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As Boy Scouts accept gays, churches distance themselves

The West Conroe Baptist Church has publicly distanced itself from the Boy Scouts of America after its ban on gay members was lifted.

David Delgado/The Daily Cougar

David Delgado/The Daily Cougar

Since the BSA voiced its support for openly gay troop members in May, more than a handful of organizations decided the kids just aren’t worth it after all. Six other churches broke away from BSA in Conroe alone.

At first glance, the BSA’s choice to allow gays to participate in its organization is just another instance of rocky assimilation. Look a second time around, and it becomes an exercise in acceptance.

It took decades of lobbying for the BSA to lift its gay ban, but the fence on gay scout leaders still stands. The aesthetics of a decision that’s slapped a deadline on the appropriateness of homosexuality stand suspect in its own right, but some of BSA’s more conservative allies have since voiced their stances.

Around 70 percent of the BSA is chartered by religious institutions. The National Catholic Committee on Scouting’s been tentative. The Mormon Church has rolled with the punches. Pope Francis isn’t judging.

Historically, hard-line Christianity hasn’t gelled with the notion of normalization. The Bible Belt takes time to loosen.

Except for the obvious catcalls — from “Adam and Steve”, to “God Hates” — the route from sidelong glances to over-the-counter acceptance hasn’t been the smoothest.

Last month’s Southern Baptist Convention went as far as to suggest the creation of a BSA alternative, deemed the “The Royal Ambassadors.”

From a pragmatist’s stance, resistance makes sense for the Church. When you pull the curtain on gay scouts, you’ll pull the curtain on gay scout leaders.  When you pull the curtain on gay scout leaders, all of a sudden it’s OK to be gay. When it becomes OK for gay people to be gay, it becomes OK for gay people to adopt, build homes and teach your children.

But it hurts the kids. West Conroe’s discord affects more than 180 scouts in Montgomery County, 31 in Fort Bend and 21 in Harris.

The reasons for the break weren’t particularly innovative: Senior Pastor Jay Gross cited homosexuality as “not an approved lifestyle” and “wrong.” He said it’s “disappointing to see where we are heading.” In an interview with KHOU, he found it apt to attack the concept of behavior, rather than the person behaving.

“It’s not a rejection of the person,” Gross said. “It’s a rejection of an activity of a lifestyle.”

That’s a lot like rejecting the taste of apple juice, but not the apples themselves. Or being convinced that the apple, by sheer force of determination, could will itself into a carrot. Or a chicken. Or a shoe. Or, in any case, something that it isn’t and won’t ever be. And even if it could, and the notion of “choice” were a variable in the sexuality question, it introduces a question that’s even less solvent: what is it that’s choosing?

Lorraine Schroeder thinks its “fear.” As director of the campus LGBT Resource Center, she’s seen it more than once.

“Let’s pretend for a moment that homosexuality is chosen, is a lifestyle, and is a sin. I find it queer that certain religious groups zero in on rejecting this particular ‘activity’, this ‘lifestyle’, this ‘sin,’” Schroeder said.

“I know there are plenty of other chosen lifestyles and sins that go against religious teaching, but these religious groups do not stop supporting organizations that accept these types of people. What then is the obsession some religious groups have with rejecting homosexuality?”

It might stem from their role as a family foundation. Any bricklayer will tell you: slip one out, and you’re starting from the bottom up. One would like to think that an institution as long standing as the Church might be even more viable to difference than its counterparts. But, then again, that might by why they’ve stood so tall for so long.

Not that acceptance is strictly a regional issue. It’s anything but. Indiana made applications for same-sex marriage illegal just a few weeks ago.

This is an amendment, in an otherwise civilized territory, that threatens to jail the couples who marry, the judge who’d marry them, his local officials, and members of the clergy. You could face up to a $10,000 fee. You could spend up to 180 days in prison.

And, a little further away, the Russians aren’t faring too well either. Foreigners are now being deported for distributing “gay propaganda.” Gay Russians are jailed, ostracized and beaten. Nearly 90 percent of their country supports it. And Vladmir Putin is smiling in the press photos.

It comes less than a month after Houston’s own Pride celebration. It was hot outside. Westheimer was cordoned. There were whites, blacks, Hispanics, Spaniards, Germans, French, Chileans, Alaskans and Asians. Kids were running around in sandals. And every single attendee provided a different answer to West Conroe’s question of who gets to choose. Their answer was to accept those who’ve made their choice. And to accept that, regardless of their decision, it was their choice to choose.

There’s time to catch up.

Bryan Washington is an opinion columnist and an English junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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