“We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be,” he said Thursday at the organization’s national meeting in Atlanta. “The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained.”
Though Gates did not call the lifting of the ban to a vote, he proposed changing the policy “sooner rather than later” to allow each scouting unit to determine its leadership standards. He explained the reasoning behind the proposal:
Such an approach would allow all churches, which sponsor some 70 percent of our scout units, to establish leadership standards consistent with their faith. We must, at all costs, preserve the religious freedom of our church partners to do this.
Gates’ remarks—along with his insistence on religious freedom for church partners—prompted replies from one of those partners, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the organization’s largest national sponsor).
The LDS church “will, of course, examine any such changes very carefully to assess how they might impact our own century-long association with the BSA,” spokesman Eric Hawkins wrote in an emailed statement, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.