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Cascade Boy Scout Leader Says He'll Leave if Gays Allowed

The Boy Scout troop leader has served with the Boy Scouts since 1968 and before that, was a Cub and Boy Scout leader.

A man who has served as a leader with the Boy Scouts in southwest Atlanta for 46 years said he is prepared to give up Scouting, one of his life's passions, if the organization decides to allow gay members and leaders.

For the last 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America have banned gays from joining their ranks. On Feb. 6, the organization announced that it would delay until May its decision to either continue enforcing the ban or to admit gays, which has sparked both outrage and praise from parents and those involved with Scouts.

Donald Wheat, a Scout Master for Troop 3290 in southwest Atlanta since 1968 and once a Cub and Boy Scout himself, said he would leave the organization all together if BSA decides to accept gay members.

“I will have to give up my position,” Wheat told Patch. “One, I believe in God, and I cannot straddle the fence…I believe in the traditions and the positions of Scouting.”

“I have to love them (gays) because that’s what the Word says, but I do not have to go along with the lifestyle,” he continued.

Wheat said, that, for him, the issue is a matter of morals and standing up for what he believes in. He said that the admittance of gays into Boy Scouts would mean support of homosexuality, which he said is counter to his Christian faith and to the Scout’s Oath, which requires Scouts remain “morally straight.”

“Either you’re going to take a stand one way or the other. As much as I would hate to give it up, I’m going to stand if I stand by myself,” Wheat said.

Non-religious-affiliated donors have been vocal to the BSA that they will pull funding of the organization if the ban continues.

Reports, such as this one from the Associated Press, show that about 70 percent of all Boy Scouts are sponsored by religious denominations, which could completely gut the organization if they decide not to renew their sponsorships. This post from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution states that Mormons sponsor the most Boy Scouts in the nation, followed by Methodists and then Catholics– all three groups have traditionally supported the ban on gays in the organization because it lines up with their religious doctrine that homosexuality is a sin.

Wheat said he sees homosexuality as a sin and that he, like everyone else, is not perfect. He said he does not judge people who are gay and is “cordial” to them.

“I’m not trying to judge. I’m just saying, that’s a lifestyle I don’t deal with. I always believe association brings on assimilation,” he said. “Like my mama always said, ‘Feed them with a long-handled spoon.’”

Apostle Mena Johnson, a gay minister whose congregation of God’s Chosen Ones Ministries meets in Candler Park, said the issue is still a moral one. She said a decision to keep the ban in place would be “very discriminatory.”

“To me, it shouldn’t be any type of segregation. This same issue they had in the military is the same in the Boy Scouts. Human beings are human beings,” she said.

“God created us in His image and His likeness. If they decide they don’t want gays in the Boy Scouts, that’s their loss,” Johnson told Patch.

What do you think? Should the Boy Scouts of America lift its ban on gay members and leaders? Tell us in the comments below.

Andrew February 13, 2013 at 03:39 PM
"For the last 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America have banned gays from joining their ranks." That is amazing, especially since the word "gay" has been used to mean homosexual only since about 1947, which is 66 years ago, not 103 years. The first publicly-released BSA policy banning gays was published by BSA in 1991. Sure, not many people were talking about gays before 1990, so you can't really blame BSA for not having a policy until 1991. But claiming that a policy first publicized in 1991 is 103 years old is a bit of an exaggeration.
Andrew February 13, 2013 at 03:44 PM
Many churches believe that gays are completely equal to all other people, and want to fully accept gays into their Scout troop. The Scout Law requires a Scout to "respect the religious beliefs of others". Why doesn't Donald Wheat want to follow the Scout Law?
Bike Guy February 13, 2013 at 05:02 PM
A correction of facts: The BSA has not banned gays and lesbians for 103 years. A memo in 1978 proposed that the Scouts not accept homosexual men. This was only codified in 1991, well after the Mormons had made the Scouts their youth group and had become the largest donor. Please immediately print a correction. The Boy Scouts was never meant to be a Christian organization. Lord Baden Powell founded the Scouts as explicitly non-sectarian. The divisions only began in the 1990s after Christian conservatives, and above all the Mormons, hijacked the BSA. Mormons, who represent less than 2% of the American population, now control more than a third of American Boy Scout troops. Scouts in other nations do NOT discriminate. We can each believe the other is immoral. I believe that people who drive giant gas-guzzling SUV’s are immoral. But I don’t have any desire to keep them out of the Scouts. We are a two-dad family, former Scouts. We have no objection to our kids hanging with Mormon parents or their kids. We try to respect diverse beliefs even if we do not share them. I quote Baden Powell: "Buddha has said: 'There is only one way of driving out Hate in the world and that is by bringing in 
Love.' Scouting's aim is to produce healthy, happy, helpful citizens, of both sexes, to eradicate the prevailing narrow self interest, personal, political, sectarian and national, and to substitute for it a broader spirit of self-sacrifice and service in the cause of humanity."
Kiri Walton (Editor) February 13, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Hi Bike Guy, Thanks for posting this on several of the Patch sites. Please shoot me an email with the sources backing up your claims in case a change needs to be made. My email is kiri.walton@patch.com. Thanks.
Dominique Huff February 13, 2013 at 09:36 PM
More Christian discrimination. Given all the scandals involving so-called straight pastors and young men, I have yet to hear about any gay men trying to push up on young straight boys. My stance is if you want to discriminate, do it on your own dime not using public resources or support. If these scoutmasters want to play this game, then I need to leave all schools and not have any meetings on government property or in government facilities. They need to also not ask for any public dollars. What really cracks me up is how Christians want to cry about their religion being under attack while they continue to attack others.
D.J. Vandrilla February 13, 2013 at 09:45 PM
I am an Eagle Scout and Scoutmaster of a Troop and while I appreciate the service of anyone who volunteers as a leader, the BSA would be better off without people like Mr. Wheat who do not understand the principles of Scouting. He is entitled to his beliefs, but if his hatred consumes him so, he should not be influincing the youth of America.
Marlene Mitchell February 14, 2013 at 01:24 PM
Hey Bike Guy....other than you think I am immoral for driving my Yukon XL, i agree with you. Well said.
Scott Bates February 15, 2013 at 05:31 AM
Here's one very important idea that all of you who support lifting the ban on gays in the BSA are overlooking. Many of the member families of the BSA have their kids in scouting because it is one of the last bastions of traditional and wholesome family values in our nation. Our national society has been going down hill for many years, and for a lot of reasons. Not all of us are blaming everyone else for our hurt feelings everytime something doesn't go our way. We all have the freedom to associate with the organizations that best fit our own values. That having been pointed out, all of you who don't like the BSA's ban on gays certainly have the right to create your own organizaiton that better reflects your values. But your constant complaining because some of us in this world are a bit more selective about what social environments we choose to raise our families in has reached an unbelievable level of selfishness. So, if you don't like the Boy Scouts because, in your view they don't like you, then form your own organization. If you don't like the companies that do support the BSA, then don't buy their products. But while you are crying your self righteous chants against those of us who do not support a life style that is in direct conflict with human nature and most religious sects in our county, keep in mind that many of us in the BSA work tirelessly to help children in our communities who certainly don't receive help from many of you.
Andrew February 18, 2013 at 04:53 PM
"scouting is one of the last bastions of traditional and wholesome family values in our nation." That is not what Scouting is for. Please re-read the BSA Mission & Vision, the Scout Oath and Law, and the BSA Declaration of Religious Principles, and stop using Scouting to promote your own political and religious agenda. BSA is not a Christian club. If you don't like the core values of Scouting, you are welcome to create your own organization. Or join the other youth clubs that have been around for decades whose mission is to promote the Christian religion, like Awana or Royal Rangers.
Elwood February 25, 2013 at 06:29 PM
I don't see anything in the BSA mission and vision or the scout oath that would support opening it to a gay lifestyle. The mission is to help youth make "good moral choices." If there are moral choices then there must by immoral choices and behavior. What are they in the minds of the gay supporters? Tallwall
Ken Russell February 28, 2013 at 05:58 AM
Ken I agree with David Wheat position on the boy scouts policy on not admitting gays into the boy scouts. How can we permit that to happen when it goes against the boy scouts oath and motto. How can we agree to something that goes against what God has already said is a sin how long will we let homosexuals and other groups take away every thing that belong to God to push their agenda on us.God says that we are to love the individual but to hate their sin God except us and we are sinner too but we are save by the grace and mercy of God. The boy scouts stands for honesty, honor Self respect and our duty to god and the people around us. I would hate to have to quit because we let unbeliever to chance the boy scouts policy. We need to stand and fight for our God given right to serve Him.
steve tenace March 13, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Simple Curtis, thats because prior to the 90's gays were not so agressive and in your face making demands of everyone that their "lifestyle" not just be tolerated, but fully accepted by everyone as normative. I think this story is very accurate and I for one am glad to finally see a Patch story thats not pushing the gay agenda.
steve tenace March 13, 2013 at 02:11 PM
Curtis, All Christian churches SHOULD believe that gays are completely "equal to all other people", because all people are created and in Gods image. Only a FEW churches that happen to be the most liberal however believe that homosexual behavior is not sinful, but thats because many of those "ministers" are homosexual themselves and they want to surround themselves with other homosexuals to make themselves feel accepted. "Respecting the religious beliefs of others", as misinformed as some of them are, does not mean we have to agree with those misguided beliefs, nor accept them within the BSA.
steve tenace March 13, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Bike Guy is either plagiarizing from another Patch forum, or also goes by the name "Two Dads" in another Atlanta community. Liberals love to state "facts" as though theyre indisputable, and while they may seem convincing, they are unverifyable. So I guess a second correction of the facts is in order with the following verifable information; The Boy Scouts began in 1908 in Britain, where Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Baden-Powell, a hero of the Boer Wars, founded the international organization. The Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910, as a copy of the British model. Baden-Powell wrote in a pamphlet "Scouting & Christianity" (1917): "Scouting is nothing less than applied Christianity." (Religion and the Boy Scout and Girl Guides Movement--an address, 1926). "....We aim for the practice of Christianity in their everyday life and dealings, and not merely the profession of theology on Sundays.... There is a vast reserve of loyal patriotism and Christian spirit lying dormant in our nation today, mainly because it sees no direct opportunity for expressing itself. Here in this joyous brotherhood there is a vast opportunity open to all in a happy work that shows the results under your hands and a work that is worth while because it gives every man his chance of service for his fellow-men and for God." - (Scouting For Boys, 1908)
Savoy May 13, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Scott and Ken....Thank you for having the courage to speak up for your beliefs in a growing society that just wants to be politcally correct but I know a lot go home and say how they really feel in the privacy of their homes. I hope the Boy Scouts stand strong and dont allow this current wave of trickery and confusion to change this great organization.
Gm El May 24, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Good riddance! I'd say that some of his favorite scouts might be gay. If only he knew how many gays cross his path.
Stephen W. Ramsden May 25, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Indeed, good riddance to you sir. I cant imagine how many young people you have corrupted with your bigotry and hatred.
Stephen W. Ramsden May 25, 2013 at 12:01 PM
So, according to this logic, we cant let sinners into the boy scouts. That would be one empty organization if you got rid of all the adulterers, liars, those that covet thy neighbors wife, gluttons, etc...
Stephen W. Ramsden May 25, 2013 at 12:04 PM
Scott, and other folks in here: I was alive in the 60's when this exact argument was used to exclude blacks from many groups in America. If you go in top any of these comments and substitute "Blacks" for "Gays" I wonder if you would agree as vehemently. Because this is exactly the same scenario.
Stephen W. Ramsden May 25, 2013 at 12:08 PM
excellent comments Dominique and D.J. this is nothing more than age old discrimination. end of story.

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