The sharp controversy over the Boy Scouts’ prohibition of homosexuals from its membership is not only dividing congregations and denominations but is also showing how scouting has gradually taken more religious overtones over the years, reports Newsweek (Aug. 7).
The Boy Scouts policy prohibiting homosexuals from membership in the organization has again the ongoing divide among U.S. religious bodies over gay rights. Mainline church bodies, including the Reform Jews, have passed statements and, in some cases, withdrew support from Boy Scout programs, while groups such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), the Catholic Church, and Christian right groups have supported the organizations’ stand on the issue.
Newsweek notes that the LDS, whose constituency comprise 13 percent of the Boy Scouts’ membership, have adopted scouting as its official youth program. Observers say Mormons exercise strong clout over the scout’s national board, “which for years was sprinkled with top executives from Eastern firms and now attracts mostly conservative civic leaders tied to the churches that sponsor troops.”
Meantime, the Girl Scouts, which leaves the gay rights issue up to its local councils, have taken a more secular route. In 1993, the organization removed the pledge to “serve God and country” to placate atheists’ demand that belief in God not be a litmus test for a good Girl Scout.