Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Why Churches are Important to Boy Scouts

I, like many people, hoped that the Boy Scouts of America would end the official discrimination against gays.  There were hopeful signs a month or so ago but it didn't happen (yet).  Some religious denominations have concerns.  Why should this matter?  Because scout troops must have chartering organizations.  This is not sponsorship in terms of money.  The BSA website provides this information on chartering organizations:

  • Responsibilities of chartered organizations include:
  • Providing adequate meeting facilities.
  • Providing quality leadership for the Scouting unit.
  • Appointing a chartered organization representative to coordinate all Scouting unit operations within the organization.
The same site lists three categories of chartering organizations, 70.3% are faith based organizations, 20% are civic organizations, and  7.5% are educational organizations.  The largest faith based group are the Mormons, followed by the United Methodist Church.  Some denominations want to keep the ban on gays, others don't, and some are keeping quiet.

Religious, civic, and educational organizations are the most common chartering organizations for a reason, well, okay, for a few reasons.  One, if you think about it, how many other types of organizations have the meeting space?  Better yet, space in residential areas where kids live?  Second, how many organizations can come up with the volunteers?  Granted schools and churches don't always provide the actual leaders, but often there is a connection.  Scout leaders show up week after week, campout after campout, and that is a serious commitment.

In May the BSA leadership group will decide whether or not to allow individual chartering organizations to allow openly gay scouts and scout leaders to join (surely everyone knows that gay scouts and leaders have been and continue to participate, not announcing their orientation).  If chartering organizations are allowed to make that decision, I hope a lot of social organizations will decide to start troops.  It is not an easy thing to do, especially finding volunteers to devote the amount of time needed to effectively run a troop.

If we don't want religious groups to have such sway over an iconic organization like the scouts, then a lot of other groups and volunteers need to step up.


Austin in PA said...

A lot of chartering organizations backed out over the last several years, as the Scouts' abuse lawsuits, discrimination cases etc brought unwanted attention. Public schools, Fire companies, etc generally don't charter any more.
BTW, on this, there are organizations pushing the National BSA to change the policy. See,

AboveAvgJane said...

Thanks for stopping by. Some non-religious groups may have stopped chartering but I think the majority of troops have always been affiliated with a church or other religious organization.

Personally I would love to see the policy changed. The national BSA website has an area for people to leave comments, etc. I've used this and other venues to make my views known.