They have pledges. They have merit badges. And they may go camping. But they’re not the Boy Scouts. They are alternatives to the BSA, which last week changed its membership policy to admit homosexual members. Boys’ groups like Pathfinders (Seventh-day Adventist), Royal Ambassadors (Southern Baptist), and Royal Rangers (Assemblies of God) are fielding inquiries from people concerned about the BSA action, reports Other alternative boys’ clubs are not as denominationally tied. Founded by the Salvation Army in the 1980s, Adventure Corps includes about 1,300 units of boys from grades 1–8. The program focuses on teamwork, leadership, and Christian fellowship. Membership in the Salvation Army is not necessary. Founded in 1952, Calvinist Cadet Corps includes boys in first grade through high school. The evangelical organization has about 400 U.S. clubs. Its weekly meetings include a Bible lesson. Founded in 1946, Caravan includes about 600 clubs in U.S. churches affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene. Founded in 1937, Christian Service Brigade includes about 300 units of boys in first through 12th grades. This evangelical organization aims to build boys’ character with an emphasis on the Bible. Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, said the Boy Scout change “would force sponsoring churches to subordinate their convictions to stay involved with the Boy Scouts.” The Assemblies of God offices in Springfield, Mo., have received many calls in the last few months about its Royal Rangers program. “The inquiries come in waves, increasing each time a new report on the topic releases,” the denomination said. Dick Broene, executive director of the Calvinist Cadet Corps, said his evangelical organization heard from Scout leaders who had considered leaving the BSA when it appeared the group might change. The CCC includes Bible lessons in weekly meetings and connects merit badges to Scripture. “We are very similar in many ways, with the merit badges and rank advancement, uniforms and emphasis on camping,” said Broene, whose organization drew 1,200 participants to a 2011 triennial Camporee in Michigan. “The difference is we have Christ at the heart of everything we do.” Religious groups charter 70 percent of the Boy Scout–sponsoring organizations. “That relationship is at risk, as is the future of one of the last nonreligious institutions that has not yielded to political correctness,” said a narrator of a simulcast, which was hosted by the Family Research Council. Boy Scouts officials are quite aware of the potential effect of the gay-related policy change on their local religious units. A policy change about both leaders and members could cause “membership losses in a range from 100,000 to 350,000.” In related news, Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., a large congregation of more than 30,000 members is one of the first churches to break ties with the BSA after last week’s decision, reports. “We want everyone, including ourselves, to live by biblical standards,” said Tim Hester, executive pastor.

Other news:

  • Lawyers leading the fight for gay marriage in California have been quietly preparing state officials for the possibility the U.S. Supreme Court might dismiss the case on a technicality next month without deciding the fate of Proposition 8, reports. The justices could decide that the sponsors of the ballot measure outlawing same-sex marriage had no legal right, or standing, to defend it in federal court. That would end the case in Washington, but it is not clear what it would mean for California. If state officials declared Proposition 8 dead, relying on U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s 2010 ruling against the measure, same-sex weddings could commence within weeks or months. Or there could be another legal fight over the reach of Walker’s ruling.
  • The British government, facing criticism over the killing of a soldier by suspected Islamists in a London street, is to set up a new group to combat radical Muslim preachers and others whose words could encourage violence, The Economic Times reports. Prime minister David Cameron’s office said on Sunday the group aimed to fight radicalism in schools and mosques, tighten checks on inflammatory internet material, and disrupt the “poisonous narrative” of hardline clerics.
  • Pentecostal Pastor Maurice Gordon says he has baptized Denver County Jail inmate believers by total immersion in his own bathtub-size fiberglass tank every few weeks for 26 years, but it hasn’t been allowed for a couple of months, according to a story in Gordon said that March 11 was the last time he and a helper were allowed to baptize anyone. “We have baptized over a thousand men,” Gordon said, stating that 12 inmates are waiting to be baptized. “Apparently some have complained because we, the team, baptize in the old-fashioned way—by immersion in the name of Jesus Christ,” Gordon said. “That’s what the Bible teaches. That’s the bottom line. Acts 2. These men have basic fundamental religious rights.” Gordon said that County Jail Division Chief Elias Diggins “suggested we should just sprinkle the men with water.” Diggins also said he has been trying to arrange for a visiting or temporary jail chaplain. Gordon said he doesn’t need a chaplain. His team brings the tank, fills it up, and mops up afterward. “The problem is—there is no problem,” Gordon said.
  • Though the White House has insisted the IRS stopped formally targeting Tea Party and conservative organizations in May 2012, two attorneys representing conservative organizations have claimed the IRS’s targeting may still be ongoing, reports. Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice and Cleta Mitchell, the attorney representing True the Vote, have evidence their clients are still being targeted. According to National Review, Sekulow “plans to file suit in federal court in the coming weeks on behalf of more than two dozen conservative groups that claim their harassment at the hands of the nation’s tax authority continued long past the White House’s purported end date.” At least 10 organizations the ACLJ is representing still have not received their determination letters. National Review notes the Albuquerque Tea Party applied for 501(c)(4) status in December 2009 while Linchpins of Liberty applied in January 2011. Both organizations still have not received their letters.
  • The Supreme Court will not disturb a lower court ruling that blocks Indiana’s effort to strip Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood because the organization performs abortions among its medical services, reports. The justices did not comment Tuesday in rejecting the state’s appeal of a federal appeals court ruling in favor of Planned Parenthood. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the state law targeting Planned Parenthood went too far. Indiana is among more than a dozen states that have enacted or considered laws to cut off taxpayer money to organizations that provide abortion. The law aimed to deny Planned Parenthood funds from the joint federal-state Medicaid health program for the poor that are used for general health services including cancer screening.
  • Three new exhibits opened Memorial Day weekend at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., as part of the popular attraction’s sixth anniversary and expansion, reports. The museum has welcomed some 1.8 million visitors since its opening. Dr. Ken Ham, president and founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, invites former visitors to make a return visit to see the world-class exhibit “Dragon Legends” that will, among other topics, answer the question, “Were dinosaurs dragons?” “There are lots of dragon legends because they were real creatures,” Ham said. “We believe many of the dinosaurs would fit some of the descriptions of dragons—the land dragons at least. I’ve never seen an exhibit like this anywhere else.” This summer the museum will also exhibit a high-tech insect display called “Dr. Crawley’s Insectarium,” similar to that of the Smithsonian’s insect collection. “Some of those bugs are as big as your hands,” Ham says. “The quality is just phenomenal. We’ve done up this fairly large room. It’s like an underground bunker, if you will.” “We have an animatronics scientist there and we other high-tech features like a dragon fly fossil,” Ham explains. “People will be able to download an app and when you put it over it, then the dragon fly comes out of the fossils and you see it three dimensional.” Verbum Domini will also be on display, which includes select pieces from “The Green Collection,” featuring 20 rare Bibles and Bible-related artifacts, purchased by Steve Green, president of the retail chain Hobby Lobby.
  • A ministry called Stop Stericycle has learned what happened to many of the babies, late-term and otherwise, who were aborted by Philadelphia’s Kermit Gosnell, reports. Kermit Gosnell was given three life prison terms for killing the living babies who survived his botched abortions. Stericycle, a company that disposes of medical waste, did so for Gosnell’s Philadelphia abortuary. Now, Michael Marcavage of Stop Stericycle has learned that one of the reasons Gosnell had the bodies of so many aborted babies in containers and in a freezer is that he owed the firm $10,000. “They were supposed to be taken off to be incinerated,” Marcavage says of the bodies. “However, through the documentation that we have found, they were mislabeled—the boxes that were being picked up at his facility—and ultimately ended up being disposed in Pennsylvania landfills.” That is illegal in The Keystone State. “This is not the first time Stericycle has done this,” the campaign spokesman notes. “The Texas environmental quality organization, a government agency, had recently fined Stericycle $42,000 for illegally dumping fetuses in a landfill in Texas.” Stericycle would reportedly pick up as many as 20 boxes at Gosnell’s abortuary and deposit them in garbage dumps. So Marcavage’s group is asking Pennsylvania to take action, including to excavate the landfills and remove the bodies of the aborted children.
  • The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has called upon President Obama for a clear and direct response concerning countries that have egregiously violated religious freedoms, according to BarnabasAid, Worthy News reports. The USCIRF monitors abuses of religious freedom worldwide; it annually provides a report of the worst offenders and makes recommendations regarding “countries of particular concern,” a designation that requires the U.S. to impose sanctions against them. The report revealed that U.S. policy provided few incentives for CPC-designated governments to “end their egregious violations of religious freedom because no new Presidential actions pursuant to CPC designations have been levied . . . the designation of . . . CPC must be followed by the implementation of a clear, direct and specific Presidential action.” An example cited was that the only specific executive action Obama took was to supply Egypt with fighter planes and tanks after its Muslim Brotherhood controlled government consistently failed to protect religious minorities, particularly Christians, while at the same time prosecuting them for allegedly defaming Islam.