Seascout-Net Mail Archive for September of 1998: Re: 1998.09.26 Dallas Morning News: Scouts at odds with Unitarians
Re: 1998.09.26 Dallas Morning News: Scouts at odds with Unitarians
Arthur L. Gross
Sun Sep 27 20:50:41 1998
Andy Gross' e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org..email@example.com belongs
to Art Gross in Phoenix.
Christopher K. Sokolov wrote:
> Religion Forum
> Scouts at odds with Unitarians
> Meeting set to discuss church's acceptance of gays, atheism
> By Kendall Anderson / The Dallas Morning News
> The Boy Scouts of America require members to believe in God.
> In fact, they encourage thousands of churches, synagogues and
> mosques to give religion awards to members who are Scouts.
> Unless they're members of the Unitarian Universalist Church.
> Earlier this year, the Boy Scouts told the Unitarians - who
> welcome gay members and don't require belief in God - that they
> could no longer give out the Religion in Life awards.
> In October, the two groups will meet in Boston in an attempt to
> patch up a relationship severed by disagreements over gay rights
> and religious freedom.
> It's not the first or only challenge to the Irving-based Boy
> Scouts' rules, which prohibit gay members. But it may be the
> first time the 88-year-old organization has cut off its relationship
> with a religious organization.
> "The Unitarian Universalists' printed materials are directly
> contradictory to the Boy Scout oath and law and to the goals of
> scouting," said Gregg Shields, BSA spokesman. "They can have
> those beliefs. The Boy Scouts just ask that they respect our right
> to have our beliefs."
> The Rev. Dennis Hamilton said his Carrollton church, Horizon
> Unitarian Universalist Church, hopes to keep giving out the
> "The Boy Scouts in our parish don't need to be victimized by
> this," Mr. Hamilton said. "I think the Boy Scouts of America
> have a long way to go to recognize the rights of others."
> The falling out began in May, when Boy Scout officials sent the
> request in a letter to the Unitarian Universalist Association. The
> Unitarian Universalist churches' manual, which accompanies the
> award, expresses disapproval of the Boy Scouts' requirements
> that members respect one God and that they not be gay.
> The manual's "reference to the 'trouble' some Unitarian
> Universalists may have regarding the duty to God inappropriately
> incorporates doubt in an award process that is designed to forge a
> stronger link between a youth's Scouting values and religious
> life," reads the letter from Dr. Lawrence Ray Smith, chair of the
> BSA's Religious Relationships Committee. The letter also says
> that the church's disapproval of the policy on gays "has no place
> in a Boy Scouting-Exploring youth religious award manual."
> Church officials, who passed a resolution six years ago
> criticizing the Boy Scouts' ban on gay members and troop
> leaders, fired back in June with a letter stating that they would
> not stop giving the award and that it's their right to include their
> views in the manual. They note that the Boy Scouts have always
> referred to the award as a religious - not Scouting - award, to be
> governed by the church's own guidelines.
> "You risk exposing the BSA to charges of discrimination - not
> only against a sexual minority, but against entire religious
> groups. ... We will not acquiesce in such discrimination," reads
> the letter from John Buehrens, president of the Unitarian
> Both Dr. Smith and Mr. Buehrens declined to comment on the
> conflict. But church officials and a Boy Scout spokesman
> expressed a willingness to find an agreement.
> "We've long sought an amicable solution to the values of the Boy
> Scouts and the Unitarian Universalist Church," said Gregg
> Shields, BSA spokesman.
> The Boy Scouts say homosexuality violates their concept of
> traditional moral values.
> Some critics say the Scouts are severing their relationship with
> the liberal church to bolster their chances of winning several
> lawsuits they face over their policies on gays and on God. In one
> suit, BSA attorneys have argued that the Scouts' close ties to
> religious groups that don't approve of homosexuality justify their
> The defendants' attorneys countered by asking why the Scouts
> allowed the Unitarian Universalist Church - which is open to
> gays - to give out the Religion in Life award. A week later, the
> Scouts asked the church to stop giving out the award, according
> to Merill Hirsh, who is representing two gay Scouts in the
> Washington, D.C., case.
> "A lot of people think these court cases are what's bringing it all
> to a head," said Mike, a local gay man who belongs to Scouting
> for All, a group protesting BSA policy. He asked that his last
> name not be used.
> Mr. Shields said the timing is coincidental and noted that the
> issue dates back to a resolution the Unitarians wrote criticizing
> the Boy Scouts in 1993.
> So far, court decisions are split on whether the Scouts' rules are
> legally acceptable.
> The BSA is appealing a March decision by a New Jersey state
> appeals court that ruled that the ban on admitting gays violates
> state laws against discrimination. The court ruled that the BSA
> and its local councils are "places of accommodation" that
> "emphasize open membership" and therefore must adhere to
> anti-discrimination laws.
> But the California Supreme Court decided that the Boy Scouts
> organization is more like a private club, free to set its own
> membership policies. The California court upheld the group's
> ban on gays, agnostics and atheists in two cases.
> "The Boy Scouts of America is a voluntary association - no one
> is forced to join," said Mr. Shields. "We are open to other
> organizations which have compatible goals with ours."
> The Boy Scouts have plenty of supporters, says Joe Marsh, who
> leads Troop 86 in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford area.
> "In duty to God and being anti-homosexual to the basic fiber of
> my being, I support the Boy Scouts," said Mr. Marsh. "I
> wouldn't compromise my Boy Scout beliefs."
> Some say a quick resolution is a must, for the sake of all Boy
> "I hope we can put this to rest so we can get on with letting Boy
> Scouts be boys," Mr. Hamilton said.
> � 1998 The Dallas Morning News