Pastor Stands by Embattled Scout Leader

The pastor of a Seattle-area Methodist church supports openly gay scout leader Geoff McGrath, even as the Boy Scouts of America cuts ties with the troop he leads at the church.

BY Michael O'Loughlin

April 24 2014 2:05 PM ET

Monica Corsaro and Geoff McGrath

The pastor of a Seattle-area Methodist church is standing by the community's openly gay scout leader even as the Boy Scouts of America severed ties with the local troop for defying its ban on gay adults in leadership roles.

Last week the BSA said that children in Troop 98 were no longer part of the Boy Scout network because the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, near Seattle, had refused to remove Geoff McGrath, an Eagle Scout, as scoutmaster, according to NBC News.

“Because the church no longer agrees to the terms of the BSA chartered organization agreement, which includes following BSA policies, it is no longer authorized to offer the Scouting program,” Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesman, told NBC News in an email.

But writing at Time, Rev. Monica Corsaro, the pastor of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, said her church is "a place that values every person that God has placed within our community," and she stands by the church's decision to support McGrath.

Calling McGrath "a perfect fit" for the job, Corsaro wrote that she believes the BSA is respecting only the values of churches committed to excluding LGBT people and that the organization is rejecting her church's belief that "God created and loves each and every one of us."

She wrote that her community "believes putting someone in a closet and not letting him be honest about who he is when asked is not 'morally straight,' to use a Boy Scout term."

She said the church is currently exploring options for its troop and that the community hopes "that the Boy Scouts will support our congregation and our values, as it has supported so many other congregations around the country."

The conflict between the church and BSA began late last month when the scouting organization revoked McGrath's membership. Corsaro replied by saying that McGrath would nonetheless stay on as a leader.

Last year the BSA voted to allow gay youths to participate, but it continues to bar openly gay adults from leadership roles.

McGrath, reported to be the first openly gay adult removed from leadership since the new policy went into effect January 1, told NBC he found the situation "astounding."

On its website, the Boy Scouts of America describes itself as "one of the nation's largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations."

Follow Michael O'Loughlin on Twitter at @mikeoloughlin.

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