Posted: Feb 5, 2013 10:43 PM by Jacqui Heinrich, firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: Feb 6, 2013 8:07 AM
The national debate over the Boys Scouts of America considering a major policy change to allow openly gay leaders and scouts is heating up.
On Tuesday, scouts and their families in Texas delivered a petition with more than a million signatures urging an end to the ban. They called the policy 'archaic'.
On the other side of the issue, a full page advertisement was taken out in USA Today by anti-gay groups, equating gay people with pedophiles and claiming the ban on gays is "part of the BSA's effort to protect scouts from sexual abuse". Dropping the ban, they say, is a "grave mistake".
The debate is heating up locally too; on Tuesday Focus On The Family released a statement urging the Boy Scouts not to lift the ban on gays, encouraging their constituents to petition the Boy Scouts of America. Focus On The Family representatives said lifting the ban would put impressionable young boys in the care of people whose lifestyles are out of line with God, potentially endangering them. They pointed to cases of child molestation by homosexuals as evidence for their claim.
"We just don't want to put children in an increased position of risk," Paul Batura, Vice President of Communications for Focus On The Family told News 5's Jacqui Heinrich in an interview. The 'risk', he says, is to a child's moral fiber. "The example that they're [homosexuals] showing and the lifestyle that they're living, that would leave on a child's mind as to what is normal or what is best. We're uncomfortable with that," Batura said.
Pointing to cases of child molestation by homosexuals, Jim Daly, President of Focus On The Family, petitioned church members to ask the Boy Scouts to keep the ban. In an online statement, Daly wrote, "I realize not all homosexual men are pedophiles but can we not face the facts and ask why we would deliberately put a youngster in a heightened position of risk?"
It's a charge Charles Irwin, Director of Colorado Springs Pride, finds preposterous. "Is Focus On The Family calling for a ban on the evangelical or sporting teams that have an extremely bad record when dealing with sexual abuse in children? I don't see a ban in those so I think they're really not paying attention to what's truthful and factual," Irwin told Heinrich.
Perhaps predicting that very question to be asked, Daly included in his statement an answer: "Of course these cases are the exception and most priests and pastors are trustworthy. But one of the reasons the abuse occurred in the first place is because the involved clergy were homosexuals..."
To that, Irwin also pointed to data: a recent study out of the University of Denver that shows 0-3% of 296 child molestation cases were committed by homosexuals. "This shows Focus On The Family creating and using fear for ridiculous things. It's really creating some challenges for young individuals because it's showing them that this organization or the Boy Scouts Of America is treating them as second class citizens."
Irwin says keeping the ban would constitute discrimination against gays in the name of crimes most usually committed by heterosexuals. Focus On The Family reps say neutrality is not an option when it comes to moral purity, and the fight to keep the Boy Scouts straight will go on.
A decision from the Boy Scouts is expected this week.