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Philly evicts the Scouts

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–Until recently, the Boy Scouts of America was an organization that was held almost unanimously in high regard. In fact, you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone who would say something negative about the organization. But over the past decade homosexual activists have been attacking the Scouts for its lack of politically correct tolerance.

The Boy Scout oath insists on a belief in God and a commitment to moral behavior. As a result, the Scouts will not allow atheists or homosexuals to serve as leaders. The Boy Scouts principles date back to the founding of the Scouts in 1910.

Homosexual activists have branded the Boy Scouts as “homophobic” and intolerant. As such, the Scouts supposedly must embrace the doctrine of political correctness and change their beliefs — or else. Activists even have gone to court to force the Boy Scouts to change its ways. Yet that effort was dealt a significant blow when, in 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that as a private organization, the Scouts has a right to determine who can be a member. In other words, the Scouts can choose its leadership and membership based on its principles and beliefs.

Incensed by this decision, homosexual activists changed their strategy. They started to try to persuade local governments, corporations and charitable organizations to shun the Scouts. And, sadly, the activists have been successful in swaying some minds.

Most notable of the charitable groups that have given in to the activists are various chapters of the United Way. Chapters all over America have dropped the Boy Scouts as if they were radioactive. Also, many schools have stopped giving Scouts access to their facilities. City governments have also sought to sever ties that are decades long in existence. Additionally, corporate donations have declined.

But unlike organizations and government groups that have folded like cheap lawn chairs, the Boy Scouts has refused to compromise its principles.

Now homosexual activists have motivated an attack on the national headquarters of the Boy Scouts, Philadelphia, which is hallowed ground for the Scouts.

The Boy Scouts built the impressive Beaux Arts building in Philadelphia and have met there since 1928. It was constructed on a half-acre of land owned by the city. The Scouts donated the building to the city with the provision that the Scouts would be allowed to lease the building back for $1 a year for perpetuity. This arrangement has been in place for almost 80 years.

During the eight decades the Boy Scouts has occupied the Beaux Arts building, it has maintained the facility at the cost of approximately $60,000 a year, and in 1994 made renovations to the facility to the tune of $2.6 million.

However, the Philadelphia City Council has bowed to the activists and insists the Boy Scouts must begin paying $200,000 a year in rent or vacate the building. The Scouts apparently must leave by June 1.

There is a way the Boy Scouts can avert the action by the Philadelphia City Council. According to Romulo Diaz, the city solicitor, the Scouts can begin welcoming open homosexuals as scout leaders. Diaz (identified by the Philadelphia media as an open homosexual) says the city will only honor its lease with the Boy Scouts if the Scouts give up their deeply held convictions and cave in to the homosexual agenda.

Homosexual activists do not want tolerance. They want to force groups, like the Boy Scouts, to accept and validate their lifestyle. If homosexuals and atheists are so opposed to the principles of the Boy Scouts, why don’t they go and start their own scouting groups? Then they, as affirmed by the Supreme Court, can set their own membership rules.

Why do homosexual activists insist on attacking the Boy Scouts? It is a will to power. Either you embrace their lifestyle or they will make every effort to destroy your life and reputation. Thus far, the Scouts — along with conservative Christian organizations and churches — are one of the few groups to defy the activists’ demands.

If the Philadelphia City Council wants to break its lease agreement with the Boy Scouts, let it reimburse the Scouts for 80-years of maintenance as well as the $2.6 million for the 1994 renovation project. If homosexual activists want politically correct tolerance mandated, make them pay for it.
Kelly Boggs, whose column appears each week in Baptist Press, is editor of the Baptist Message, the newspaper of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

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  • Kelly Boggs