The Washington Times turned to an extremist organization to push the myth that allowing openly gay youth to be members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will endanger religious freedom.
In an article posted on August 14, the Times touted Alliance Defending Freedom's (ADF) claim that the BSA's new membership policy could lead to a rash of lawsuits against conservative churches that sponsor troops:
Christian churches are being warned that if they continue to sponsor Boy Scout troops, they are opening themselves to multiple legal challenges that could affect whether they can "freely preach the Gospel."
The Boy Scouts of America's newly adopted membership policy -- in which youths no longer will be blocked from joining the Scouts based on "sexual orientation or preference alone" -- is "a sweeping change to its core values," said Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal defense organization.
The policy change has legal ramifications for religious chartering groups, potentially exposing them to lawsuits if they continue to sponsor troops while seeking to maintain the traditional Christian teaching that homosexual behavior is immoral.
Tellingly, neither ADF nor the Times could come up with a single example of a church facing a lawsuit as a result of the BSA's new policy. As BSA spokesman Deron Smith told the Times, the ADF's fears are entirely "based on speculation." An ADF lawyer quoted in the article demonstrates just how groundless such speculation is:
What could happen is "somebody would come and say, 'We want to use your church for a same-sex wedding ceremony,' and the church would say, 'Wait, we have a religious belief against that,'" said Erik Stanley, an alliance lawyer and Eagle Scout.
Most states that have gay-marriage laws also have some kind of "conscience exemption" that does not require churches to perform same-sex ceremonies.
But the rebuttal by such a gay advocacy group would be, "Well no, you don't -- or if you do, you're not sincere or you don't follow it, because you allow this Boy Scout troop in, and you had to specifically sign a charter" saying that "you agreed with the BSA policy of allowing in openly homosexual youth," Mr. Stanley said.
Apparently, ADF's attorneys don't seem to understand the distinction between religious and civil marriage - yet the Times pretends they're experts worthy of public attention.
ADF doesn't restrict its anti-gay work to the U.S. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the organization has recently worked with lawmakers in Belize trying to criminalize gay sex. The Times, which is comfortable with publishing even the most extreme anti-gay sentiments, doesn't seem to mind.