When considering the forces pulling at the Boy Scouts of America, one thing journalists really needed to consider was a simple statistical chart that can be found (.pdf) on the organization’s homepage. Here are the crucial numbers found at the top of this file:
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — 37,856.
United Methodist Church — 10,868.
Catholic Church — 8,397.
Presbyterian Church — 3,597.
Lutheran Church — 3,827.
Baptist churches — 3,981.
These are these numbers? That would be the number of Scouting units hosted by these particular religious groups.
I am well aware, as I have written in a previous post, that this chart doesn’t tell us everything in terms of Scouting’s internal divisions and tensions. Once again, that is this “Presbyterian Church”? How many of those are liberal Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations, as opposed to congregations in the Presbyterian Church in America, or the Evangelical Presbyterian Church or, for that matter, more doctrinally conservative PCUSA flocks in the Sunbelt or elsewhere in flyover country?
The same question can be applied to that “Lutheran Church” reference. Are these part of the liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or the conservative Missouri-Synod Lutheran Church? And those “Baptist churches,” are they Southern Baptist, American Baptist, independent Baptists, from one of the two National Baptist conventions or what?
But one thing is certain, given the realities shown in that chart. In keeping with trends in its own work, the Mormon leadership endorsed the policy of accepting openly gay Scouts, but no openly gay Scout leaders. The Mormon compromise was victorious.
Now, who comes next?
The United Methodists, that’s who. Outside the Sunbelt, there are few United Methodist congregations that will not accept, if not hail, this decision (unless they believe it does not go far enough).
Then how about your generic suburban American Catholic congregations?