Baptists boot scouts from Alaska church

Anchorage Baptist Temple said BSA decision to accept gay scouts necessitated decision to expel a Boy Scout troop and a Cub Scout pack from one of its facilities.

By Jeff Brumley

A Baptist congregation in Alaska has booted a local scouting troop because of the Boy Scouts of America decision to welcome openly gay members.

The Anchorage Daily News reported that Anchorage Baptist Temple dropped its sponsorship of Boy Scout Troop 1316 and Boy Scout Troop 316, leaving both without a place to meet. The groups had met for several years in the Independent Baptist congregation’s Christian Schools facility on its East Northern Lights Boulevard campus.

But the newspaper also reported that it didn’t take very long for several other organizations in the city to offer meeting spaces for the scouts. Those included a Boys & Girls Clubs of Alaska chapter and synagogue Congregation Beth Shalom.

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The situation results from a BSA decision earlier this year to allow openly gay boys to join or remain members of the organization. However, the organization kept its ban on gay adults from being scout volunteers or employees.

In June, Southern Baptist Convention messengers gathered in Houston voted to support congregations whether they ban or maintain their relationships with scouting, saying it’s up to each church to decide.

The Dallas Morning News reported Monday that other conservative evangelicals are still trying to map out their response to the new BSA policy, including establishing their own new organizations for boys.

Meanwhile in Alaska, the two Anchorage troops were notified last week of the decision not to renew the charter allowing them to gather at the church, the newspaper reported. The story said about half of the troops’ members also worship at the church.

The report quoted a church minister explaining that the decision results from BSA’s deviation from biblical principles to which the church must adhere.

“They caved on their position because of political pressure and the threat it may affect their bottom line financially,” Tom Cobaugh, the temple’s education minister, said in the letter to parents, according to the newspaper account.

“It’s unfortunate that he lets his bigotry displace children,” Phyllis Rhodes, executive director of Identity, Inc. and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, told the Anchorage paper. “It’s hard enough to be a kid and then to have an organization you are part of kicked out of their space.”