Skip to comments.Church grapples with Scout 'gay ban'
Posted on 12/19/2002 3:06:19 AM PST by chance33_98
Church grapples with Scout 'gay ban'
By Barbara Forster / Correspondent Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Whether First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church will hold events for the Boy Scouts of America is a question without an answer. Although more than two dozen people turned out on Thursday, Dec. 12 to discuss the issue, conclusions are nowhere in sight.
In fact, closure was not the goal of the meeting.
"Many wish the issue would go away but we want to keep the issue alive in the church and in the larger community," said John Gibbons, reverend of First Parish. "We should not go numb to moral dilemmas that face us."
The issue is the two-year-old policy of the Boy Scouts to exclude homosexuals as scouts and as leaders. For Unitarians, affirming the inherent worth and dignity of every human being is a cornerstone of their church. Thus the current Boy Scout policy is at loggerheads with this tenet.
First Parish came face-to-face with the issue last year when Scouts, who were church members asked to have a Court of Honor - the ceremony during which Scouts receive the prestigious Eagle award - at the church, which has a non-discriminatory clause in its rental policy. Eventually the families opted for other sites when the church was unable to come to a decision.
"Our dilemma is that we wish to support scouts because we are fully aware of their good work and the ways it has benefited boys and leaders," said Gibbons.
Isham Peugh, an adult Scout from Lexington who was among the guest speakers, acknowledged that Unitarians are between a rock and a hard place.
"We've increasingly polarized communities," he said.
But Peugh believes banning Scouting events in the church is not the solution.
"It's like one group excluding another within the confines of the church," said Peugh. "If a boy receives an award that's meaningful to him and he thinks enough of his church community to share it with them, how can they deny him?"
But speaker John Buehrens, minister of First Parish in Needham, argued that the Scouts' national policy is the real culprit.
"It's a tragic hijacking of a valuable civic organization for young boys," he said. "It's the only national youth organization that has not adopted a sensible policy (regarding sexual diversity). It's a fine line, but they (the Boy Scout organization) don't have the right to public school sponsorship or to benefits from fire departments," added Buehrens.
"Ironically, we are aware that organizations like Scouting are especially beneficial to boys who may be gay and those who have a need for inclusion," said Gibbons.
With a lack of pressure from outside forces, however, many feel a change in the Scouts' policy is unlikely to occur anytime soon. And politicians, they say, are doing little to weigh in on the matter.
"Most are running frantically from the issue," said Keith Kron, director of the Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian & Transgender for the Unitarian Universalist Association. "If they take sides one way or the other, they will lose votes."
Targeting the organization's bottomline is a double-edge sword.
"If you poke at the economics, you do harm at the local level," said Kron. "Money (or the lack thereof) doesn't trickle up."
Individual troops primarily receive funds from local sources while corporate sponsors support the Scouts on a national level. Nevertheless, some local action is occurring. Currently, the Boston Minute Man Council has adopted a passive non-discrimination policy - for all practical purposes a "don't ask, don't tell approach. The trick, however, explained Gibbons, is to tread lightly.
"If a local unit is too far out in front, they run the risk of having their charter revoked," he said.
As the controversy continues to simmer down, procedures will slowly edge back to pre-Supreme Court days.
While the issue is alive and well at First Parish, reaching a conclusion is not on the horizon. The hopeful seek consensus.
"We are trying not to make the decision on a vacuum," said Sandra Bozenowski, chairman of the seven-member Parish Committee which has the final say on church rental policies.
Hope and optimism aside, even consensus may be a long way off.
"This pits us as a community and a church against very powerful forces," added Gibbons. "As much as we wanted to affirm the Scouts, we realized that the policies of the national organization are at odds with our fundamental religious principles."
Is this a journalist making up facts or is it just sloppy journalism? That policy has existed as long as the Boy Scouts organization.
At least, that's what my journalism professor told me.
Unitarians can't bear to state the obvious - it's highly imprudent to put homosexual men in charge of other people's teenage boys in close quarters. The Catholic Church also can't bear (at least yet) to state that - even after a couple of thousand teenage boys have been sexually molested and raped by homosexual priests.
We had a reformist Jewish rabbi in town who excoriated everyone in our town who supported Boy Scouts. He called us bigots, homophobes, haters, etc. etc. He told everyone in his congregation to disavow any connection with the scouts, and that any scouts in his congregation should leave. The result - everyone just ignored him.
No, this has always been their policy, it's just the gay lobby has pushed it recently.
For Unitarians, affirming the inherent worth and dignity of every human being is a cornerstone of their church.
Not sure where the dignity is in inserting a penis into another man's ass.
It's NOT a fine line, there, Mr. Buehrens. Homosexual scoutmasters will lead to more homosexual molestations (just like homosexual priests have led to thousands of teenage boy molestations). Teaching implicitly that homosexuality (with all that typically goes with it, like anal intercourse, fisting, rampant promiscuity, etc. etc. ) is 'acceptable', 'good', 'normal' is incredibly damaging to young men.
Unitarians have no fundamental religious principles.
And so it is with all other churches. Affirming the inherent potential dignity of a person is far, far different from affirming every behavior. A homosexual, who for whatever reason, has a disordered sexuality should not be vilified for having that disorder. But that does not mean that homosexual conduct should be affirmed. An alcholic, or a kleptomaniac, who suffer from particular kinds of disorders, should not be automatically vilified either - but the behaviors to which they are drawn should not be affirmed - nor should they be Boy Scout scoutmasters. My friend grew up Unitarian. In his 'church,' drug use was OK, abortions were encouraged (as part of affirming the 'dignity' of the killer mother), homosexual (and group sexual) conduct was considered fine to explore and celebrate, and families made up of any group of people were considered just fine for children.
You're right - there is no dignity in such. There is dignity in helping people with that compulsion to get help.
Take him on, intellectually and morally.
The gay lobby is out to destroy Boy Scouts. Activist homosexuals are the most intolerant people in our country today.
You're right. Boy Scouts is just about the only youth organization I know of for my two sons where they get fun, adventure, leadership training, superb life skills, help in becoming good and strong young men, and a moral foundation. And they are, ironically, much safer there than in my own Church.