As my other post was getting rather long, I’ll explain the current state of the BSA here:
For those that are not as familiar with the situation in the BSA, I’ll offer a little background. As several online writers have pointed out, the main push for the discriminatory policy is coming from the Mormon Church. This is the same church that spent so much money on a hate campaign in California to pass Prop 8 back in 2008. What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that the BSA actually owes its continued existence to the Mormon Church. And that’s really the irony of this whole situation. Back in the 1980’s, the BSA redirected its focus towards urban scouting, veering away from its traditional outdoors skill set. As it did so, membership plummeted. Just as the BSA was dwindling from this mistake, the Mormon Church adopted the BSA for its male youth program, put the focus back on the traditional outdoor skills, and revitalized the organisation. With practically every Mormon church sponsoring a troop, numbers swelled and the Mormon Church took advantage of its weight by dictating policies for the BSA. But here’s the irony: the very religious group that saved the BSA in the 1980’s is now the fundamental cause of people pulling away from the organization because of its religious based discrimination. While the Mormon Church sponsors troops, their enforced discrimination has caused numerous other churches to no longer sponsor troops because such discrimination runs directly against their own doctrines and firm Christian beliefs. I have lost count of the number of Episcopal, UCC, United Methodist and Lutheran churches that will no longer sponsor troops because these troops would not allow their own parishioners to participate.
As the Mormon Church, and other conservative churches that hold sway (such as the Roman Catholic Church), continue to enforce their brand of “Christian” values on an organization that is supposed to respect the values of all religions by its own inter-faith policy (being a former BSA Chaplain, I am very aware of this policy and how often it is ignored), they are driving away support from other faith-based organizations. As these organizations leave, then the BSA become more and more dependant on the conservative churches that remain. So essentially, the Mormon Church that saved the BSA in the ’80s is creating a dependency that the BSA can’t afford to upset.
But here’s the flip side of the coin: if the BSA did eventually change its policy on gay scouts and scouters, then, yes, membership would initially drop as the discriminatory churches pulled support. But once you re-open scouting for everyone, then the faith-based organizations would be able to come back. Gradually, membership would return. And perhaps, the BSA might even be surprised to find that when it comes down to it, the discriminatory churches that are currently enjoying their bit of control won’t actually leave when it comes down to denying their youth the immense opportunities that scouting still provides. And maybe then we, as gay men, will no longer be used as scapegoats for the inappropriate behavior of others. Perhaps that is the greatest moral lesson to be learned in all of this.