How Atheist Groups Can Help Boy Scout Troops As Churches Abandon Them May 31, 2013

How Atheist Groups Can Help Boy Scout Troops As Churches Abandon Them

The First Baptist Church of Helena (Alabama) used to host meetings for a local Boy Scouts of America troop… but now that the BSA has allowed gay people to join their ranks, the church has kicked out the troop that met in their space:

Here’s Pastor Greg Walker from that clip:

It’s hard for us on a personal level to say to a troop of young boys who have done nothing wrong, and to the leaders who have done nothing wrong in Helena, you’re not welcome to be here anymore… I didn’t make that decision. Boy Scouts of America made that decision… I hate that this had to happen, I really do.

That’s obviously a lie. The BSA didn’t decide to promote homosexuality; they decided to welcome homosexuals. What they did falls perfectly in line with what so many Christian churches say, too. Christians often claim they love gay people, even if they don’t support their “lifestyle.” Well, this is a perfect example of how church leaders are hypocrites. Are there gay people in Walker’s church? Does he welcome gay people in his church (even if his intentions are to dehumanize them)? Does he work in conjunction with any Christian churches that open their doors to the gay community? If so, how are those things any different from what the BSA is doing? Would Walker kick a gay teenager’s boy scout troop out of his church but allow that teenager in his church for a service?

Pastor Walker is simply a bigot who believes an organization that allows in gay members shouldn’t be supported. What’s the Christian word for that? “Grace”? I don’t know. I’m clearly an evil sinner.

Walker’s not the only church leader who’s like this, either:

In Alabama, the Rev. Mike Shaw of Pelham’s First Baptist Church told that “we don’t hate anybody.” But his church, which hosts a Scouting troop, has told Scout leaders they’ll no longer be welcome there once the policy is enforced on Jan. 1. His explanation: “We’re not doing it out of hatred. The teachings of the Scripture are very clear on this. We’re doing it because it violates the clear teaching of Scripture”…

In Louisville, Ky., the Southeast Christian Church is locking its doors to Scouting. The Assemblies of God, which ABC News describes as the world’s largest Pentecostal group, has openly criticized the Boy Scouts’ decision and predicted a widespread decline in Scouting participation because of the backlash. Leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention says its 47,000 member churches likely will be advised to stop hosting Boy Scout troops when it holds its annual meeting this summer.

It really makes no sense. The Boy Scouts, with their decision, have basically decided not to take a stance on sexuality anymore when it comes to their members. They’re not pro-gay. They’re not even “supportive” of homosexuality. They’re just avoiding that issue altogether. It’s pretty much the least they could have done. If anything, the BSA’s views are more in line with many of these churches since they still have a problem with gay adults and all atheists.

By that measure, Walker shouldn’t be kicking the scouts out — he should be letting even more troops in!

But this is also an opportunity for atheist groups around the country to step in where the church has failed. There are many groups nationwide that have their own buildings — including some in Alabama. What if those groups made their facilities available to these troops that have been kicked out by the churches?

What a gesture that would be, to welcome the troops even if the BSA won’t allow atheists in them!

What if your local group doesn’t have any meeting space? Then raise money so the troops can find space elsewhere.

Reader Tom fully supports this idea:

… the aid provided by the freethinking groups would come without any conditions — the Boy Scouts could still use “God” in their oath, and as tough as it seems, they could still deny atheists the chance to participate despite meeting in a place provided by atheists. This aid would not be about trying to directly change BSA policy, but rather doing the humanist thing by coming to the help of boys who need it when their church turns them away.

Admittedly, the publicity would be amazing, too. But Tom nails it: Helping these troops would just be the kind, decent thing to do. Churches may have to “debate” whether or not they want to treat other people with respect, but we don’t need to. We already know what the right thing to do is.

(Thanks to Steve for the link!)

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