February 21, 2013

United Methodist Men Asks Boy Scouts Not to Shift Policy on Homosexuality

Gil Hanke (left), top staff executive of the General Commission on United Methodist Men and Bishop James Swanson, president. (photo credit: General Commission on United Methodist Men)

Gil Hanke (left), top staff executive of the General Commission on United Methodist Men and Bishop James Swanson, president. (photo credit: General Commission on United Methodist Men)

The Executive Committee of the board of directors of the General Commission on United Methodist Men (GCUMM) has written the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) asking BSA not to proceed with setting aside its current longtime prohibition on open homosexuality.   The February 19 letter, addressed to BSA chief executive officer Wayne Brock, is signed by Mississippi Bishop James Swanson as president of United Methodist Men and Gil Hanke as general secretary.   Initially Hanke had expressed support for the BSA’s proposed idea of allowing local units to decide their own policy.  United Methodist Men preside over United Methodism’s scouting ministries.

BSA’s policy will be debated at its 1400 member national council in May. Earlier this month the BSA executive board declined to approve the proposed policy change after widespread protests, including from many religious groups that sponsor Scouts. About 70 percent of local Scout units are hosted by churches or other religious groups.  The largest denominational sponsors are Mormon, United Methodist and Roman Catholic.  Some corporate sponsors of BSA have pressured BSA to abandon its disapproval of open homosexuality.

The GCUMM letter noted having received “many phone calls and emails” since the BSA’s proposed policy change became public.  Many threatened to quit BSA as leaders or donors if BSA adopted the proposed new policy, and many were “angry” that churches were not better consulted about the policy shift.  The letter reports that a “few” expressed support for the policy change, but overall the response has been “overwhelmingly” negative.

“This potential shift from BSA places GCUMM’s primary goal, our core value – expansion and retention – at risk,” the GCUMM letter said.  “If approved, scouting programs would decrease, and new programs would be harder to begin due to the uncertainty this proposal has generated.”   The letter complained there had not been adequate time for United Methodist Men and churches to consider the “legal and spiritual consequences” of a BSA shift.

The GCUMM executive committee reported voting unanimously to ask BSA not to implement the proposed policy change at this time so as to allow United Methodist churches to research the implications.  It also asked for a “new relationship” between BSA and faith groups to develop a “new, faith-filled response” to Scout law.  And the Swanson/Hanke letter asked Brock to share their communication with the upcoming BSA national meeting.

Here is the letter:


7 Responses to United Methodist Men Asks Boy Scouts Not to Shift Policy on Homosexuality

  1. […] I found out that the United Methodist Men executive committee had changed their mind.  When I was a student at Vanderbilt Divinity School, the United Methodist students had an annual […]

  2. rogerwolsey says:

    This United Methodist man and Eagle Scout is seeking to have the BSA end their/our discriminatory policies — as well as to have the UMC end theirs/ours too.

  3. Ben Welliver says:

    This former UM and former Scout has no desire to change BSA policy for the obvious reason that I don’t see it as discriminatory. Neither did anyone else until the past 20 years. One of the most pernicious things about liberalism is that the core assumption is that “change” is inevitably good, whereas conservatism doesn’t say ALL change is bad, but does impose the “let’s not be hasty” principle before approving change. Let pro-gay liberals start their own program for boys if that is what is important, and let them advertise it as “We don’t discriminate!” I predict that slogan will grow that new program as effectively as the “inclusive” slogan helps grow liberal churches – meaning, it doesn’t.

  4. cri1000 says:

    This seems to be a battle between Gay Pride vs Youth Protection. Kudos to the UMM for standing up Youth Protection. The people trying to force HS on Scouting don’t seem to care about scouting or more importantly about the boys.

    Boys of the age for scouts are vulnerable to direct attacks and also to moral influence. Scouting is a highly relational program. It encourages teamwork and companionship. There is a strong emphasis on outdoor skills but the real goal is to develop boys into leaders. Boys are curious about sexual things but most are not obsessed with it. There is a real risk that overtly homosexual leaders (boys or adults) could intentionally, or unintentionally, push impressionable youth towards HS. I have known a person who was “seduced” into the HS lifestyle when their self-esteem was destroyed by teen-age HS “experimentation.” They are dead from AIDS, as a consequence of a promiscuous HS lifestyle. There is nothing wonderful about that.

    Having HS leaders or making HS an open part of the program would put youth at risk. This false controversy that has been manufactured by the “Gay Pride” movement annoys me. The Gay Pride folks seem to be obsessed with sex. At one level, they are just doing their own thing. The Pride Parades are sometimes funny and amusing, even if raunchy and vulgar. But, they are promoting a risky lifestyle and engaging in self worship. Even their motto of “Gay Pride” directly promotes a sinful attitude. I realize that making these statements infuriates the Gay Pride movement but apparently it needs to be said, over and over, with emphasis.

    I was at a scout meeting the other night. One of the boys was small, wore glasses, and just seemed vulnerable. But I know that Scouting makes every effort to protect him and if that offends some prideful people then so be it.

  5. ericvlytle says:

    First, kudos to cri1000. Thanks for those “hard sayings.” They are Politically Incorrect, but need to be said just the same. I agree that the main issue in all this is not what’s good the boys themselves, but about making a sexual minority feel good about itself. Our children are too precious to be used for social experimentation. Children’s lives are, thanks to the media (and neglectful parents), hypersexualized as it is, only harm can come from taking something as innocent as Scouting and using it as another tool in the culture wars.

    I regarded quite differently to the Pingback, Open Letter to Gil Hanke: sorry, sir, but you sob story does not touch my heart, except when I think about the children who are affected by your side’s agenda. You sat by Gil Hanke at a lunch, you were both polite, and now you feel betrayed because he and the UM Men are being “exclusive.” Does sitting by a gay man at a luncheon and making chitchat mean he has to forget the clear teaching of the Bible? I think you overestimate your social skills. I have met lots of people who are pleasant to be around, even fun, but that doesn’t require me to approve their lifestyles or morals. I can’t speak for Mr. Hanke, but if I were in his place and read your post, my reaction would be “So what? We’re talking about key decisions here that affect thouands of churches and thousands of boys at a very vulnerable age. Pardon my harshness, but the liberal side has gotten way too much mileage out of this “inclusive” nonsense. Go back to your New Testament and see if you can use it to support your belief that churches must be “inclusive” and must not enforce any standards on its members. That is pure nonsense. God loves all people, wishes to save all people, but there is no “take me as I am” in the Bible. Rather, there is the great example of Paul – “O wretched man that I am, who will save me?” That’s what the church is all about – sinners who make a great leap forward when they recognize their sin for what it is and cling to the Savior. Yes, sir, the church IS exclusive, always has been – or maybe it would be more accurate to say that by lack of repentance, lack of admitting that sin is sin, people exclude themselves. Your side has been very persuasive, convincing the secular culture that is no such thing as sexual sin (except repressing the urge). Fine, you won the culture, and you won a sizable chunk of the church, too. People grounded in a mature faith are not going to be swayed by the accusation “You’re excluding me!” No, we don’t exclude – you exclude yourself. Salvation requires something you don’t seem to grasp – you put God in the pilot’s seat. There are more important things in this world than your hurt feelings, such as the future of thousands of children. They matter. Morals matter.

  6. calskinner says:

    This Eagle Scout of 1960 vividly remembers being on a Middletown, New York, Methodist Church Scout camp out in the Catskills and seeing an older Scout fondling a pants-less younger Scout.

    I told a Scout leader, whom I’m hopeful stopped the molestation.

    That’s reason enough for me to think homosexuals should not be allowed in the Boy Scouts.

  7. […] I found out that the United Methodist Men executive committee had changed their mind.  When I was a student at Vanderbilt Divinity School, the United Methodist students had an annual […]

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