Harrison releases statement on Boy Scouts’ proposed policy change

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.

Reporter Online is the Web version of Reporter, the official newspaper of
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Content is prepared by LCMS Communications.

3 Responses to Harrison releases statement on Boy Scouts’ proposed policy change

  1. John Osen May 21, 2013 at 2:52 am #

    Thanks for supporting the scouts. Being a former member of an ELCA church, it strangely warms my heart to hear of Lutherans standing for the innocence of children (Mathew 18). May LCMS be blessed.
    Warm Regards, John

  2. Danny Jost May 21, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    Thank you! I feel the same way as the above commenter (I myself am a Catholic). I am at this point an active boy scout, and am only 9 months away from getting Eagle Scout. However, if they change their current policies concerning this nasty topic, I am positive our entire troop will cease to exist. This thought saddens me very much. Pray, pray, pray, for the scouts to show some backbone, and for us to stick to our Christian values by standing up for what we believe.

  3. Jeffery B. Fortenberry, BSA Troop 90 Chaplain, Trinity Lutheran Church, Bend, Oregon May 23, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

    Thank-you for taking this stand. I suspected that this issue would surface back in 2009. My son & I were members of Troop 18, Nativity Lutheran Church(ELCA), Bend, OR at the time. He was a boy scout & I served as the Troop Chaplain, (even though I was member a Southern Baptist Church). Troop 18 met in the Fellowship Hall of Nativity Lutheran. During a meeting, in November 2008, a week or two before Thanksgiving, I was looking around the Fellowship hall & noted some new photos displayed. They were hung in the spot where our troops awards & citations normally hung. I figured they were perhaps pictures of missionaries, something Southern Baptists promote during Thanksgiving & Christmas holiday season, and so I went to investigate. The photos were part of a Boston, Mass display & there pictures of various “homosexual/lesbian/transgender” families. As I made my to the end of the “collection”, I looked back at the entrance way of the Fellowhip Hall and noticed a sign that said: “Love makes a family – homosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender.” I was at a loss for words & quiet. Our troop Scoutmaster, Brendan Adams, came in, sat next to me at a table where I was seated, and after a few minutes of trying to visit with me, he asked if there was anything wrong. I showed him the poster by the door way and the pictures. He was as shocked as I was. The Scoutmaster asked a couple of the ladies who were both members of the church & members of the Troop Committee, their response, along with the Committe Chairman ( who was not a member of Nativity Lutheran) was that it was to promote “diversity”. At the end of the troop meeting, I took my son & had him look at the pictures & then had him read the poster, “Love makes a family . . .” My son was 12 yrs old & though we were Baptists, he had been attending “Trinity Lutheran School” (Bend, OR) since kindergarten, he was now in 6th Grade. His response to me was, “but Dad, that’s not right”. I wanted to quit the Troop at that point, but the Scoutmaster, who also had the same conviction as I, encouraged me to wait until he could get to the bottom of the issue. The Troop did meet with the pastor within the next couple of weeks. He assured everyone that it was not meant to be hostile toward the boy scouts, especially the troop, he said that the church erred in removing our awards from the wall etc, etc, etc. Many of the leaders really did want to cause to much of a fuss, because those leaders had sons about 1 – 2 yrs shy of fulfilling their Eagle Scout requirement. The Scoutmaster (Mr. Adams), was not available for that meeting, but communicated with the pastor through email. Mr. Adams, then fwd the email to me & I learned that the pastor was attemping to “open up” discussion re: the “gay” issue re: scout membership. I was ready quit Troop 18 & pull my son out, but Scoutmaster Adams encouraged me to stick out just a little longer & maybe the Troop members might open their eyes, thus leaving as a Troop to another Charter Organization. – – – Whenever this sort of proposal came up during the next few months, the Committee Chairman would remind us that the Troop “belonged” to Nativity Lutheran, who was the Chartering Organization. After a few dozen times of him repeating this, it finally occurred to me, who determines what “Morally Straight” means. In the Spring of 2009, I learned that the ELCA were wanting to “open up” discussion for some policy changes of their own. In the Fall of 2009, their policies changed & again I approached the Troop Committee Chairman, (which was now held by a different Scout Leader), but Troop 18’s leaders didn’t see what the big deal was & preferred to remain with Nativity Lutheran. I resigned from Troop 18 & withdrew my son, Peter, from their membership. When I asked the question, “Who defines ‘Morally Staight'”, the response was the National Council does & they won’t change. Yeah, right. I wonder if the School Board members in Tennessee made a similiar assumption during the “Scopes Trial”. I was the first to leave Troop 18, because of my “reverence” for God, about 5 other men, with their sons also left & we formed Troop 90, charted by Trinity Lutheran Church, January 2010. – – – I pray the policy does not change. – – – If the vote is “NO”, I hope that this becomes awake call to all of us who support Boy Scouts & becoming pro-active to maintain it’s integrity & values. Scouting is a great way for boys to become men & it is a great place for boys to build friendships with appropriate peer groups.

    Thanks again for your stand,

    Soli Dei Glori

    Jeff Fortenberry

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