US: Churches may cease funding if Boy Scouts remove anti-gay policy

Joseph McCormick January 30, 2013
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Some churches have not taken kindly to the news that the Boy Scouts of American are to vote on whether to drop a national ban on gay members, volunteers and staff.

The Southern Baptist church, one of the largest religious institutions to donate to the BSA, has suggested that it might pull its funding from the BSA if it decides to drop its national policy banning gay members, volunteers and staff.

In July 2012, after a two year review, the Boy Scouts of America announced it would retain its ban on gay members, volunteers and staff.

It was reported on Monday that the vote, expected next week, could give individual scout troops the freedom to welcome gay scouts.

BSA national leaders said they were “actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay Scouts or Scout leaders.”

The BSA had reportedly spoken to several religious groups, including Southern Baptist, prior to its announcement on Monday.

“They had been working for months on this proposal and just days before, they informed us,” Roger S. Oldham, a spokesman for the executive committee, said in an interview with National Public Radio. “We would anticipate that there would be a very significant backlash to this as churches re-evaluate whether scouting comports with their values.”

Mr Oldham continued that the BSA “apparently intended to hide this from the public until days after thousands of churches would have celebrated Scout Sunday.”

He went on to say that, if the policy changed, the Southern Baptist Church leaders would probably issue a statement urging other organisations to stop supporting scouts, the Washington Times reports.

The Boy Scouts have lost funding from several large corporate donors over the policy, including UPS, back in November, who had given over $150,000 (£95,000), Intel, another of the scouts’ largest donors, ceased funding back in September, and the Merck Foundation in December. 

Verizon, a US communications company, has been one of the top donors to the BSA in recent years, but a recent petition urged bosses to cease the funding because of the policy. 

A synagogue in California recently became the latest in a list of religious groups to reject the Boy Scouts of America’s policy, described as “damaging”.

In June last year, the SBC adopted a resolution at its annual conference criticising marriage equality advocates who adopted the ‘rhetoric of the civil rights movement’ and drew comparisons between discrimination against gay couples and racism.

The leader of the American Family Association commented said the Boy Scouts of America’s announcement that it might lift its ban on gay scouts could open its doors to paedophiles.

More: Americas, Boy Scouts of America, BSA, Church, Religion, southern baptist church, Southern Baptist Convention, US

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