Thursday, August 16, 2007

Scouts Honor?

Does your church sponsor a Boy Scout troop or host one in your building? My church has sponsored the same troop for decades. However, there is an on-going debate which has recently heated up again, about whether we should continue our sponsorship given the national BSA policy discriminating against gays. There are some folks who are all for giving them the boot, but many more feel torn about this. They don't like the national policy, but scouting was a really important part of their growing up and they want it to be there for their sons as well. Since our local troop isn't actively or vocally anti-gay, they can deal.

Has your church had this conversation? What did you end up doing, if anything?


Presbyterian Gal said...

It's not my church, but my friends twins, who are sons of a two dad family, want to join the scouts at their school. It is a private school. They will apply for the boys this fall and if the troop on campus rejects them, then the school will boot the troop off for the first time in 100 years. They're hoping this troop will be welcoming to their sons.

As I understand from my friends, it is a troop by troop decision whether or not they "enforce" the discrimination. In any case, wouldn't this be something for session to vote on? *ducking pastor's shoes thrown at my head*

Presbyterian Gal said...

Yeah and as a P.S. MY son was discriminated from joining the Boy Scout troop on his campus, along with at least one other boy, (indications suggested because they are not Asian). The only non-Asians in the troop are special friends of the troop leader. And the compaint filed with National on this one went nowhere.

Anitra said...

I was going to take a pass on this one but avoiding sermon writing wins again.

1) I grew up with Scouting as a major event in my family. My father was deep into the program and I have been way active in both the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts (Explorers, Sea Scouts). Overall, I have a deep affection for the program. I think anything that helps boys grow up into responsible adults has gotta be a good thing.

Probably the most significant factor is what your local troop is doing. I have friends who are strongly pro-inclusion of all orientation in the Presby Church and are also very committed leaders in their local Boy Scout Troops. Maybe we can create change from inside as well as out - but its whats going on with the local troop that y'all have the most influence with.

And... lets face it... There are a number of us mainline denomination affiliated congregations who have anti-gay policies in their constitution. We have some log removal to do on our own selves before we're clean about others.

on the other hand...

I was poking around the Boy Scout website (yes, my ability to avoid sermon writing is well refined) and found lots of materials for recruiting and organizing new troops (units) including a list of how to approach a Presbyterian Church to sponsor a troop.

The recruiter makes a "sales call" (yep, that language) and has in his hand a sheet of how to meet objections (
in which a number of concerns are raised and an answer suggested. I.e. We don't have space, (answer: that's okay, we can find a way to use a classroom and you won't hardly notice us)

A11 concerns are all rebutted except for one. (remember, this conversation between the pastor and the recruiter is happening at the request of the recruiter)

"7. We don't agree with several of the Boy Scout stands on membership.

"We feel that as a private organization we have a right to establish our membership requirements. I thank you for your time, but I feel that there's nothing further we can do at this time to help you."

Anitra said...

P.S. an after-thought said...

We had the conversation at church council a few years ago when that policy first came out. It would be against our church's belief statement if enforced at our building. I don't think that anyone thinks of our church as pro-gay or pro any group, however, the statement is very welcoming.

Anyway, we just decided to let it go and see what happened. Nothing happened locally.

But it did surprise me, dismay me, that local church has to pay money to "sponsor" the Boy Scouts meeting there. So technically, you are buying into the program and values. In contrast, other groups meet at the building and they may pay a donation to the church for use of the building, but there is no "affiliation."

The Boy Scout Troop, I should mention, has done chores for our church in return for use of the building.

ellbee said...

Our church has just been through the start-up process for its forst troop. My family is involved, and we're seeing many of the men who have help back from other ministry opportunities step up for "the boys."

Of all the things that were discussed at session when this was proposed, the leadership issue was not among them...

I'm personally excited about the evangelistic possibilities of this partnership... as a brand new troop, they are going to be reruiting boys from area schools, a few number of whom are likely to be unchurched.

ppb said...

For me the financial sponsorship would be a deal breaker. I would go back and forth and back and forth on whether they could meet in my church (were I on the session), but putting any money into it implies agreement, and I wouldn't ever go there.

It's a toughie. I don't give to united way's general fund in order to avoid the boy scouts, (I have to choose one agency as a designated gift)Yet, my dad was a boy scout and it was his ticket out of a bigoted family........