US: Alternate Christian-based scouting group launches after Boy Scouts of America includes gay members

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Over 1,200 disgruntled former Boy Scouts of America officials descended on Nashville, Tennessee this weekened, in order to launch a new, “Christian-based” alternative to the BSA, as it voted earlier this year to lift its ban on gay members.

Earlier this year the national council of the BSA voted to lift the ban on openly gay youth members, over 60% of the 1400 strong voting body backed lifting the ban. The official lifting of the ban takes place on 1 January 2014.

The officials, from 44 states, met at the two-day national leadership convention, during which they unveiled the new organisation, named Trail Life USA, and its logo.

“Most of us are coming from a highly-structured environment that has 103 years of culture and language and program and symbols … and we are starting from scratch,” one of the new organisation’s founders, John Stemberger said on Friday.



He requested patience as the group began “a program that we believe will be stronger, safer and more principled in every way,” than the BSA.

In March Mr Stemberger, an Eagle Scout, launched the group On My Honor to oppose gay BSA membership.

Despite this, however, Stemberger claimed on Friday that Trail LIfe was not an anti-BSA group.

He said: “I want to be clear: We are not an anti-BSA organisation… In fact, we are not an anti-anything or anyone organisation.”

Some have taken the formation of the new group as a sign that the BSA may lose many members, as the time comes closer for it to lift its ban on gay members.

Despite the lifting of the ban on openly gay scout members, adult volunteers and staff are still prohibited from being openly gay in the organisation.