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Three Resolutions of The United Church of Christ Opposing the Boy Scout's of America's Policy of Discrimination Being Submitted 2003

RESOLUTION

Title

Relationships between the United Church of Christ and the boy Scouts of America

Purpose

*To affirm the benefits of the Scouting program for youth;
*To encourage United Church of Christ congregations to make sure their Scout units are open to all; and
*To advocate that the Boy Scouts of America return to its historic values of inclusiveness.

Position to be Voted That the Northern California Nevada Conference, United Church of Christ:

1. Calls upon its member congregations and their Scout units and Scout leaders to support inclusive Scouting, keeping their present Scout units and organizing new ones which are open to all youth;

2. Urges the Boy Scouts of America to return to its historic values of inclusiveness, including sexual orientation, and to reinforce the right and responsibility of all chartered organizations and their Scout unit (parent) committees to choose their Scout leaders and the youth they will serve.

Background

The Fifteenth General Synod (1985) encouraged a policy of non-discrimination in employment, volunteer services, and membership policies with regard to sexual orientation, and encouraged the congregations of the United Church of Christ to adopt a non-discrimination policy and a Covenant of Openness and Affirmation of persons of lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientation within the community of faith.

The Northern California Nevada Conference (1992) encouraged the churches of the Conference to continue or enter into study possibly leading toward adoption of an inclusive, non-discrimination policy and a covenant of openness and affirmation which welcomes and accepts lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons as full participants within the community of faith and
acknowledges their gifts and intrinsic worth.

Scouting is a great movement for youth, serving to build character, citizenship, leadership, and spiritual life through an active, adventurous, outdoor program.


The United Church of Christ has about 1400 Scout units (Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, and Venturer crews), serving some 53,000 youth, some of these units dating from the earliest days of Scouting in the United States.

The United States Supreme Court has in June 2000 upheld the right of the Boy Scouts of America to set membership criteria; thus effectively allowing them to exclude homosexuals as members or leaders or as professional or nonprofessional employees.

The Boy Scouts of Americas Executive Board on February 6, 2002 declared that:
*"Conduct of both Scouts and Scouters must be in compliance with the Scout Oath and Law" and "membership is contingent upon ones willingness to accept the values and standards espoused by the Boy Scouts of America."
*"Homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the traditional values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law and that an avowed homosexual could not serve as a role model for the values of the Oath and Law."
*"BSAs values cannot be subject to local option choices, but must be the same in every unit."

Discrimination against anyone based upon sexual orientation is seen by many churches as a justice and human rights issue, rooted in our understanding of Gods inclusive love and care for all persons and all creation; The Boy Scouts of Americas
Declaration of Religious Principle states that "the BSA recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group [church] with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life."
(BSA Bylaws, Article IX)

The Boy Scouts of America has violated its Declaration of Religious Principle by:
*Denying the Unitarian Universalist Association the right to teach its own Scouts its own beliefs regarding homosexuality and atheism in preparing them for its own Religion in Life Award, and
*Forcing Open and Affirming United Church of Christ congregations to choose between keeping their Scout units by denying their Open and Affirming beliefs, or being denied charters for their Scout units because they apply their Open and Affirming statement to all church programs, organizations, and tenants, including their Scout units.

The Boy Scouts of America violates its own Oath and Law, and causes Scout leaders and youth to violate them, wherein they state:
*Scout Oath: "... to do my duty to God ... by respecting and defending the rights of others to practice their own beliefs" " ... and morally straight ... your relationships with others should be honest and open. You should respect and defend the rights of all people."
*Scout Law: "A Scout is: "Trustworthy. A Scout tells the truth." "Loyal. A Scout is true to his ... friends ..." "Helpful. A Scout cares about other people." "Friendly. A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He offers friendship to people of all races and nations, and respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own." "Courteous. A Scout
is polite to everyone regardless of age or position." "Kind. He treats others as he wants to be treated." "Cheerful. He tries to make others happy." "Reverent. He respects the beliefs of others."

Declining membership in the Boy Scouts of America demonstrates that the BSA is moving toward a narrower program instead of an inclusive one that serves a broad cross-section of our diverse nations beliefs.

Dismissing free-thinking, agnostic, or atheist youth denies them any exposure to religion through Scouting.

Discrimination by the Boy Scouts of America inherently teaches youth that discrimination against homosexuals, harassment, and even hostile acts are acceptable.

Discrimination and dismissal by the Boy Scouts of America leads to depression and suicide by gay youth.


Theological Rationale

Scripture says God created humankind in Gods own image (Genesis 1:26-27); and the Apostle Paul said that, as Christians, we are many members, but we are one body in Christ (Romans 12:4), and Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31), without being judgmental (Matthew 7:1-2), nor disparaging of others (Luke 18:9-14); and In the Gospel, Jesus declares, "...I was a stranger and you welcomed me ...Truly, I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of those who are members of my family, you did it to me;" and as part of the Great Commandment, Jesus calls us to "love our neighbors as
ourselves." (Matthew 25:35-40 and Matthew 22:39, NRSV); and

Paul wrote, "The body is one and has many members, and altogether the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ....Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." (I Corinthians 12:12 and 27); and

Resources

United Church of Christ publications:
*The United Church of Christ, Local Churches, and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA): How shall we respond to the BSA
policy regarding sexual orientation? (March 2001)
*Calling on United Church of Christ Congregations to Declare Themselves Open and Affirming, General Synod resolution (1985)
*Open and Affirming, Northern California Nevada Conference resolution (1992)
*The Connecticut Conference, UCC, Our Churches, and Their Relationships with the Boy Scouts of America, Connecticut Conference Resolution (October 2002) (Another conference has passed a resolution on this issue.)

Boy Scouts of America publications:
*Bringing Youth to Christ Through a Scouting Ministry (No 5-957B)
*Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America (1998) (excerpt: Article IX, "Declaration of Religious Principle"
*Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America (1998) (excerpts: Article VI, "Local Units;" Article VIII, "Adult Leadership;" Article IX, "The Scout Oath or Promise and the Scout Law;" Article X, "Youth Members")
*The Chartered Organization Representative (excerpt: "How Scouting Operates"

Coalition for Inclusive Scouting publication:
*Toward Inclusive Scouting: Effective steps to counter the Boy Scouts of Americas policies of discrimination based on religion and sexual orientation
*Coalitions for Inclusive Scouting

Scouting for All publications:
*Reaching Out to All Youth
*Boy Scouts of America February 6, 2002 Resolution and Scouting for All Responds
*The Facts: Scouting for Alls response to the BSAs misstatements (2001)


Other publications:
*Examining the BSAs Dilemma and a Rationale for Resolution
*Boy Scouts of America Reaffirms Opposition to Gays and Freethinkers in Scouting: (text of the BSA February 6, 2002 Resolution and Questions and Answers, reprinted, with additional comments by Dave Rice)

Websites:

Recommendations for Implementation

That the Northern California Nevada Conference Board of Directors:

1. Urge United Church of Christ congregations to keep their present scout units and seek to charter new units which are open to all without reservation; and to make sure that their Open and Affirming statements apply to all church organizations, programs, and tenants, including their Scout units.

2. Request the General Synod delegates from the Northern California Nevada Conference to carry the concerns of the NCNC position on this issue into discussions at the General Synod in July 2003.

3. Convey to the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America our belief that discrimination against anyone based upon sexual orientation is contrary to our understanding of the teachings of Christ; a. Asking the Boy Scouts of America to enact a membership policy which bases exclusion on sexual misconduct rather than on sexual orientation; b. Calling on the Boy Scouts of America to return to its historical stance of requiring all chartered organizations and Scout unit (parent) committees to choose their Scout leaders and the youth they will serve, according to their standards.

4. Urge United Church of Christ Scout units to prepare statements that they will not discriminate against anyone, on the basis of, among other criteria, sexual orientation in their program.

5. Urge United Church of Christ Scout leaders to assure their Scout youth that they can approach their leaders with their
concerns without fear of retribution.

Cost Estimate Minimal; time and materials for letter-writing and postage for mailing.


Contact Person

David A Rice, 433 Garfield Drive, Petaluma, CA
94954-3818, 707-763-8378, member of Petaluma United Church of Christ,
<daverice@bigfoot.com

Proposal by:

~~~~~~~~~~

Here's the resolution Dave Knapp wrote, which the Connecticut Conference will carry to the UCC General Synod in July:

RESOLUTION: THE CONNECTICUT CONFERENCE, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST, OUR CHURCHES AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA

WHEREAS, In the Gospel, Jesus declares, "...I was a stranger and you welcomed me...Truly, I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of those who are members of my family, you did it to me;" and as part of the Great Commandment, Jesus calls us to "love our neighbors as ourselves." (Matthew 25:35-40 and Matthew 22:39, NRSV); and

WHEREAS, Paul wrote, "The body is one and has many members, and altogether the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ....Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." (I Corinthians 12:12 and 27); and

WHEREAS, The fifteenth General Synod (1985) of the United Church of Christ encouraged "a policy of non-discrimination in employment, volunteer service and membership policies with regard to sexual orientation; and encouraged associations, conferences and all related organizations to adopt a similar policy as well as a Covenant of Openness and Affirmation of persons of lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation within the community of faith;" and

WHEREAS, In 1989, the 122nd Annual Meeting of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ declared the
Conference to Open and Affirming and "called upon member congregations to adopt a similar non-discrimination policy and covenant of openness and affirmation;" and

WHEREAS, The United States Supreme Court has recently (June 2000) upheld the right of the Boy Scouts of America to
set membership criteria; thus effectively allowing them to exclude homosexuals as members or leaders; as professional or nonprofessional employees; and

WHEREAS, Discrimination against anyone based upon sexual orientation is seen by many churches as a justice and human
rights issue, rooted in our understanding of Gods inclusive love and care for all persons and all creation;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we, the delegates to the 135th Annual Meeting of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ, request the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ to convey to the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America our belief that discrimination against anyone based upon sexual orientation is contrary to our understanding of the teachings of Christ;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we request our Board of Directors to ask the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America to enact a membership policy which bases exclusion on sexual misconduct rather than sexual orientation.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we invite all congregations that sponsor Boy Scout troops to prayerfully and thoughtfully consider the implications of such sponsorship.

Presented by First
Congregational Church of Guilford, Inc

~~~~~~~~~~

And here's the resolution the UCC Coalition on GLBT Concerns will carry to the UCC General Synod in July:

Boy Scouts of America Resolution

The Boy Scouts of America and the United Church of Christ

Background Information

* The Boy Scouts of America established a policy in 1978 of not accepting gay boys and men as members or leaders.
* The General Synod of the United Church of Christ declared itself "Open and Affirming" of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in 1985.
* The United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, on February 8, 1993, requested the Boy Scouts of America to stop its discriminatory practices against gay boys and men, and to allow local troops autonomy and therefore variance from the Boy Scouts of Americas discriminatory policies, and to clearly justify its policies and practices.
* The discriminatory practices and policies of the Boy Scouts of America have caused pain to gay and bisexual boys and men in the United Church of Christ, as well as their heterosexual peers and allies.
* Congregations of the United Church of Christ charter approximately 1,425 troops of the Boy Scouts of America.
* 55,000 men and boys of the United Church of Christ participate in the Boy Scouts of America. Statistically, 5,500 of these
boys and men are of homosexual orientation.
* The Boy Scouts of America in 1999 denied a charter to the Petaluma UCC in Petaluma, CA, due to the UCCs "Open and Affirming" stance.
* The BSA withdrew its charter relationship in 1999 with the Shadow Rock UCC in Phoenix, Arizona, after that congregation declared itself "Open and Affirming."
* Various expressions of the UCC, as well as ecumenical groups, have attempted to engaged the BSA and its various settings in dialogue, including: - Mayflower UCC in Minneapolis, Minnesota - First Congregational Church and Society of Albany, New York - Central Congregational Church in Providence, Rhode Island - Pilgrim Congregational UCC in Cleveland, Ohio - Clergy for Justice, an ecumenical group in Phoenix, Arizona

* The Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ passed the resolution, "The Connecticut Conference, UCC, Our Church, and Their Relationship to the Boy Scouts of America," in April 2002, expressing dismay at the BSAs discriminatory
policies.

* The Unitarian Universalist Association has been denied the right to grant the Religion in Life merit badge specifically because of the Unitarian Universalist Associations affirming policies of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons, and as such the UCC is potentially also at risk of de recognition for its 1985 Open and Affirming resolution.

* The General Synod of the UCC passed the 1999 resolution, "Preventing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth
Suicide," affirming lgbt youth and young adults.

* Representatives of the UCC met with BSA representatives at BSA national headquarters in Dallas, September 20, 1999.

* United Church Board for Homeland Ministries filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of James Dale before the U.S. Supreme Court.

* The Girl Scouts of America do not have policies which discriminate against lesbian or bisexual girls and women.

* The Coalition Council has endorsed Scouting for All, an organization which works for the inclusion of all in scouting.

* An organization called Out Scouts exists, comprised of gay and bisexual boys, which advocates for continuing presence in and on-going dialogue with the BSA around issues of affectional orientation.

* Some Boy Scouts have begun to wear non-BSA approved solidarity badges on their uniforms to show solidarity with their gay and bisexual peers.

* The National Executive Committee of the BSA on February 6, 2002, reaffirmed its bigoted policies toward and discriminatory practices against gay and bisexual boys and men.

* The Dartmouth UCC in Dartmouth, New Hampshire, voted following that action to sever its ties with the BSA.

* The national setting of the UCC has prepared a study packet of materials for congregations seeking to engage in discussion and discernment around their relationship with the BSA. 450 congregations have requested these study packets

Resolution

Whereas the Boy Scouts of America has offered generations of boys and men opportunities to build friendships
and foster mentoring relationships, develop leadership skills, and embody values that encourage a reverence for the earth and service on behalf of others, and

Whereas the Boy Scouts of America established a policy in 1978 of not accepting gay boys and men, and in February 2002 reaffirmed its discriminatory policies and practices by action of the Relationships Committee of the National Executive Committee of the Boy Scouts of America, and

Whereas Jesus prayer, "that they may all be one," offers the guiding vision of the United Church of Christ and invites us to celebrate the gifts and graces of all Gods children, and

Whereas various settings of the United Church of Christ in various actions and communications has requested that the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America cease its discriminatory practices against gay boys and men and allow local units autonomy and therefore variance from the Boy Scouts of Americas discriminatory policies and practices, and

Whereas the discriminatory practices of the Boy Scouts of America have caused pain and suffering to gay and bisexual boys and men in the United Church of Christ, as well as their heterosexual peers, families, and allies, and Whereas the Council of the United Church of Christ Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns has endorsed Scouting for All, which works for the inclusion of all in scouting, regardless of sexual/affectional orientation, and

Whereas the United Church of Christ believes that in a Gospel that affirms and welcomes all, including gay and bisexual boys and men, and we believe that the discriminatory policies and practices of the Boy Scouts of America invite gay and bisexual males to feel less than, invisible, and marginalized, and Whereas there are many appropriate responses from among which actions may be chosen,

Therefore be it resolved that we condemn homophobia and heterosexism in all its forms, including against boys, youth, and adults, and Further be it resolved that encourage the use of the local church resource packet developed by the Covenanted
Ministries of the United Church of Christ, and

Further be it resolved that we encourage congregations, associations, conferences, and other settings of the United Church of Christ to endorse Scouting for All and similar justice-seeking organizations, and

Further be it resolved that we support the actions of congregations within a full range of options, including those who wish to sever their ties to the Boy Scouts of America, and those who wish to remain in dialogue and connection with the Boy Scouts of America, and

Further be it resolved that we request the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America to reactivate its original membership policy, practiced from 1910 to 1978, which based exclusion on misconduct rather than sexual/affectional orientation, and

Finally be it resolved that we prayerfully refer this issue back to the local churches, associations, conferences, and the General Synod of the Untied Church of Chrsit for further study.



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