Since a Christian camp admitted to firing a Bellingham, Wash., teen from his position as a counselor because he’s gay earlier this month, the teen’s dad wrote a fiery Facebook post excoriating the camp for its homophobic policies. Now parents who support the gay teen are fighting back against the camp, according to the Bellingham Herald.
Last week, Fircreek, one of the family of the Firs camps, fired 18-year-old Jace Taylor after he posted a picture of himself and his boyfriend on Instagram.
Responding to allegations that the camp fired Taylor from his summer job merely because he is gay, the Firs Executive Director Tom Beaumont confirmed in a statement to the Herald that the organization indeed discriminated against the teen due to his sexual identity.
“We are a faith-based organization whose mission is not only to love kids but to introduce them to a God who loves them as well. A God that we feel reveals Himself primarily in the Bible. This, then, is what we are all about. We seek to accomplish this mission through our programs within the context of approved Statements of Faith as we understand them,” Beaumont wrote.
“Just recently we extended an invitation for a young man well known and loved at The Firs to serve as a counselor at Fircreek (our day camp program). When it became evident in the process that he did not personally align with our statements of faith (in particular, one regarding sexuality) and could not sign the agreement all are required to sign he subsequently was disqualified from being a counselor.”
After Taylor was fired, his father, James Taylor, posted about camp’s anti-LGBTQ policy on Facebook.
“[Jace] is one of the most loving honest people you will meet,” James Taylor wrote on Facebook. “Wonder why people have issues with the Christian Church and its organizations? We are called to love everyone no matter what race, gender, sexual orientation etc. I realize they are private and can make their own rules but this is bull shit.”
“I am extremely angry and heartbroken for [Jace],” James added. “I would like to say a lot more 4 letter words.”
When word got out that the camp had discriminated against Jace Taylor for being gay, other parents jumped on board and some began pulling their children from camp.
“When we saw the post we just thought ‘Wow, we can’t support this through our money or through any affiliation until they deal with this,’” Mike Soltis of Tsawwassen, Canada, told the Herald.
Soltis, who's been sending his daughter to Camp Fircreek for four years, also grew up attending the camp, where he eventually met his wife.
“We’re a Firwood family. We’re quite connected with the camp. It’s quite a personal and meaningful thing that’s happening to us,” Soltis said.
But Soltis, who said that the camp kept his daughter’s $100 registration fee even after he pulled her for the organization’s discrimination, is taking a stand against the camp’s anti-LGBTQ ideology.
“The hate has come at a cost to that young man,” Soltis said. “It’s time for us to start using our voices and picking up signs. We can’t just quietly love and support, we have to advocate for and use our pocketbooks to send messages. In times like this, change is built on the backs of people and it can be painful.”
Another parent, Tracee Smith of Whatcom County, Wash., said that her daughters were exposed to anti-LGBTQ language from the camp’s counselors while they were attending last summer and that while she is a Christian, she decided she would no longer be affiliated with the organization.
“They have the right to believe what they want to believe and we have the right to not support it,” Smith said.