Indianapolis' Heritage Christian School decided to end its relationship with Cub Scout Pack 316, the local elementary school chapter of Boy Scouts of America (BSA), this week following BSA's controversial decision last month not to exclude openly gay boys.
"Our school's mission is to glorify God, discipline students and pursue excellence in education, with the Bible as our foundation and Jesus Christ as our focus," school CEO Jeff Freeman wrote in a statement to the local Indianapolis Star. "Heritage Christian School leadership has made a very difficult decision not to continue its charter sponsorship of our local Troop as we are no longer in alignment with the Boy Scouts of America."
But Kathy Meyers, committee chair for Pack 316, told The Christian Post on Friday that "this was not any sort of issue." Meyers said the national policy change would have no impact on the pack, because the children are too young to even think about sexual orientation.
"These are cub scouts – these are first through fifth graders, so we're all disappointed that this has to be a topic at all," she said.
The pack committee chair, however, said that the pack leaders "weren't shocked," and knew the school would likely come to this decision.
Speaking about the parents, Meyers said, "I would say that a majority can respect the school's decision." She announced an upcoming meeting to discuss further plans, and mentioned the national scouting group On My Honor, which openly strives "to create an alternative program to the Boy Scouts," as an option.
She said that her son who has now attained the rank of Star – two away from the highest Eagle award – will remain in scouting because it gives him important "leadership and life skills," and "he enjoys it." Nevertheless, since all the boys in the pack are also students at the school, it may make sense for Pack 316 to abandon BSA.
"There have been some organizations that have decided not to renew their charters with Scouting but most are continuing with the program, but we can't yet quantify the impact of the amended policy," wrote Deron Smith, BSA's director of public relations, in a statement to CP.
When organizations decide not to re-charter, "our executives work with troop leadership to identify another suitable chartered organization and ensure a smooth transition for the families involved," the statement continued.
Other organizations in the area have offered support for Boy Scout groups which may face such rejection. Rick Carrell, pastor for The Southeast Project Church, argued in favor of the BSA decision. "When Christ said, 'Let the little children come to me,' he wasn't judging them," Carrell told the Indianapolis Star.
Dan Gangler, director of communication for the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, said only one Indiana church in over 1,150 has decided to separate itself with BSA. Spokesman Greg Otolski of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis said he didn't know of any parish seeking to cut ties.
"Basically, this new rule says the Boy Scouts are not going to discriminate against gays," Otolski told the Indianapolis Star. "We don't have any issue with that."
In his official statement to CP, the BSA's Deron Smith explained how the June decision reflects "the beliefs of most of Scouting's major religious chartered organizations."
"This policy reaffirms that doing ones 'duty to God' is absolutely explicit and one of the fundamental principles of Scouting and states that sexual conduct by any Scout, heterosexual or homosexual, is contrary to the virtues of Scouting," Smith wrote.