A Crystal Lake, Ill., church is reportedly refusing to sponsor a local Boy Scout troop after the Scouts’ lifted their ban on openly gay boys.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, believed to be the first church in the Chicago area to ban scouts due to their new policy, notified local Scout officials by mail last week that the Cub Scout pack and Boy Scout troop it charted will need to find a new meeting place because they are “condoning” homosexuality, which the church opposes, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Boy Scouts of America on May 23 voted to allow gay Scouts, but not gay Scout leaders, in a fiercely contested compromise that some warned could fracture the organization and lead to mass defections of members and donors.
"Within our movement, everyone agrees on one thing, no matter how you feel about this issue, kids are better off in scouting. Our vision is to serve every kid. We want every kid to have a place where they can grow," said Wayne Perry, BSA National President.
Some churches that sponsor Scout units wanted to continue excluding gay youths, in some cases threatening to defect if the ban were lifted.
"We are deeply saddened," said Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's executive committee after learning of the result. "Homosexual behavior is incompatible with the principles enshrined in the Scout oath and Scout law."
The Assemblies of God, another conservative denomination, said the policy change "will lead to a mass exodus from the Boy Scout program."
Troop 550 Scoutmaster Charlie Payseur told the Tribune he and his assistant leaders were “livid” about the church’s move and said the scouts donated about $200 of raised funds to the church last year, and did gardening on the grounds.
The two local Scout groups reportedly have 10 members each and used the church for meetings and annual banquets three times each month.
Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the U.S., 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions.
Those include liberal churches opposed to any ban on gays, but some of the largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have previously supported the broad ban -- notably the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.