But opponents of the policy change were not reassured that these guidelines would stave off romantic overtures — wanted and unwanted — by youths who were openly attracted to other males.
This is “an impossible and unworkable proposal that, once again, will please no one,” Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote this week.
Baptist churches charter about 4,000 Boy Scouts of America units.
The Assemblies of God, which sponsors 91 troops, said it was disappointed in the vote.
“We believe that the BSA policy change will lead to a mass exodus from the Boy Scout program, as Assemblies of God and many other churches can no longer support groups that are part of an organization allowing members who are openly homosexual,” the church said in a statement.
“However, as a positive alternative, we offer a program — the Royal Rangers — that operates with values consistent to that of the BSA prior to today’s change.”
The policy won an endorsement from a major church that adheres to the traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality — the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Boy Scouts’ largest chartering organization.
In its statement, the Mormon church said it will continue to accept young men who agree to abide by its standards. Abstaining from sexual relationships, and “willingness to abide by standards of behavior,” not sexual orientation, is “our compelling interest,” the LDS statement said.
Other powerful voices, including those of Boy Scouts of America leaders, called for change. In an opinion piece in USA Today this week, the organization’s president, Wayne Perry, said the new policy is “what is best for young people.”
Several high-profile leaders and board members of the Boy Scouts of America — including National Commissioner Tico Perez and Executive Board members Randall Stephenson and James Turley — sought or supported the change as well.
Young parents also supported the change, as did leaders in some parts of the country.
Outsiders weigh in
Major corporations including UPS Inc., Intel Corp. and Merck & Co., weighed in, withholding their support in protest of the Boy Scouts’ discriminatory policy. Even President Obama asked the Boy Scouts of America to reverse its ban on gay Scout leaders.
In its statement Thursday, the Boy Scouts of America noted that “any sexual conduct, heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.”
“The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth service by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive and unresolved societal issue,” it said.