A national coalition, which includes people formerly associated with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) as well as several other partners, announced Tuesday the formation of a new youth organization for boys that is founded on Christian values and principles.
"Our vision is to be the premier national character development organization for young men which produces godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens," said Rob Green, the organization's interim executive director, during a press conference call Tuesday.
He added, "The new program will be an exciting and motivating outdoor-based program focused on leadership and character development for boys, and founded on principles and values that reflect a Christian worldview."
Green said during a press conference call that a group of nearly 50 leaders met on June 29 in Louisville, Ky., and agreed to start the new organization, which currently has no name. Among those who participated in the meeting were experienced scout leaders, as well as representatives from major church denominations and organizations who are concerned with families and youth.
The new organization is being modeled after the American Heritage Girls, an 18-year-old organization that is "Christ-centered" and is "seen as an alternative to Girl Scouts," according to the group's website.
"Our mission is simple and clear: to guide generations of courageous young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure," said Green.
Boys will not be excluded from the organization based on race, religion, national origin or ethnicity, he said, though adult leaders will be required to adhere to a statement of Christian faith and values.
"In addition, the organization's membership policy will focus on sexual purity rather than sexual orientation," said Green. "The policy will read, in part: 'the proper context for sexual relations is only between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage.'"
Young men who have same-sex attractions will be permitted into the organization, though they will not be allowed to push a gay agenda or flaunt their sexual orientation.
"I think that there's a real difference between someone who has a same-sex attraction and someone who identifies with the gay political movement," said John Stemberger, founder of OnMyHonor.net. "That's a very different thing, and so we wouldn't tolerate any kind of open sex or politics in the program, or gay activism."
Several groups are working together to form the new organization, including OnMyHonor.net, Faith Based Boys, TrailHead USA and Frontier Service Corps. Stemberger says tens of thousands of people contacted OnMyHonor.net after the BSA announced its decision to allow openly gay members in May.
The new organization's first national convention, where its name and logo will be revealed, is scheduled for Sept. 6 and 7. The organization will announce its process of registering new unit charters in late November. At that time it will also announce a plan detailing how whole scouting units can transfer to the new organization, though Green says the organization is not actively trying to recruit scouts or scout leaders to join.
The organization's leaders say it will be ready to launch on Jan. 1, 2014.