18-year-old Jace Taylor grew up attending the Christian camp known as “The Firs” in Bellingham, Washington. So when he had the chance to become a counselor himself, he really wanted the job in order to pay it forward and offer that same inspiration to other children.
Unfortunately, he was fired just weeks after getting the job, all because the people who run the camp discovered through social media that Taylor is gay. This, apparently, violates the camp’s “faith statement.”
“I was terminated based on my sexual orientation which was found out by social media,” Taylor said.
The 18-year-old says he was terminated on Tuesday after being hired last month by THE FIRS to be a Fir Creek camp counselor. He says the position would have started this weekend.
“At first I wanted to bawl my eyes out because all of my life I’ve wanted to work as a Fir Creek camp counselor and make an impact in their lives like they did when I was younger,” Taylor said.
What the article and segment don’t explain — and what camp director Tom Beaumont doesn’t make clear — is what the discrepancy actually is. Most conservative Christians, like Catholics, will at least publicly say they have no problem with people who are gay, but they draw the line at those who are in intimate same-sex relationships or who want to get married. It’s only a “sin” when you act on your homosexuality. Everything before that shouldn’t be a problem for them.
According to The Firs’ own website, the only applicable doctrinal issue is that employees must agree to the following:
We believe in the institution of marriage defined in Scripture as the covenantal union between one man and one woman. We believe that the Christian standard is faithfulness within that marriage covenant and abstinence outside of it.
Again, what indication is there that Taylor doesn’t accept that? As far as the reporting goes, he wasn’t let go for being in a same-sex relationship, and there’s no evidence that he was caught having sexual relations with another man, and he didn’t claim to support marriage equality. If anything, Taylor admits he was “struggling” with being gay until he came out last year, implying that he wished he could change, which you’d think the camp would support.
But The Firs says he violated their terms anyway. Beaumont issued this statement to local media:
In order for us to carry our mission out we hire young leaders each summer and we call them summer staff. Some of them are counselors. It is critical that we hire people who are committed to our mission and to these statements of faith. These folks are extremely important to us, we care deeply for them and they are at the point of what we do.
Just recently we extended an invitation for a young man well known and loved at The Firs to serve as a counselor of children at Fircreek Day Camp. (He had previously been employed by us in a non-leadership role.) When it became evident in the application process that he did not personally align with our statements of faith (in particular, one regarding sexuality) we determined we could not use him in this role.
Our quandary was this. In order to be consistent to our beliefs and our mission we felt compelled to pass on someone we truly liked in filling this counselor role. I sincerely wish this was otherwise. I know this may be confusing and contrary to other’s beliefs. The leadership of The Firs will continue to seek the appropriate means to carry out our mission in the context of a changing world.”
He doesn’t sincerely wish otherwise, because he chose to dismiss a perfectly qualified employee on the sole basis of his sexual orientation. Beaumont should just come out and say they don’t want any gay people working for them. If it’s that important, why tiptoe around the issue? If you’re going to promote faith-based bigotry, why pretend you’re doing anything else?
Our attempt to reach Taylor for more details was unsuccessful. But when a Christian camp fires a Christian counselor because he didn’t perfectly fit their idea of a True Christian™, it’s time for parents to reconsider why they’re sending their kids to a bigotry-fueled camp like this at all.
Those children deserve better. So does Taylor.