Thursday, May 30, 2013

Boy Scouts Decision Could Bring Lawsuits Against Churches


Last Thursday, delegates of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) National Council voted to amend its membership policy and lift the longstanding ban on youth who engage in homosexual behavior. Only one week has passed since the vote, but it appears the decision is already making waves in churches across the country.

This week, it was reported in Kentucky’s Courier-Journal that Southeast Christian Church, a megachurch in Louisville, announced it intends to cut ties with the BSA because “the youth organization has become too polarizing.” The Boy Scouts are now working to find a new organization to sponsor Troop 2012 and Cub Scout Pack 212—approximately 300 families participate in these two groups.

Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee, told that the Southern Baptist Convention will hold its national meeting in the coming weeks, after which “it would likely recommend that its 47,000 U.S. churches pull away from the Boy Scouts of America.”

Earlier this year, Liberty Institute President and CEO Kelly Shackelford, Alliance Defending Freedom Chief Solicitor and Executive Vice President Gary McCaleb and Liberty Counsel Chairman Mathew Staver drafted a letter to the BSA, informing the organization of the “the unintended consequences that could ensue” should the ban be lifted.

Liberty feels strongly that the policy change will have far-reaching implications on religious liberty and other constitutional rights of churches and faith-based organizations.

“The tragedy is that the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision protecting the BSA’s original policy is now moot,” said Liberty Institute President and CEO Kelly Shackelford. “With the policy change, churches and other faith-based organizations—which make up 70 percent of BSA sponsorship—are put directly in the line of fire.”

Churches throughout the country are now faced with the decision of whether or not to close their doors to local troops. That decision could open these ministries to litigation.

“There is nothing in the law that says churches have to continue supporting the BSA,” said Roger Byron, attorney for Liberty Institute and a former Eagle Scout. “However, there are many local and state laws offering a special class of protection for same sex orientation and conduct. This could be dangerous for churches choosing to cut ties with the Scouts.”

Should any church face the threat of litigation, Liberty Institute stands ready to help to protect their religious freedom.

In addition to our team of full-time, experienced constitutional attorneys, Liberty Institute works hand-in-hand with some of the best and brightest attorneys from the top law firms across the country. Because of our national reach, we are able to assist churches throughout the U.S. and ensure their First Amendment rights are protected.

If you know of any church facing backlash because of the BSA decision, please have them contact Liberty directly at 972-941-4444 or though email at

To stay updated on this developing story, and other stories affecting your religious freedom, be sure to “Like” Liberty Institute on Facebook. Also, please consider a gift today to help us continue the important work of defending and restoring religious freedom in America – in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena.

About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit