Friends of Padre Steve’s World
I received a heartbreaking e-mail from one of my regular readers about a situation where her uncle’s Boy Scout Troop’s sponsoring church decided to end its association with the troop and kick it out. They did this in reaction to the decision of the Boy Scouts of America to allow openly gay leaders to serve. The national BSA organization had previously lifted the ban on openly gay boys from being Scouts in 2013.
No other churches in the area will sponsor the troop and since the membership of the troop is low income children they cannot afford to rent a location to meet. The woman was justifiably upset, her uncle is not gay, nor are any of the boys in the troop. But that doesn’t seem to matter to the churches where she lives. All invoke their right to “religious liberty” and the kids be damned.
I was surprised but I wasn’t, and because I don’t like to shoot from the hip I decided to see how widespread this was, and I was amazed to see in a simple Google search news stories from around the country of churches kicking scouts out beginning as early as 2013 when the Scouts first lifted the ban on homosexual boys being members. There are so many instances of that that I had to stop reading them. But the one that struck me the as possibly the most malicious was that of Pastor Earnest Easley and his Roswell Road Baptist Church in Marietta Georgia. They kicked out Boy Scout Troop 204 which had met there for 68 years in 2013 and Pastor Easley made this comment: “As a church, we are not going to embrace organizations that openly have a part of who they are that which stands against God’s word.” As far as I know there were no gay Scouts or leaders in that troop.
After the latest decision to allow Gay Scoutmasters, Bishop David Kagan of North Dakota issued this edict, “Effective immediately, the Catholic Church of the Diocese of Bismarck and each and every one of its parishes, schools and other institutions is formally disaffiliated with and from the Boy Scouts of America.”
Other churches and denominations are doing or considering doing the same thing and that my friends is their religious right, and they can keep that right even as I say a pox on them all for being so vindictive and cruel to the Scouts of their churches. If these churches and their leaders want to continue driving people away from Jesus, I cannot stop them. If they want to play the part of modern day Pharisees, they can. That is their constitutional right. It is a right, whether I agree with it or not, that I swear to protect. It is their right as faith communities to choose the organizations and people that they will associate. I don’t have to agree but they are fully within their legal rights, and it does not mean that they are right.
But these actions are so petty, stupid, and short sighted that it makes my head swim. The fact is that that vast majority of Scouts are not gay, the same with their leaders, and the National BSA has made clear that those churches still can chose who they want to lead their local troops. The BSA policy change said “This change would also respect the right of religious chartered organizations to continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.” Of course this is not good enough for these churches.
So in the name of fairness, I ask these churches and church leaders if they will dissociate themselves from church members who work from the military, other government organizations and businesses with policies which are non-discriminatory to the LBGTQ employees and their families. I think that churches that play this game should be consistent. If they have members, especially those with fat paychecks who tithe and more to them, who work for Gay affirming organizations or businesses, shouldn’t the churches demand that their members leave those organizations? Or are they more concerned making political statements in the name of their religion which cost them no money? I haven’t heard of any churches kicking high ranking military officers out because the Department of Defense lifted the ban on Gays. But why not?
I hate to sound cynical, but it seems that these churches are much more interested in punishing people who cannot hurt them financially than they are being consistent with the “Biblical values” that the so loudly proclaim. Also can you imagine the outcry if they kicked out the troops along with the Scouting Troops? I would love to see all of those churches pull the “I support the troops” bumper stickers and yellow ribbons off any car that pulled into their lot, because there are gay troops and God knows we cannot support them. I have heard church leaders announcing that God was going to punish this nation because we allow Gay people in the military so why do we want to take any chances? If we’re going to kick out the Scout troops on the chance that one might be gay, why don’t we kick out the troops too? Are not those who continue to work for or serve in the military like me, after the decision to allow Gays to serve aiding and abetting sin? If God is going to judge the nation because we allow Gays to serve in the military, shouldn’t we kick the troops out along with the scout troops?
The fact is they won’t do this. There will be no mass excommunication of military or government workers, or people who work for big corporations which happen to be Gay friendly. The fact is that churches want the money and status that having well to do people attend and at the same time appear to be righteous by punishing those that people or groups that offer them nothing, like the kids the Scout Troop that my reader told me about. But this is consistent with the Christianity of the United States. It goes totally against everything about how Jesus taught us to treat people, especially the least, the lost and the lonely; but then who gives a rip about what Jesus actually said and did in his earthly ministry?
A couple of years back, the Barna Group, an highly-respected polling organization headed by George Barna, an deeply committed Evangelical Christian which tries to help churches did a scientific survey of the attitudes of 18-29 year-olds on what phrases best described Christians. The top answers were “Anti-homosexual, judgmental, hypocritical and too involved in politics.” This view was held by 91% of non-Christians and a staggering 80% of young churchgoers. Another Barna survey mentioned Hypocritical, anti-homosexual, insincere, sheltered and too political.
Another survey done by Barna in 2011 asked why young people were fleeing churches. Those answers were even more damning: nearly 25% of young people said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” while 20% said that “God seems missing from my experience of church” while 22% said that “church is like a country club, only for insiders” and 36% said that they were unable “to ask my most pressing life questions in church.” That survey was of young people of Christian backgrounds, not the unchurched.
These are damning numbers and the fact is that the churches in the United States are teetering on becoming totally irrelevant to the lives of most people and that will be their death. The decision by churches to ban the Boy Scouts will further demonstrate to young people that they are not welcome. In a few short years the cavernous edifices built on the tithes of well-meaning people well be as empty as the churches of Europe except few will have the cultural, architectural or artistic interest or significance to even make secular people want to preserve them.
So, if anyone knows of a national organization that I can point my reader to who might be able to help her uncle’s Scout Troop find a sponsor, please message me and I will send it to her. She did not ask me to do this, but I think that it is only the right thing to do. If you message me I will send her the information.
Thank you and have a good night,
Peace and blessings,