A church in Washington state is refusing to back down and fire a gay scout leader after the Boy Scouts of America revoked his membership.
Last last month, the Boy Scouts of America banned 49-year-old Geoff McGrath from Troop 98, which meets at Rainier Beach United Methodist Church in Seattle, because he was thought to be the only openly-gay Scoutmaster in the country.
The Boy Scouts’ National Council voted last year to allow gay scouts, but the ban was never lifted on Scoutmasters.
“Our policy is that we do not ask people about their sexual orientation, and it’s not an issue until they deliberately inject it into Scouting in an inappropriate fashion,” BSA spokesperson Deron Smith told NBC News, adding that McGrath had “deliberately injected it into Scouting in an inappropriate fashion.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Rainier Beach United Methodist Church defied the Boy Scouts of America, and said McGrath would stay on as Scoutmaster.
“I am a chartering partner with BSA … . If I take responsibility for who is hired then I also take responsibility for who is fired,” Rev. Monica Corsaro said. “Our church is thriving and happy, and we support Geoffrey.”
Corsaro told KING that the church had hired an attorney because the Boy Scouts of America was infringing on its “religious freedom.”
“We are still exploring our legal options, and we hope no litigation is necessary,” attorney Peter Mullenix told the station in a statement. “We want to work with the Boy Scouts toward a resolution that works for the kids of the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church. With that said, it may be time for the courts to revisit the question of whether a congressionally chartered, non-sectarian corporation is allowed to violate the states’ discrimination statutes.”
He added: “The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, allowed the Scouts to do so in 2000 because the Scouts claimed that the presence of gay scouts would affect their ability to take a moral stand against homosexuality. We don’t think they can still make that claim, particularly when, we believe, they knew about Geoff’s orientation when they approved his leadership. We also don’t think the Boy Scouts, which claim to be a non-sectarian organization, should be interfering with the religious decision of the Church, which believes strongly that God would disapprove of discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
Watch the video below from KING, broadcast April 8, 2014.