Clipper Staff Writer
FRUIT HEIGHTS — The recent change in policy by the Boy Scouts of America to admit any youth regardless of sexual orientation may prove detrimental to the organization in the long run, a local pastor who resigned from the local Boy Scouts of America board said.
The Rev. Neal Humphrey, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, resigned his position as a local board member on May 31, in protest over the change.
In his resignation letter, Humphrey informed the Trapper Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America that the troop sponsored by his church, “will not follow the BSA, Trapper Trails Council, nor Mormons in endorsing what scripture and the church of Jesus Christ through the ages has defined as sin. While we will continue for now as a charter organization, we will not comply with the new policy.”
Boy Scout delegates from around the nation voted to open their doors to openly gay boys for the first time in May 24.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with one of the largest scouting programs in the nation, endorsed the policy change, saying it reflects the church’s long-standing policy.
“Sexual orientation has not previously been — and is not now — a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops,” said a statement posted to the church’s website. “Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest.”
If the LDS Church hadn’t endorsed the change, it wouldn’t have passed, Humphrey said.
Similar changes in policy by the Boy and Girl Scouts in Canada resulted in the organizations’ losing half their constituents, Humphrey said, and the Girl Scouts of America’s membership is declining as well, due to its policies on gay scouts, Humphrey said.
He believes the same thing will happen to the Boy Scouts of America in the next five to 10 years.
“At worst, the BSA will experience the same kind of membership attrition that both religious institutions and youth service organizations have experienced when they allowed culture to shape them, rather than being true to their purpose in shaping culture,” Humphrey wrote in a column for the website onmyhonor.net.
Among conservative Christian groups sponsoring Boy Scout troops, the Southern Baptists and Assemblies of God will be the first to pull out, Humphrey said. The Assemblies of God already have their Royal Rangers program, he said. Some churches may consider chartering Cub Scout troops but not Boy Scout troops, he said.
Humphrey has also heard rumors that insurance companies may withdraw policies they hold on scouting programs because of increased liability issues, although that could not be confirmed.