Christian Groups Offer Alternative to Boy Scouts

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Christian scouting groups are becoming more popular.

Boy Scouts of America (BSA), the largest youth organization in America, has more than 2.4 million members. Its goal is to train youth in character development and self-reliance to make them responsible citizens. BSA is definitely the most popular youth organization in the United States, however, it is not the only one.

In fact, nowadays, it seems like there is a Boy Scout version for every Christian sub-group out there. Pathfinders (Seventh-day Adventist), Royal Rangers (Assemblies of God), Royal Ambassadors (Southern Baptist), and Adventure Corps (Salvation Army) are a few of them. Just like the BSA, they have their own pledges, merit badges, and they are also focused on the personal and professional development of their youth.

In 2004, BSA adopted the policy that it will not allow open and avowed homosexuals in the leadership positions. In 2013, the organization announced that it is considering revoking the ban on homosexuals, and in the same year, a 1400-member BSA National Council voted to remove the restriction. In 2014, the resolution went into effect, however, BSA still prohibited homosexuals from holding leadership positions.

In 2015, BSA lifted the organization's blanket ban on openly gay leaders and employees. This whole turmoil has been beneficial for the other youth organizations. A lot of concerned parents took their children out of BSA and admitted them in some of the other youth organizations. According to these organizations, they are still getting inquiries from a lot of concerned people.

Seventh-day Adventists have always had a strong focus on their youth. They have been trying to setup their own version of Boy Scouts from the 1920s. It was only by 1950 that they were able to start their youth organization, the Pathfinders, officially. In the same year, the General Conference's delegates session formally recognized it as an official entity of the Church. Just like the BSA awards their members with a merit badge for mastering a skill, the Pathfinders also awards their members with merit badges.

According to James Black, the North American director of youth ministries for the Seventh-day Adventists, the Pathfinders is open to all, and if the parents think that the organization is a good option for their children, the organization will welcome them with open arms.

BSA is very much aware of the impact of the gay-related arrangement change will have on their nearby religious units. As per its site, the association's enrollment arrangement would be steady with its primary contracted association's religious convictions.


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