This Thursday, the Boy Scouts of America will teach its young men a lesson as indelible as any they're likely to learn from a scoutmaster. Its national delegation will vote on a longstanding prohibition against gays in the country's largest youth organization.
BSA leaders have floated what they see as a compromise -- permitting gay scouts, but banning gay scout leaders. Yet it can't be often that the Family Research Council finds itself in agreement with The New Yorker, which have characterized the proposed policy as "incoherent," a "mixed message."
FRC, though, is opposed to gays in and out of scouting, and it can count as a supporter at least one influential former scout. In a webcast it sponsored, Governor Rick Perry referred to homosexuality as "pop culture," and the "flavor of the month," before vowing, "Not on my watch."
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Citing scripture, opponents of openly gay scouts claim their sexual orientation violates both biblical law and the code at the heart of scouting. One Dallas church, however, would like it known that not all Christians agree with that interpretation.
Kessler Park United Methodist, in a Facebook post, was unequivocal: "We believe that Christ's teachings, as well as the Scout Oath and Law which flow from Christ's words, call us to welcome all persons of good will in the training of children to become wholesome adults. As a practical matter, we witness on a daily basis the contributions that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans-gendered individuals make to our community. Oak Cliff would be measurably less without them; our church would be measurably less without them."
For years, the church has served as a charter organization for Troop 5. It's hosted Eagle Scout ceremonies in the chapel, and camping trips in the woods near the parsonage. Now it's calling on the delegates to pass a resolution eliminating the heterosexual requirement for scouts and scoutmasters. "We have a theological and biblical understanding that everyone is made in the image of God, and a belief that sex orientation is not something one chooses," the Reverend David Carr said Monday evening, adding that the church council had voted on the resolution.
"As the single digit implies, Troop 5 is one of the oldest scout troops in Dallas; and Oak Cliff, the community in which KPUMC operates, was one of Dallas' first neighborhoods to benefit from racial desegregation and openly gay residents," the posting says. "Our church, we would assert, has long experience attempting to reconcile diversity, security, and godliness."