After decision on gays, Cobb churches differ in their support for scouting
by Megan Thornton
June 09, 2013 02:22 PM | 3897 views | 33 33 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One World Spiritual Center Rev. Stephanie Seigh, adjusts the invitational message on her church's marquee Thursday on Shallowford Road welcoming misplaced scout troops that may have been asked to leave other area churches due to the decision to allow gay Boys Scouts. STAFF/KELLY J. HUFF
One World Spiritual Center Rev. Stephanie Seigh, adjusts the invitational message on her church's marquee Thursday on Shallowford Road welcoming misplaced scout troops that may have been asked to leave other area churches due to the decision to allow gay Boys Scouts. STAFF/KELLY J. HUFF
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One World Spiritual Center Rev. Stephanie Seigh, adjusts the invitational message on her church's marquee Thursday on Shallowford Road welcoming misplaced scout troops that may have been asked to leave other area churches due to the decision to allow gay Boys Scouts. STAFF/KELLY J. HUFF
One World Spiritual Center Rev. Stephanie Seigh, adjusts the invitational message on her church's marquee Thursday on Shallowford Road welcoming misplaced scout troops that may have been asked to leave other area churches due to the decision to allow gay Boys Scouts. STAFF/KELLY J. HUFF
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Religious organizations throughout Cobb County appear to be split along denominational lines when it comes to deciding whether to continue a relationship with the Boy Scouts of America.

Two weeks ago, the 1,400 voting members of the BSA’s National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction that denied membership to boys if they openly identified as homosexual.

National leaders said the resolution also reinforces a long-standing policy that any sexual conduct by scouts is prohibited and remains contrary to the virtues of scouting. The council did not consider a change to policy regarding the sexual orientation of adult leaders.

TracyTechau, scout executive for theAtlantaArea Council, which covers 13 metroAtlantacounties including Cobb, said the local council’s priority remains the same.

“The Scouting program today has the same merit badges, campfires and great programs as it had yesterday,” Techau said. “We will continue to serve as many Atlanta Scouts as possible with the best leadership development program and once-in-a-lifetime adventures.”

Since the decision, churches and other places of worship have had to decide their stance on scouting and whether to continue a 103-year-oldAmerican tradition or to look elsewhere for youth programs.

Religious organizations sponsor about 70 percent of the 116,000 Scout units in the United States, according to an Associated Press report.

Two Southern Baptist church leaders with massive congregations in the Marietta and east Cobb areas have already come forward opposing the change and vowing to disband their troops moving forward.

Jeff Fulcher, spokesman for the Atlanta Area Council, said there are 800 scouting groups in the metro area that make up the local scouting program and less than 5 percent have said they plan to eliminate troop activities.

“Over 95 percent of our units plan to continue delivering a quality scouting program and serving local youth,” Fulcher said. “Many other churches, places of worship and civic organizations have approached us offering to take any scouts that need a new place to meet.”

Continuing the Scouting tradition

While some churches have decided to discontinue their relationships with the scouts once the decision goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014, others aren’t skipping a beat with continuing their programs and welcoming all scouts with open arms.

Tom Welsh, scouting director for east Cobb’s Transfiguration Catholic Church Troop 75, said there won’t be a change to his church’s program, which sponsors a Cub Scout Pack for 6-10 year olds, a Boy Scout Troop for ages 11-17 and a co-ed Venture program that includes teenagers up to age 21.

“The Boy Scouts have always been accepting of all youth and our values and leadership are eternal,” said Welsh, a Boy Scout leader for the last 11 years.

Welsh, a Marietta resident, said the Boy Scout troop he presides over includes 67 boys.

In a recent release, Due West United Methodist Church in west Cobb said it will continue delivering scouting programs through Troop 540, which also includes a pack, troop and Venture (also called “crew”) program. The release was co-signed by Senior Pastor Tom Davis, Chartered Organization Representative Bill Coffeen, Scoutmaster Charles Hebert and Committee Chair Chris Dupree.

“All of our volunteer adult leaders have for years undergone state/national background checks, are well-trained, and are devoted to providing the very best programs they can by carrying on a fine tradition of citizenship, character-building and leadership activities for almost 50 years,” the release states. “We have not in the past nor will we in the future focus on the sexual orientation of our members, be they children or youth.”

One World Spiritual Center in east Cobb has only been open about a year and a half and doesn’t yet sponsor a Scout troop, but leaders are hoping to do so moving forward.

The Rev. Stephanie Seigh, senor minister at the interfaith church onShallowford Road, said she and other members of her church have been following national and local news about churches asking troops to leave following the controversial ruling.

“Our spiritual community honors all paths, and is an accepting and welcoming community that would love to support these troops,” Seigh said. “My own children spent many happy years in the scouts back inPennsylvaniaand I want to help these troops to continue to make a difference in their children’s lives.”

Seigh said she’s trying to get the word out about her church’s policy, including scrolling a message on her church’s marquee welcoming the scouts to join her approximately 90-member congregation.

“Of course churches have the right to make that decision (about having a Boy Scout troop,)” Seigh said. “But we sing a song at our church called “I Am As God Created Me.” We beleive in original blessings, not in original sin. When we hear about people being judged and persecuted, it just makes us sad. We honor all paths to God.”

Severing ties with BSA

Some local Baptist churches won’t be continuing their relationships with the scouts, saying the new policy conflicts with the teachings of the Bible.

Senior Pastor Ernest Easley with Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta announced to his congregation the Sunday following the vote that his church would discontinue Troop 204, which has been chartered through the church since 1945.

“I’ve encouraged people to get out of the program for the sake of protecting their children and to find an alternative,” Easley said.

Easley’s preferred substitute is the Royal Ambassadors program, a Southern Baptist organization that teaches camping skills and tying knots with a focus on understanding God’s word.

As a boy, Easley said he participated in both Cub Scouts and RA’s but had to decide which one to pursue as he got older.

“I chose RA’s,” he said. “It’s a great organization to teach about camping, God and country… Not every Southern Baptist Church has a program, but I’m hoping over the next 12-15 months a lot of our churches will consider launching or strengthening one they’ve got to provide parents an alternative.”

Easley said his church will officially sever its sponsorship of Troop 204 the day the policy goes into effect and allow scouts to continue to finish up patches and Eagle Scout projects through the end of the year.

Other than his sermon, Easley said he’s talked about the changes with scouting leadership in the church.

“They are sad about it,” he said. “But they understand why we have to do it. Nobody’s happy about it, I’m very sad about the whole scenario.”

“We are a congregation that affirms God’s word in practice and in belief. In that sense it would be a compromise for us to throw an arm around an organization that is openly pro-gay. It is a sad decision but a simple one when you affirm God’s word as the guide for your faith in practice.”

‘Dramatic change’ to Boy Scout oath

The Rev. Bryant Wright, senior pastor ofJohnsonFerryBaptistChurchin east Cobb, said through a video message on his church’s website last week he would be making the same choice despite the “rich partnership” his church has enjoyed with scouts over the years.

In the 4-minute video, Wright said he believes the decisionessentially condones homosexuality as being consistent with the Boy Scout Oath of Duty and “moral uprightness.”

“This is a dramatic change in the interpretation of the Scout Oath and it deeply concerns us,” Wright said. “You see, as Bible-beleiving Christians, we cannot compromise God’s word, which has a clear call for people—all people young and old—to a life of sexual purity.”

Wright said members of his church who have the “desire to change” their sins, comparing the situation of a young gay man with that of a young man struggling with alcohol abuse, are following the path of Jesus, who calls individuals to become the people God wants them to be.

“When a young boy who is struggling with sexual identity or feels that he is gay comes to his scout leader for counseling and advice, we’re committed to pray with that young man andurge him to live a life of sexual purity consistent with God’s word,” he said.

Moving forward, the church will allow scouts to continue their Eagle Scout candidacy in the short-term.

“In the long term, we will look for alternative means to preserve the spirit of scouting without causing us to compromise God’s word,” Wright said.

Key meeting for Baptists next week

The annual Southern Baptist convention will be held Tuesday and Wednesday inHouston,Texas, where it’s likely Baptist leaders will be told to move forward with disbanding their respective troops.

Southern Baptist Convention President Fred Luter told the Southern Baptist Press the decision marks "a sad day in the history of an organization that for years stood on Christian principles, particularly for the thousands of Southern Baptists who grew up as Boy Scouts like myself."

"My prayers go out to the parents and churches who have been forced to make decisions about being a part of the Boy Scouts. As Southern Baptists, our commitment to the Word of God and Christian values must take priority over what is 'politically correct,'" Luter said. 

Comments
(33)
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Sojurner Freedom
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June 18, 2013
In 1844, the national Baptist General Convention for Foreign Missions refused to license slave-owning missionaries. One year later, that refusal led to the split between the northern and southern Baptists. The southern Baptists were absolutely convinced that the Bible taught that God had divinely sanctioned slavery. As early as 1823, Richard Furman, a leader of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, a slaveholder, and for whom Furman University is named, stated in a famous address to the Governor of South Carolina, "The right of holding slaves is clearly established by the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example." [See Exposition of The Views of the Baptists, Relative To The Coloured Population In The United States]. The next year, in 1845, those firmly convicted defenders of slavery formed their own separate Baptist denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention.

With this as background, who is surprised with SBC support for continued discrimination and demonizing? Why does the SBC function at its best/ worst only when there is a great evil OTHER to struggle against? It is the beast within, not without that the SBC must contend with if it/ they hope to bring light to themselves and to the world.
Too funny
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June 11, 2013
Bigots will be bigots. Let the old guard churches sputter their anti-gay drivel, shut their doors to inclusion, and as a result, shut out more and more young people. Who would want to associate with those sanctimonious hypocrites in the first place?
To AmericanMale
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June 11, 2013
The protocols they put in place were in response to the problems the Scouts had in years past with pedophiles. It involves background checks and making sure no one goes off alone together. And yes, to your point… Okay, they won’t “host” the troops, but if the Scouts have no place to go, it kind of makes it hard to stay together (hence the word disbanding). As for slavery, it was most certainly condoned in many places throughout the Bible. To say it wasn’t, is just disingenuous. I am not trying to force my “ultra liberal religious beliefs” on anyone. Believe what you want. That’s your path. It’s not mine. My point was to say thank you and support those Churches that offered a home to those who have been pushed out and judged by others; Churches whose ministers don’t say things like “I don’t even want their stench in here” when talking about other human beings. I just don’t think that qualifies as “reaching out to all sinners” no matter how you cut it. But, if you don’t feel the same way – fine. Go to Roswell Street Baptist and enjoy. I hope the path you have chosen fills your life with purpose, peace, and happiness. (And I mean that sincerely.)
AmericanMale
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June 13, 2013
It's funny, "preachers" who refer to PEOPLE as "...stench..." are sinning, in my opinion. If the reference was to sin (of any kind), that's totally different. Attempting to denigrate another person is wrong. Period. (see also, "plank in your own eye") BTW, I've NEVER heard a Christian minister say anything close to that!

Others who have concluded the Bible's passages on the subject to be irrelevant for their lives are free to practice as they choose. Even Jesus himself allows us the freedom to make those determinations. (He doesn't FORCE us to believe.) If they find no conflict between their belief and the new BSA policies, then putting out the welcome mat for those displaced troops is just being nice. In my opinion, they are misleading others, enabling and condoning sin. Spiritually, that's treacherous!

If one believes homosexuality is not a sin, then it's no big deal. But, if one believes it IS sin, then it IS a big deal and can't be condoned because doing so would be to renounce the teachings of the Bible. As Bible-centric Christians (for lack of a better description), we are to love one another and hate sin. Sadly, many of us cannot seem to separate the two! Jesus himself said that he didn't come to condemn, but to save us from our sins.

Clearly, the secular media tend to embrace cases of perceived hypocrisy or bullying (they love "underdog" stories!) as a news item rather than to take up what might be construed as a "religious cause." Nothing's new to that. That is a prime reason homosexuality is being lauded throughout our media and our society these days. It is now en vogue.

Regarding slavery in the Bible being condoned, please give us a reference so we can learn more about it.

BTW, the protocols you cite are pretty weak, in my opinion. I still would not rely on them to be effective deterrence.
Lib in Cobb
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June 10, 2013
@Watcher: Are you concerned about scout leaders who are pedophiles?
Lib in Cobb
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June 10, 2013
@Linda in Cobb: You are a perfect example of a conservative who can't put together a cogent remark.

Thank you for making yourself so obvious.
maylib
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June 10, 2013
It's really simple - either you follow christ or you dont. And, as unfortunate as you may find it, that means not only accepting everyone but actually focusing on the least of us.

if you follow christ you know he never said a word about homosexuality. and if you want to lay claim to the word of god being absolute where you find these things in the bible, say good bye to shaving, eating shrimp, or wearing blended fabrics. oh, and be sure to invite everyone to your fist public stoning of a divorcee or adulterer.

never ceases to amaze me how few christians actually follow christ. he would be pointing his finger at these people as being the problem just as he did in the bible.
Love and Acceptance
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June 09, 2013
Whilst I respect the right of religious organizations to practice what they preach, it’s saddening when it spills out into the larger world and hurts people (in this case, Scout children). Churches that are disbanding their troops say they are following the word of God as it is written in the Bible, but it seems they are always rather selective when “they” decide what that word is. Looking on the bright side, I guess we can be grateful that they don’t advocate slavery (which is rampant throughout the Bible), amongst other things... Thank you to those churches and organizations that welcome everyone without reservation or judgment. It’s nice that someone is actually acting like Jesus (rather than talking about him) and standing up for those out cast. And for those who are arguing about gay boys being in the same tent with straight boys, it doesn’t hold water. If you knew anything about Scouts, you know siblings (girls) are already allowed to go along on trips and there aren’t problems because there are protocols in place. The sexual preference of any individual has nothing to do with Scouting. I know my comments won’t change the mind of anyone (especially the dude who thinks women can’t be ministers), but I hope that those who love and accept all people despite their differences, know that they are supported.
AmericanMale
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June 10, 2013
FYI, slavery is mentioned, but not condoned. In fact, it is acknowledged as the way mankind had orchestrated civilization at the time, but spoke of slavery as a bad thing.

"Protocols in place" on boys & girls being allowed to sleep together in tents is too nebulous. Specific info on how this is managed would be appreciated.

BTW, churches don't "disband" troops. They host them. The troop is its own organization, in most cases I've seen.

Jesus went against Pharisees and others who considered themselves superior due to religious adherence. He reached out (and still reaches out) to ALL sinners. He confronted them on their sin. Jesus didn't accept their sin.

Churches should no more be required to house an open bar in their facility than to accommodate unrepentant homosexuality.

"In the essentials, unity. In the non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity." I believe this topic is an essential. Please don't try to force your ultra-liberal religious belief on us!
logoschristology
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June 08, 2013
The LGBT community has won over many advocates to their gender questioning and gender flexible side of the homosexual debate. Though many people including our own president subscribe to the heresy of moral evolution, God's Word does not change and will not change on the issue of homosexuality. Thank you, Dr. Ernest Easley and Rev. Bryant Wright, for upholding God's Word in the face of opposition, ridicule, and, yes, persecution, by those who attempt to deny the sin of homosexuality condemned in both the New and Old Testaments.
my own opinion
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June 08, 2013
If a church decides not to go against Gods word just for the sake of fitting in with the social majority, then your words against them are just as judgmental and hateful. Your saying if you don't accept me then I won't accept you. Jesus

never said that either. Believe it or not there are some churches that don't sugar coat things

so we get to here what we want to here.
Linda in Cobb
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June 08, 2013
Lib in Cobb you are an IDIOT
ECobber
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June 09, 2013
That's a very thoughtful, intelligent argument. What other pearls of wisdom can you share with us?
AmericanMale
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June 08, 2013
From a Biblical / Christian standpoint, it comes down to whether you believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, or if you believe it to be a "living document", subject to revision by each individual to suit the culture of the day.

1 Timothy 10 classifies the PRACTICING of homosexuality as a sin. One may be highly disposed by genetics to practice homosexuality, but choose whether or not act on it. By the way, just in case some of us Christians are tempted to be "uppity" about the sin of homosexuality in someone else, that same passage equates it with lying and murder. We all are sinners in need of grace.

From a purely societal standpoint, how many of you parents in support of this gay initiative allow your teenage daughters to go to sleepovers with teenaged boys? How about sending them out in the woods to sleep in a tent with a man? The attraction between genders is acceptable to everyone, yet doesn't mean such an arrangement would be wise. Same sex attractions may or may not be acceptable to you, but such an arrangement would be unwise, too!

The organization may not have the option of refusing homosexuals admission (legally speaking) unless they are declared a religious organization. Baptist churches are WELL within their rights to uphold their Christian beliefs.

It's a sad day to see that it has come to this. But I, for one, will not knowingly allow my sons to go camping with either homosexual leaders or homosexual campers. It's not hate. It IS common sense.
Lib in Cobb
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June 08, 2013
I hope "The Big Tent" churches and the small ones who have withdrawn their boy scout support, enjoy the obvious hypocrisy. I will ask all those churches have you sought out and banned the still closeted gay members or child molesting members from your congregation?

I embraced atheism many years ago, I have never regretted that decision. The hypocrisy of Christianity in this case was one of the reasons.
Linda in Cobb
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June 12, 2013
I REST MY CASE
1legup
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June 07, 2013
What I bring into question is any weight to what the right "rev." Stephanie said. I can't give any creedance to her voice given the fact that she nor any of the "other" ministers of her "church" follow the teachings of the New Testament where it is clearly stayed in Hebrews and Epheians that a deacon, minister is to be the Husband of one wife. Husband is clearly a MANS role. Also, the New Testament teaches that a woman is not to ushurp athority over a man. A "Rev" a she can never be, not according to Bible teachings.
cswezt
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June 10, 2013
To 1 legup:

Exactly what book are you reading? The whole controversy is about the Boy Scouts not being able to meet in the Baptist Church that they have been using since World War II ended. According to your "perception" (and I use that term quite loosely) of the Bible, we should negate Reverence Seigh's opinions because she is not a man. She has a position of authority which, perhaps, may be threatening to a person who is insecure...male or female. Perhaps you should go to her Church so you can, at the very least, listen to someone who can put a coherent sentence together.

I am fairly sure, based on your "writing" ability that you are not a biblical scholar. I would suggest the book you should be consulting is a dictionary. The "teachings" you should be reviewing is one of an English teacher.
Just Thinking
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June 07, 2013
If you believe what the Bible says about Jesus, it seems to me he would be walking with those that everyone else caste aside. I suppose the two good reverends are more selective than our Saviour was. I would remind these gentlemen that there was a time not so long ago that the color of someone's skin was also a reason not to walk beside them that was condoned by their denomination. And, this is also the same group that thinks a woman's words are not worthy to be spoken in a pulpit.
Thank you !
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June 07, 2013
Big Big Big thanks to the churches who "love they neighbor as thyself" and are welcoming these children with open arms. My your congregations and clergy continue to extend God's love to all people without judgement of any kind. God bless you and know we thank you beyond what you could imagine.
Kennesaw Resident
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June 15, 2013
AMEN!
Liz64
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June 07, 2013
Childrens song "JESUS loves the little children ALL the children of the world - red and yellow black and white - THEY are PRECIOUS in his SIGHT" Dosen't say unless your gay. Guess the baptist will have to add a new verse.This is not what the Jesus I have in my heart would do.

j
WWJD ?
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June 07, 2013
My partner of 18 years is an Eagle Scout & you couldn't find a finer man. He just happens to be gay. I feel sorry for any closeted youth that have to attend these Baptist churches with their family. Preaching hate & judgement from the pulpit is not what Christianity is about. There is another Baptist Church, that happens to be located in the state of Kansas. The Westboro Baptist Church not only preaches similar hate & judgement, but also pickets funerals of soldiers killed in combat. Really sad that two of our largest local Baptist churches, Roswell Street Baptist & Johnson Ferry Baptist, have joined the ranks of Westboro Baptist in their preaching of hate.
The Big Dawg
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June 08, 2013
The only hate I see here is from your intolerance. If a person, or a church, has standards that you do not like, you call it hate. No one from Roswell Street or Johnson Ferry protested at a funeral. No one said a gay person cannot go to church, just like no one said an alcoholic cannot go to church. Both are acts of disobedience and a church is a place where people go to learn how not to encourage each other to stop their disobedience and grow closer to Christ. No hate, just Godly advise.
tired of it
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June 12, 2013
The problem when stating your beliefs is NOT hate nor is it judgement it is a persons belief of what the bible says. These preachers never said they hated or preach that you should hate gays, that is what people say when they are not agreed with. Being gay is a sin it is a choice just as murdering someone, having an affair, it is what you choose to do. its up to you to not give into the devil who is tempting you with these and any other sins that are out there. I love the sinner but hate the sin, I know plenty of gays/lesbians and am friends with them but I won't agree with them just because they are my friends. It is amazing how if you dont agree with something you are called a hater! when actually you are stating your beliefs.
Brother Thomas
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June 07, 2013
Simple - doctrinally sound churches will drop the program, those seeking to fit in with society will keep it.
Mark 131
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June 08, 2013
WRONG. How about you cut the hatred and bigotry. When I see fundies use the term morally sound, it really means hatred, bigotry and exclusion. The right is begging for another war.
Lib in Cobb
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June 07, 2013
Would you let a pedophile go camping with your children. This scenario has happened many times in the two decades and the boy scouts covered it up. I would trust a gay scout and a gay scout master before I would trust a man who was living a secret life.

The wide majority of pedophiles are men who are living in or have lived in a hetero relationship.

Really!
voice of reason
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June 07, 2013
Those of you saying its ok for gays to be in scouting...ask yourself if you would allow your daughter to go camping (sleeping in the same tent) with heterosexual boys of the same age? Or, would you let girl scouts go camping with a male scout leader and sleep in the same tent? Do you not understand this is the same thing?
Jen J
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June 10, 2013
How is it the same thing? Geez! How small minded. I could careless if I was the only non-lesbian woman in a tent. Here's an even deeper thought---perhaps I don't do it for them to begin with? Just because a person is gay, doesn't mean they're attracted to EVERY same gender person. If folks would stop thinking of GAY/LESBIAN as a sexual thing(which is the only difference to heterosexuals), we could be less uptight and worry about our own sins. The easy part---if you're cool with your orientation and know what you like, what's there to think about? Unless you're in denial and feel guilty by having gays around you and hate having to fight the urge, there SHOULDN'T be an issue to be kind to other humans.
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