When the boys scouts decided to allow gay scouts into their ranks, critics predicted churches would drop their support. That has happened here in Central Pennsylvania.
Several area groups are cutting ties, but the boy scouts are also finding support in this fallout.
Across the midstate, churches like West Shore Evangelical Free Church, support Boy Scout troops. But just three weeks after the Boy Scouts of America decided to accept openly gay members, the church withdrew its support.
Although church leaders declined comment, the organization that oversees midstate Boy Scout troops, New Birth Freedom Council, said they believe churches should not have a problem with the new policy.
“We believe the BSA policy is fully consistent with how churches respond to young people in their congregations and allows them to maintain their beliefs about homosexuality and minister to children who are still learning and developing,” they said in a statement.
But director of Equality PA, a gay-rights advocacy group, said West Shore Evangelical Free Church is doing the opposite.
“Just causes people, parents, to say I just don't want my child involved with this period. And that's a bad thing,” said the Executive Director Ted Martin.
Another portion of New Birth of Freedom Council's statement said, “We have a deep respect for the religious beliefs of all of our members and for churches that use Scouting in their youth ministries. Scouting's youth member policy is not about the BSA condoning homosexuality, or forcing its chartered organizations to do the same.”
While members of Equality PA agreed that church leaders have the right to cut ties with the Boys Scouts, they call the move institutionalized intolerance
“What a message church leadership and church leaders are sending to young people. Really a message of intolerance of not accepting others. Really in my opinion a sad decision,” said Martin.
Not all churches are severing ties with Boy Scouts. In fact, there are at least three churches that are stepping up to help any Boy Scout troops that are left without a host.