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"The Crumbling Cookie"

by Dr. Roger C. Nichols
First UMC Joplin, Missouri

One of the highlights of my youth was working through the ranks of Boy Scouting. As a Boy Scout, I participated in two troops. One troop met at the Episcopalian Church, and the other troop met at the Salvation Army.

I remember packing up for my first camping trip. I must have stuffed my duffel bag full of every possible item listed in the Scout Field Book. That duffel bag was too heavy to carry. I had to drag it.

Learning to tie the basic rope knots was essential. I remember the tower we lashed together in the Episcopalian church parking lot. I don’t think they liked it as much as we did. We even built dogsleds for racing in the Scouts’ Klondike Derby near Lake Erie.

I remember going canoeing on the Brokenstraw River which flows into the Allegheny. I remember our Scout Master teaching us how to “eat off the land.” Yet, when it came to eating leeks, I had to draw the line!

The Scouting program was not an easy one. An exceptional amount of effort was needed to earn Skill Awards, especially Merit Badges. They taught us respect for God and Country. We memorized a variety of passages from the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, the Bible, as well as the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Scouting taught us godly character.

I have supported Scouting as a pastor. I have worked with scouts on their God & Country Awards, developed new scout troops, and served on Scouting Councils.

However, in the midst of our many modern dilemmas, it seems that not even Scouting is safe from denominational politics. In August, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts of America could not “discriminate against a leader who is homosexual because of the state's laws against discrimination.” In September, the Commission on United Methodist Men, which houses the Office of Scouting Ministry, voted to join with other churches & groups in a friend of the court brief to the New Jersey Supreme Court. By doing so, the Commission voiced its support of the Boy Scouts to be allowed to select leadership in a historical and traditional manner.

However, earlier this month, the GBCS (General Board of Church & Society), (the denomination’s leftist PAC led by Thom White Wolf Fassett) came out against the Boy Scouts and in support of gay scout masters!

They ignored the fact that the UMC does not condone homosexuality. They hushed the fact that practicing homosexuals are prohibited from the ordained ministry of the UMC. Yet they picked up the flag of anti-discrimination and waved it in the faces of thousands of United Methodist congregations that have long supported the traditional morality and values of Scouting.

Once again, the GBCS has shown itself to be an island unto itself. They have shown themselves to be beyond biblical foundations and undaunted by grass root scrutiny. The GBCS is out of touch with the UMC congregations.

Sadly, this is not really news to many. What is significant is that the GBCS is now legally at odds with another denominational agency. What did the Bible say about “a house divided?” Is this latest avalanche of legal briefs but the sound of the cookie of United Methodism crumbling at the national level? How sad.

I wonder what the GBCS might attack next? How about baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, or U.S. flags in churches?

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