The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

January 31, 2013

Scouts' future uncertain if ban on gays is dropped

(Continued)

She said the proposed change could prompt some churches to cut ties with Scouting, but suggested other congregations will step up to fill the gaps.

"This is something that will probably flare up and, if handled properly, will be allowed to die down," Perrone said.

The no-gays policy has fueled a protracted legal fight in Philadelphia. The Scouts' Cradle of Liberty Council has used a city-owned building rent-free for decades, and officials have been trying to evict them because the ban violates a local anti-discrimination law. A federal jury ruled in favor of the Scouts, but the city has appealed.

In North Carolina, news of the possible policy change was welcomed — cautiously — by Matt Comer of Charlotte, who said he was forced out of his Boy Scout troop at the age of 14 after troop leaders confronted him over being gay.

"It was very intimidating," said Comer, now 26. "The scoutmaster said, 'If you choose to live that lifestyle, you choose not to be a Boy Scout.'"

"I lost a lot of good friends when I had to leave," Comer said. "I really did enjoy Scouts. I wanted to get my Eagle Scout and go on to be a Scout leader."

Now, he has mixed views about the proposed change, and anticipates there could be problems when troops with different stances mingle at jamborees and summer camps.

He also questioned whether adult leaders would have the necessary training and insight to deal well with gay scouts who come out if the ban is eased.

In Durham, N.C., the proposed change prompted some careful moral calculations by the Rev. Allen Jones, associate minister of Antioch Baptist Church and scoutmaster of the church-sponsored Troop 481.

"Personally, I believe homosexuality is a sin and you can go to hell for it," Jones said. "But the Gospel also speaks to the inclusion and acceptance of people with a cross to bear. If someone openly gay comes in and wants to participate, then that's between them and God. We're not going to discriminate."

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