About 70 percent of the roughly 100,000 U.S. Boy Scout units are sponsored by religious institutions, and many said the Monday decision runs counter to the moral standards set by the 105-year-old youth organization.
“We express consummate sadness that this once vibrant organization continues to cave to social pressure, compromising its long-held, constitutionally protected tenets,” said Roger “Sing” Oldham, a spokesman for the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention.
Even though the decision permits religious organizations to exclude gay adults in keeping with their beliefs, other major conservative church groups also criticized the change, which took effect with the vote Monday by the National Executive Board.
The largest sponsor of Boy Scout units, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has said it was “deeply troubled” by the move, adding the Mormons’ “century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined.”
The church was unable to make a decision quickly on whether to remain with the Boy Scouts because its top leaders — including the president, his two counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — were off with their families in July, Dane O. Leavitt, a Mormon leader who serves as the liaison with the Boy Scouts, told The New York Times. (Read more from “Baptists, Mormons Both Slam Boy Scouts Over Gay Leadership” HERE)