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Franklin Graham Urges Parents to Withdraw Support from Boy Scouts of America Following Call for End to Ban on Gay Leaders

( [email protected] ) May 22, 2015 12:51 PM EDT
Rev. Franklin Graham is urging parents to warn the Boy Scouts of America they will withdraw their support after the organization's president, Robert Gates, urged the lifting of the the decades-old ban on openly gay adult troop leaders "sooner rather than later."
Boy Scouts of America National President Robert Gates said Thursday that the organization's ban on openly gay adults as leaders is unsustainable. AP Photo

Rev. Franklin Graham is urging parents to warn the Boy Scouts of America they will withdraw their support after the organization's president, Robert Gates, urged the lifting of the the decades-old ban on openly gay adult troop leaders "sooner rather than later."

"Robert Gates, shame on you for not having the moral courage to do what is right, Graham wrote in a Facebook post on Friday. "Yesterday Gates, the president of Boy Scouts of America, called for an end to the group's ban on gay troop leaders. What are you thinking? We shouldn't shift as the winds of cultural change blow through society; we need to stand for God's truth and things that are morally right. This move is bending to LGBT activist groups and would put young, innocent boys at risk."

The 62-year-old evangelist continued, "I encourage every former Boy Scout and every parent involved in the Boy Scouts to let Robert Gates know how displeased you are and that if he leads the organization down this road, they may lose your support, your participation--and your sons."

During a speech at the organization's annual national meeting in Atlanta, Georgia on Thursday, Gates, who is also a former secretary of Defense, stated, "I am not asking the national board for any action to change our current policy at this meeting. But I must speak as plainly and bluntly to you as I spoke to presidents when I was director of the CIA and secretary of defense. We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.

"The Greater New York Area Council, Denver area Council, and others are taking a stand counter to national policy," Gates added, explaining that the status quo in the BSA policy "cannot be sustained."

Currently, the BSA's policy prohibits openly gay adults from serving as leaders in the scouts. Gates referenced the impending Supreme Court decision on gay marriage as a significant basis for changing the organization's current policy as well as cultural and legal shifts. 

"The country is changing and we are increasingly at odds with the legal landscape at both the state and federal levels," the BSA president said. 

"We can act on our own or be forced to act but, either way, I suspect we do not have a lot of time," he continued, noting that while the policy change will likely upset many, it will "preserve the Boy Scouts of America in recognition for all it has done for America, and all it can and must do in the future.

"I assure you that I have no hidden agenda," he declared.

Two years ago, the organization sparked controversy after it decided to allow openly gay Scouts. Last month, the group revealed it had hired the first openly gay Eagle Scout, Pascal Tessier, 18, to work as a camp leader this summer.

Other faith leaders have also spoken out against the policy change, including Roger Oldham, spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention executive committee. In a statement to USA Today, Oldham noted that the convention's 46,000 churches that sponsored troops dropped them two years ago, and told them to expect more to do so now.

"They are telegraphing their end-game goal," he said, lamenting that it is clear the ban will soon be dropped. "We find it disappointing but not surprising," Oldham said.

John Stemberger, a former Scout and vocal opponent of allowing gays to participate, said he was "saddened" by Gates' comments.

"It is tragic that the BSA is willing to risk the safety and security of its boys because of peer pressure from activist groups," he said.