Metro Weekly

South Carolina church drops Boy Scout troop after gay leader vote

Despite religious exemptions, leaders cite BSA policy allowing gay adult leaders as justification

Boy Scouts at the BSA 2010 National Scout Jamboree (Credit: U.S. Department of Defense, via Wikimedia Commons).
Boy Scouts at the BSA 2010 National Scout Jamboree (Credit: U.S. Department of Defense, via Wikimedia Commons).

A South Carolina church is calling it quits on sponsoring a local Boy Scouts of America troop.

According to The Charlotte Observer, the First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church of Lancaster, S.C., has decided to sever ties with BSA Troop 72 as of July 31, following the BSA executive board’s decision to lift the ban on allowing openly gay adults to serve in leadership roles.

Although BSA’s decision allowed religious organizations to continue to discriminate against openly gay adults — including setting their own leadership standards consistent with their religious beliefs — First ARP is telling parents that such protections are not strong enough. Church leaders fear a lawsuit that might hypothetically force them to admit gay Scout leaders.

The church sent two letters to parents of Scouts in Troop 72. The first, from church member and scout leader “Buddy” Lever, said the decision was made two days after the lifting of the ban “after much research.” Lever told parents he had reached out to two other Scout troops in the area who are willing to accept new members who want to transfer.

The second letter, from First ARP Church, said that “there was a weak provision placed in this change that would allow Christian organizations to refuse homosexual leadership.” That letter also went on to emphasize homosexuality violates the religious traditions of the ARP Church, saying “we can not condone as morally straight what the Bible calls sin.” The letter also said the church believed that keeping intact their ties to BSA would make them the target of lawsuits.

“We have faced a hard choice and we are saddened by having to make this change,” the letter reads. “The BSA has taken a path that we cannot follow.”

In place of Troop 72, the church is instead sponsoring a troop from self-described “unapologetically Christian” Scouting organization Trail Life USA, which has gained steam in recent years among conservative-leaning families with young boys unhappy with what they see as a liberal lurch in the values promoted by BSA. First ARP of Lancaster has said it will pay the first year’s registration fees for any Scout who wishes to join Trail Life USA instead of transferring to another BSA troop.

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