JOHNS CREEK, Ga.–– The Boy Scouts of America decision to change its policy to allow openly gay Scouts in its ranks is causing some religious institutions to reconsider their affiliation with the 103-year-old organization.
Effective Jan. 1, 2014, openly gay scouts will be allowed to participate in Scout programs.
Many churches that sponsor Scout troops across the country have already said they would sever ties with their troops because of the new policy. Some churches in North Fulton and Forsyth County are planning to have their congregations vote whether to follow suit.
A local television news station reported that Perimeter Church in Johns Creek plans to vote to cut ties with the Boy Scout troop 317, which it sponsors, but church officials say that is premature.
Laura Lopez, spokeswoman for Perimeter Church, said the church will vote in the near future on whether to continue to sponsor its troop.
“We have not made a decision regarding our sponsorship of the Boy Scouts yet,” Lopez said.
If Perimeter Church makes the decision to sever ties with Boy Scouts of America, they will be the second church in Metro Atlanta to do so — the first church to take this stance was Marietta-based Roswell Street Baptist Church.
Other churches are not concerned with the new policy change of the Boy Scouts. Gene Ray, church administrator of the Johns Creek United Methodist Church, said that the change on policy will not affect the church’s opinion.
“We sponsor eight different Boy Scout troops here,” Ray said. “There is no need to worry. The Scouts are always welcome here.”
The decision of some local churches to sever ties with the Boy Scouts has been met with mixed emotions.
Gina Wilson, a Forsyth County resident, said that the churches that choose to cut ties with the Scouts are hypocritical.
“It's hypocritical to tell people not to judge and treat everyone as your brother and then do the exact opposite,” Wilson said.
Other Forsyth residents said the churches have the legal right to sever ties with the Boy Scouts and that churches should be respected.
Peggy Franco, of Cumming, said that the churches should not be met with backlash for their decision.
“Remove the emotion and look at the Constitution,” Franco said “Respect that churches can do as they wish. They have the same rights as the Boy Scouts of America.”
These reports of churches ending their Scout programs do not appear to faze the BSA. Jeff Fulcher, director of Marketing and Communications at the Atlanta Area Council of Boy Scouts, said if churches decide to no longer sponsor the organization it will have little to no impact.
“There have been a few churches that have been talking about leaving,” Fulcher said. “Right now we estimate more than 95 percent of our sponsors will continue to remain affiliated with us.”