The Boy Scouts of America has shut down a troop and pack in Seattle, Washington for refusing to remove an openly homosexual scoutmaster. Boy Scouts of America attorney Steven P. McGowan sent a letter to Seattle attorney Peter J. Mullenix blaming the Rainier Beach Methodist Church of violating their policy that “does not allow open or avowed homosexuals to serve as volunteer adult leaders” by allowing Geoff McGrath to continue to serve as scoutmaster.
The letter goes on to state that the chapter is being closed “as a result of this refusal to comply with the policies, guidelines, rules and regulations of the Boy Scouts of America. It also stated that the Troop 98 “may no longer use the Scouting program or any of its registered marks or brands.”
Rainier Beach Methodist Church minister, Rev. Monica Corsaro reacted to the letter by announcing that the 15 Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts troops that meet at the church will still meet this week in spite of the chapter closing. When asked if they would wear their uniforms, Corsaro stated, “It will not be me telling them to not wear their uniforms.”
Last month the BSA leadership discovered in a news story that McGrath, 49, was gay. Immediately upon their discovery the National Council removed McGrath from as scoutmaster for “deliberately injecting” his sexuality into the job. McGrath alleges that his homosexuality was never a secret and the organization has always known because of his open support of gay rights.
In May 2013, the BSA made the decision to allow openly gay members in its ranks breaking 103 years of tradition. The decision however, did not alter their stance on gay scout leaders. McGrath is the first scout leader to lose his position in the BSA because of his homosexuality.
Corsaro issued a press release through the Scouts for Equality which is a national advocacy organization. She has since refused to follow through with the BSA’s request to remove McGrath. In the press release, Corsaro stated “Based on our religious principals, we will continue to act as an autonomous church that does not discriminate.”
Seattle attorney Peter J. Mullenix is representing both the church as well as McGrath. Corsaro revealed that they will decide how they want to move forward once they consider all of their legal options. Executive director of Scouts for Equality, Zach Wahls commented on the revocation of the troops’ charter in a statement calling it startling.
Wahls stated, “The Boy Scouts’ decisions only serve to hurt a group of boys who need the values and leadership of someone like Scoutmaster McGrath. Unfortunately, the BSA’s decision calls into question its commitment to leadership and values by perpetuating an outmoded policy rooted in fear and discrimination. History will show that today’s announcement is a self-inflicted wound.”
BSA spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement, “We are saddened by this development, but remain committed to providing all youth with the best possible Scouting experience where the Scouting program is the main focus. We have already identified a new chartered organization to sponsor the units and are contacting the parent and leaders of the units to inform them of the change.”
In a statement, McGrath said, “Pastor Corsaro specifically sought out someone with my Scouting background to help get these units off the ground, and her church is now being told to violate their religious convictions. It’s unconscionable and irreverent.”
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