Ala. Boy Scout Troop Gains Support After Being Booted Out by Church

After an Alabama church decided to ban the Boy Scouts due to the recent vote on national membership for gay youth, other churches in the area have expressed a willingness to host the barred troop.

Recently, the lead pastor at First Baptist Church of Helena told local media that because of its recent vote to allow openly gay members the Boy Scout chapter at his church could no longer meet there.

Joey Kiker, program and marketing coordinator with the Greater Alabama Council of Boy Scouts, told The Christian Post that the troop which once met at the church should soon have a new home.

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"Moments after the pastor went on camera and declared that this troop would need to find someplace else to carry on the mission of Scouting, several churches in the area graciously offered to host Troop 2," said Kiker.

"The troop is very excited about the new facilities that they have been offered and they are preparing to go to summer camp in a few weeks."

Kiker also told CP that while news of the pastor's decision was "unfortunate," the situation was "far from devastating for a solid unit like Troop 2."

"First Baptist Church of Helena is not the chartering organization for the troop but a strong local Kiwanis Club charters Troop 2. The troop had only been meeting at the Baptist church for less than six months," said Kiker.

"This means the Greater Alabama Council does not issue them a charter, the church does not approve the unit leaders, has no vote in any BSA issue or matters, and their involvement has been simply providing space to meet."

Last week, delegates at National Annual Meeting of the Boy Scouts of America voted on a resolution that allows Scout Councils to accept openly gay members but not openly gay leaders.

At the National Meeting in Grapevine, Texas, about 61 percent of the approximately 1,400 delegates voted in favor of the resolution while 39 percent voted against.

According to Kiker, the Greater Alabama Council opted to vote against the measure due to "extensive feedback from its Chartered Partners, volunteers and parents."

"It was clear to the Executive Committee of the Greater Alabama Council that 78 percent of our local volunteers and Chartered Partners were opposed to the resolution," said Kiker. "Our delegates voted the will of our council, which was to vote 'no' for the proposed membership change."

Despite the opposition to the measure by the Alabama Council, First Baptist Church of Helena Pastor Greg Walker told WBRC-TV earlier this week that his church could not support the Scouts any longer.

"It's hard on a personal level to say to a troop of young boys who have done nothing wrong and to the leaders, 'You're not welcome here,'" said Walker, who added that he could not let a group "openly support a sinful lifestyle under the umbrella of First Baptist Helena."

The Rev. Mike Shaw, pastor at First Baptist Church of Pelham, Ala., told the Birmingham News that he also would be saying good-bye to the troop his church once supported.

"We're not doing it out of hatred. The teachings of the Scripture are very clear on this. We're doing it because it violates the clear teaching of Scripture," said Shaw.

Neither Shaw nor Walker returned comment to The Christian Post by press time. In addition to the two Alabama pastors, other churches across the nation are considering whether or not to break their ties with the BSA over the recent vote.

When asked by CP if he thought the backlash would only grow with time, Kiker responded that while he expected "to lose some" he also believed most churches would refrain from "making any quick rash decisions."

"We know that there are mixed feelings regarding this change among churches and civic organizations that charter our units," said Kiker. "Most of our Chartered Partners understand that vast value that Scouting has in their community and in the lives of the young people they serve."

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