WATE-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee reported yesterday that Boy Scout Troops which are looking — or will be looking — for a new home following the resolution of the Southern Baptist Convention to cease supporting the group will find a welcome waiting from the United Methodist Churches.
After the Southern Baptist Convention came out against allowing gay Boy Scouts, another denomination announces they will welcome all scouts with open arms.
The United Methodist Church said any troops who lose their Southern Baptist sponsorship can find a new home with them.
But here the story gets confusing. Perhaps like me you were told that 70% of the Scout Troops in America are currently under the roof of a Southern Baptist Church. Mathematically, I was trying to make this sentence in the WATE report work:
United Methodist Churches sponsor the second most Boy Scout troops in the country, topped only by the Mormons.
Apparently, the 70% figure that I and others heard is wrong, and the SBC is not the major player in the Boy Scout movement that some of the headlines suggest. The 70% figure is made clear in a story in the Christian Science Monitor; it reflects the sponsorship by all religious groups. (see chart below)
That article went on to say that the idea of churches creating a Boy Scouts of America alternative aren’t feasible:
Some effort will be made to offer alternatives, … but such efforts could be limited and difficult for churches because the churches are not in financial shape to start anything as elaborate and significant as the Boy Scouts.
The sheer scope of the organization is impressive. A Wikipedia article begins noting:
…2.7 million youth members and over 1 million adult volunteers Since its founding in 1910 as part of the international Scout Movement, more than 110 million Americans have been members of the BSA.
As a Reuters news story reported, the resolution passed at the SBC’s annual meeting is non binding. It also stated:
Some at the Southern Baptist conference said the church should embrace gay members of scouting and guide them toward a more Christian life.
One pastor argued that a young boy who claims to be gay is most likely the victim of abuse or otherwise needs guidance, and that the church or scouts should not abandon him.
I‘ve said here and elsewhere that the gender issues in general, and the gay issue specifically remain the top challenge the church is facing. The BSA and SBC stories remind us that in addition to formulating response, the issue has the potential to foment division.
Top 10 Chartered Organizations associated with the Boy Scouts of America, by Total Youth Boy Scouts of America Fact Sheet. Last updated December 2011. Retrieved July 22, 2012.
|Name of Organization||Total Units||Total Youth|
|The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints||37882||420977|
|United Methodist Church||11078||371491|
|Parent-teacher groups other than PTAs||3712||153214|
|Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)||3663||127931|
|Groups of Citizens||3445||106852|
|Parent-Teacher Association/Parent Teacher Organization||1661||69812|