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Scouts debate on allowing gay members

Scout leaders debate whether or not to allow gay members into the institution.

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SEATTLE — It is a long standing tradition in cities all over the country.

churchA storied relationship between churches and the Boy Scouts of America — until last month when the Scouts changed policy allowing gay boys to join.

Shortly thereafter, the Rev. Derek Lappe in Bremerton ended his parish’s relationship with the Scouts.

“I wasn’t willing to participate in labeling a young man who struggles with same-sex attraction, a 10-to 17-year-old boy who struggles with same-sex attraction, as having an orientation of being gay or homosexual,” Lappe said.

Now a group of parishioners are taking a stand of their own, delivering the Archdiocese a petition asking the archbishop to denounce bigotry and anti-gay discrimination.

“I think there is a lot of evolution going on, both with the Catholic Church and more society in general, of course,” gay Catholic and Eagle Scout Tee Earls said.

“I think it is up to each parish and each local community to figure out where they want to divide their parish resources, but I think that needs to be done in a way in line with Catholic doctrine,” Earls said.

“The Catholic Church teaches that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and the recent Scouting membership policy change doesn’t change our Catholic teaching at all,” Archdiocese of Seattle spokesman Greg Magnoni said.

That sounds like the Archdiocese would be opposed to any disaffiliation from the boy Scouts of America or any discrimination.

In fact, the National Catholic Committee and Bishops in Washington have expressed support and issued statements of understanding for the change in the Scouts policy.

But that’s about as far as the Archdiocese is willing to go, at least for now.

“The decision is always going to rest with the parish, with the pastor and with the local organization. That’s our current policy and we don’t anticipate a change in that policy,” Magnoni said.

“Well, then he’s going against any Catholic value.  The dogma of the Catholic Church clearly states that any person, homosexual needs to be loved and needs to be nourished by the church and any act of discrimination is completely against church policy… so if the archbishop goes against this petition he’s really going against the key teachings of his own church,” Catholics United’s Bryce Goldsen said.

BREMERTON, Wash. — For the last century, Our Lady Star of the Sea Church has been home to the longest-standing Catholic Boy Scout troop in the state.

fr-lappe“It’s an organization for which over 100 years has done a magnificent job of instilling virtue and honor in young men,” said the Rev. Derek Lappe.

This week, Lappe announced he will pull his parish out of the Boy Scouts of America after the organization’s decision last week to allow gay kids to join.

“I wasn’t willing to participate in labeling a young man who struggles with a same-sex attraction, who is 10-17 years old, as having an orientation of being gay or homosexual,” said Lappe.

Lappe posted a letter to his parish on the church’s website, explaining why he feels children aren’t born gay.  He cites the Catholic Medical Association’s 2000 article “Homosexuality and Hope,” which states boys can become gay if they have mothers who are overly protective, needy and demanding.

He also feels boys can become gay if they have “a lack of rough and tumble play, a dislike of sports, and lack of hand/eye coordination resulting in teasing by peers.”

In a statement from the Boy Scouts, Sharon Moulds from the Chief Seattle Council, said, “When the decision was made to allow gay Scouts we knew there would be some chartering organizations that weren’t happy. We want an opportunity to have a conversation with the priest. Every time we lose a family, we lose funding. Funding is concerning, but what’s more important is losing youth. That’s sad because we have a lot to offer them.”

Moulds said the only other church in Washington to make such a move is Cedar Park Christian Church in Bothell, which said it will disband its troop at the end of the year.

The head of Bremerton’s largest Catholic Church is considering starting his own organization, and calling it the “Scouts of St. George”.  Meanwhile, the group Scouts for Equality has offered to relocate interested scouts from the church to another troop.

BREMERTON, Wash. — The pastor of a Roman Catholic church in Bremerton has announced that his parish will no longer have any involvement with the Boy Scouts of America in light of the organization’s recent vote to allow gay youths to join.

lappe1The Rev. Derek Lappe, 41, pastor of the Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, made the announcement on the church’s website (click here) with the headline of “Fr. Lappe’s Response to New Boy Scouts.”

“I do not feel that it is possible for us to live out, and to teach, the authentic truth about human sexuality within the confines of the Boy Scout’s new policy and so I would like to give an explanation as to why it will be necessary for our parish to part ways with the New Boy Scouts,” he wrote.

Lappe goes on to say that there is “nothing scientific or logical” to arguments that there is a genetic origin to homosexuality and that people are born homosexual.

“The New Boy Scouts are basically offering a program of ratifying a label of ‘gay,’ which the young man has placed on himself, and which so many elements of society also are happy go place on him,” he writes, adding that people need to “actually get to the issues that could lead to hope and healing for the boy, rather than imprisoning him in that self-identification for the sake of political correctness.”

Later in his address, Lappe writes, “I am very aware that my objection to the change in the New Boy Scouts is increasingly considered bigoted and backward. I know that there are many good people within the Catholic Church who will disagree with me. I am aware that in many people’s minds ‘homosexual’ identity is the new civil-rights issue and that there has been huge swing in public opinion on this issue over the past few years.

“But I won’t put public opinion ahead of the good of the boys and young men in my parish, and I won’t pretend that polls can trump the truths about sexuality and humanity that are revealed to us, first of all by natural law, and confirmed in Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Catholic Church.”


Local eagle scout reacts to vote overturning ban on gay scouts

SEATTLE – Openly gay youths will now be allowed to join scouting after an historic vote overturned a 103 year old ban on gay members.

The policy change takes effect January 1, 2014, but it still maintains its ban on gay adult leaders. Jesse Pacem, a local Eagle Scout with the group “Scouts for Equality,” talks about his reaction on the historic vote.

Delegates to the annual meeting of the Boy Scouts of America made a monumental statement Thursday, voting to allow openly gay youths to join scouting.

Boy Scout SLC

Image courtesy of Fox News

The organization’s 1,400-member national council voted for the policy change, which will take effect Jan. 1.

“No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” says the approved resolution.

The BSA will maintain its ban on gay adult leaders.

The 1,400 members of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council met in Texas to end the 103-year-old group’s outright ban on gay youths.

SEATTLE — The Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America and CEO of Alaska Air called for scout leaders to “evolve as America has” and accept openly gay scouts and officials into the institution.

In an op-ed piece published Thursday in USA TODAY, Brad Tilden encouraged the group — which consists of more than 2.7 million youth members and more than 1 million adult volunteers — to lift the group’s ban on gay scouts.



The organizations 1,4000-member national council voted by secret ballot whether or not to add a sentence in the group’s charter allowing gay members. The results of the vote were to be released Thursday.

Tilden said there were three important factors in why the group should welcome gay scouts:

  • First, we shouldn’t attempt to debate the morality of homosexuality. The only question we need to answer is whether we will be fully inclusive and allow gay Scouts and gay Scout leaders to participate in the Scouting program. The answer to this should be straightforward. When we ask Scouts to be friendly, helpful, courteous and kind, principles familiar to any Tenderfoot, aren’t we asking them to do so for all people?
  • Second, we need to distinguish between sexual orientation and sexual behavior. Sexual orientation should not be a basis for exclusion, and sexual behavior (heterosexual or homosexual) has never been acceptable at Scouting events.
  • Third, the current policy is harming the Boy Scouts’ ability to carry out our mission. It’s hurting membership growth, corporate support and the Boy Scouts’ reputation. Most important, it’s hurting the youth who are unable to participate, and those who do participate but are being taught that it’s OK to discriminate. The proposed vote to allow gay Scouts but not gay leaders compounds this injustice and will further undermine our organization as Scouts become adults and are forced to leave.

Boy Scouts President Wayne Perry wrote an opinion piece earlier this week supporting the new policy.

To read Tilden’s full piece, click here.

GRAPEVINE, Texas — Protesters in Boy Scout uniforms staked out sides of a resort-lined street in this Dallas suburb where national Scouting leaders were meeting Wednesday to consider lifting the ban on gay Scouts.

On one side, handmade signs cried “Save our Scouts” and “Boy Scouts morally straight.” Inside a hotel on the other side, signs called for “Inclusive Scouting” and “Scouting for all.”

Even after the highly anticipated vote by the Boy Scout national council Thursday, the battle over gays in Scouting will be far from over, both sides vowed.

The largest religious sponsor of Scout troops, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and others have issued statements supporting a compromise proposal that would allow gay Scouts but still ban gay adults from participating in Scouting.

boy scoutsSupporters of the ban on gay Scouts said that lifting it would undercut the group’s moral foundation.

“They’re caving,” said Suzanne Orr, 43, of Fort Worth, who brought her two teenage sons in Scout uniforms to protest with about 50 others.

If the proposal passes as expected, some troops and the religious groups that sponsor them will withdraw from the national organization, they have said — a dangerous possibility for a group whose membership has decreased by nearly 19% during the last decade, according to the most recent figures from 2011.

Orr said that her troop leaders planned to meet to discuss what to do but that nationwide “there will be a huge loss of membership and revenue.” About 70% of troops are sponsored by religious groups, and the ban is backed by the Southern Baptist Convention, Family Research Council and other conservative religious organizations.

For more on this LA Times story, click here.

boy scouts(CNN) — The Boy Scouts of America would no longer deny membership to youths on the basis of sexual orientation alone, but would maintain its ban on openly gay adult leaders, under a proposal it is considering, the group said Friday.

The organization’s executive committee made the proposal, which is expected to be presented to the Boy Scouts’ voting members in May.

“If approved, the resolution would mean that ‘no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.’ The BSA will maintain the current membership policy for all adults,” Boy Scouts public relations director Deron Smith said.

The Boy Scouts have been considering a change in their longstanding policy against allowing openly gay members. In February, the Boy Scouts’ national executive board postponed a vote on lifting its outright ban on openly homosexual scouts and troop leaders.

–CNN Staff

Boy_Scouts_of_AmericaHOUSTON – The Boy Scouts of America is surveying adult members about their attitude toward gays in Scouting as the group’s leaders consider potentially lifting their ban on gay membership later this spring.

The 13-question survey is being distributed to 1.1 million Scouts leaders, alumni, volunteers and parents. It asks them to respond to hypothetical situations involving homosexuality, gays camping with children and gays in church leadership.  Members can respond according to a scale of feelings that ranges from strong support to strong opposition.

The survey was given to The Times by a Boy Scouts spokesman. Many of the survey questions address situations that may occur if the ban is lifted. For instance:

“Johnny, a first-grade boy, has joined Tiger Cubs with his friends.  Johnny’s friends and their parents unanimously nominate Johnny’s mom, who is known by them to be lesbian, to be the den leader.  Johnny’s pack is chartered to a church where the doctrine of that faith does not teach that homosexuality is wrong.   Is it acceptable or unacceptable for his mother to serve as a den leader for his Cub Scout den?”

“David, a Boy Scout, believes that homosexuality is wrong.  His troop is chartered to a church where the doctrine of that faith also teaches that homosexuality is wrong.   Steve, an openly gay youth, applies to be a member in the troop and is denied membership.  Is it acceptable or unacceptable for this troop to deny Steve membership in their troop?”

For more on this LA Times story, click here.