The Boy Scouts of America announced earlier this week that they are considering an end to their decades-long ban on gay members, leaving it to regional and local councils to dictate membership guidelines on sexuality.
The news was met with cheers from scouts across the country who have been banned from the organization after coming out, but many conservative and religious leaders are angry about what they see as the organization abandoning its long-standing commitment to biblical principles.
"If that is what the leadership is doing, then I think it will be a sad day in the life of the Boy Scouts of America," Fred Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told the Baptist Press. "This is a tradition that so many of us across the country grew up in. We were in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in elementary school, and this organization has always stood for biblical principles -- all the things that grounded our lives as a young kid growing up. To now see this organization that I thought stood on biblical principles about to give in to the politically correct thing is very disappointing."
About 70 percent of all Boy Scout troops are sponsored by faith-based organizations, with the Southern Baptists, Catholic Church, Lutheran Church, United Methodist Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints representing the most troops, according to Fox News.
And many are suggesting they will break financial and membership ties with the organization if the policy goes through.
“Churches of all faiths and denominations, including Southern Baptist churches, will be forced to reevaluate whether they can, in good conscience, continue to host Scout troops given that the Scouts appear poised to turn their backs on this clear biblical and moral issue,” Roger Oldham, spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, said.
Kay Godfrey, a spokesman for Boy Scouts in the Great Salt Lake Council, told NPR: "We've had 100 years of a very conservative approach to scouting. A major shift along these lines could change the face of scouting, but we'll have to just wait and see."
Beyond the larger religious organizations threatening to remove funding, many parents vow to take their sons out of the Scouts if the national executive board approves the measure.
"If this comes to pass, then I will pull my boy from Scouts. It wont be because of 'fear' as some ridiculously suggest. I simply don’t approve of the lifestyle," wrote one parent in response to a blog denouncing the policy change by Matthew Franck, professor of political science at Radford University.