I read a CNN syndicated story that KCCI republished on their website. A Christian camping organization in Washington State, The Firs Camps & Retreats, fired a teenage counselor because he was gay.

The 18-year-old, Jace Taylor, said he felt loved and accepted by God at the camp when he was a camper. He was, obviously, disappointed when he learned he was fired. He said he always wanted to be a camp counselor there to make an impact on the kids.

“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,” Tom Beaumont, The Firs executive director, said in a statement.

“In order for us to do this we hire young leaders each summer to carry out our purposes and we call them summer staff. It is critical that we hire people who are committed to our mission and to these statements of faith. These folks are extremely important to us, we care deeply for them and they are critical in the fulfilling of our mission.

“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,” he added.

The organization has the doctrinal statement right on their employment page. The relevant text reads:

We believe in the institution of marriage defined in Scripture as the covenantal union between one man and one woman. We believe that the Christian standard is faithfulness within that marriage covenant and abstinence outside of it. (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5-6; Eph. 5:31-33)

We believ that every person is created in the image of God, that human sexuality reflects that image in terms of intimate love, communication and fellowship. We believe that God created humankind as two distinct sexes, male and female. (Gen. 1:27; Matt. 19:4-6; Mk. 10:6-8)

What Mr. Taylor does not seem to understand is that there is a marked difference between being a camper and being a counselor. His job as a counselor is to be an influence on his campers, to live out the values of the organization.

If he said he did not believe in Jesus or he did not believe the Bible is the infallible word of God I submit he probably would have been terminated as well. Because counselors in a camping setting have the most contact with the kids.

My oldest daughter worked for a local Christian camp in Iowa. She had to agree to a standard of conduct. When I was a pastor or youth pastor there were standards of conduct that I had to live up to as well. At the Christian non-profit I served I had to agree to a standard of conduct. When I attended a Christian university I had to abide by community standards (that included not only premarital sex, but also things like abstaining from alcohol, etc.). There were students expelled for violating those standards.

None of this is new or newsworthy. Christian organizations expect all of their staff to abide by biblical standards, gay teenagers are no exception. This should not surprise anyone nor should they be expected to change because of prevailing public opinion.

Photo Credit: The Firs/Facebook

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