AUBURN, Wash. -- On January 1, a scouting troop based in Auburn will no longer belong to the Boy Scouts of America.
For six years, Troop 835 has met in Auburn every Friday night, learning survival skills used on monthly camping trips.
Those trips now concern Scoutmaster Jim Brass, after the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow openly gay members.
It was a clear decision but very, very painful, said Brass.
Earlier this year, The Boy Scouts of America [BSA] decided to allow openly gay kids to join the group, in order to serve all children by offering the tradition of scouting to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation.
Brass believes the decision runs counter to biblical principals, which he calls the organization's foundation.
After speaking with the kids and their parents, Brass decided not to register the group with BSA next year.
If they announced, 'We're all going to start getting drunk,' we'd still leave, he said. And to say we're reverent but we're going to go against something specifically God said, it doesn't sit well with me.
Troop 835 has a sister group: Crew 835. The co-ed clubs never sleep together. Brass calls it a safety concern the new BSA policy denies, even if the national council reaffirmed its rule against any sexual contact among members.
It's very stringent that boys and girls aren't going to sleep in the same tent together. So, why would you have two boys that would be doing some of the same things you're trying to prevent? Brass said.
Jacob Heller-Brass just joined his grandfather's troop with hopes of earning Eagle Scout status someday. He admits the decision to leave BSA was a blow , but agrees with it.
He and the other kids had a choice to stay with BSA by joining another troop. All but two decided to leave BSA. Those two will maintain dual enrollment in order to continue pursuing their Eagle Scout.
I don't think I would be very comfortable with a gay guy in the same tent as me, Heller-Brass said.
Instead of boy scout rankings, the group will pattern itself like the military, with a new name, the Help Northwest Youth Corps.
Brass even plans to keep his BSA gear. After 50 years of scouting, he hopes he may someday have more, but only if BSA reverses its decision.
It's their choice. We don't force anyone to do anything, Brass said. I'm not homophobic. I love people. I just don't want to embrace what everybody does.