By Josh Whitener
Mint Hill’s Arlington Baptist Church has disbanded its Cub Scout pack in response to the recent vote by Boy Scouts of America’s to allow openly gay youth to join Scout troops.
Cub Scout Pack 146 – named after John 14:6, which says Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” – met at the church for more than five years. The pack was founded because church leaders saw Scouting as an opportunity to mentor young boys within their church and the surrounding community.
“The core values of Scouting, up until recently, all lined up with Biblical principles,” Pastor Rick Whittier, Arlington’s youth minister and the pack’s former Cubmaster, said in a prepared statement. “The BSA’s recent decision to allow those who engage in homosexual relationships to be part of Scouting is a clear and sharp deviation from the moral standard they have had for the last 100-plus years.”
Whittier added the decision to discontinue the Cub Scout charter was “unanimous,” as members of the church’s elder board all cast their vote in favor of severing ties with the Boy Scouts of America. Their fear was older, openly gay boys could potentially mentor younger Scouts and Cubs. Whittier said in his statement homosexuality conflicts with the church’s “set of standards.”
The Boy Scouts of America’s May 23 vote to allow openly gay boys to join Scout troops doesn’t apply to Scoutmasters or Cubmasters. The organization still prohibits gay men and women from serving as leaders of Scout troops and packs, said Mark Turner, Scout executive for the Boy Scouts of America Mecklenburg County Council.
Turner added the decision isn’t a case of the organization condoning homosexuality, and it’s “not about forcing charter organizations to do the same.” Rather, he said, it’s a way for the organization to be “more compassionate” to someone who expresses same-sex attractions.
“Engaging in sexual conduct is off limits to Scouts,” Turner told Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly. “Our expectation is that all of our members demonstrate behavior that exhibits a high level of good conduct and respect for others.”
Whittier did not respond to additional questions by press time.