ORLANDO (Christian Examiner) -- Responding to an announcement yesterday that Boy Scouts of America legal position on banning gay Scout leaders has weakened and is "unsustainable," Trail Life USA board chairman John Stemberger today reaffirmed its own committment to "timeless Christian values."
BSA President Robert Gates made the remarks to leaders in the group's annual meeting yesterday, indicating the organization "cannot ignore growing internal challenges" and even "open defiance" to its membership policy.
"We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be. The status quo in our movement's membership standards cannot be sustained," Gates, who previously served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Secretary of Defense said.
The alternative organization held its inaugural national convention in September of last year following a 2013 decision to allow openly gay scouts into the Boy Scouts of America, an organization which is over 100 years old. In less than nine months, the new Scouting group reported 500 troops in 48 states approaching 16,000 members.
In January Trail Life USA added an 18-person member and advisory counsel and recognized the gift of 127-acre Camp Aiken outside of Greenville, South Carolina.
"Trail Life USA is saddened by the announcement regarding the anticipated membership change in Boy Scouts of America, as many families and boys will be negatively affected by this departure from their own long-standing principles," Stemberger, chairman of the board of Trail Life USA, told Christian Examiner.
"It is tragic that the BSA is willing to risk the safety and security of its boys because of peer pressure from activist groups," Stemberger said. "Trail Life USA remains committed to timeless Christian values and to the hundreds of Charter Organizations and 23,000 members in 48 states."