The Boy Scouts of America has some competition.
In response to the organization’s decision to lift a ban on gay youth earlier this year, former boy scouts convened in Tennessee this weekend to hammer out the nuts-and-bolts of a faith-based alternative.
NBC News reports that more than 1,200 ex-participants of the Boy Scouts of America, hailing from 44 states, met in Nashville for a two-day “national leadership conference,” at which the “new scouts’” name, logo, and uniforms were selected.
“I want to have a prominent faith component that will be weaved in every fiber of the program.”
- John Stemberger, Trail Life USA
Former Arkansas governor and one-time presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee was reportedly slated to speak at the convention.
“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,” John Stemberger, a father of two who earned the title of Eagle Scout during his youth, told the news organization.
Kicking off the conference on Friday, Stemberger told NBC the new organization, named Trail Life USA -- would amount to “a program that we believe will be stronger, safer and more principled in every way.”
The successful campaign to alter the original boy scout membership policy gained steam in 2012, according to NBC News, after the organization ousted a lesbian as den mother and denied Eagle rank to a gay teen.
The organization’s longstanding policy on gay youth will reportedly take effect Jan. 1, 2014.
“I want to have a prominent faith component that will be weaved in every fiber of the program,” Stemberger, an Orlando attorney who has reportedly been criticized for professing homophobic beliefs, told NBC News.
“But at the same time, we are not going to become religious and churchy. This is not another church program. This is going to be a masculine outdoor program to raise young men.”
Alan Scheer, 50, a one-time Scoutmaster from Oklahoma who was in attendance at the Trail Life USA conference, said, “I’ve cried a river since this started. I wanted to be buried in my Scout uniform.
“I couldn’t have imagined anything that would ever make me want to take it off again.”