The Birmingham News reports…
“A Birmingham megachurch pastor predicts a surge in alternatives to the Boy Scouts of America after a decision Thursday by the Boy Scouts to accept openly gay scouts.
The Rev. Harry Reeder III, senior pastor of the 4,100-member Briarwood Presbyterian Church, former moderator of the Presbyterian Church in America and outspoken critic of efforts to change Boy Scout policy on homosexuality, said evangelical churches are a bedrock of support for the Boy Scout tradition in Alabama.
That’s now in danger, he said.
“When a church holds to a biblical social ethic of sex only between a man and a woman in monogamous marriage, it cannot support an organization that opposes that,” said. “That would introduce sexual anarchy into the teaching of the church. There will be a significant response from evangelical churches.”
Reeder said evangelical churches have been moving toward other youth development programs and he expects those to accelerate. The Southern Baptist Convention’s Royal Ambassadors program, the Christian Brigade program from England, Pioneer Clubs and the AWANA evangelical parachurch program embraced by several denominations are likely to be viewed as possible alternatives, Reeder said.
“Something that is this much of a deviation from ethical commitments may give birth to something new, a continuing organization that maintains the historic scouting program,” Reeder said.
Briarwood Presbyterian Church currently hosts Troop 254, with Cub Scouts and Boy Scout troops. Any decision to change support for hosting Boy Scouts will be made by the church, Reeder said. “Our elders will make that decision,” he said. “We have been very impressed with the effect of our leaders and we have produced a number of Eagle Scouts who have had outstanding achievements.”
But Thursday’s national vote puts evangelical Christian churches in a difficult position, and it also puts the Boy Scouts in an awkward position, he said.
The Boy Scouts plan to start welcoming openly gay scouts on Jan. 1, but still have a prohibition against openly gay scout leaders.
“Their position is illogical,” Reeder said. “There is no reason to maintain a moral position that the leaders can’t be homosexual. When you are approving the practice among members, how can you not approve it for leaders?”
He expects the Boy Scouts to move toward eventual acceptance of openly gay leaders.
“There are some clear things that are going to happen – continued pressure from the Lesbian, Bisexual, gay, transgender community and from donors for acceptance of openly gay leaders, and an exodus from a significant number of participants and evangelical church-based organizations,” Reeder said.
The Boy Scout oath of “duty to God” becomes problematic, he said.
“They now have to address their Scout oath,” Reeder said. “Clearly, they have abandoned all the primary religions that maintain the historic sexual ethic of one man, one woman in the context of marriage. I see no reason to maintain its previous principled commitment to a theistic oath. If you’ve abandoned the sixth commandment, that sexuality belongs in the context of marriage between a man and a woman, you’ve abandoned your duty to God.”
He expects churches and parents to look for alternatives to the Boy Scouts. “Parents are going to have to vote with their money and feet whether they will sustain scouting,” Reeder said.”