A statement by the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President,

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

May 16, 2013


Western culture is at a crucial moment in history. After 103 years of existence, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) may vote to change drastically its membership policy. For those who may be unaware, the BSA, in recent months, has discussed allowing both gay Scouts and Scout leaders into its organization. Recently, however, the BSA has changed its course. Now the vote will determine only whether to include openly homosexual Scouts as members.

LCMS leaders have been carefully monitoring the proposed BSA policy changes. When news of the proposed change was made public, I sent a letter to BSA, imploring its leadership not to make the proposed policy change. And even though the initial proposal to focus on Scout leaders has been shelved, I believe the current proposal still has unknown implications for the future of BSA as well as LCMS support and involvement. The proposed change will highlight sexuality, which has not been and should not be a matter of focus for Scouts. I suspect it will make it more challenging to care for young people struggling with same-sex attraction and perhaps open our churches to legal action.

This vote matters to the LCMS. The proposed change in BSA policy on values and membership to include openly homosexual Scouts adversely affects, even supersedes, the authority of the local pastor and congregation by allowing and promoting a moral position that we as LCMS Lutherans believe is against the will of God and in opposition to Holy Scripture.

This vote matters because, if enacted, the proposed change to BSA policy on values and membership will cause a crisis of conscience for our church leaders, pastors, parents and congregations. Even if the decision of values and membership remains at the local level, Scouts from troops sponsored by congregations of the LCMS will be affected because, as part of the scouting program, they also participate at regional and national scouting activities.

This vote matters because, for more than a century, scouting has sought to uphold moral values at a level greater than that of general society. The capitulation now to societal pressures would mar the long and honorable history of the Boy Scouts to honor the natural law of God, which at least for now, is still reflected in the current scouting membership policy.

For these reasons, I and some 25 other Protestant church leaders have signed onto a statement, copied below, that implores BSA not to change its policy, noting that, “In our current culture, it’s more important than ever for our churches to protect and provide moral nurture for young people and for the Scouts.”  The statement will be released in conjunction with its delivery to the BSA office and before the organization’s vote, which will take place May 24.

I share this with you today because it is difficult to know which of our LCMS BSA members will be part of the 1,400 members who will vote on the policy change later this month. I am hopeful that all of you will share this information with those in your congregation who are involved with BSA and even those in your community who will cast votes later this month.

As the church awaits the BSA vote, we still have much to do. We repent, and we pray. We confess Christ and elevate marriage among us. We do what the church does best: We bear witness to Christ, show mercy to those in our midst — including those challenged by same-sex attraction — and care for all in our life together.

Pastor Matthew C. Harrison

President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod




We strongly support the Boy Scouts of America current prohibition on open homosexuality and retaining it without revision.  Nearly 70 percent of BSA troops are hosted by churches and religious institutions.  Upholding traditional morality is vital for sustaining this partnership, for protecting Scout members, and for ensuring BSA has a strong future.  A proposal from the BSA board to prohibit “discrimination” based on “sexual orientation or preference” for BSA members potentially would open the Scouts to a wide range of open sexual expressions.  In our current culture, it’s more important than ever for our churches to protect and provide moral nurture for young people and for the Scouts.  We implore members of the upcoming BSA Council to affirm the BSA’s present policy, which the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed, and which has served BSA well.



Bishop David C. Anderson, Sr.

President, American Anglican Council


Sara L. Anderson

Executive Vice President

Bristol House, Ltd. (United Methodist)


The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey

Chief Operating & Development Officer

American Anglican Council


Dr. Robert D. Benne (Lutheran)

Jordan Trexler Professor Emeritus

and Research Associate

Religion and Philosophy, Roanoke College


Dr. Robert H. Blackburn

Past Chairman, National Association of Covenanting Congregations


The Rev. John Bradosky, Bishop

The North American Lutheran Church


Pastor Mark C. Chavez

General Secretary, North American Lutheran Church


The Rev. Sue Cyre

Executive Director of Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry (PFFM)


The Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison

President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod


Doug Harvey, Executive Director

Disciple Heritage Fellowship


The Rev. Charles Huckaby

Dean, Western Classis of the Calvin Synod Conference United Church of Christ Term 2010– 2013


Dr. Jeffrey Jeremiah

Stated Clerk

Evangelical Presbyterian Church


John Lomperis

Director, United Methodist Action



Alex McFarland

Director for Christian Worldview and Apologetics


Senator Patricia Miller

Executive Director, Confessing Movement (United Methodist)


Bob Morrison

Secretary, REVIVE! (Iowa United Methodist renewal)


The Rev. Dr. Mary Holder Naegeli

Minister-at-Large, San Francisco Presbytery; Moderator of the Presbyterian Coalition


Rev. Kevin C. Rudolph

National Covenant Association of Churches

Windwood Presbyterian Church

Houston, TX


The Rev. Dr. Frederick J. Schumacher

Executive Director, American Lutheran Publicity Bureau


The Rev. W. Stevens Shipman

Director, Lutheran Coalition for Renewal


The Rev. Paul Stallsworth

President, Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality


David M. Stanley

Director, Institute on Religion and Democracy

Chairman, United Methodist Action Steering Committee

Co-Chair, REVIVE! (Iowa United Methodist renewal)


Bishop Ray Sutton

Ecumenical Officer, Anglican Church in North America


Mark Tooley

President, Institute on Religion & Democracy


The Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism

The North American Lutheran Church


Dr. George O. Wood

General Superintendent

General Council of the Assemblies of God



Read more about the proposed change here.