In the little coastal town of Arapahoe (2.2 square miles, 556 residents), Troop 683 lost its headquarters in 2013 after the Boy Scouts of America announced it would no longer deny membership on the basis of sexual orientation or preference.
Arapahoe Free Will Baptist Church chose not to renew the troop’s charter. The pastor could not be reached for comment.
The decision upset Scout leader David Gaskins, but not for the reason you might expect. Gaskins attended Arapahoe Free Will Baptist Church. He believes the religious teachings that homosexuality is a sin.
But he also believes the 49 Scouts and Cub Scouts in Troop 683 need strong male role models, and it upset him that the church kicked out the troop.
“We’ve got a lot of kids in our troop and pack being raised by moms so there are no male figures in their life,” Gaskins said. “... I think that does help shape a child, as far as how to be a responsible person and how to be a responsible man when they grow up.”
He suggested that the lack of a male role model might cause a child to turn out gay. As a Christian, Gaskins said, his job is “to go out and win the lost to Christ. You don’t turn everybody away, and we welcome everybody.”
Gaskins, a project manager for an electrical supply distributor, said he left Arapahoe Free Will Baptist Church over its decision. He now attends Temple Baptist Church in New Bern.
In Arapahoe, Bethany Christian Church stepped up to take over the Scouts charter.
Although Gaskins said he welcomes any child, he would not support a gay leader. Last year, the Boy Scouts of America lifted its ban on gay leadership, but left leadership decisions to the local religious organizations that charter the groups.
“If I had a first grade little boy and I was taking them to a Cub Scout meeting to be led by a gay man or a gay woman, I would have real heartburn over that because those young kids are so impressionable and that leader is somebody they truly look up to,” Gaskins said. “I wouldn’t want a young boy looking up to a leader who is gay and thinking that was right.”
Gaskins knows his views might not sit well with LGBTQ residents. He said he has “a lot of friends who are gay” and they agree to disagree. “A lot of my gay friends think they were born that way. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that God created you that way.”