Advancing Religious Liberty
3/18/13 at 11:54 AM 1 Comments

Will Your Church be Forced to Evict its Boy Scout Troop?

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Author: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley

I was a Boy Scout growing up. My troop met in a Methodist Church in my hometown and I distinctly remember our weekly meetings at the church in a Sunday School room. We met at the church parking lot before campouts. We showed up in uniform at the church every year for Scout Sunday. I spent a lot of time at that Methodist church (even though I didn’t attend there) and when the time came, I held my Eagle Scout Court of Honor in the chapel of the church.

Now, years later, I’m the Den Leader for my son’s Webelos Den. We meet at a local Presbyterian church in town. We hold our activities there, including our yearly Blue and Gold banquet and our Pack meetings. My son was just awarded the Cub Scout Arrow of Light in the church’s gym.

I suppose my story is not much different than most other Scouts in America. For Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, the physical location of a church is inextricably intertwined with Scouting. Churches are the quintessential meeting spaces for Scout troops. That’s because every Scout unit must be chartered by a local organization and seventy percent of all chartering organizations are churches. Churches are chartering organizations because they believe in the good of Scouting for boys.

So what happens to these churches if the Boy Scouts changes its membership policy to allow those who advocate or engage in homosexual behavior to become Scouts and leaders? Most of the churches that charter Scout troops have a sincere religious belief against homosexual behavior. So if the membership policy changes, these churches will be on the horns of a dilemma. Do they prohibit the Scout troops from meeting in their church buildings, or do they ignore their sincere religious beliefs? This is a very real dilemma for churches that are committed to allowing their facilities to be used only in ways consistent with their faith.

Forcing churches to stop hosting Scout troops is a big step in the process of sidelining churches. And we’ve seen enough attempts to render the Church irrelevant in the community. Churches used to be integral partners in the communities but now they are pushed out of the community by unconstitutional zoning codes. Attempts are made to tax churches as if they are just another business or, in one case, to tax it completely out of existence despite its outreach efforts to the poor. Some have even proposed forcing church facilities to be used for same-sex wedding ceremonies.

Now is the time for the Boy Scouts to hear the Church’s voice on this issue. Take a moment and sign the petition to encourage the Scouts to retain their current membership policy. Forward the link to the petition to all the members of your congregation and encourage them to sign it as well.

The Boy Scouts will listen to America’s churches. The current leadership of the Boy Scouts likely had a similar experience as I did and remember fondly the church that hosted their Scout troop. Sign the petition today. Let’s continue the history of Scouting in America’s churches for the next generation of Scouts who will be tomorrow’s leaders.

This post originally appeared here.

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