Paul Greenberg

If there's a single, illuminating principle that should guide all in this still simmering controversy, it's a mutual respect for freedom of association. Churches have the same freedom of association that we all have in this country. If a church feels the BSA has put it in an untenable position, it has every right to pull the plug on its own Scout troop. What such churches, or their national convention, can't or at least shouldn't do, is tell the BSA it has to live by their rules, think the way they think, or repudiate their leaders because they hold different beliefs from the Southern Baptist Convention.

It seems the Southern Baptist Convention -- by an overwhelming vote -- approves of freedom of association in the United States of America when it allows churches to disassociate themselves from the national Boy Scouts of America. But when it comes to the Boy Scouts' own freedom? Like the right to adopt its own policies? Not so much.

As the song says, you can go your own way. You can even go your own way wagging your finger at the heathens who disagree with you. What you can't do, not in this country, is impose your own beliefs on others.

Let me not end today's column without noting and approving a statement made at that convention in Houston. It came from one Charlie Dale, a representative of the Indian Springs First Baptist Church in Alabama, the lone speaker at that impressive gathering to oppose the resolution denouncing the Boy Scouts of America. Noting that the Scouts disapprove of sexual activity in general on the part of boys, Mr. Dale said of the homosexual kids:

"I don't think we'd kick such a boy out of our Sunday Schools. I don't think we should hold the Boy Scouts to a standard we would not put on our churches. Such a boy needs our love. Let's show them what real Biblical manhood is about and love them."

Brother Dale even drew some applause from the crowd. He certainly gets mine.

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.