The Rev. Harry Reeder III, senior pastor of the 4,100-member Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Ala., said Thursday's decision by the Boy Scouts of America to lift the ban on gay members may bump the popularity of alternative youth organizations.
"When a church holds to a biblical social ethic of sex only between a man and a woman in monogamous marriage, it cannot support an organization that opposes that," Reeder said, according to al.com. "That would introduce sexual anarchy into the teaching of the church. There will be a significant response from evangelical churches."
Sixty-one percent of the 1,400 BSA delegates voted on Thursday to change the organization's 103-year-old policy, which prevented gay youths from joining. The ban on gay adults who want to serve as scout leaders, meanwhile, will remain in place. Many conservative groups have argued that this was a bad decision on BSA's account, with Alliance Defending Freedom calling it "a rejection of values."
"Those promoting the agenda to change what the Boy Scouts have always been won't rest until there is complete acceptance of any sexual preference for both leaders and members. With its decision today, BSA has rejected its freedom to promote and practice the values that have served to shape our nation's boys into leaders for the last century," said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman, whose group delivered 19,000 American signatures earlier this week urging BSA to uphold its membership policy.
The Rev. Reeder, who has led Briarwood since 1999, agreed that it would be illogical for BSA to allow gay members but to continue denying gay adults to serve as scout leaders.
"Their position is illogical," the pastor said, according to al.com. "There is no reason to maintain a moral position that the leaders can't be homosexual. When you are approving the practice among members, how can you not approve it for leaders?"
The pastor predicted an "exodus" from the Scouts and suggested that this could be an opportunity for alternative youth organizations, such as the Pioneer Clubs and AWANA, a parachurch program, to attract more members.
Briarwood itself currently hosts Troop 254, with Cub Scouts and Boy Scout troops but it has not yet decided whether it will stop supporting the Boy Scouts or not.