Cub Scouts' Gay Ban Decision Affects MN Church's Support

Updated: 06/12/2013 7:50 AM By: Maricella Miranda

Photo: MGN Online
Photo: MGN Online

When Rev. Mark Loder became the new pastor at St. John Lutheran Church, one of his first missions was to grow the local Cub Scouts pack.

Since then, the pack has increased from a dozen boys to about 40, he said.

But this month, his church located in Winsted, Minn., west of the Twin Cities, rescinded its support of the Cub Scouts and a charter with the Boy Scouts of America following the group's decision to admit members regardless of their sexual orientation.

"Sexuality has never been a part of Scouting," Loder said. "It's not intended to be a part of Scouting, but it's been forced into Scouting now."

Nationally, the Georgia-based church Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, led by former Southern Baptist Church president Bryant Wright, recently ended its ties with the Boy Scouts too because of the group's acceptance of openly homosexual members.

The Boy Scouts' resolution reinforces that any sexual conduct - whether homosexual or heterosexual - by its members is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.

But many conservative church members still disagree with the resolution. The change has prompted the creation of other Christian-based youth groups.

OnMyHonor has been touting itself as an alternative to the Boy Scouts. The group has been trying to recruit parents, Scoutmasters, Eagle Scouts, donors and other Scout members.

Faith Based Boys is another group that's surfaced amid the Boy Scouts' changes. The organization also started American Heritage Girls, a spinoff of the Girl Scouts.

Loder's church is considering establishing an alternative group for youth, he said. So far, Loder has signed up for more information about OnMyHonor.

Loder served for two years as a Scouts commissioner and four years as the pack's Cubmaster. He said that for conservative Christians, God is clearly defined in scripture, and that allowing openly gay members in Scouting is a conflict of scripture.

He's also stopped helping lead the local Boy Scouts troop.

If his church continued to support the Cub Scouts, Loder said it would appear that his parish condones homosexuality. St. John Lutheran Church is part of The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, which hasn't made a public stance on the Boy Scouts resolution.

Last month during a pastoral meeting for the synod, Loder said that one of the synod's representatives said that the group is studying the resolution.

Loder hasn't heard of any other churches from his synod dropping their Scouting groups. But his church, of about 300 parishioners, has received support for their decision, he said.

"Most folks completely understand where we have come from," Loder said. "The message that I want folks to understand is it's a very tough decision. But I strongly feel that I need to stand on my convictions, and that's where the church has taken the stand, too.

"I know it will come across that we're not loving and we don't want homosexuals around - and that's not the message that we want conveyed," he said.