A 77-year-old Christian organisation is offering an alternative to scouting after the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) decided to allow openly gay adult leaders and employees into its ranks.
The CSB Ministries, the parent organisation of Christian Service Brigade, said in a statement that with the BSA's decision, "churches that host Boy Scout troops are faced with an important and difficult decision."
"Do they keep their affiliation with the Scouts and support this change or find biblical alternatives for their boys and men?" it asked.
The Christian Service Brigade has been hosting programmes for boys and young men in local churches since 1938. The programmes it offers include scripture and leadership skills, focusing on the spiritual, physical, mental and social development of boys.
"Brigade empowers men in the local church to disciple and mentor boys and young men, through action-based programmes and resources," said Scott Haima, president of CSB Ministries. "We encourage and equip strong Christian men to model and teach biblical manhood. We have refined our approach for 77 years, and we understand the needs and unique challenges that churches face."
A Barna Research revealed that 59 percent of Christians leave their church by age 30, thus draining the future leadership pool of churches.
The CSB Ministries said programs that teach leadership and service to Christ are a way of preventing this.
"We were founded in the church," said Haima. "As the body of Christ undergoes multiple threats from our culture, we will stand firm with the local church to help equip their boys and men to serve Christ, their church and community."
In its statement, the CSB Ministries said it was saddened by the BSA's decision to allow openly gay adult males to serve as leaders. "We are saddened because the foundational principles of the Boy Scouts were biblically based. The founder of Boy Scouts (UK) Robert Baden-Powell wrote, 'We aim for the practice of Christianity in their everyday life and dealings, and not merely the profession of theology on Sundays'," the statement said.
Since it was founded, Christian Service Brigade has held that a belief in God and His ways are fundamental to the development of young men, just like what the Boy Scouts once professed.
However, last July 27, the BSA announced that its National Executive Board had ratified a resolution to remove the national restriction on openly gay adult leaders and employees. The resolution is effective immediately and was recommended by the Executive Committee.
The BSA clarified that chartered organisations will continue to select their adult leaders. Moreover, religious chartered organisations may continue to use religious beliefs as basis for selecting adult leaders, including matters of sexuality, the BSA said in its statement.
The change, the statement said, respects the right of religious chartered organisations to choose adult volunteer leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.