UCC executive applauds BSA president’s call to end ban on gay adults
Citing “the social, political and judicial changes taking place in our country” regarding sexual orientation, Robert Gates, the president of the Boy Scouts of America, called for the organization to end its ban on gay adults at the organization’s national business meeting Thursday, May 21. Gates did not set a timeline for the policy change, but stressed an urgency to act.
The Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer, the UCC’s executive for heath and wholeness advocacy and the national staff liaison to the BSA, issued a statement applauding Gates’ leadership.
Here is the text of that statement:
I applaud the leadership of Dr. Gates challenging the Boy Scouts of America leadership to be proactive in changing its membership policies by removing the ban against gay scout leaders. Nondiscrimination is the just and right thing to do, and Dr. Gates is right, it should happen sooner rather than later. It makes no sense to nurture youth in the values of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law and then tell them they are not fit to provide leadership as adults because of their sexual orientation. It makes no sense to deny same-gender-loving parents the opportunity to serve as unit leaders because of their sexual orientation. Drawing on decades of experience through the Open and Affirming movement, the United Church of Christ is ready and willing to provide whatever assistance we can to support this process in the BSA.
The United Church of Christ has been engaged with Scouting since the beginning. James West, the first Chief Scout Executive and the person who is credited for the importance of both the “Duty to God” and the Boy Scouts as a nonsectarian organization, was a member of Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ in Bethesda, Md., which today is an Open and Affirming UCC congregation. The UCC has been an advocate for inclusive Scouting, although the national office and several UCC churches pulled back from the Scouts over the policies that excluded participation based on sexual orientation.
The UCC national offices began a process for re-engagement with the BSA in 2013, when the BSA changed its policies to include gay youth, by establishing a UCC BSA Working Group. The group, composed of people involved at all levels of Scouting, has been working with BSA leadership to formalize our relationship and has been collaborating with organizations like Scouts for Equality to advocate for a fully-inclusive Boy Scouts of America, open to the full participation of youth and adults of different sexual orientations.
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