A group of NE Portland residents circulated a flyer urging neighbors to ask the Presbyterian Church of Laurelhurst to stop sponsoring a Boy Scouts of America troop because of BSA’s policy on homosexuality. The flyer also promoted a petition asking the church to stop the Scouts’ Christmas tree recycling fundraiser.
Historically, the BSA has prohibited people from joining who are atheists, agnostics, or “open or avowed” homosexuals. Their 2004 policy statement declares, “Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed.”
In the case BSA v. Dale (June 28, 2000), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional right of private organizations to exclude certain persons from membership.
Although there are 1,400 troops in Oregon and SW Washington, only the Laurelhurst troop has faced this kind of opposition.
Presbyterian Church of Laurelhurst Pastor Greg Ikehara-Martin said the church would not stop sponsoring the troop. According to a letter he wrote to neighbors, he believes BSA’s homosexual policy will change more quickly if people “keep talking together instead of cutting our ties.”
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