The Pennsylvania Pastors Network, a group of clergy seeking to uphold the moral principles of the Bible, is advising Christian parents to pull their children out of the Boy Scouts of America, following the organization's decision to lift its more than 100-year-old ban on gay members.
"We've seen the leadership of the Boy Scouts of American crumble under pressure from homosexual activist groups and we know this because the BSA leadership just a couple of years ago was adamant that they would not allow homosexual members or leaders into the organization," said Sam Rohrer, president of PPN, in a statement.
In May, BSA delegates voted 61 to 39 percent in favor of the amendment that lifted the ban at the National Annual Meeting in Grapevine, Texas. The ban on openly gay adult leaders is still in place.
The pastors' group called the decision "irresponsible and damaging to the innocence of youth and the Scout's long-standing tradition of teaching boys to embrace the principles of God, country, flag and morality."
The network believes that once the policy change takes effect Jan. 1, 2014, young boys will be exposed to "an opposing view of morality and masculinity" and be introduced to "possible sexual experimentation by other boys who are openly confused and struggling with cultural messages regarding their sexual identity."
A number of conservative groups have since expressed their disappointment at the vote, and some big churches, including Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., have started dropping Boy Scout troops from their campus in protest of the decision.
PPN noted that Christian-minded groups around the country are considering starting a separate youth organization that will be focused on teaching youths morals consistent with a traditional Christian worldview.
Rohrer said the church itself is partly to blame for the nation straying away from traditional values.
"The integrity and moral compass of our nation is quickly going haywire and the Church is partially at fault. When the people, and especially those in the pulpit, don't believe God's Word is authoritative, and replace God with themselves or look to culture to give guidance to moral directives, a nation can only decline and its people will suffer," the PPN president stated.
Some religious groups, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said that it will continue supporting the BSA despite its controversial vote last month.
"Sexual orientation has not previously been – and is not now – a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest," read a statement by the church.
The Assemblies of God, meanwhile, predicts that many more churches will distance themselves from the BSA, and that parents will start looking for other options.
"A majority of scout groups are sponsored by churches or other religious entities, which have as their foundation a belief in biblical teachings that identify homosexual behavior as outside of God's plan for sexuality," the church body said.
"While we agree that youths who experience confusion or same-sex attraction need to be welcomed, in our churches they are confronted with this biblical teaching and will be counseled and prayed with that God will help them to align their lives in conformity to that teaching. We agree with the BSA that we need to demonstrate compassion and welcome those who are struggling with sexuality issues, but not in a way that condones such behavior, which is what the new BSA policy does."