Harrison, Day on Boy Scouts action: ‘It is a sad day’

By Paula Schlueter Ross (paula.ross@lcms.org)

In response to a July 27 announcement from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) that it is lifting its nationwide ban on openly gay adult Scout leaders, two representatives of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod today released a statement acknowledging that the action “certainly and rightly raises concern for many LCMS congregations who have enjoyed longstanding relationships with the BSA.”

bsa-statement-IN“The LCMS has appreciated the open and forthright conversations with BSA over the last two years, but while the legal pressures are certainly understandable, Lutherans as a whole cannot help but feel frustration and disappointment over the decision,” reads the July 28 statement signed by LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison and the Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the church body’s Office of National Mission. “It is a sad day when any organization, seeking self-preservation, must bend the knee to the civil authorities in a way that marginalizes and potentially excludes many who have participated in and been supportive of that organization for so many years.”

On May 23, 2013, the BSA announced a policy change admitting homosexual youth to Scout programs, effective Jan. 1, 2014, but also reaffirmed its long-standing policy of not allowing openly homosexual adults to serve as Scout leaders.

Last month, on June 2, Harrison and Day spoke with Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock, who “explained what was coming, indicating that a proposed change in the BSA adult-leadership standard policy would be considered” by its National Executive Board in July. “While few details were shared, it was clear that the BSA felt that their existing national policy prohibiting gay adults from serving as leaders was no longer legally defensible,” according to the Synod statement.

The BSA board of some 80 members adopted the changes with 79 percent of those who took part voting in favor of them.

The action includes an exemption for religious organizations, who may “continue to use religious beliefs as criteria for selecting adult leaders,” according to the BSA.

“While the BSA believes yesterday’s decision is the best way forward and that these two principles can coexist, the LCMS is not willing to accept that conclusion,” notes the LCMS statement.

Synod leaders are planning to review in early August their current Memorandum of Understanding with the BSA to “determine the best course of action,” and have pledged to talk again with BSA leaders before making a final decision.

“Today the LCMS simply asks for prayers, patience and time as Synod leaders continue to look into the full meaning of the decision and its implications for LCMS congregations and their involvement with the BSA,” the Synod statement reads. “And as those conversations occur, may the Lord have mercy on the Church — and especially her young people — as she seeks to remain faithful to Christ, even as she continues to share the Gospel in a world increasingly unwilling to hear it.”

Read LCMS Statement

Visit lcms.org/freetobefaithful (“Youth Organizations”) for more resources on this topic, and download the current LCMS-BSA Memorandum of Understanding.

Also available is “Boy Scouts of America Amends Adult Leadership Policy” on the BSA website.

Posted July 28, 2015

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The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Content is prepared by LCMS Communications.

21 Responses to Harrison, Day on Boy Scouts action: ‘It is a sad day’

  1. G.G. Rogers July 28, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

    We wholeheartedly agree with LCMS’s stand on this issue!~ Alleluia❗️

  2. Brad Lehmann July 28, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    When I was a boy, scouting was about building character, honoring God and country, and teaching life skills to young men. Sadly, the board of directors voting to cave in to political and legal pressures of the current era seem to have forgotten the portion of the oath pertaining to honor. It would have been better to lock the doors and send the boys home, letting the organization pass into the scrapbooks of history with honor intact, than to do what has now been done.

  3. Sara Klingensmith July 28, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    While I am disheartened and extremely disappointed at the BSA decision, and I also wholeheartedly agree with the LCMS, I want to add something to the conversation. My boys, 19 and 14 year old have been in scouting since 2002. My husband has been a leader since that time and Scoutmaster since 2007. I have been a committee member for many years as well. Our oldest is an Eagle Scout and our youngest will get his Eagle this summer. They have worked extremely hard for many years and we are very proud of their accomplishments. I ask you to think about all the boys. The reckless decisions of the BSA national leadership should not reflect on the young boys and men who have always done the right thing and live by the scout law. We have been frustrated with changes in leadership for years, but have still managed to raise our boys properly and run our Troop proudly, turning out 20 Eagle Scouts in the past 8 years. Those young men are living lives of honor and we are proud of each and every one of them. Just because of the bad decision of a few, scouting in general should not be shunned and looked down upon. After the last decision, we decided to stay and not run away because we believed that God would use us to make a difference. As our youngest is getting his Eagle soon, we have decided it was time to step down from leadership, possibly at the right time, however we will continue to pray for BSA. Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinion. God Bless!

  4. July 28, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    It is a sad day (again). I believe as a baptized member of the LCMS it is our duty to pray for and support our church leaders in their decisions…May God have mercy on us all.

  5. Russell Mains July 28, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

    I have disagreed with President Harrison on some other issues, but I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE with him on this issue. I would go as far as to say that the LCMS should begin our own groups for boys and girls organizations perhaps using the name CHRISTIAN “Rangers”, Explorers”, or “Crusaders.”

  6. Dan Ditto July 28, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

    Time for the Church to start it’s own youth program mimicking the old Scouting Program which was about God, Honor Country, camping, and a vigorous outdoor life style, not explaining some degenerates lifestyle.

    • July 29, 2015 at 11:52 am #

      A number of us in LC-MS have– we have joined Trail Life USA, a godly program that goes back to the roots of what Scouting was supposed to be– teaching christianity using outdoor adventure as a tool!

  7. Steve S July 28, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    While the whole gay agenda appears to be a public celebration of sin, we must not forget that we are all sinners, and that if anyone keeps the whole law, yet offends it at one point, he is guilty of it all. A homosexual is no more – or no less – sinful than are any of us.

    If a gay BSA leader is truly sorry for all of his sins, and earnestly seeks repentance for them, then such a gay leader could be acceptable. Alternately, a gay leader who does not recognize his sin, is not repentant of it, and even seeks to celebrate such a sin – whether through public proclamation, or through public ceremony – cannot be accepted. Pray for such as those, for they need the Christ badly.

    • Tim Schenks July 30, 2015 at 12:55 am #

      Steve S.

      An active, practicing homosexual is an -impenitent- sinner. How can you compare that to everyone else?

      Tim

  8. Bob Shockley July 28, 2015 at 9:50 pm #

    As former a Scout leader with more than 25 years of service at the unit, district and council levels, I am concerned. While the BSA may leave unit leadership decisions up to the chartered organization and the unit, they do not do the same for adults in the districts and council levels. Those district and council level Scouters provide activities and are trainers for both youth and adults. Some of the activities and training includes overnight camping which may or may not include adults from the unit. Then there is summer camp where there are many more adults provided by the council, who are not vetted by the units.
    My wife (nearly 25 years as well) and I decided that we could no longer be involved when the BSA began to open a door that would ultimately lead to where we are today. We find that with the changes implemented in the past 2 years, we can no longer see the BSA as being morally straight. We are grateful to the program as it existed before Robert Gates became the president of the BSA, and were able to lead a unit that resulted in both our sons becoming Eagle Scouts. My grandsons are at the age of being Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, and we are so disappointed for them.
    If President Harrison or someone on his staff would like to discuss this further, I would welcome the opportunity to share my knowledge of how the program functions beyond the unit level and how it interacts with the unit and the individual youth and adults.

  9. Leon M. Boyd 3rd July 29, 2015 at 6:35 am #

    As a former scoutmaster, while serving in Texas, I am very disappointed in the decision by the BSA to allow this to happen. It can only lead to major problems if the wrong person or persons are allowed to be in charge of a troop. Synod needs to take a strong stand on this issue.

  10. Martha Noel July 29, 2015 at 7:35 am #

    As the Committee Chair for a Lutheran Boy Scout Troop, I am totally disgusted with the decision BSA has made. As a female scout leader I do not have to take a shower in a room full of naked men. However, now I will be told I have to take a shower in a room full of women, some of which are staring at me with the same intentions as if I was in the men’s shower!!!!
    Until my son is 18 years old, I am responsible for providing him with food, clothing, shelter, medical care, schooling, etc. the list goes on and on. I also have the right to make the choices about : what school he goes to, what Dr. & Dentist & hospital he goes to, what Church he attends, who his friends are, what activities he takes part in , AND I HAVE THE RIGHT TO DECIDE who has a influence on him and who does not – until he is eighteen. I understand that once he is 18 and off to college or out in the work place he will come in contact with all sorts of people, some good, some bad. BUT until he is 18 – he is MINE!

  11. Ginny Valleau July 29, 2015 at 8:56 am #

    Why is more “review” and “talk” necessary? BSA has made it clear they want to bow down to Satan. Truth and error cannot coexist. Period.

  12. Carl Vehse July 29, 2015 at 11:49 am #

    It’s [past] time to trash the “Memorandum of [Fabulous] Understanding,” which pledged to “respect the membership standard of the Boy Scouts of America, including the stipulation that membership in Scouting may not be denied to a child on the basis of sexual attraction alone.” [NOTE: the 2013 BSA membership standard allowed openly homosexual Scouts up to the age of 18.]

  13. Ryan July 29, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

    I am an Eagle Scout who would have been glad to earn my badge under the moral supervision of a gay Scout Master.

    When did the Lutheran Church start ranking sins? Based on the number of verses addressing the issues, divorce is condemned more often by your scriptures than homosexuality. So what makes a fellow sinner less capable of leadership? Aren’t all sins punishable by death?

    By your own standards, wouldn’t a divorced Christian be living a “sinful lifestyle.” What’s that verse about sinners not passing judgment again? Hmmm…oh yeah, John 8:7.

    “Let he among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.”

    The belief that a gay person is unfit for leadership in your organization is the epitome of casting the first stone. If divorced Christians are fit for leadership, so are gay people. Here’s another gem about not being intolerant from your own Messiah:

    “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?”

    Stop. Being. Hypocrites.

    • Stu F. July 30, 2015 at 11:46 am #

      Ryan,

      Read further beyond John 8:7…Jesus forgives the woman (who was to be stoned) all her sins, and then admonishes her to “go home and sin no more”. This is where the problem lies – the openly gay person fully intends to continue to repeat a specific, known sin – and even to celebrate it! This is the worst thing that the gay movement has done to gays – to teach them to have “pride” in their sin.

    • Randy July 30, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

      Good response Ryan. I am gay and I am a Christian. I deeply resent all the negative responses on here. Do you think gay people are inherently evil? Do you know how painful your comments are to many people?

  14. Bernie Schaeffer July 29, 2015 at 11:13 pm #

    My son, who was an active Boy Scout, has turned into as fine a young man as a father could hope for. I’m sure if I asked him, he would say he would be proud to be a member of any Scout troop that had an openly gay leader. I would be devastated if he thought otherwise and would feel that I had failed as a dad. What is Scouting supposed to be about anyway, if not love, compassion, caring and tolerance?

    • Carl Vehse July 30, 2015 at 10:03 am #

      “Morally straight”!

    • Stu F. July 30, 2015 at 11:37 am #

      Mr. Schaeffer,

      Indeed, the Boy Scouts have historically striven to inculcate the values of love for fellow man, compassion on people and animals, caring for people, animals, and our earth, as well as tolerance for the viewpoints of others. However, two other major aims of the movement are to teach boys self-sacrifice and to strive for moral ‘cleanliness’. Sometimes, a person must sacrifice their own wants and desires on that path. What grieves those of us who are saddened by the BSA’s decision is that they have now said that regular, avowed sodomy is no longer an amoral and unclean activity to be avoided (if a person is so inclined). Allowing leaders to openly celebrate such activity means that they will not, of course, make any attempt to discourage such behavior in the boys in their charge and the BSA will no longer hold up that aspect of cleanliness and virtue. This is completely 180 degrees from the historical position of the scouting movement. I suggest you read some of Baden-Powell’s writings on this subject.

      • Bernie Schaeffer July 30, 2015 at 5:12 pm #

        Thank you Stu.

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