FRUIT HEIGHTS -- After more than a half-century of involvement with the Boy Scouts of America, a member of the executive board of the Trapper Trails Council has resigned in protest of the organization's recent lift of its ban on gay-youth participants.
Neal Humphrey, pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church, submitted his resignation from his Scouts position in a May 29 letter to Trapper Trails Executive Allen Endicott.
Until last month, Scouting followed a policy similar to that of the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexual-youth participation.
Humphrey said the recent policy change was done in an effort for greater inclusion but that it instead has acted to exclude evangelical churches and other Christian denominations from the BSA that disagree with the moral issue of homosexual inclusion in Scouting.
"They are asking us to endorse something that the Bible says is sin," he said. "And we will not follow the Scouts in endorsing sin."
Endicott would not comment when contacted by phone, but he provided a prepared statement by Trapper Trails. It said Trapper Trails "respects the national
decision-making process" and believes "this update to our policy will allow all youth who sincerely want to be a part of Scouting to experience this life-changing program while remaining true to the long-standing virtues of Scouting."
Globally, 70 percent of all BSA units are chartered by faith-based organizations, some of which do not agree with the BSA's recent policy shift, Humphrey said.
These faith-based supporters of Scouting have shown varying reactions to the BSA's gay-youth ban being lifted.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- which is by far the largest organization involved in Scouting -- expressed its endorsement of the efforts being made by the BSA, despite the church's opposition to homosexual activity.
"Sexual orientation has not previously been -- and is not now -- a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops," wrote the LDS Church in a May 23 news release. "Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest."
In his letter to Endicott, Humphrey outlined his church's disagreement with the BSA policy change, the intentions of his church to continue operating a Cub Scouts group without complying with the policy change, as well as his official resignation from the council's executive board.
"Westminster Church, a charter organization within Trapper Trails, informs you that we will not follow BSA, Trapper Trails Council, nor Mormons in endorsing what Scripture and the Church of Jesus Christ through the ages has defined as sin," Humphrey's letter said. "While we will continue for now as a charter organization, we will not comply with the new policy."
Humphrey said in an interview the lift of the gay-youth ban may be the first step in a push for gay adult leaders -- who are currently banned from participating in the BSA -- to be allowed to participate in Scouting.
"The LGBT community has already said it -- it's going to be the next logical step," he said.
Editor's note: Neal Humphrey is a regular opinion columnist for the Standard-Examiner.