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Catholic Church Kicks Boy Scout Troop Out for LGBT Policy

Catholic Church Kicks Boy Scout Troop Out for LGBT Policy

Hey, remember when everyone got super excited because the pope said that maybe we shouldn’t be jerks to gay people? Apparently, that supposed “change in tone” hasn’t trickled down yet to St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Altoona, Wisconsin. Even though Troop 90 of the Boy Scouts had been meeting at the church for 20 years, they were told that they needed to meet elsewhere when they changed their policy to abide by the Boy Scouts’ tepid decision to stop discriminating against LGBT youth.

I guess the change was just too icky for the church.

As reported in the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

Rev. Derek Sakowski, of St. Mary’s, said he was uncomfortable with the wording in the revised Boy Scouts membership policy that says no youth may be turned away “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”

Sakowski said “sexual preference” is too ambiguous, and he has sought clarification from the national headquarters.

“We want to know if it fits with our Catholic values. If I don’t get a (satisfactory) response, then I can’t renew the charter,” he said, adding that same-sex attraction alone is not considered sinful by the Catholic church.

To be fair, “sexual preference” is a pretty vague term. What if they get some boy who is attracted to a dog? Or a roller coaster? Or a toaster? What are they supposed to do? Treat them with respect? Pssh.

Come on, let’s be real. Same-sex attraction is not a sin, but it has to be what’s giving the priest the willies and making him be a huge jerk.

Banal same-sex attraction hasn’t even come up. Bob Thill, the scoutmaster of Troop 90, recounted an interaction with one of his scouts in the Eau Clair Leader-Telegram:

It’s too bad when children get caught up in such societal debates, Thill said, recalling an unusual exchange he had recently with an 11-year-old in the troop.

First, the boy asked, “Do we have any gay Scouts in our troop?” When Thill responded “no,” the boy asked, “Do we have any gay Scout leaders?” When Thill once again responded “no,” the boy persisted, “Then why doesn’t the church wait until we do before they kick us out?”

Interesting. So it’s not that this particular Boy Scout troop is an actual safe space for LGBT youth. It’s that it might be sometime in the future. Love thy neighbor, indeed.

If I’m honest, I like when groups like the Catholic Church pull stuff like this because it really shows the true colors of the organization. There are a million things the Church could emphasize. This new pope seems really into economic justice. Just think what we could accomplish if parishes across the world shifted focus from hating gay people to helping poor people. Think of all that wasted intellectual energy put into scheming new ways to make the lives of gay people worse. All that brain power could go to, I don’t know, actually helping people.

But no. It’s way more important to make sure LGBT youth know that there is a powerful force that thinks they are a deviant abomination.

I don’t think we’re even dealing with a particularly bigoted priest. St. Mary’s pastoral council recommended cutting ties with the troop.

Good job. I thought that maybe – just maybe – we were starting to see a slow evolution on sexual orientation in the Church, but I guess for the time being, we can expect more of the same.

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99 comments

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12:11PM PDT on Aug 28, 2013

Sarah H. said "The author of this article needs to read a Bible. The Bible does say it is a sin"

Yeah, Sarah the Bible also says that you should take disobedient children to the edge of town and stone them to death, and that women can be forced to marry their rapists, and that women are "unclean" when menstruating, in short the "Bible" says a whole lot of stupid bullshit

5:37AM PDT on Aug 28, 2013

The author of this article needs to read a Bible. The Bible does say it is a sin.

10:40AM PDT on Aug 15, 2013

I only got to be in Scouts for a short time, due to lack of interest in my area. NO ONE really ever mentioned "gay" or anything related to it. I just wasn't brought up. Nor do I remember if a church was sponsoring the troop I was in. I say the Scouts need to become a secular organization and distance themselves from any religious affiliation whatsoever.

6:40PM PDT on Aug 13, 2013

It sounds like the Pope has more compassion than this church.

10:04PM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

And churches wonder why attendance is down?!

When organisations such as Christian churches do not live up to their stated values of following Jesus Christ --- you know stuff like 'love they neighbour' --- then people will look elsewhere for spiritual nurture.

The people that stay within those walls of bigotry and discrimination, are the ones that hold with "I'm better than you and I deserve better than you". BTW, not all Christian churches are like that. Fortunately I belong to a church which is inclusive --- many LGBT clergy and a national moderator who is LGBT.

9:29PM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

Sadly, a charter organziation, a Luthern church in the Missouri synod, is refusing to renew my son's troop's charter after this year. It isn't only the Catholics. In fact, I bet there are far more Protestant churches that are giving their troops the boot...

With my son's troop, it's a complete cop out. They're not kicking us out. They're just not rechartering us. Oddly, none of this was an issue until the "gay issue" came up. But, they'll claim day and night that it's not the "gay issue". Oddly, they can't say what it really is though...

11:09AM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

Sounds about right. Only a religion that preaches to not judge people can actually judge people, right?

9:52AM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

Well looky here a religion that is full of child sex crooks and perverts (and I tell you I'm a not just talkin' aybowt those a romantic Catholic Types touching little Elmer's pee pee. well I am of an opinion that the Boy Scouts -(or scouts as it now should be known as to discriminate is illegal) shopuld say screw you to the church and find a club hut somewhere else.I'm sure that to rent a bit of land or space4 at a local hut weould be more liberating for the pack.

3:01AM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

Noted

6:25PM PDT on Aug 11, 2013

This is happening all over, and not just in Catholic churches. Fundamentalist churches are also refusing to renew Scout charters.

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