Thursday, January 12, 2017

Christian polemicist thinks that Tillerson should have been grilled over gays in the Scouts

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith is well known in conservative Christian circles. He is a VP of the Colson Center and he has a show on World Radio. Writing for the Colson Center's blog on Thursday, Smith offers: “Rex Tillerson, Gays, and the Boy Scouts.” According to Smith:
Tillerson was in a leadership role with the Boy Scouts of America when the organization began letting openly gay men and boys be a part of the program. The topic has come up repeatedly in recent media profiles of Tillerson.

Which is why it was strange that Tillerson’s positions on gay rights got no scrutiny during his questioning by the U.S. Senate this week.
Who says that Christians are obsessed with the sexuality of others? Exactly what do Tillerson's views on gay rights have to do with being an effective secretary of state. I am not suggesting that Tillerson is an LGBT hero — I don't know. He and Robert Gates were primarily responsible for the change in policy at the Boy Scouts of America. Furthermore, over the last three years Tillerson's company, Exxon-Mobil, has gone from a 20% rating to an 85% rating on the very important Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index. Smith continues:
According to WORLD’s account of the hearing, “Through six hours, no senator asked Tillerson about his tenure running the Boy Scouts or LGBT issues, which Secretary of State John Kerry called ‘the core of our commitment to advancing human rights’ in 2015 when he unveiled the first-ever special envoy for LGBT rights. Critics say the Obama State Department has often prioritized LGBT rights at the expense of traditional human rights and lethal persecution against numerous people groups, including Yazidis, Christians, and Shiite Muslims.”
“Critics say” lots of stupid things without offering proof. There is no evidence that LGBT rights at State were at the expense of other human rights. Nevertheless, in repeating this nonsense, that is precisely what Mr. Smith is doing. Does anyone have a spare crying towel?

Poor Mr. Smith's heart was broken by inclusiveness:
The capitulation the Boy Scouts made to the pro-LGBT movement was one of the most heartbreaking defeats the pro-family movement has seen in recent years. A decade earlier, the Boy Scouts spent millions of dollars taking a case all the way to the Supreme Court, winning the right to maintain its standards for both boys and their leaders. But the Scouts folded on the issue in 2015, abandoning principle and saying that the Scouts’ policies were no longer “legally defensible.” The Scouts passed a resolution saying that homosexual acts can be “moral, honorable, committed, and respectful.”
Mr. Smith is wrong on two counts. The resolution passed by the Boy Scouts never addressed sex (obsessed much?). It effectively said that gay boys could be moral and honorable. If Smith thinks otherwise then he is a hopeless bigot. Secondly, while Gates expressed sentiments that the legal landscape was changing, he never said that the policies were no longer “legally defensible.” If something is in quotes the expectation is that it actually quotes the individual.

I am also at odds with the sense that the Scouts “capitulated” to the “pro-LGBT movement.” More than anything it seemed to me (based on the remarks that he made) that we were changing as a society. Very few people, for example, still believe that sexual orientation is a chosen behavior. I suspect that some of the idiots who make those noises know better themselves. More and more religious people are coming to terms with the fact that their god did indeed create gay people and continues to do so. Faith is one thing. Stupidity is something else. I would argue that the Scouts are a better, stronger organization today through the acceptance of sexual diversity.

Smith goes on to quote Florida's head bigot:
John Stemberger, who led a group of Scout leaders opposed to the change, said at the time that the BSA’s decision was “wholly incompatible with historic Christian theology and ethics and will make it even more challenging for a church to integrate a BSA unit as part of a church’s ministry offerings.”
Stemberger is profoundly homophobic in the literal sense of the word. He was petrified that one of his sons might actually come into contact with a gay boy. Perhaps he senses something that he has not disclosed or, perhaps, Stemberger is just generally insecure.

Both Stemberger and Smith need a history lesson. In 1911, prominent Jewish financier Mortimer Schiff joined Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller as one of Scouting's first major contributors. Jewish Boy Scout Troops date back to 1913. 

But getting back to Tillerson, what does any of this have to do with being an effective secretary of state? We have had a gay secretary of the army and one of these days we will have a gay secretary of state. People like Smith seem to think that others are defined by their sexual orientation. In this case he believes that someone is defined by their support for diversity and tolerance. It is a self-imposed limitation on perspective that is contrary to critical thinking.

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