Churches welcome banned scouts

An Atlanta-area church is welcoming any Boy Scout troops that lose their place to gather over the organization's policies allowing openly gay members.
AP Wire
Jun 16, 2013

 

The Rev. Stephanie Seigh said she decided to invite troops to meet at One World Spiritual Center in Marietta after the nearby Roswell Street Baptist Church announced that it would end its nearly 70-year affiliation with Boy Scout Troop 204.

Seigh said her church's marquee now includes the message "Boy Scout troops welcome here."

Roswell Street Baptist Church is one of several congregations nationwide cutting ties with Boy Scouts because of the policy.

The two churches are about 10 miles apart in the Marietta area, northwest of Atlanta.

A third Marietta church, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, has also announced that it will no longer sponsor a Boy Scout troop. The decisions by the two Baptist churches were announced after the May 23 vote by the Boy Scouts of America's national council to allow openly gay scouts to participate in Boy Scouts.

Similar positions have been taken by churches in Alabama, including First Baptist Church of Helena and First Baptist Church of Pelham. Other congregations are using their websites to extend an invitation to Scouts who might be asked to leave churches in their areas.

In Grand Rapids, Mich., St. John's United Church of Christ is including this message on its website: "We Welcome ALL Boy Scouts."

"We don't know of any congregations in our local area who have closed their doors to troops they were hosting, but we wanted to be proactive and let Scouts in the area know that if that should be their experience, that they have a place to go," said the Rev. Bill Lyons of St. John's.

The same can be said for many congregations across the country, said Mark Noel, Founder of the New York-based Inclusive Scouting Network and a former Cobb County sheriff's deputy.

Noel's organization was formed in 2000 when he was kicked out of the Boy Scouts after revealing his sexual orientation in a New Hampshire newspaper article. Among other things, his organization works to ensure that Boy Scout groups can find places to meet if churches chose to drop them.

"There are a number of denominations who are widely saying they are willing to step back in and take up the slack for any scouting units that find themselves without a place to meet, or without a charter organization," Noel said, adding that congregations from the United Church of Christ, Reformed Judaism and the Unitarian Universalist Association have been especially proactive about offering alternatives for troops in need of charter organizations.

"It turns out that there are usually so many local congregations that are willing to step up that they almost always find something themselves." Noel said.

Support of the Boy Scouts' decision to accept openly gay members is reflected in the approximately 12,000 square knot emblems it has sent this year to scouts in all 50 states and internationally, Noel said. The emblems identify the wearer as an opponent to discriminatory policy.

"The motto is you earn it by wearing it," Noel said, "Wearing something like that — especially in a place like Cobb County — is not easy. It's earned every day someone wearing that has it on their uniform."

In Atlanta's suburbs, Seigh said her congregation is just trying to get the word out that scouts would be welcome at One World Spiritual Center, which has a gym with a basketball court on its campus. One of its members has been very involved with Scouting and is also trying to get word out that the congregation could host a troop, she said.

"We wanted to help these Boy Scout troops and wanted to let people know that we're an open and welcoming and affirming spiritual community," Seigh said.

She said most churches in her area have not severed ties with Boy Scouts, though the two that have are among the largest in the metro area.

Well over 95 percent of the Scouts' charter partners -- churches and other civic groups -- are staying with the program, said Jeff Fulcher, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America's Atlanta Area Council, which covers 13 metro Atlanta counties.

Fulcher said he's heard of at least nine organizations in Cobb County alone who have contacted the Boy Scouts to express interest in partnering with troops that are left without charter groups over the controversy, and he suspects more are willing to do so.

Comments

Lanivan

Recently, the Boy Scouts of America revealed files kept secret for over 20 years that contained information regarding widespread sexual abuse involving over 1,200 scout leaders.

These were leaders who were supposed to mentor and protect; instead, they exploited their position to groom and molest.

I wonder if any churches chose to end their affiliations with the Boy Scouts of America over this revelation?

Vladtheimp

I wonder if the "secret files" identified whether the scout leaders were homosexuals. I wonder if the scout leaders in the "secret files" were sufficiently liberal to have come out of the closet before or after they were "fingered" as molesters. >p>

I wonder if this irrelevant factoid has anything to do with the safety of Boy Scouts opening their ranks to homosexuals. If you have more information on the identity of the 1,200 leaders, please share.

Lanivan

The "secret files" are no longer "secret". There is a great deal of information available online regarding the over 1,000 reported cases of pedophile abuse over a 20 year period. The code of silence has been broken, and the BSA has instituted much more stringent background checks on adult volunteers.

Your referring to this breach of trust, code of silence, and coercion as an "irrelevant factoid" is puzzling. My argument has nothing to do with the recent membership decision by the BSA. It has to do with my perceived hypocrisy of the church sponsors who are now severing their charters with their local Boy Scout troops over the new policy.

I simply question the motivation behind the recent church decision to break ties with the BSA, and whether they feel as strongly about the revelation of 20 years of pedophilia by some of the adult volunteers.

Vladtheimp

I called it a factoid because it tells us nothing about the abusers - specifically, what percentage were opportunistic homosexuals who, like Willie Sutton and banks, would go to the scouts because "That's where the boys are." They are not pedophiles, since pedophilia involves prepubescent children, younger than the ages permitted into the scouts.

The church decision simply follows the lead of businesses and government entities to ban the scouts from their facilities, or fine them BECAUSE they were denying membership to homosexuals, which was perfectly legal according to a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court (Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000)) - they were bullied into changing their policy by homosexual activists.

Lanivan

1.) Willie Sutton, in an interview, claimed he never actually said the quote attributed to him.

2.) Scouting encompasses prepubescent ages as well, so I suppose the description of the sexual abuse of young boys by the adult volunteers would hold up to the splitting-of-hairs description of pedophilia you provide.

3.) Another Vladian life lesson. Never assume until you have all sides of the story. Here I thought the churches were severing their charters with the troops because of bigotry and prejudice after the BSA national council voted (60% of the 1,400 members) to no longer discriminate membership based on sexual orientation. But you present another scenario - the churches are simply now acting on a 13 year old ruling that was brought to the courts by " bullying homosexual activists" (who else would carry this case all the way to the Supreme Court).

Thompson_TX

BSA is so much better off without that hate mongering misogynistic, xenophobic and homophobic Southern Baptist trash. Southern Baptist are just a remake of the Ku Klux Klan.

Vladtheimp

Since the Ku Klux Klan was comprised of democrats and was basically the terrorist wing of the democrat party, I guess you are saying that the Boy Scouts are so much better off without democrats. That's strange, since the new members gained by the change in policy will likely vote democrat when they can vote.

Lanivan

Vlad - you always see the silver lining! The KKK was the terrorist wing of the pro-slavery racist division of the conservative Democrats who became pro-slavery racist conservative Republicans primarily during the Civil Rights movements that successfully challenged the Jim Crow laws and other forms of institutionalized racism.

As for the Boy Scouts of America, they are so much better off without pedophile abuse. As for Democrats and homosexuals, isn't it a bit disingenuous to imply the two go hand in hand? I'm thinking of some prominent Republican homosexuals, such as Larry Craig among many, many others, and of course the Log Cabin Republicans, who advocate for equal rights for gays and lesbians.,

Vladtheimp

Lanny, you always try to sanitize the ones you love - in this case the sordid history of the democrat party on race. Even the Washington Post couldn't abide by similar statements by the democrats:

“For more than 200 years, our party has led the fight for civil rights, health care, Social Security, workers’ rights, and women’s rights.”

— from a history of the Democratic Party, on DNC Web site .

A number of readers asked about this brief (20 paragraphs or so) history of the Democratic party, especially the first sentence. It certainly appears to ignore the party’s long and troubled history with race, literally leaping from the “200 years” phrase to 1920, when the women’s suffrage amendment was enacted.

The Web history mentions the leadership of President Woodrow Wilson in helping pass the 19th Amendment, without noting that he was a racist or that he repressed civil liberties — even to the point of jailing one of his rivals for the presidency in 1914 (socialist Eugene Debs).

The history also highlights the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Certainly President Lyndon Johnson, a Texas Democrat, played an essential role, but it is worth remembering that 80 percent of the “no” votes in the Senate came from Democrats, including the late Robert Byrd (W.Va.) and Albert Gore (Tenn.), father of the future vice president. Republican votes, in fact, were essential in winning final passage of the bill.

Of course, a quick little Web history does not give much space for such details. A more unvarnished perspective was presented in the 1992 book, “Of the People,” which Democrats distributed at the convention that nominated Bill Clinton. That book, written by real historians, obviously has a slant, but it found the space to mention such historical blemishes. For instance, it acknowledged that before the Civil War the party “played both sides of the slavery issue” and after the Civil War, the party “reached out a welcoming hand to returning Confederates, not to blacks.”

As to the Ku Klux Klan being the terrorist wing of the democrat party, see: http://www.nationalblackrepublic...

If you disagree that homosexuals vote overwhelmingly democrat, show me your proof.

Lanivan

I'm not entirely unfamiliar with US political history. It's interesting that LBJ, who was staunchly opposed to the civil rights legislation of 1957 as a democrat senator from Texas, got all the credit for signing into law the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 as president.

Talk about morphing jello! The parties of yesteryear couldn't be more different today, and are still in a stage of morphism - especially the GOP. As for homosexual voting preferences, like sexual preferences, I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to make a blanket statement one way or another. Since Democrats now wave the flag of equality, liberty and justice for all, it stands to reason many homosexuals would vote democrat, but I'm not at liberty to say.

GHJames

I once saw an interview with Al Sharpton talking about a conversation he had with LBJ about his sudden turnaround on the civil rights issue. When he asked what happened LBJ replied he could do what he felt was right because he would never run for political office again. If only all elected officials on both sides could work like they were never running again and just do what they know is right.

Lanivan

Interesting. Think maybe this is running through Obama's mind? There is one problem, tho - the assumption that our elected officials actually know what is right may be faulty!

 

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