Evangelical Churches, Others Shifting Views on Gays, Lesbians

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND/ODESSA - The topic of equal rights for gays and lesbians has been in the headlines a lot lately, especially with the latest controversy involving the Boy Scouts of America. But they're not the only organization looking at changing their stance on the issue.

It's the latest chapter in a controversy that's dividing the nation.

"Boy Scouts is not a hate organization," Scouting Exec., David Chapman, with the Midland Boy Scout Council, said.

On Wednesday, the Boy Scouts of America delayed a decision on whether or not to repeal the organization's ban on gay and lesbian members.

In a statement, they said, "The Boy Scouts of America's National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy."

Chapman said he's received a flood of feedback from the community.

"The vast majority of the people that contacted me and the leaders that I've talked to are against a policy change at this time," Chapman said.

Chapman said the issue remains in the scouts' best interest.

"What we're wanting to do and what we've been doing in the past is continue to select our leaders based on our values," Chapman said.

Despite being a traditional family values organization, Chapman said they encourage the scouts to respect other people's beliefs.

But it's a sign of the times, things are changing.

Over a year ago, the government repealed the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for service members.

In a few days, the Pentagon is expected to announce it'll offer some benefits to same-sex partners in the military.

Recently, Evangelical churches have shifted their message on gays and lesbians too.

"We used to categorize sins," Eli Emiliano, the pastor at CDA Evangelical Church in Odessa, said. "You know, this was worse than the other, this was bad, this was good, when in all reality we all have faults according to the word of God."

Emiliano said the church is taking a different approach.

"It's just a matter of being able to understand God's love for everybody and understand that there is no condemnation when you've accepted Christ as your personal savior," Emiliano said. "I don't think we should waste our time pointing our finger at one particular group of people because it's, in our opinion, a bad sin."

The churches are hoping to extend the message, we're all more alike than different.

"We're all humans, we're all here with a purpose and there's a reason why everybody's on this Earth," Emiliano said.