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Boy Scouts facing their toughest decision

Religion column

CREEDE HINSHAW

CREEDE HINSHAW

Earlier this week I had the privilege of conversing with a Boy Scout executive who is a friend and fellow Rotarian. As an Eagle Scout and Explorer who received my God and Country Award, I have a deep, lifelong appreciation for Scouting.

When I asked my friend this simple question, "How are you handling the reaction?" he understood perfectly the nature of my query and expressed his exasperation over the proposed compromise the national Boy Scouts of America is floating regarding acceptance/rejection of gay scout participants and leaders.

Current BSA policy forbids gay boys or men to become a Boy Scout as either participant or leader. This policy has come under fire from various quarters, mirroring the divisiveness of this subject in every area of American life. Many businesses, non-profit organizations and churches have embraced a far more open, accepting stance towards gay and lesbian people. The Girl Scouts of America, for instance, does not list sexual orientation as a bar to membership or leadership in that fine organization.

The Boy Scouts of America, under increasing pressure, has so far steadfastly refused to change their policy. This refusal has created protests, not only from outside organizations and donors (as conservative groups would have us believe), but also from many current and former Boy Scouts and their leaders. This dual pressure has led to a soon-to-be voted on compromise that will allow gay teenagers to become Boy Scouts, but continue to reject gay men from serving as Scout Masters or volunteers.

This proposal has united the opposing sides in agreement that the compromise is a gutless attempt to mollify everybody. Both sides want complete victory and recognize that this proposal as nonsense.

My friend pointed out that his geographical region is 70 percent in favor of retaining the current exclusion policy. Most of the sponsoring agencies are churches that either oppose homosexuality or want a "don't ask, don't tell policy." Although I sympathize with his dilemma, I told my friend that this pastor and Eagle Scout believes, for many reasons, that the Boy Scouts should make a clean break with their current policy. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with whether a boy can be a good scout or a man an outstanding scout leader.

One of the 12 Scout laws is courage: "being brave and doing what is right regardless of ... fears ... difficulties ... consequences." Those who want to continue the exclusion policy cast it as a courageous decision in the face of a shrinking donor base and inside and outside pressure. Those who advocate for change are cast it as a courageous decision based on justice and compassion at the risk of losing members and sponsors.

I have the highest regard for this fine organization. The Boy Scouts face a tough decision; I hope they'll do the right thing, either next week or eventually. This compromise cannot hold. Either way, my good friend is extinguishing many fires, but maybe not the kind for which Boy Scouts are usually trained.

Contact the Rev. Creede Hinshaw at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah at creedewesleymonumental.org.

Comments

LoneCycler 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Let’s put gay men in positions of responsibility in the Scouts and see if the Catholic Church’s experience with gay priests who molested hundreds of boys and cost the church Billions as a result will repeat itself. Good idea you have there Mr. Hinshaw. Sponsors of the Scouts will flee because they don’t want to see their contributions being used to fund a more modern version of NAMBLA. While you’re at it, why not demand that the Boy and Girl Scouts combine their organizations? Since sexual preference doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to Scouting, please explain why any division of sexes in Scouting should be maintained.

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Sherwood_Eagle_Alum 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Excellent article with cogent points, Reverend. I hope others will likewise share your view.

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MRKIA 11 months, 4 weeks ago

WHY NOT START A "GAY SCOUTS" ORGANIZATION? THEN THE GAYS, LESBIANS, TRANS AND WHATEVER CAN CAMP OUT AND EARN MERIT BADGES AND WHATNOT WITHOUT THE DISAPPROVING EYE OF TRADITIONAL SCOUTING GROUPS.

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Gabrielblows 11 months, 4 weeks ago

I must take issue with Hinshaw's statement where he states,"Sexual orientation has nothing to do with whether a boy can be a good scout or a man an outstanding scout leader." This is taken from the Boy Scouts of America's website.. Boy Scout Oath or Promise

On my honor, I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Note that the Boy Scout Oath has traditionally been considered to have three promises. Those three promises are delineated by the semicolons in the Oath, which divide it into three clauses. The three promises of the Scout Oath are, therefore:

Duty to God and country, Duty to other people, and Duty to self DUTY TO GOD AND COUNTRY: Your family and religious leaders teach you to know and serve God. By following these teachings, you do your duty to God.

Men and women of the past worked to make America great, and many gave their lives for their country. By being a good family member and a good citizen, by working for your country's good and obeying its laws, you do your duty to your country. Obeying the Scout Law means living by its 12 points.

DUTY TO OTHER PEOPLE: Many people need help. A cheery smile and a helping hand make life easier for others. By doing a Good Turn daily and helping when you're needed, you prove yourself a Scout and do your part to make this a better world.

DUTY TO SELF: Keeping yourself physically strong means taking care of your body. Eat the right foods and build your strength. Staying mentally awake means learn all you can, be curious, and ask questions. Being morally straight means to live your life with honesty, to be clean in your speech and actions, and to be a person of strong character. How can a scout be a homosexual and still follow these guidelines and character traits. Mr. Hinshaw, how could you, as an Eagle Scout, forget? How can you as a Minister and professed believer justify your position on this matter?

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Sherwood_Eagle_Alum 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I fail to see how being gay would prevent one from following the guidelines you listed. Being gay does not make one a deviant or second class citizen contrary to what many people will have you believe.

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FryarTuk 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Padre, you bit off quite a bite in your article on BSA and for local folks too. For various reasons the national scouting administration is under pressure, a great deal of pressure. Some of their own making and some created by contemporary forces. It all comes down to funding. For some time the scout movement has been engaged in costly litigation defending the use of public facilities, charitable deduction eligibility, US charter status, membership inclusion, etc. etc. The organization has been under assault by the agenda driven media and social/celebrity groups who just don't like the exclusionary membership rule. Recently the organization has come under extreme coercion by funding agencies such as the United Way (not local), mega corporations (BankAmerica), and others to yield to lesbian and gay inclusion or face being cut off financially. Even the members of scouting's national board of directors who sit on corporate boards have advised the movement to go along to get along.

The only way for scouting to survive nationally without the funding sources is to reorganize the top heavy agency and trim it's high salaried positions along with the bureaucracy. That won't happen. In order to sustain the current movement's management levels eventually it will have to yield to lesbian/gay inclusion and probably the sooner the better. That's just stark reality.

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whattheheck 11 months, 3 weeks ago

And perhaps convert and use some of the $600 million in investments that are being ratholed away. Be thrifty for a change.......

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MRKIA 11 months, 3 weeks ago

SHUT THE WHOLE DAMN THING DOWN THEN.

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revolutionnow 11 months, 3 weeks ago

" I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly."

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Gabrielblows 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Sherwood_Eagle_Alum, If you had read my post carefully, you would have understood that the fact of "being" homosexual is an abomination to God. I won't quote all the Scriptures that say this since this is not the proper place to do so. The following Scout requirement, by God's definition then, is unattainable. "On my honor, I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight." Don't hate the sinner but hate the sin. Homosexuality is different that other sins outside the body. It is not one to repent of, since it is a lifestyle that one "lives daily" and doesn't occur at one's whim. There are many documented cases of homosexual people who have been changed by the Holy Spirit to become normal, straight, heterosexual. Look it up!

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RedEric 11 months, 3 weeks ago

GACK!!! Sorry I almost vomited. Homosexuals are, for the most part born that way. Just like some people are born tall,some short, some good looking and a few look like Fletch. Some religious sects forment hatred of homosexuals. I am glad I don't have to answer for that.

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Sherwood_Eagle_Alum 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I understood what you were trying to say after reading your comment the first time. It is quite obvious you are not friends with anyone who is homosexual. It is very easy to be scared of that which you do not understand.

There have been zero documented cases in which a homosexual was turned straight. The person may have been sexually confused, but I can guarantee you he or she was not gay. For the same logical reason why you and I cannot be turned gay, neither can a gay person be turned straight.

Again, I see no reason why a gay person could not live up to the Boy Scout Oath.

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lowercasejesus 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Think how foolish u sound gabriel. U sound like the waterboys momma. There is no devil and if there was gays would still not be the devil. When did christians become so hatefull? i though that was reserved for muslims???

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