A groups of conservative former Boy Scouts have announced the formation of a Christian alternative to that quintessential American institution.
John Stemberger, founder of OnMyHonor.Net, a coalition of former Boy Scout leaders and participants, has announced the formation of a new soon-to-be-named scouting organization for young men.
“We have direct communication from over 30,000 leaders, parents, and people within the scouting movement who have specifically said ‘we want to be involved,” Stemberger told reporters on a Tuesday conference call announcing the endeavor.
According to interim executive director Rob Green, a 20-year veteran executive of the Boy Scouts of America in Florida a South Carolina, the idea is to give families and scouts a place to turn given the Boy Scouts’ recent decision to allow openly gay members into their ranks.
“We are trying to make sure that families who have felt a little bit left behind by the divergent values of the Boy Scouts — that there is something for them that they can join and know what they stand for,” Green said.
Green explained that on June 29 in Louisville, Kentucky nearly 50 leaders came together to conceive of a new scouting organization.
“It’s our vision to be the premier national character development organization for young men, which produces godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens,” Green said to reporters. “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.”
He said that, while people of any faith may participate, the program will stick to “standard statement of Christian faith and values.”
The organization will begin the registration process for new units in November and will launch on Jan. 1 2014. Its name and logo will be announced this coming September at a convention in Nashville, Tenn.
According to Green, the organization wants ranks achieved in the Boy Scouts will be transferable to the new scouting program.
“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,” Green said.
“In addition, the organization’s membership policy will focus on sexual purity rather than sexual orientation,” he added. “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.’”
Green also said that the main goal is to keep the politics of sexuality out of the program.
“The politics that are out there about this issue, that is not something 10-year-old boys are interested in, they are interested in camping and fishing and climbing, canoeing, campfires.”
He added that a new organization is needed to restore the founding ideals of the Scouts.
“For 100 years terms like ‘morally straight’ and ‘clean and reverent’ that are in the Boy Scout oath and law were understood from a Christian worldview,” Green said. “The founder of scouting even said ‘scouting is nothing more than applied Christianity.’ So we are trying to restore that ideal.”
Stemberger further noted that the organization will not question people’s sexuality or reject gay members, explaining that the organization hopes sexual orientation is not an issue.
“We don’t think sex and politics should be in a program for kids. Those are issues for parents and so we are going to allow parents to navigate those waters and not a program that they put their kids in,” he said.