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Church Urged to Maintain Ties with Boy Scouts

catholic committe scouting logoThe National Catholic Committee on Scouting, the organization to which the U.S. bishops defers on issues concerning the Boy Scouts, is calling upon the Church to continue to sponsor Scout troops in spite of the organization’s recent decision to allow openly gay leaders.

In a statement issued shortly after the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America ratified a resolution allowing gay adults to lead Scout troops, the Committee issued a statement calling upon the Church to continue its association with the scouting organization because of the religious exemption written into the new resolution.

“The resolution . . . affirms the chartered organization’s right to select its unit leaders based on its religious principles, rejects any interference with that right, and provides that local Scout councils will not interfere with chartered organizations’ rights in this regard,” the statement reads.

“It is not entirely clear how these rights will be squared with previous policy changes the Boy Scouts have made, or how they will work in practice, but it appears that the resolution respects the needs of Catholicchartered organizations in the right to choose leaders whose character and conduct are consistent with those of Catholic teaching.”

However, they go on to express “strong concern” about the practical implications of the resolution, and “whether the term ‘sexual orientation’ will be correctly understood and applied only in reference to sexual inclination and not to sexual conduct or behavior.”

The statement, which was signed by Edward Martin, the Committee’s national chairman, and Father Michael Manifin, it’s national chaplain, goes on to acknowledge that the Committee “recognizes that differences in religious beliefs among chartered organizations and society in general have played a part in the creation of this resolution. While this fluctuating situation will be increasingly challenging, we recognize the vital importance of providing a Catholic emphasis to Catholic Scouts and Scouters seeking ways to live out their ‘duty to God’.”

According to Catholic League president Bill Donohue, those challenges concern the language in the resolution which might not mean much in the days ahead.

As Donohue explains, the religious exemption allows religious chartered troops to use their religious beliefs as a criterion for selecting adult leaders, including in matters of sexuality.

“That sounds great, but since 70 percent of Boy Scout chapters are run by religiously affiliated institutions, and the secular assault on religion is real, this issue is hardly over,” Donohue writes.

“The Human Rights Campaign, the most aggressive gay group in the nation, wasted no time denouncing the religious exemption. Its president, Chad Griffin, was pleased with the new policy overall, but he still complained that ‘including an exemption for troops sponsored by religious organizations undermines and diminishes the historic nature of today's decision’."

In other words, the fight is not over yet and if the Boy Scouts concede any more ground to gay activists, they are likely to lose more than half of their troops.

Donohue goes on to predict: “Gay militants won't stop until the religious exemptions allowed under the new policy are stricken.”

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