In response to the historic vote last spring by the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council to allow openly homosexual youth in the program, a new organization centered on Christian faith is forming at a gathering this weekend in Nashville of more than 1,200 former Scouting officials, parents and youths.
Led by John Stemberger, an Eagle Scout who founded a coalition that opposed the BSA policy change, OnMyHonor.net, the new youth organization will provide an outdoor-oriented, character-development, life-skills and leadership program based on the group’s biblical worldview, the Washington Times reported.
The new organization will honor traditional marriage and clearly define the iconic Boy Scout vows of “duty to God” and living lives that are “morally straight,” “clean” and “reverent.”
However, according to Stemberger, it also will “honor the BSA and respect the contributions they have made.”
He told the Times the people in the BSA “are our brothers, and friends and family.”
The name of the new organization will be released at the Nashville conference, which features speakers such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Michael Farris, chancellor of Patrick Henry College.
The alternative group will offer people “a home, a place to go,” Stemberger told the Times. “We’re saying we are more committed to truth than tradition, and we’re more committed to integrity than institutions.”
In May, a resolution to change the BSA membership policy was approved by 61 percent of the approximately 1,400 Boy Scout leaders from across the nation who voted.
In a statement issued after the vote, the BSA said the resolution “reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.”
The policy change will be effective Jan. 1, 2014, “allowing the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units.”
The new group, according to the Times, will admit boys who are experiencing sexual-identity confusion or same-sex attraction. But it will not allow those who are “open and avowed” about their homosexuality.
It is expected to be modeled after a group founded 18 years ago as a “Christ-centered” alternative to the Girl Scouts of America, American Heritage Girls.
The Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptist Convention are among the church denominations that already have formed their own Scouts-like organizations.
After the BSA vote in May, Stemberger immediately announced that a group of likeminded organizations, parents and BSA members would meet the following month in Louisville, Ky., to discuss the creation of a “new character development organization for boys.”
Stemberger lamented that the BSA leadership had “turned its back on 103 years of abiding by a mission to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices.”
“Instead, it is embarking on a pathway of social experimentation that we believe will place at risk the very youth the organization is entrusted to serve, while rendering as hollow the tenets of the Scout Oath,” he said.
The new BSA policy, devised after an extensive survey of members, is a revision of a proposal issued in January that would have allowed local troops to decide whether or not to accept openly homosexual members and leaders. The approved BSA policy bars adults who opening declare they are homosexual from serving as Boy Scout leaders.
“Opening the Boy Scouts to boys who openly proclaim being sexually attracted to other boys and/or openly identify themselves as ‘gay’ will inevitably create an increase of boy-on-boy sexual contact,” said Stemberger in an open letter to the voting Scout leaders.
The policy change was made despite a thorough two-year study released in July 2012 by an 11-member committee of professional scout executives and adult volunteers who unanimously concluded the policy of not allowing open homosexuals should be maintained.
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right of the Scout organization to exclude homosexuals, because the behavior violated the core values of the private organization.