Not All Christian Faiths, Or All Catholic Churches, Are Following
Despite years of opposition to the inclusion of gay youth in the Boy Scouts, the Mormon Church and now the Catholic Church have stated publicly that the BSA’s new policy is acceptable and are urging their members to continue to support Scouting.
The Mormon Church immediately issued a statement after the Scouts voted to allow openly-gay male youth into Scouting, and to not remove any openly-gay youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone.
A few days ago the Catholic Church joined with the LDS, stating gay Scouts are “not in conflict with Catholic teaching,” as the National Catholic Reporter notes:
“Scouting is still the best youth-serving program available to all youth,” Edward Martin, chairman of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, wrote in a May 29 letter addressed to “fellow Catholic Scouters.”
“We should be encouraged that the change in BSA’s youth membership standard is not in conflict with Catholic teaching,” Martin said, asking that “Catholic Scouters and chartered organization heads not rush to judgment.”
Martin said that despite some concerns, the NCCS had taken a neutral stance on a resolution adopted on May 23 by the BSA’s National Council.
Although officially the Catholic Church has accepted the Scouts’ decision, all Catholic churches are not obligated to comply. One Catholic church in Chicago is dropping its scouting program.
“A Roman Catholic church in Crystal Lake will no longer sponsor a local Boy Scout troop because of the Scouts’ new acceptance of gay members,” the Chicago Tribune reports:
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church notified local Scout officials by mail last week that the Cub Scout pack and Boy Scout troop it chartered will have to find a new meeting place.
The Rev. Brian Grady wrote that the Boy Scouts are “condoning” homosexuality, which the church opposes.
“For a young boy to (have to) share a tent or be exposed to other boys who are openly homosexual is not only unjust, but immoral,” Grady wrote. “As a former Boy Scout, I know how uncomfortable it would have been to have to be in close proximity with boys that would perhaps be looking at me as more than just a friend.”
Grady said he was saddened to be “forced to make this decision.” In an interview, he said: “We welcome those individuals … but we also recognize certain actions are not to be encouraged.”
Troop 550 Scoutmaster Charlie Payseur said he and his assistant leaders were “livid” about the move. Grady has been very hospitable, Payseur said, but had not discussed the issue with them.
“It has never been an issue, nor would I turn a Scout away,” Payseur said. “I treat everyone the same. It’s bothering me that people can’t just accept people for who they are.”
The Boy Scout troop and Cub Scout pack, which each have about 10 members, use the church for thrice-monthly meetings and annual banquets. The Scouts did not pay rent, but donated about $200 from fundraising last year, and did gardening on the grounds, Payseur said. An Eagle Scout built a brick sidewalk and repaired a patio for the church.
Payseur said he will try to find a new home for the troop that would not be affected by religious views.
In general, the Boy Scouts have strong ties to religious groups, who charter about 70 percent of the Scouts’ 100,000 units.
And neither are all Christian faiths signaling acceptance.
“The Methodists’ reaction was a bit tamer, saying that they weren’t consulted sufficiently but were still staying in scouting,” the Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein writes today:
But the slope between affirming the total equality of a gay boy and then asserting the lesser status of a gay man is clearly slippery to some. Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the largest groups of Scouts, said after the vote that a resolution urging Baptist-run troops to leave the Boy Scouts will pass easily at its convention next week.
“With this policy change, the Boy Scouts’ values are contradictory to the basic values of our local churches,” spokesman Roger Oldham told CNN.
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