The highly contentious issue of the Boy Scouts of America and gay scouts became a religion story because so many Scout troops and Cub Scout packs are sponsored by churches, synagogues and other houses of worship (click here for previous GetReligion links). Indeed, members of the Religion Newswriters Association voted it the ninth-most important religion story of 2013.
So it is just as understandable that within the realm of religion there would be those who are none too happy with the BSA decision, and who have or soon will “opt out” of the Scouting movement. But to where shall these congregations go? Yes, various denominations — Assemblies of God, Southern Baptists, the Seventh-day Adventist Church — have highly similar programs, but where does that leave other groups?
The Dallas Morning News team has an answer, but in providing it the editors glide past a major element. If “Trail Life,” a new alternative group “modeled on” the BSA, wants to emphasize moral values different from the BSA’s position, then what are the specifics of those values? Why are they doing what they are doing?
Sadly, you won’t find out much here. Read on:
Trail Life USA, a new alternative to the Boy Scouts of America, is starting to take off in Texas and across the nation.
The question is whether Trail Life will become a viable alternative to the venerable Boy Scouts, a 103-year-old organization with $1 billion in assets and 2.6 million members.
Trail Life was born last summer after BSA’s leaders voted to allow openly gay boys to participate in Scouting, a reversal of a long-standing policy. Many conservative Christians objected, saying the historic vote represented a rejection of biblical teachings on sexuality. Some within Scouting voted with their feet, leaving to create Trail Life USA.
In many ways, Trail Life is modeled on the Boy Scouts. The two groups part ways, though, on the question of admitting openly gay members. Trail Life bans gay members — the same ban that the BSA lifted last year.
“Trail Life is very much what families want,” said Rob Green, a former BSA executive who is CEO of the new group.
“They just don’t know it yet.”
As it turns out, Trail Life’s leaders are happy to explain their religious viewpoints, though not in exacting detail: