Will the Boy Scouts Move Their Tents Toward Sodom?

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The Boy Scouts of America has been debating the possibility of ending its ban on gay membership in the organization.

The Boy Scouts of America (B.S.A.), which only last summer confirmed its policy that kept homosexuals from joining, has now been debating the possibility of ending its ban on gay membership in the organization. On Wednesday, the organization announced that it is delaying its vote on the issue until May.1 The proposal, if passed in May as it is currently written, would take a sort of “middle ground” on the issue: the decision to admit openly gay members to the Boy Scouts would be left to individual troop leaders.

Of course, leaving the decision up to individual troops would essentially be a non-answer from the Boy Scouts of America. What’s more, it would essentially serve as an affirmation of homosexual behavior as much as it would be if scout troops were forced to admit gay members. The organization, if it chooses the route of simply leaving the decision up to individual troops, will have given in to a false idea of neutrality. The B.S.A. will have bought into the idea that by not voicing its opposition to or support for homosexual behavior, it can avoid conflict and not force anyone to violate his beliefs.

There really is no such thing as neutrality on the issue of homosexual behavior. The B.S.A.’s initial desire to hurry the vote is likely because the organization has been under tremendous pressure in the political climate of the past few years to give in to the demands of homosexual activists, while the delay is more likely due to the B.S.A.’s realization that it will lose a significant number of participants if the ban on gay members is lifted. If the proposal to pass the decision on to individual troops is adopted, the Boy Scouts of America will have at least partially capitulated to the schemes of the homosexual agenda—and its capitulation will be indicative of where the American culture as a whole is headed. A non-theistic, secular worldview is increasingly being imposed on society, and because it is antagonistic to the biblical worldview, it could hardly be neutral.

The Presidential Agenda

According to the official website of the B.S.A., the President of the United States is considered the honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America2 although the current president’s relationship with the organization has reportedly not been so honorable. President Barack Obama in a Sunday interview gave his support to the admission of gay members into the organization. In fact, he went a step further and said that he is favor of practicing homosexuals being admitted to “every institution” in society.3

Does “every institution” include churches, Christian schools, and Christian institutions such as Answers in Genesis? It appears there will not be any boundaries to whatever vision he is proposing in that statement. Indeed, the agenda of the current administration will likely lead to an avalanche of compromise and a loss of religious freedom in the United States as a whole.

Furthermore, since President Obama is the honorary president of the B.S.A. and is in favor of gay members in the Boy Scouts, it will certainly be difficult for the B.S.A. to stand in opposition to him.

Compromise in Canada and the UK

The Boy Scouts of America is a constituent member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (W.O.S.M.). This larger, international organization is composed of scouting programs from around the world, including Scouts Canada and The Scout Association (UK).

Scouts Canada, which is a co-ed scouting organization, deals with the issue of homosexual members in the FAQs section of its website. In response to the question, “Are homosexuals allowed to join Scouts Canada?” the organization writes, “Scouts Canada does not discriminate for reasons of gender, culture, religious belief or sexual orientation.”4

The Scout Association in the UK makes available a number of documents related to openly homosexual members.5 One of the supplements, titled “Being Gay with an Adult Role in Scouting,” declares, “It’s OK to be an adult in Scouting and be gay! Throughout the Association there are adults in Scouting who are gay, lesbian or bisexual.”6

Related to students in the Association, another document counsels leaders on “Supporting a Young Person Who Is Gay and in Scouting,” as the title makes clear. When a student comes to a leader and admits to being gay, the supplement advises, “As you listen, reassure the young person that it is OK to be Gay and a Scout. … It is essential that your support is positive and it is not for you to judge them.”7

If what has happened in Canadian and UK scouting organizations is any indication, the Boy Scouts of America very likely will cave to the pressure and follow the path of affirming homosexual behavior.

A Change of Mind

What makes this scouting situation even more distressing is that the B.S.A. last year indicated that it would uphold its ban on gay members. In an article from CNN on July 17, 2012, the reporter wrote, “The Boy Scouts of America announced Tuesday it has affirmed its policy of ‘not granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals.’”8 Why then is the B.S.A. considering lifting the ban less than a year later?

Indeed, there seems to be a mindset among pro-homosexual groups that they can simply demand to be part of a private organization’s membership, based solely on their status as “gay” or “lesbian” (or whatever other label they may choose to apply to themselves) and despite any qualms the organization may have with that lifestyle. Why should any private group be forced to include members whose beliefs are in direct contradiction with the group’s beliefs, standard, and moral code?

In fact, in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000), the U.S. Supreme Court dealt with this very issue. An assistant scoutmaster revealed that he was gay, and he was expelled from the B.S.A. The Supreme Court ruled that the B.S.A. and other private organizations like it do have the right to exclude those whose views conflict with the organization’s message. The court explained its decision as follows:

… public or judicial disapproval of a tenet of an organization's expression does not justify the State’s effort to compel the organization to accept members where such acceptance would derogate from the organization’s expressive message. “While the law is free to promote all sorts of conduct in place of harmful behavior, it is not free to interfere with speech for no better reason than promoting an approved message or discouraging a disfavored one, however enlightened either purpose may strike the government.”9

Based on this court decision, certainly the Boy Scouts of America should not be afraid of facing a lawsuit. The U.S. Supreme Court has already affirmed the right to exclude homosexuals from the troops.

What we are seeing is the erosion of the authority of God’s Word in the culture. If the B.S.A. even partially capitulates on this issue, it will have given up a great amount of ground to the homosexual agenda.

Morality Based on Biblical Truth

What is really at issue with admitting openly gay scouts is biblical truth. The Apostle Paul taught clearly that homosexual behavior in any form is unacceptable and sinful in the eyes of God (Romans 1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10; 1 Timothy 1:10), and Jesus affirmed that marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman (Matthew 19:4–6; Mark 10:6–9). The church has the Word of God on which to base its morality—but who determines what is moral in a godless culture?

The Boy Scouts of America has never been solely a Christian group, but it has held to Christian moral beliefs since its inception. With wording in the Scout Law that says a “scout is reverent” and having a Scout Oath that declares that scouts will do their “best to do my duty to God,” the Scouts are rooted in Christian beliefs (even though the B.S.A. has included other theists, such as Jews and other non-Christians). With that basis, Scouts pledge an oath to be “morally straight.” What does morality mean without some kind of foundation? In recent years, however, there has been a push on the B.S.A. to set aside the Christian moral foundation and replace it with a relative morality based on man’s shifting opinions. The debate over whether to permit openly homosexual people to participate in the B.S.A. is really the clash of two worldviews: one worldview makes God and His Word the authority while the other makes man and his ever-changing views the authority.

Now, in one sense it should not come as a shock that a group that was not inherently Christian (though it held to many Christian beliefs) would drift like this. The difference between what is Christian and what is secular and morally relative is widening in America. On the one hand, secular alternative groups to the B.S.A. have already cropped up to accept openly homosexual members. On the other hand, there have been alternative groups to the Boy Scouts that are run by denominations that apparently are dedicated to upholding the Word of God. We cannot vouch for all of these denominational groups, but we encourage families to carefully examine these Christian groups (in light of Scripture) and see if they may be a viable alternative to the B.S.A.—especially if the B.S.A.’s final decision in May is in favor of homosexual members. We also ask that you pray for Bible-believing Scout leaders who have been seeking to use scouting as an outreach—ask God to grant them discernment on how to proceed.

The B.S.A.’s decision on this issue will indicate to what lengths the organization is willing to go to subvert its Christian ideals. Will the Boy Scouts of America ultimately move their tents toward Sodom, like Abraham’s nephew Lot in Genesis 13:12?

We at Answers in Genesis encourage you to fervently pray for the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America that they would stand on the Word of God in every area of their thinking. Meanwhile, let this episode be a reminder that while Americans at one time largely accepted the Christian worldview based on the Bible, today as God’s Word has increasingly come under attack by secularists, the biblical foundation for morality in this nation has been collapsing.


  1. “Boy Scouts delay vote on gay membership ban,” CNN, http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/06/boy-scouts-delay-vote-on-ending-gay-membership-ban/.
  2. “Presidents of the United States and the Boy Scouts of America,” Boy Scouts of America, http://www.scouting.org/About/FactSheets/presidents.aspx.
  3. Barack Obama, interview by Scott Pelley, CBS, February 3, 2013; available online at “President Obama Superbowl Interview 2013,” Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0D5PmvWDT4.
  4. “Frequently Asked Questions,” Scouts Canada, http://www.scouts.ca/ca/frequently-asked-questions.
  5. For a complete list of documents, see “Member Resources: LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender),” The Scout Association, http://members.scouts.org.uk/supportresources/2308/lgbt-lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender?cat=419,377,378.
  6. “Being Gay with an Adult Role in Scouting,” The Scout Information Centre (UK), http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/library/hqdocs/facts/pdfs/fs185081.pdf.
  7. “Supporting a Young Person Who Is Gay and in Scouting,” The Scout Information Centre, http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/library/hqdocs/facts/pdfs/fs185083.pdf.
  8. CNN Wire Staff, “Boy Scouts leadership affirms policy of excluding ‘open or avowed’ gays,” CNN, http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/17/us/boy-scouts-gay.
  9. Boy Scouts of America et al v. Dale, 530 U.S. 661 (2000). Available online at http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=99-699.


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