Pod people: ‘Mass exodus’ from the Boy Scouts?

One of the wonderful things about writing is the ability to type something, decide it’s not precisely exactly what you wanted to say, delete it and start over.

Alas, when you’re recording a podcast — let’s say, with Todd Wilken of “Crossroads” — you don’t have that luxury.

Instead, you’re responding to questions off the cuff and thinking out loud.

So, please enjoy a trip inside my (scatter)brain in the latest GetReligion podcast.

Wilken and I discuss media coverage of the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to allow openly gay members — the subject of my recent posts on “Seven questions about Boy Scout gay policy coverage” and “Churches dumping Boy Scouts over gay policy … or not?”

My most recent post drew some interesting comments, including this insight from GetReligion editor Terry Mattingly:

The key to the whole question is that no one knows what the word “open” means in the phrase “openly gay youths.” At this point, Catholics are the key. Keep waiting for the hierarchy to speak.

And this insight from Tennessean religion writer Bob Smietana:

So far there hasn’t been a mass exodus of Baptists from Boy Scouts in Nashville. And the local Royal Ambassador leaders don’t want to fill their ranks with disgruntled scouts. This could be a case for Baptist where the national leader want one thing and the local churches something else.

The notion that the policy change hasn’t sparked a “mass exodus” also was referenced in an Associated Press story published after my last post:

In suburban Atlanta, northern Idaho and a number of other places, churches have moved swiftly to sever ties with the Boy Scouts of America in protest over the vote last month to let openly gay boys participate in Scouting.

To date, it’s far from the mass defection that some conservatives had predicted before the vote by the BSA’s National Council. But the exodus could soon swell, depending on the outcome of the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting next week in Houston. Baptist leaders say the agenda is likely to include a resolution encouraging SBC-affiliated churches to phase out their sponsorships of Scout units.

The vote occurred just two weeks ago. It seems a bit early to me to start assessing the full impact.

I’m reminded of the upheaval in the Episcopal Church after that denomination’s 2003 consecration of an openly gay bishop. If I recall correctly, some of the defections of congregations and even dioceses took years to develop. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting that the Boy Scout situation represents an apple-to-apple comparison to the gay bishop scenario; I’m just pointing out that not every entity operates on the same immediate deadline as a daily news reporter.

Anyway, Wilken poses some intriguing questions on the podcast, and I hem haw around quite a bit and actually answer one or two of them.

Besides talking about the Boy Scouts, we focus a few minutes on media coverage of “The faith and resiliency of Oklahomans” after the recent devastating tornadoes here in my home state. I maybe even bring up Wolf Blitzer again (see Mollie’s recent post on “I’m an atheist, Wolf”).

Enjoy the podcast.

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About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.

  • Christian LeBlanc

    I expect the Boy Scouts will come to resemble the ECUSA.

  • FW Ken

    A mass exodus would not be expected this soon, would it?

    Anyway, the Southern Baptists are meeting this week, and maybe they will get some coverage this year. Ya think?

    • http://getreligion.org/ Bobby Ross Jr.

      I’m betting there’ll be some coverage, FW Ken.

      And not just because of the Boy Scouts issue: http://www.dailyjournal.net/view/story/9c64374dcfce4d88a756dc96e7750f37/US-REL–Southern-Baptists-

      Calvinism/http://www.sunherald.com/2013/06/07/4719758/why-john-calvin-is-shaking-things.html

      • FW Ken

        It’s been 42 years since I was a Baptist, but I never heard Calvinism/predestination preached. It was all revivalistic “accept Jesus in your heart” religion. Technically ” arminianism”, I guess. More significantly, it never seemed an issue in our family, since my great-grandfather was a Primitive Baptist preacher who’s first name was “John” and middle name “Calvin”.

        This could turn out more interesting than the Boy Scout brou-ha-ha.

  • Donalbain

    “The key to the whole question is that no one knows what the word “open” means in the phrase “openly gay youths.””

    Yes, we do know what the word open means. It means “Not secret”. So, if a young man is gay and does not keep it a secret, then he is openly gay. This REALLY isn’t hard to understand.

    • Sari

      Yes. Openly gay means being honest about one’s orientation and has nothing to do with being sexually active.

      Lost in all the noise is what Scouts can offer heterosexual boys when openly gay boys are also present: real life experience relevant to the workplace. If the Scouts aim to mold boys into decent men, then they must also acknowledge that we can choose our friends but not our neighbors or our coworkers. They will learn appropriate behavior: how to treat people with whom they disagree and how to tolerate and accept difference without condoning them.

      Rather than focus on rights, I’d like to see the media explore what inclusion brings to the table.

      • Donalbain

        This! A thousand times this. Too many people seem to be convinced that being gay means that you are having sex. The idea that gay people are like other people is beyond the ability of some people to grasp.
        And yes, I like your point about how inclusivity helps all people, not just those who were previously excluded.

        • Sari

          Well, I haven’t seen anyone ask any religious organization what pulling out of the Boy Scouts teaches the boys and how it prepares them to become better men. Refusal to work with anyone on the basis of religion, ethnicity, or orientation is simply not tolerated by most businesses. One can self-segregate by attending only educational institutions and working in organizations that promote one’s faith or one can add the necessary tools to the tool kit to live in the actual world. Tolerance is about learning to deal appropriately with those with whom we disagree, not validating their beliefs.


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