Church eyes ousting Boy Scouts

Church eyes ousting Boy Scouts

By Kathi Bliss

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

Breaking up is hard to do.

Ending a relationship after 20 years is bound to bring up questions and hurt feelings. In some cases, though, it seems like the only reasonable thing to do.

That is the position of the First Lockhart Baptist Church Deacon Body this week, as they prepare to bring forth a recommendation to their church family to end their relationship with Boy Scout Troop #215, which has been in a charter agreement with the church since 1992.

The decision comes on the heels of a mandate from the Boy Scouts of America national organization, which conducted a historic vote earlier this year to remove a restriction that denies membership based on sexual orientation alone, effectively opening the door for homosexual members to participate in Scouting. That mandate has been widely condemned by the Southern Baptist Convention, and is at the root of a difficult choice for FLBC.

“In making this decision, we want to make sure that people understand that we don’t have any problem with our troop, or with our boys,” said FLBC pastor Bro. Gary Rodgers. “This decision is because of the choice made by the national organization to support a lifestyle that we believe goes against God’s Word, and goes against nature.”

Rodgers stressed that the Deacon body does not want to lose the troop or hurt the boys who participate in scouting through FLBC, but rather they hoped their decision would add another voice to a group of churches hoping to send a message to the Boy Scouts of America.

“We believe that the next thing that will happen is that the national organization will allow for gay leaders, in addition to gay members,” he said. “We can’t see how they can accept a young man until he’s 18, and then send him away as soon as he turns 19. Accepting gay leaders is the next step…”

That “next step,” he said, is something that flies in the face of church doctrine, and something that the church cannot be a part of.

Still, he reiterated, the decision to recommend terminating the charter with the troop is based on the decisions at the national level, and not borne of a problem with the local troop.

“That’s the hardest part, trying to make people understand the difference between our relationship with the local troop and our feelings about the national decision,” he said.

Troop 215 Scoutmaster Cody Baird said he understands the position of the church, but is concerned about how the decision will impact both current and future members.

“I understand that this is the church’s belief, and I support them in doing what they feel like they have to do,” Baird said. “But the boys… the kids don’t care. For them, it’s not about gay members, or sin, or any of that.”

Further, Baird said on a personal level, he questions whether the church truly understands the national BSA decision, and the impact that decision will and won’t have on young men.

“The decision doesn’t say that troops or Scoutmasters support a gay lifestyle,” he said. “What it says is, we won’t turn a member away just because they are homosexual. Just like the church won’t turn a member away for being gay. We’ll still take them in and try to teach them…”

That teaching, he said, does not and should not focus on specific lifestyle choices, rather on training boys to be men.

“If we don’t teach them to be men, who will?” he said. “Gangs? Other influences? What the national decision is saying is that, regardless of this one factor or choice a young man has made, we will still embrace them.”

A May 23, 2013 statement from the Boy Scouts of America reiterates that, despite the decision to allow openly gay members, the Boy Scouts of America has not wavered on its position of a high moral standard for their members.

“The resolution… reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting,” it says. “While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting.”

Going forward, the memorandum promises, the organization will “continue to focus on reaching and serving youth in order to help them grow into good, strong citizens.”

That may not be enough, though, for the membership of FBLC.

“We do not believe we can sponsor or endorse any organization whose moral beliefs are contrary to God’s Word,” a statement from the Deacon body reads. “God’s Word clearly states that homosexual behavior is a sin and the lifestyle should not be condoned.”

While the future of the troop hangs in the balance, pending the Sunday vote by the church body, Baird said he is still encouraged.

“In the end, [Troop #215] will wind up somewhere that we’re wanted,” he said.

kathibliss@post-register.com

 

 

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9 Comments

  1. Suzanne Fulton says:

    I am appalled that the church is considering this. Thank you for including Cody Baird’s rational statements and the clarification of the moral standards of BSA. I wonder what the gay members of FLBC are thinking.

  2. Bobby Cast says:

    If this vote should happen one would fully expect that the next logical step would be to excommunicate the drunkards, liars, and aldulterers from the church; however, a the vast multitude of sins are tolerated so that is highly unlikely. Let me be the first to say thank you to FLBC for teaching a valuable lesson to the boys of this troop: It is better to remove the speck of dust from others eyes than to remove the plank in your own.

  3. Andy says:

    As a gay man that grew up out and proud in Lockhart I am ashamed and disgusted that FLBC would consider this. I came out in High School and never received anything but love and support from my peers and adults. It saddens me to hear something like this coming from Lockhart as I often boast about it being so progressive for such a small town. It also saddens me when religious heads can condemn a “lifestyle” that to us is so natural. Its sad because when people make statements like this where they influence so many people, all they are doing is condemning them to a life of depression, self hate and self destruction.

  4. Lupe says:

    This action by the FLBC doesn’t surprise me. The church leaders are hypocritical and closed minded. We are suppose to be role models for our children – to be open minded about religion, diversity, giving back to our community and accepting of others without condition…..Yet – we turn our backs on all of the above! While I may expect this reaction from ” some supposedly outstanding leaders who are biased, racist and sexist in Lockhart – I had higher expectations for church leaders. I guess I just need to consider these actions as small minded from a small town church who lacks progressivess and leaders who are not visionaries. What a sad legacy to leave to the youth of the church community.

  5. Mike Villalobos says:

    This article begs for a bigger question to be raised. Should hypocritical, biased, homophobic people be allowed to be church leaders?
    And, what does the church congregation think about the decision?

  6. Rebecca Allen says:

    I am saddened that my friends and acquaintances that go to that church will have to consider the question being presented to them. My heart goes out to the church, the families of the boys in the troop and the families of LGBT. Love is the answer, it always is.

  7. Stephen says:

    As an Eagle Scout product of Troop 215 and having been raised in the Christ-like environment that is FLBC, I can attest to the sincerity and character that both of these organizations exhibit. The relationship between Troop 215 and FLBC is not one of religious membership. Rather, it closely resembles a contractual obligation in the form of a organizational charter. While certainly every religious group will have a few “over-zealous members” that may misconstrue biblical principles, Bro. Rodgers’ and the Deacons’ leadership is far from unprincipled zeal. The FLBC leadership does not seek to exclude gays from the CHURCH. Rather, FLBC leadership seeks to withhold its substantial contributions under the Charter with the Troop due in kind, i.e., opening their facilities to the Troop, paying for utilities, storage space, liability insurance, use of church vehicles, etc. – it is an investment that ought not go ignored. I recall one church business meeting whereby the congregation voted on telecommunication services that were, in one way or another, affiliated with a company that produced and marketed pornography. Should FLBC support an entity whose owner has a shared interest in the pornography industry? Of course not. Would FLBC reject that same owner from attending the church and becoming a member. Of course not. Do not confuse mutual exclusion from church membership with a business judgment made in response to biblical standards. FLBC is full of “lowly women [and men] at the well”. But FLBC is also full of Christ-like leaders that act in pursuit of God’s convictions – my own father included. Ironically enough – and to further my point, I suppose – I never encountered an openly gay person in my time with Troop 215 or the entire BSA organization for that matter. However, I could name 3 MEMBERS of FLBC (circa 2000-2005, before I moved away) who are gay. It’s funny that all those “hypocrital,” “closed minded,” and “homophobic” leaders were just so gosh-darn tolerant. [/sarcasm] Sounds to me that there is simply another “troop” – a troop of outsiders that would rather cast blind judgment of their own rather than to see the actions for what they are: a mutually exclusive exercise of a church’s business judgment as influenced by the Bible. Christ did not exclude the sinner, but Christ did hold the sinner accountable. FLBC doesn’t wish to lock the doors on homosexuals, but FLBC should not let it go with a blind eye – regardless of whether the sin is lying, pride, addiction, drunkenness, abortion, or even homosexuality. As far as Troop 215 goes, the history of the Troop is painted by refugees from other units, with a brush of courage, principle, and discipline. Troop 215 will transcend this hardship just as well – if not better – than it has in the past. God Bless.

  8. Mike says:

    It was heartening to see many churches adopt the “What would Jesus do?” approach to things… Somehow, I don’t think this is it, though.

  9. Jessica Neyman says:

    I fail to follow FLBC’s logic. If it discontinues support for the Scouts, then why not also discontinue allowing the film industry that makes highly influential movies with “sinful” themes to use its parking lot? For example, the violent Transformers 4 movie stars Mark Wahlburg, who also starred in Boogie Nights as the infamous porn star Dirk Diggler. And why not discontinue hosting the Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon attended by openly gay community leaders? The exclusionary attitude of this church is compounded by its indisputable hypocrisy.

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