On January 1, the Boy Scouts of America lifted its ban against gay troopers. While many major sponsors continue to stand by the BSA and the new policy, including the Mormon Church, others aren’t so pleased.
Texas troop leader Thom Fairleigh, of Marble Falls Troop 284, told The Highlander that “in Christian Love” he won’t accept gay scouts, but rather he will encourage them to seek pastoral counseling in order to “cleanse” them.
“It’s just like if a boy came to me and said he’s a thief—in Christian love I would say ‘You’ve got a problem and that we definitely will not approve of it’ and we would send him to get pastoral counseling,” said Farleigh.
While Farleigh may believe his method to be some sort of loophole around the new policy, BSA Capitol Area Council spokesman Charles Mead says it’s not going to fly.
“It’s been our preference and more importantly the preference of the families who are in our program to direct questions of that nature back to the family,” Mead told KEYE.
The First Baptist Church of Marble Falls is a sponsor for Farleigh’s troop, and believes “guiding morality” is necessary if they are to continue sponsorship.
“We believe homosexual activity, not orientation, to be a sin,” the Church said in a resolution provided to local news station KXAN. “This will be the moral standard in regard to human sexuality communicated within our Troop/Pack/Crew 284 whenever conversations arise in the natural exchanges between leaders and scouts. It is not a curriculum or a class, simply a guiding morality woven into the fabric of our BSA units. We will not abandon our BSA units at this time as many churches are doing.”
While the resolution is clear about the church’s hostile feelings toward homosexuality, it made no specific mention of enforcing “pastoral counseling.” This article from the Huffington Post offers one interesting perspective on the Christian teaching of “Love the sinner/Hate the sin.”
Mead may agree that Farleigh’s scheme to counsel gay troopers does not agree with BSA policy, but he did say that the church has the right to incorporate their own moral beliefs into programs and activities for the Scouts that they sponsor.
“It is within the rights of that chartering partner to incorporate their religious beliefs and their religious teachings into the scouting program,” said Mead.