As of Jan. 1, gay teens are now allowed to join the Boy Scouts of America without hiding their identity (though gay scout leaders are still banned). And the predictions from anti-gay religious groups that sponsored scout troops of a “mass exodus” due to the policy has not materialized.
A few religious groups objected to even this partial change. The Assemblies of God, an anti-gay Pentecostal denomination, and the Southern Baptist Convention both promised a “mass exodus” from the organization and a small group of anti-LGBT activists have launched a Christian-only BSA alternative.
But the mass exodus has simply not materialized. A BSA spokesman noted that the vast majority of religious groups have stayed with the organization despite the policy shift. The BSA estimates that less than 2 percent of its 116,000 Scout units were abandoned by their sponsors.
And even in some very conservative places, those abandoned troops have found new backers. Joey Kiker, spokesman for the Greater Alabama Council in Birmingham, told a local newpsaper that while a few churches that sponsored Scout units have left, “every single unit that lost a charter partner, within an hour, had a new charter partner.” And Brad Haddock, a national board member from Wichita, Kansas likened the warnings to the Y2K scare. “There hasn’t been a whole lot of fallout,” he told the Associated Press, observing that “If a church said they wouldn’t work with us, we’d have a church right down the street say, ‘We’ll take the troop.’”
This is very good news. I suspect the new alternative groups will crash and burn.
Like Dispatches on Facebook: