- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
- Secret base U.S. special forces used to train Libyans now under terrorist control: report
- 9th suspect in N.C. kidnapping turns self in to FBI
- L.A. sheriff admits to testing flyover spy program without notifying residents
- Foreign minister vows response if Russians are attacked in Ukraine
- Robert Griffin III to drive pace car before Richmond NASCAR race
- Material on Australian shore examined in jet hunt
Christian churches warned of Boy Scout legal risks
New policy ‘weakens’ freedom
Christian churches are being warned that if they continue to sponsor Boy Scout troops, they are opening themselves to multiple legal challenges that could affect whether they can “freely preach the Gospel.”
The Boy Scouts of America’s newly adopted membership policy — in which youths no longer will be blocked from joining the Scouts based on “sexual orientation or preference alone” — is “a sweeping change to its core values,” said Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal defense organization.
The policy change has legal ramifications for religious chartering groups, potentially exposing them to lawsuits if they continue to sponsor troops while seeking to maintain the traditional Christian teaching that homosexual behavior is immoral.
What could happen is “somebody would come and say, ‘We want to use your church for a same-sex wedding ceremony,’ and the church would say, ‘Wait, we have a religious belief against that,’” said Erik Stanley, an alliance lawyer and Eagle Scout.
Most states that have gay-marriage laws also have some kind of “conscience exemption” that does not require churches to perform same-sex ceremonies.
But the rebuttal by such a gay advocacy group would be, “Well no, you don’t — or if you do, you’re not sincere or you don’t follow it, because you allow this Boy Scout troop in, and you had to specifically sign a charter” saying that “you agreed with the BSA policy of allowing in openly homosexual youth,” Mr. Stanley said.
“That’s our basic concern — that it weakens the church’s freedom of religion and freedom of association arguments on that point,” he said, adding that churches may need to separate from the Boy Scouts of America to “protect their right to freely preach the Gospel” and “be a witness to our nation’s youth.”
In response, Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesman, said most of this kind of commentary “is based on speculation” and inaccurately states that the Boy Scouts organization has made a fundamental shift in values or is attempting to cause division within Scouting.
“We believe most people have grown tired of those who seek to use Scouting, an organization whose mission is to serve young people, to advance their own agendas,” Mr. Smith said.
“While a handful of chartered organizations have decided to drop their sponsorship of troops, the new policy has not affected the commitment of the overwhelming majority of our 116,000 units in the Scouting family,” he said.
Moreover, “in the rare cases when a chartered organization has decided to no longer sponsor the Scouting program, our local council executives have identified another suitable chartered organization,” he said, pointing to photos of Baptist and Christian churches that publicly welcome Boy Scout troops.
Catholic parishes also may stay with the Boy Scouts of America.
The National Catholic Committee on Scouting interprets the new policy to mean that a boy with a same-sex attraction “will not be encouraged or pressured to disclose publicly the experience of such attraction” and will not be denied a rank award or religious emblem, or risk expulsion from scouting, simply for experiencing or disclosing such an attraction, said the Diocese of LaCrosse in Wisconsin.
“As the Holy Father Pope Francis recently stated, ‘same-sex attraction’ alone does not preclude active membership in the Church,” the diocese said.
Despite recent news reports to the contrary, the diocese said, “at this time, there is no reason to believe that the charter of Troop 90 will not be renewed by St. Mary Parish in Altoona.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
- Divided court strikes down big porn award
- 10 million new babies? China's hope for boom likely to become policy bust
- Judge voids N. Dakota's 'heartbeat' abortion law
- Family, agency in custody battle over sick daughter
- Values group wins court round over use of gay marriage photo
Latest Blog Entries
- Gay therapy ban author seeks Calif. House seat
- Transgender 'bathroom law' gets 5,000 more signatures
- Pro-life, stem-cell bill signed into law by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
- N. Dakota lawmakers approve tough abortion bill
- Pope Benedict XVI's successor should allow priests to get a new title: Husband, poll finds
TWT Video Picks
Feds who send arms against ranch families betray American values
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- Georgia governor signs bill expanding gun rights
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Opposition rising to Colorado gun control laws
- Professor apologizes after blasting Republicans in class
- Harry Reid using tax dollars to fight Koch brothers, La. GOP chair charges
- Ukraine claims torture by pro-Russian forces on the heels of Biden's stern warning to Moscow
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014