(Photo: courtesy Royal Ambassadors)
As the Boy Scouts of America mull over changing their national policy regarding sexual orientation in leadership, some are looking toward a different youth volunteer group as an alternative.
Royal Ambassadors, a Southern Baptist missions organization for boys in grades 1-6 founded in 1908 by the Women's Missionary Union, may be where some parents decide to put their sons should BSA change its policy banning openly gay troop leaders.
Julie Walters, corporate communications team leader for WMU, told The Christian Post about the fundamental goals of the Royal Ambassadors. "Royal Ambassadors is a Southern Baptist missions organization for boys. As such, RA leaders are members of Southern Baptist churches who are committed to providing a godly example and are expected to work in cooperation with other ministry leaders of the church," said Walters.
"[They are] ultimately responsible to Jesus Christ. Their focus is on helping boys understand the mission of God and their responsibility for living out and sharing the Gospel."
Earlier this week, the Boy Scouts of America announced that they would reconsider their ban on openly gay leaders. The matter would be put to a vote this coming weekend at an executive meeting on Scout Sunday.
On Monday morning, the BSA's Director of Public Relation Deron Smith sent The Christian Post a statement via email regarding the controversial reconsideration. "Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation," wrote Smith.
"This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs."
In response to the news, prominent Southern Baptists like Dr. Richard Land commented to The Christian Post that the policy change could lead to a "mass exodus" from the organization. "This is a catastrophic decision for the Boy Scouts of America. In order to placate their East and West Coast appendages, they are tearing out the heart of their Midwest and Southern support," said Land.
"This decision will lead to a mass exodus of traditional, orthodox Christianity from the Boy Scouts, including thousands of Catholic, Baptist and other traditional faith congregations."
The BSA's National Executive Board will hold their meeting from Feb. 4-6 at the DFW Airport Marriott in Irving, Texas. It will be closed to the public and media.
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the BSA had the constitutional right to "freedom of association" – allowing groups to exclude persons from membership when the "the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group's ability to advocate public or private viewpoints."