Erik Eckholm of the New York Times (NYT) authored an article on July 27, 2015 announcing that the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has agreed to allow the local chapters to decide if they will utilize gay leaders in their troops. The title of the article is Boy Scouts End Ban on Gay Leaders, Over Protests by Mormon Church. This follows a decision in 2013 to allow openly gay boys to become Boy Scouts, but retained the ban on gay leaders and prevented Eagle Scouts that were 18 from remaining connected to the Boy Scouts.
This decision is consistent with the majority of the US population’s increasing acceptance of gays, but is strongly opposed by fundamentalist Christians. Fundamentalist Muslims in the US have not commented, but Muslims in foreign countries openly persecute gay members of their societies. In the extreme, the fundamentalist Muslims execute gays. As reported by Carol E. Lee and Heidi Vogt in the Wall Street Journal on July 25, 2015, President Obama made comments on his visit to Kenya regarding Kenya’s treatment of gays that prompted a firm rebuttal by President Kenyatta.
The Mormons have spoken quickly and strongly that they may withdraw support from the Boy Scouts. Since the Mormons are the biggest church sponsors of scout troops, this is a major concern to the Boy Scouts. There are discussions within the Mormon leadership whether to form their own organization for boys that would operate around the world. Church headquarters expressed their concerns.
The church has always welcomed all boys to its scouting units regardless of sexual orientation. However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.
Russell D. Moore of the Southern Baptist Conference also expressed strong reservations with the decision.
After the Scouts’ shift on membership, they told religious groups this wouldn’t affect leadership. Now churches are told that these changes will not affect faith-based groups. Churches know that this is the final word only until the next evolution.
Robert M. Gates, president of the Boy Scouts, explained that the decision to allow gay leadership was partially reflective of current views of accepting gays into all roles in society. Another key factor in the decision was to avoid law suits for sexual discrimination that have been initiated in several states. Gates was instrumental in the process of elimination of sexual discrimination in the US military while serving as Secretary of Defense.
Local chapters of the Boy Scouts and their sponsors will make their decisions based upon their particular dogma and beliefs. Separation of church and state guaranteed in the 1st Amendment should maintain the ability of individual chapters to allow gay leadership participation or not. This is another step in the recognition that we are all human beings whatever our race, origin, sex or sexual orientation. Spiritualists have accepted LGBT people into our churches without special notice or restrictions. The key Spiritualist principles include the Golden Rule, and the belief that God loves everyone.