The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

January 31, 2013

Scouts' future uncertain if ban on gays is dropped

(Continued)

Frank Page, the Southern Baptist leader, said that proposing the policy change so close to Scout Sunday is causing a lot of consternation.

"Churches have not had time to think and pray and consider this," he said.

Page said all Southern Baptist churches are independent and can set their own policies, but he expects the SBC executive committee to discuss the issue and possibly offer a resolution when it meets in Nashville in mid-February.

Some conservative activists sought to organize e-mail and phone call campaigns aimed at pressuring the Boy Scouts to maintain the mandatory no-gays policies.

Among them was John Stemberger, a former scout and now president of the conservative Florida Family Policy Council.

"If the BSA departs from its policies on allowing openly homosexual scoutmasters and boys in the program it could destroy the legitimacy and the security of this iconic institution," Stemberger wrote to his supporters. "I pray that the BSA does not open a can of worms that would cause a mass exodus from a program that America needs now more than ever."

More optimistic was another former scout, Jay Mechling, who is professor emeritus of American Studies at the University of California, Davis, and author of "On My Honor: Boy Scouts and the Making of American Youth."

"If the BSA makes this move, which I dearly hope they will, the world will not end," Mechling said in an e-mail. "People will hardly notice."

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