Rhode Island State Council of Churches released a statement today regarding the Boy Scouts of America’s recent decision to allow openly gay scouts to join and participate in the organization:
Response to BSA Statement on Gender of Scouts and Leaders
The Rhode Island State Council of Churches applauds the direction taken by the Boy Scouts of America in welcoming openly gay scouts into its ranks. This change in policy moves the BSA in a more inclusive direction, offering their programs to youth without regard to sexual orientation.
We are, however, disappointed that this change did not remove the ban on gay leaders. In the spirit of our recent statement on Marriage Equality, the Council would support a policy that allows each sponsoring agency to make its own determination on the sexual orientation of leaders within their jurisdiction. This would provide adequate protection for those religious bodies that would prefer to maintain the current ban, but also allow others to express their religious convictions by appointing leaders who are gay.
The Rhode Island State Council of Churches has maintained a consistent relationship with the Narragansett Council since the RISCC’s founding in 1937 by providing and supervising the Protestant chaplain at Camp Yawgoog. “As a former scout and a current member of the Executive Board of the Narragansett Council, I am very pleased with the direction of this change in policy and will continue to work within Scouting to encourage a more inclusive policy regarding leadership,” stated the Executive Minister, the Rev. Dr. Don Anderson. Mr. Anderson went on to say that “The BSA can move to a more open policy regarding the sexual orientation of leadership without infringing on anyone’s religious convictions.”