Membership Drop, Faith Issues Underlie Scouts’ Move on Gays

The New York Times examines issues underlying the Boy Scouts of America’s potential abandonment of its longstanding ban on homosexual scouts and troop leaders.

A proposal to drop the national youth group’s prohibition on gays tops the agenda at a three-day meeting of its executive board that began Monday in Irving, Texas. Scouts volunteers involved in the debate described the decision as a proxy vote on how the organization can stay relevant in a changing social climate.

Participation in the Boy Scouts declined by 19 percent from 2000 to 2011, and the organization now has a largely religious cast, with more than 69 percent of troops affiliated with faith-based groups primarily from the Mormon, United Methodist, and Roman Catholic churches.

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