NORTH CAROLINA - Several churches across the state, including some in Eastern Carolina, have announced they will stop supporting the Boy Scouts of America. This comes after the group voted in May to no longer deny gay people as members.
According to Ray Franks, scout executive at East Carolina Council, BSA, about six churches have decided not to renew charters with the Boy Scouts.
Pastor Ted Erskine, of The Sanctuary Apostolic Pentecostal Church in Newport, said for his church, it's a morality issue. After sponsoring its Boy Scout troop for nine years, the church has decided not to renew the charter.
"If they want to permit homosexuality and things of that nature and endorse it, for us to sponsor, we chose not to do that. You know, it's just our conviction and what we chose to live by," Pastor Erskine said.
Pastor Erskine said many members of the church's troop made a personal choice not to continue with the organization when the decision was announced.
"If there were any young men in those groups who wanted to continue their activities with Boys Scouts of America, then our troop leaders and pack leaders made certain that they found a place," Pastor Erskine explained.
Pastor Connie Stutts, of Beech Grove United Methodist Church in New Bern, said lifting the ban did not affect her church's decision to sponsor a troop.
"Basically, we just said we're going to do business as usual. Our reaction was simply, sexual orientation has never been the question we asked for entry into the Boy Scouts or entry into the church doors," Slutts said.
Pastor Stutts said her church has sponsored Troop 97 for more than 25 years and will continue to do so.
"The scouting program is to raise young boys to be good strong men, and when we sever our ties that hurts the church," she said.
Elsewhere in North Carolina, the Calvary Baptist Church in Forsyth County announced Monday that it will end its involvement with the Boy Scouts of America on Dec. 31. Calvary officials said the church will help Scouts reach the Eagle Scout rank before the end of the year.
The First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gastonia has also decided not to renew its charter with the Boy Scouts. Senior Pastor Matt Kuiken emailed a statement to The Gaston Gazette, saying the decision was made "with deep sadness."
In addition, two churches in Cleveland County have announced they are severing ties with BSA.
The Boy Scouts of America voted in May to allow openly-gay youths to become scouts. More than 60 percent of the 1,400-member national council supported the change, which will take effect on Jan. 1. The Boy Scouts still does not allow gay men to be scout leaders.