/pack. I think come one year from now we will see the true effect of the vote. I call it the trifecta of loss via boys leaving, leaders leaving & money from both leaving. Until then it is hard to put a number on any of these three areas.
    Our troop will continue but with higher standards set on the boys by our CO. Our troop has lost 80% of our FOS (Friends of Scouting) to our council as a back lash due to the decision. I am one who will no longer donate to the BSA but I will give directly to our troop for supplies. With many great Christian based organizations ready to kick off come fall such as Faith Based Boys I believe we WILL see the mass exodus. What does mass exodus mean to me, enough to let the BSA know they made the wrong decision. I have been told from a high up source that the BSA will be voting on leaders as early as 1 year out. The BSA has truly strayed from the original model set forth by Sir Baden Powell and therefore lost its foot hold on molding the next generation of leaders.

  5. machintelligence says

    Also keep in mind that charter organizations pretty much provide a meeting space and that’s about all. It can be in a school or other available building and need not be associated with any religion. There is no reason to dissolve the troop, just pull up stakes and move. IMHO the organization with the highest resistance to gay scouts is the Southern Baptist Church, which is hemorrhaging members itself. It may well be that the BSA will still be a vital organization long after the Southern Baptists have faded to insignificance.

  6. raven says

    Explain it to me again.

    Just why is the haters, liars, bigots, and morons for jesus leaving a bad thing?

    Really, as long as they don’t let the screen door hit them in the ass on the way out, who cares?

    They lose some of the Dark side of our society and gain some of the Light side. It’s a win win strategy.

  7. slc1 says

    Yeah, we heard from the fuckken born agains when DADT was dropped by the military that there would be a wholesale exodus. Ain’t happened yet. I suspect that putzes like Dano will not be missed.

  8. Seeker says

    Good point, Raven. My family chose not to be associated with the BSA because of the bigoted, religo-fascist batshittery of the people who belonged. Now that they’re slightly more accepting, families like mine will find them more worthy to join.

  9. twosheds1 says

    I disagree. When a scoutmaster puts the form in front of the CO rep, is the rep going to look the SM in the eye and say “because of a decision you had no control over and because your organization no longer discriminates, I’m not going to sign this?” I think there were a lot of empty threats made that won’t be followed through on. When CO reps consider that their actions could mean destroying the program for a troop, I think they’ll reconsider.

    I think something else to consider is that most organizations, such as church congregations, don’t kick you out if you’re gay, so I can’t see how they could justify ending their support. Luckily, the church where our troop meets is very gay-friendly, even if our scoutmaster is not.

  10. Matt G says

    We’re number one! We’re number one!

    I earned the Religion in Life award when I was a young scout, the Unitarian Universalist award. Never felt any pressure to be a believer, but then again my troop was in Rochester, NY. I think at some point I started leaving out the “to God” part of the scout oath.

  11. Mano Singham says

    How much of a role does religion actually play in scouting? Is the saying of the oath pretty much it? And how often do you say the oath?

  12. Matt G says

    I’m sure it varies from troop to troop, and depending on where in the country you are. I was part of a fairly progressive troop in the northeast, and the word “God” in the oath was it. We said the oath at the beginning of each (weekly) meeting, and at special events. At our camp in the Adirondacks, raising and lowering the American flag was part of every day, but there was no religion.

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