No Longer Loyal to Scouts, Boys Join Trail Life
No Longer Loyal to Scouts, Boys Join Trail Life - ABC News
Chatting in the living room one night, Ron Orr gave his 15-year-old son Andrew a choice: He could
stick with the Boy Scouts of America and his mission to become an Eagle Scout, or he could join
Trail Life USA " the new Christian-based alternative that excludes openly gay boys.
This was no small decision. Four generations of Orr men had been Eagles, including Ron and
Andrew's older brother. Andrew had spent years working toward Scouting's highest rank, and was
just months from reaching it.
But the Boy Scouts had decided to admit gays, and Ron Orr, a tall, soft-spoken man with a firm
handshake, is clear about his Christian faith and what it says about homosexuality: It is a sin that
cannot be tolerated.
His son agreed. He would forgo the century-old BSA for Trail Life, which officially launched just last
"It felt like I'd be hitting something higher than Eagle in terms of achievement," Andrew said, in an
So Orr and his son left BSA and set out with other families to build a new organization based on
what they believe to be Christian values. Orr is a regional organizer who speaks to churches and
groups about Trail Life. His son now aspires to achieve a Freedom Award, the new group's highest
The Orrs and others in Trail Life say they are fighting for the traditional values of Christianity and of
Scouting, which includes a command in the Scout Oath to be "morally straight" " even as a changing
America grows more accepting of gays and gay marriage. They are leaving an organization central
to many of their upbringings with heavy hearts, but also with the belief that the Scouting they knew
no longer exists.
"As Christians from a scriptural basis, we love all folks, but the Scripture is very clear that being
homosexual is a sin," Ron Orr said in an interview. "We've got to be able to hold a strong line and set
a consistent example for our young men."
Trail Life has established units in more than 40 states, mostly from Boy Scouts and parents who feel
their old organization has lost its way. It has about 600 units up and running or in the process of
registration, executive director Rob Green said. As many as half of those who have expressed
interest were not affiliated with the Boy Scouts beforehand, Green said.
It is still a tiny movement compared to Scouting, which has nearly 2.5 million youth members and
remains a powerful force in American life, even with a 6 percent drop in membership last year.
Trail Life promotes itself on its website as the "premier national character development organization
for young men which produces Godly and responsible husbands, fathers and citizens."
Its official membership standards policy welcomes all boys, but adds, "We grant membership to
adults and youth who do not engage in or promote sexual immorality of any kind, or engage in
behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the program."
For over a century, Scouting banned openly gay youth and leaders, fighting all the way to the
Supreme Court to defend its right to do so. Leaders who were revealed to be gay were excluded, and
some boys were denied Eagle Scout awards by regional councils that were notified of their sexual
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