Paul Greenberg

Arkansas has been ground zero for news about the Boy Scouts controversy. But unlike most news about the Boy Scouts, this news hasn't been the good kind. Note how CNN covered the story about the Baptist church here in Arkansas that canceled its charter with the local Boy Scout troop. It seems the church disagreed with a decision by the national Boy Scouts of America to tolerate homosexual boys in its ranks. The church's leaders decided it would violate their principles to continue sponsoring the Scouts, so the boys were shown the church's door.

The local Boy Scouts hadn't done a thing to bring about the national organization's change of policy. They were never asked their opinion on the matter. But they paid the price just the same.

Happily, it wasn't a terrible price. In less than 10 days, another church of a different denomination stepped up to offer the Scouts a place to meet. In a twist to the story, the new church was the original sponsor of that particular troop, and the name of the church (North Pulaski United Methodist) was still featured on the local troop's flag. So there's no need to even change the troop's banner. Remarkable how these things work out. Some might call it providential.

So has CNN covered the rest of this story and the happy ending? Not that I've noticed. Well, sure. It's CNN, it's the National Media, it's the never-ceasing 24/7 hunt for controversy and conflict. What's more, this tidbit of news also fit into the ideological temper of our increasingly christophobic society: Christians bad, homosexual kids persecuted. When things work out for all concerned, thanks to good church people, that may not help ratings. What does help 'Move The Dial', as they unfortunately say, is disagreement, division, and all the bad feelings they can engender.

Meeting in solemn assembly in Houston, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution denouncing the Boy Scouts of America for deciding to tolerate openly homosexual boys in its ranks. But this convention of Baptists in Houston has no more right to tell the BSA what to do than the BSA has to dictate to it. Roger Williams, who is to Baptists as John Wesley is to Methodists, would surely understand. For he was a champion of the separation of religious and civil spheres in our society.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.