Southeast Christian Church cuts ties to hundreds of scouts


by Gene Kang

Posted on May 28, 2013 at 5:39 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 28 at 6:41 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Boy Scouts of America and Southeast Christian Church are parting ways five days after the national organization voted to allow openly gay scouts.

Southeast Christian says the decision has nothing to do with sexual preference, but instead, religious values.

Southeast, one of the country’s largest churches with 30,000 members, told their scouts to pack up and move out.

It created a tidal wave of controversy. So what will happen to hundreds of these scouting families?

Former Boy Scout leader, Greg Bourke, a proud advocate for LGBT rights said, "I think that's a horrible way to treat boys and families.”

He arrived home in Louisville just days after pushing the national vote in Texas, allowing gay scouts.

Bourke disheartened Southeast Christian Church won't renew their charter to Pack and Troop 212, forcing roughly 300 scouting families out.

"If they're gay, they're gay but when you practice it, that's a different story. Then you're violating God's law," Bill Colgate who supports the church’s decision said.

But Raleigh Shanks said, "I think it's sad for the Boy Scouts but I think it's a little bit harsh."

It's the first religious organization in Jefferson County cutting ties with the Boy Scouts of America.

Church elders recently voted against renewing their charter partnership.

"Now the message they're getting from their own church is that all of that effort was wasted. They don't think it's valuable to maintain the scout troop,” Bourke said.

While WHAS11 News never received a statement from Southeast Christian despite phone calls, their executive pastor Tim Hester, told the media:

"Truly for us it's a logical decision. We cannot be distracted from the mission God has called us to. We want everyone, including ourselves, to live by biblical standards."

"Churches can decide they don't agree with something with an organization they support," Julia O'Dell, a supporter of gay rights but also believes it is a church’s right to make private decisions, said.

"I think they have to make their minds if they're going to be inclusive or if they're going to reinforce the old prejudices," Marc Smith who thinks Southeast Christian is being discriminatory said.

The Boy Scouts of America Lincoln Heritage Council tells me Southeast Christian decided earlier in 2013, even before the national policy on gay scouts changed, not to renew in 2014.

Their executive pastor told the media they did not agree with the Boy Scouts' direction and decided to call it quits.

Boy Scouts of America, Lincoln Heritage Council says, "We can't speak for Southeast Christian Church on why they decided to no longer sponsor Pack and Troop 212. Our focus is helping youth grow into young people of character and integrity through a program of fun and adventure. Our office has been working with the volunteer leadership to identify a new Chartered Organization to provide a home for these two units. At this time we are still working towards finding another partner."

Several groups contacted the Council to provide a new home for the roughly 300 scouting families.

Nothing is finalized and things remain on a rocky terrain.