Grace Baptist in Evans holds first Trail Life meeting

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Fingers tapping on his palm, Clay Holland searched for the right word.

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Chaplin John  Marzano (left) laughs alongside troop master Clay Holland as boys laugh and break into smaller groups during the first Trail Life meeting at Grace Baptist Church.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Chaplin John Marzano (left) laughs alongside troop master Clay Holland as boys laugh and break into smaller groups during the first Trail Life meeting at Grace Baptist Church.

“Morals?” he asked. “No, no, not morals. Beliefs. That’s it. We just have a difference in beliefs.”

Holland and son Daniel are one of many father-son teams to migrate from the Boy Scouts of America to Trail Life since the Scouts chose to accept openly gay members last May.

The decision, Clay Holland says, was bittersweet in some ways.

“It was a cut-and-dry choice,” the former BSA leader said. “Our beliefs wouldn’t let us stay, but leaving friends behind was hard. We’d been with Boy Scouts for four years, and those relationships weren’t easy to say bye to.”

After he stopped meeting with BSA in May, Holland began searching for an alternative.

What he found was Trail Life USA, a Christian-based program that’s undergirded by biblical values and unapologetically reflects a Christian world view, according to official TLUSA membership standards.

“It stands for everything I want to be associated with,” says Daniel, a 10th-grader at Greenbrier High School. “Also, it’s exciting to be part of something unique, something new.”

With the help of both Hollands, the Augusta area’s first Trail Life group – Troop TL413 – was finalized March 5, and its inaugural gathering was held Monday at Grace Baptist Church in Evans.

Nearly two dozen boys attended the meeting, representing five churches.

“Grace Baptist is the troop’s charter organization, but boys from anywhere are welcome to join,” said John Marzano, the TL413 charter organization representative. “It’s an exciting time. Our goal is for this original troop to be the foundation for the Augusta area and that more troops will form because of what we’re doing at Grace Baptist.”

Like the Hollands, Marzano and his 15-year-old son, Mike, transferred from Boy Scouts to Trail Life.

But for high school students Daniel and Mike, leaving BSA wasn’t as simple as switching to another program.

It meant sacrificing years of progress.

“Daniel started Boy Scouts at 11, and for years we heard talk about becoming an Eagle Scout,” Holland said. “The (BSA) leadership kept telling us Eagle, Eagle, Eagle.”

From age 11 to 15, Daniel steadily climbed the BSA charts, making it as far as Life rank, a step below Eagle Scout.

Then, as his father says, “The Scouts changed beliefs.”

“So I asked Daniel what he wanted to do,” Holland said. “He was two merit badges and a project shy of becoming an Eagle Scout.”

Holland went silent, then moved his fingers two inches apart: “My son was this close.”

Still, Holland left the decision to Daniel.

“I chose to take a stand,” Daniel said. “Being an Eagle Scout might mean something to colleges, and it looks great on résumés, but why would I want the highest rank from an organization I don’t agree with? It would have been a pointless endeavor.”

In the end, Daniel remained Life rank, a title often viewed negatively in the Scout community.

“Life rank typically goes hand-in-hand with being lazy,” Daniel said. “Or not being able to get over that last hump. For me, it goes hand-in-hand with putting beliefs above anything. I couldn’t be more proud to say I’m Life for life. It’ll always remind me to take a stand.”

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corgimom
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corgimom 03/13/14 - 07:15 pm
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Yeah, good luck to them. They

Yeah, good luck to them. They can never match BSA in terms of money, resources, and leadership, but they are welcome to try.

It's just like Girl Scouts crushed Camp Fire Girls.

karradur
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karradur 03/14/14 - 04:59 am
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Congratulations!

Now that the anti-homosexuality force field spell has been successfully cast, there is absolutely no chance that any young man in Trail Life USA's Augusta chapter will ever love another young man!

karradur
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karradur 03/14/14 - 04:58 am
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Oh, and by the way, young Daniel.

When you become an adult, you're in for some really big surprises about how the world works.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 03/14/14 - 05:23 am
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". They can never match BSA

". They can never match BSA in terms of money, resources, and leadership"

That's the point, it's not about money or resources, and I believe this young man in the eyes of God showed great leadership. He put Christ first.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 03/14/14 - 05:46 am
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Good for them

A positive way to express their beliefs and values -- not tearing down BSA's suicidal cave-in, but starting their own organization and living up to their words. Positive, not negative (they can safely leave that to those of us posting here). And I am impressed by the sacrifice involved in leaving BSA just short of Eagle. This young man's moral character and choice are shining examples of a good and strong soul.

corgimom
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corgimom 03/14/14 - 05:53 am
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The Mormon Church, and the

The Mormon Church, and the Catholic Church, who are the heaviest sponsors of BSA troops, aren't going to Trail Life. So the impact of Trail Life will be very mild.

I guess if you consider a good and strong soul to be that of one that excludes people, ok. I don't consider that to be a positive moral character thing.

But it's real nice that parents are teaching children discrimination of a entire class of people. Real classy, that.

corgimom
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corgimom 03/14/14 - 05:53 am
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But I just wonder how many

But I just wonder how many people whose boy is in Trail Life have gay or lesbian relatives or friends, wonder how they will reconcile that?

corgimom
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corgimom 03/14/14 - 05:55 am
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Oh- I almost forgot. Trail

Oh- I almost forgot. Trail Life excludes Mormons, too.

Gotta love parents that teach children to discriminate against peoples' religion too!

Dixieman
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Dixieman 03/14/14 - 09:38 am
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Some folks need...

...to spend more time reading the Bible and praying for their own enlightenment and salvation than posting on here.

david jennings
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david jennings 03/14/14 - 06:39 am
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Pro Con

Reading the existing comments, I have to side with Dixie and Christ Love. Does that mean I hate anyone? No. I pray for all of us. As far as how the world works, thats the problem. I want to die everyday to this world, I also pray to be born again in Christ Jesus, for I believe He alone has the wisdom and power to judge all.

karradur
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karradur 03/14/14 - 06:47 am
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They don't like Mormons or Jews either.

http://www.traillifeusa.com/faq/

"Would Mormons or potential Mormon troops be welcomed in your organization?

We certainly respect Mormons. However, Mormons would not participate in our program as a denomination because of our specific Statement of Faith which holds a belief in the Trinity, which is not in step with Mormon theology. The Mormon Church has issued an official edict that the recent change in membership requirements at the BSA is not at odds with Mormon theology, so Mormons as a denomination are not leaving the BSA at this time.

What about Jewish youth?

Trail Life USA is a Trinitarian Christian organization with a Statement of Faith that includes those denominations that specifically recognize Jesus Christ as the prophesized Messiah of the Jewish scriptures. There are some groups like “Jews for Jesus” that recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, but continue to hold to Jewish traditions and customs regarding feasts, etc. A Messianic Jew could indeed be a leader. However, a person of the Jewish faith would not be able to sign our Statement of Faith. Thus, according to our membership standards, Jewish churches and organizations would be precluded from chartering Trail Life USA troops. And those of the Jewish faith would indeed be precluded as adult leaders based on their beliefs. However, a Jewish youth could join. And a Jewish parent could be present at troop functions and even on certain camping trips, but not as a recognized or registered leader that would be providing direct leadership to the youth. And the Jewish denomination would not be recognized as a participating Christian denomination in Trail Life USA. This is the same standard currently in effect at the American Heritage Girls, which is our sister youth organization. Trail Life USA is not for everyone. For troops that want to transfer intact with non-Christian leadership, Trail Life USA will not be an appropriate option."

They're really big on the Johannine Comma, apparently.

TrukinRanger
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TrukinRanger 03/14/14 - 06:52 am
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Too bad these kids are being
Unpublished

Too bad these kids are being taught to hate - from church folk. pitiful.

karradur
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karradur 03/14/14 - 06:53 am
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And if a boy does experience homoerotic thoughts...

…Trail Life USA has a specific program of psychological damage and ego destruction just for you!

"What are your views on homosexuality?

- We at Trail Life USA believe that homosexuality, or any sexuality outside of the Sanctity of Marriage under God between a Man and a Woman is sin.
- We do not allow a boy that is part of or advocating for the Gay Movement to participate.
- We do not exclude a boy who confides to a leader that he has experienced some same-sex attraction and wonders what that means. Same-sex attraction is not in itself a sin, as it is rather a temptation. It is what you do with that temptation in thought and in action that is sin. We would counsel a boy that he should not allow this feeling to turn into lustful thoughts or consideration of a gay lifestyle. We would also counsel a boy that we cannot always control our thoughts on our own, but that by the power of Jesus Christ that we have the power to overcome sin in our lives. We would graciously work with such a boy to have him put these thoughts in a Biblical perspective and to seek God’s purpose in his life. We would pray with and for the boy. We believe that with our Biblical understanding we are most strongly equipped to make a difference in a young man’s life that might find himself experiencing same sex attraction, as some psychological studies report a significant percentage of boys do at some point in their teenage life. We do not believe that the BSA with its current non-discriminatory membership standards is properly positioned to make a real difference to assist such a youth in a truly positive way."

God help Daniel and Mike if they ever fall in love with another young man. They don't need to be afraid of damnation in Hell because they will live it here and now on Earth.

karradur
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karradur 03/14/14 - 07:17 am
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...

Okay, you can't "thumbs-down" a post that consists almost entirely of text copied from the website of the organization for which you are expressing support.

I mean, you're allowed to, but it's silly.

CobaltGeorge
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CobaltGeorge 03/14/14 - 07:56 am
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Glad I Don't Think Like Some Of You.

"That girl has a lifelong sentence, 12 years isn't enough."

"And he wasn't too worried about his health problems when he was raping that poor little girl, was he?"

"His family says that he's a good man. It makes me want to puke."

(One minute you don't support Pedophilia and in another you support that unnatural human acts and call it discrimination!)

But it's real nice that parents are teaching children discrimination of a entire class of people. Real classy, that.

Gotta love parents that teach children to discriminate against peoples' religion too!

(I guess you must support this also!!)

IRAQI CABINET OKs LAW ALLOWING CHILD MARRIAGE, MARITAL RAPE

seenitB4
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seenitB4 03/14/14 - 08:07 am
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What world is this?

Sometimes I feel I'm in another world....too much to explain on here...

CobaltGeorge
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CobaltGeorge 03/14/14 - 08:15 am
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Damn It,

forced to go back to my original Avatar.

Let the emails start flowing!!

Kingbiscuitboy
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Kingbiscuitboy 03/14/14 - 08:47 am
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Treat others as I want to be treated?

"Treat others as I want to be treated" is the final wording of their oath, yet they discriminate. This organization will allow gay youth on a don't ask, don't tell basis. The BSA's policy on sex has not changed. They still prohibit it's members from engaging in sexual activity and will expel those that do engage. That is a long standing policy.
My main problem with this article is that it does not mention that the reason this organization was started was because of the acceptance of gay youth issue. They refer to it as a "belief difference". That is like referring to an alcoholic as "someone with a problem".
It also failed to mention that the adult leaders must adhere to a Christian teaching but all youth, no matter what religion, are welcome. Bigots and hypocrites.

Boudreaux
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Boudreaux 03/14/14 - 09:05 am
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Good grief

If you can't understand why someone doesn't want to send their kid to a group that could be led by someone who may want to have sex with them, you're not much of a parent, IMO.

CobaltGeorge
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CobaltGeorge 03/14/14 - 09:31 am
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I Think The Word Is

Common Sense, which so many today humans lack.

Bizkit
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Bizkit 03/14/14 - 09:42 am
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I don't get it-seems the most

I don't get it-seems the most unChristian thing you can do is turn from sinners-forget about the great commission because it starts at home. If Christ were a Scout leader I get the impression he would accept the gays, prostitutes, and even the money lenders-but admittedly I dislike such comparisons. Still the BSA isn't a religious organization:"The BSA's goal is to train youth in responsible citizenship, character development, and self-reliance through participation in a wide range of outdoor activities, educational programs, and, at older age levels, career-oriented programs in partnership with community organizations. For younger members, the Scout method is part of the program to inculcate typical Scouting values such as trustworthiness, good citizenship, and outdoors skills, through a variety of activities such as camping, aquatics, and hiking.[4][5"
Growing up if my parents thought scouts was a religious org they probably wouldn't have let me join.
Now if the implication is you can't be any of these things because of a sexual preference like homosexuality then that is really, really perverse. Who is without sin can cast the first stone-oops too late.
The irony is two of my friends growing up who were in scouts years later came out as gay. They both dated girls in high school and then later came out in college. One was the best in the troupe.

Bizkit
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Bizkit 03/14/14 - 09:45 am
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If you don't want to work or

If you don't want to work or be in organizations filled with sinners your in for a life of solitude.

Bizkit
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Bizkit 03/14/14 - 09:59 am
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There is a lot of logical

There is a lot of logical fallacy arguments going on like sending your kids to scouts will expose them to homosexual behavior. That is ridiculous. Now a problem for decades has been send your kids to church or scouts and risks a pedophiles in leadership roles-but that isn't the same thing. I don't remember a single incident related anything sexual in scouts-not even the birds and the bees.

rebellious
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rebellious 03/14/14 - 10:26 am
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Now this...

is the definition of Courageous. Standing up for what you believe, that is courage. Courage is not found in announcing your sexual preference as a deviant behavior. Maybe boldness is a descriptor, but courageous...not so much.

john
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john 03/14/14 - 10:28 am
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silly

There have always been gay scouts and scout leaders. Its not like they are making a required gay pride merit badge. jeez.

karradur
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karradur 03/14/14 - 10:48 am
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@Boudreaux

Homosexuality =/= pedophilia.

karradur
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karradur 03/14/14 - 10:51 am
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@rebellious

There are things in this world that are true and real whether or not you believe in them or not.

If I were to proclaim that black people aren't born that way and are just white people that secretly go to tanning salons a lot, and that I don't "believe" in black people, you would call me crazy.

Bizkit
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Bizkit 03/14/14 - 12:06 pm
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That's funny Karradur-I find

That's funny Karradur-I find we are strange bedfellows agreeing on this. LOL. I think people think I'm crazy cause I don't believe in "race". Apparently when modern man left Africa they had all the alleles for all the skin colors seen today-just evolution occurred to create the present distribution. Originally thought related to Vitamin D and distance from equator (which there is a cline relationship) now genetic studies indicate light skin is very recent (less than 10,000 and likely just 6000 years ago in Europe) and it associates with a shift to farming and agriculture. Jesus was Semitic and they originated in the Middle East so likely he was darker skinned and brown eyes. I pray people don't find that obvious fact offensive-it isn't saying he is black just darker skinned tone. Sad I have to qualify that. Unlike common thought caucasian doesn't refer to white people but a gene pool-skin color amongst Caucasoids ranges greatly from pale, reddish-white, olive, through to dark brown tones.

karradur
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karradur 03/14/14 - 12:57 pm
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@Bizkit

As much as I disagree with you, it's funny how we're on the same page with this.

And you are correct that "race" is just skin pigmentation.

And you are also correct that Jesus was not white.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 03/14/14 - 01:09 pm
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I believe there are a lot of

I believe there are a lot of misconception on the reasoning for starting the Trail Life and why. So many want to compare it to Jesus did this, Jesus did that. It is important to understand that Jesus associated with sinners but Jesus wasn't their best friend or socially "hang out" with unrepented sinners. All humans have sinned and Jesus has died for all, but one should not confuse Jesus' ministry with his social preferences or friend choice.

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