By Adriane Dorr
LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison released a statement today (May 16) that voices concerns over the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) proposed policy change. On May 24, board members for the youth organization will vote on whether or not to allow openly homosexual Scouts as members.
The topic of the vote has morphed over the past few months, changing from a discussion on allowing both gay Scouts and Scout leaders into the organization, now to determining only whether or not to include openly homosexual Scouts as members.
Harrison, who sent a letter to the BSA administration when news of the vote was first announced, noted, “The proposed change will highlight sexuality, which has not been and should be not be a matter of focus for Scouts.”
He also acknowledged that, “We suspect it will make it more challenging to care for young persons struggling with same-sex attraction and even open our churches to legal action.”
Harrison also has signed a statement — along with some 25 other Protestant church leaders — urging the BSA not to change its policy. That statement will be sent to the BSA office prior to the May 24 vote.
“This vote matters to the LCMS,” Harrison said, noting that churches make up some 70 percent of the sponsoring agencies for the BSA, and Lutheran congregations comprise the fifth-largest group of religious organizations sponsoring the Boy Scouts of America.
In his initial letter to the BSA, Harrison explained, “Because Christian churches teach both the Law of God and the Good News of redemption in Christ Jesus, churches and pastors often have seen the Boy Scouts as a good activity for boys, as the organization has promoted honor for God, parents, country and, in general, good and moral behavior.”
“The LCMS has enjoyed a long history of a very strong relationship with scouting, and we have appreciated our ability to uphold not only basic morality but even Christian teaching within Lutheran scouting,” explained the Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the LCMS Office of National Mission. The outcome of the upcoming vote, however, “could potentially fracture our relationship with Scouts or destroy our freedom of conscience to run our Scout troops,” Day said.
BSA voting members who are members of LCMS congregations are encouraged to read the statement in its entirety, which can be found here.
“As the church awaits the BSA vote, we still have much to do,” Harrison said. “We repent, and we pray. We confess Christ and elevate marriage among us. We do what the church does best: We bear witness to Christ, show mercy to those in our midst — including those challenged by same-sex attraction — and care for all in our life together.”
To read a related Reporter Online story, “LCMS joins call for Boy Scouts to reject policy change,” click here.