While advocates for gay equality feel, with justification, that the Boy Scouts of America’s vote to end the ban on gay scouts up to age 18 while maintaining its prohibition on gay scoutmasters is an unacceptable halfway step, the socially conservative Washington Times reports that accepting openly gay scouts at all is a major defeat for Christian Right evangelicals:
Signs of waning evangelical power in the nation’s culture wars and in Republican policy—and some unexpected challenges for GOP candidates—loom as the 103-year-old Boy Scouts of America gears up for a definitive vote this week on whether to welcome openly gay youths into the organization’s ranks.
If the BSA delegates gathering just outside Dallas vote to admit gays, it will reinforce the growing notion that evangelical Protestants and their conservative Catholic allies no longer can muster their troops as they once did, in such battles as state referendums over same-sex marriage and the 1996 enactment of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Interestingly, the article also points out that the Mormon church, which sponsors more than a third of all scout troops in America, “has moved on to other battles in the cultural wars rather than take on the gay-rights activists.” This is similar to what we previously noted about the Mormons’ absence of late from the religious right’s political fight against marriage equality. It’s a good sign, as neutrality in practice is far better for us than engaged opposition, and if it lasts it will leave the evangelicals and the Catholic church down a major ally.