(RNS) Southern Baptists overwhelmingly voted Wednesday (June 12) to stand with churches and families that drop ties with the Boy Scouts of America over its decision to allow openly gay Scouts, and urged the BSA to remove leaders who supported the change in policy.

Members of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, gathered on the final day of their annual meeting in Houston, also acknowledged the right of churches to remain in Scouting, urging them to “seek to impact as many boys as possible with the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

More than 5,100 Southern Baptist "messengers" met in Houston for the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. RNS photo courtesy Van Payne / Baptist Press.

More than 5,100 Southern Baptist “messengers” met in Houston for the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. RNS photo courtesy Van Payne / Baptist Press.


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

While expected, the Baptists’ resolution stopped far short of calling for an all-out boycott, as they did in 1997 with the Walt Disney Co. to combat what they saw as the company’s gay-friendly policies. That boycott was ended in 2005.

“This isn’t Disney redux, as some media predicted,” tweeted Russell Moore, the new head of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, calling the move “wise, balanced, and gospel-focused.”

Nonetheless, Baptists expressed their “continued opposition to and disappointment” with the recent change in policy. The lengthy resolution notes their concern that some BSA officials and gay advocates expect the May decision will eventually lead the Scouts to allow openly gay adult leaders.

“We encourage churches that choose to sever ties with the Boy Scouts not to abandon their ministry to boys but consider expanding their Royal Ambassadors ministry, a distinctively Southern Baptist missions organization to develop godly young men,” the SBC delegates said in their statement.

BSA spokesman Deron Smith said his organization has “deep respect” for the Southern Baptists but stressed that the new policy is about accepting a boy with same-sex attraction, not condoning homosexuality.

“We believe the BSA policy is fully consistent with how Southern Baptist Churches respond to young people in their congregations, and (it) allows them to maintain their beliefs about homosexuality and minister to children who are still learning and developing,” he said shortly after Wednesday’s vote.

Baptists, including Southern Baptists, are the BSA’s sixth-largest sponsor, with close to 4,000 units and more than 108,000 members.

Baptist delegates in Houston voiced a range of opinions on the appropriate next steps for the denomination. Wes Taylor, a pastor from Palatka, Fla., who was an Eagle Scout, supported the resolution.

“I think Scouting is a great movement, but unfortunately I’m very sad to say that it seems as though they are moving away from the principles that it was founded upon,” Taylor said, arguing that young boys would now be “exposed to something that is ungodly and unacceptable.”

Charlie Dale, pastor of an Indian Springs, Ala., church, was concerned about the message the resolution would send.

“I think the Boy Scouts have said that they are against all sexual activity of any boy,” he said. “So I don’t think they’re condoning homosexuality. I think that this is not going to help the cause of Christ — this resolution.”

Delegates considered stripping language that acknowledged that some Southern Baptist churches might choose to remain tied to the Scouts. But David Dykes, a member of the resolutions committee and a pastor from Tyler, Texas, said that’s not the way SBC rules work.

“We do not believe we have the authority to tell churches exactly what to do and this resolution allows churches to go whichever direction the Holy Spirit leads them,” he said.

Some prominent Southern Baptist leaders, including former SBC President Bryant Wright and SBC Executive Committee chairman Ernest Easley, have already announced plans to break ties with the Scouts.

Other religious leaders urged the Southern Baptists not to completely abandon the Scouts.

R. Chip Turner, chairman of the BSA’s Religious Relationships Task Force, wrote an open letter to Southern Baptists asking them to realize that Scouting troops remain a place for evangelism.

“As ‘fishers of men,’ are we not to go where the fish are located?” Turner asked after the BSA vote. “In the case of church-based Scout units, there are unreached people already in your buildings!”

A.J. Smith, president of the Association of Baptists for Scouting, also supported continued ties to the Scouts, saying troop-chartering churches can enforce a conduct code that prevents “any kind of sexual activity” and can remove those who violate it.

“I believe that it is possible, even desirable, for Baptist churches to continue to utilize Scouting as an outreach ministry of the church,” said Smith, whose association includes Southern Baptists.

The statement on the Boy Scouts was one of a dozen resolutions Southern Baptists adopted on a range of topics, including child sexual abuse, mental health and human trafficking:

— Child sexual abuse: They reminded fellow Southern Baptists of their “legal and moral responsibility to report any accusation of child abuse to authorities” and asked them to determine if they should affiliate with others who “possess questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse.”

— Mental health: They called on churches to develop ways to care for individuals and families struggling with mental health problems. The action comes in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings and the suicide of Southern Baptist megachurch pastor Rick Warren’s son. SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page just released a book about his daughter, Melissa Page Strange, who committed suicide in 2009.

“All of us know that mental health is an issue that has affected all of us at one time or another, whether it’s somebody in your own family or somebody in your local church,” said SBC President Fred Luter, who was elected Tuesday to a second one-year term.

— On human trafficking: Southern Baptists urged increased education on ministering to victims of modern-day slavery and supporting public policies combating human slavery.

— On religious freedom: They expressed concern that religious freedom has been denied on college campuses, in the government’s health care plan and in the military.

— On tithing: Citing scriptural affirmations of tithing, or giving away 10 percent of income, Southern Baptists were urged to “tithe cheerfully and give sacrificially” to their congregations and support their denomination’s unified budget. A recent study found that Southern Baptists give just 2.5 percent of their annual income to local churches.

— On health care “rationing”: Baptists opposed any public policy that would discriminate against the elderly’s access to quality health care.

— On the growing U.S. prison population: They supported legislation that would reduce high incarceration rates while maintaining public safety.

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34 Comments

  1. Southern Baptists should just start their own boys program, and they can call it “Hate Scouts”. Or better yet, call it “Christian Hate Group”…that way, it would simply have the same name as their religion.

      • I see the life of jesus on earth as a loving diety walking thru filth and selfishness not willing to believe whatever you(or they) may think or say…..and they reply….” he hates us”.

    • They already have a group for boys called the Royal Rangers. The Royal Rangers is similar to the Boy Scouts and have been around for a long time. Hopefully the Royal Rangers will see a large swelling in their numbers as the Boy Scouts are bound to see quite a reduction in their numbers.

      The only Hate I am seeing here is from those of you who feel that homosexuality is a good thing.

      • I apologize I was confusing the Royal Rangers with the Royal Ambassadors. The Royal Ambassadors are the Baptist group and were formed in 1907; whereas the Royal Rangers were formed in 1962 and are affiliated with the Assemblies of God. Both the RR and the RA have many similarities to the Boy Scouts just more closely related to their respective churches.

      • Ric,

        At this point a majority in the US think there is nothing wrong with homosexuals. And considering there are nearly 3 million, 100,000 haters won’t be missed in the long run.

        Bapists are more than welcome to go off and cloister themselves from the world, and turn scouting into glorified Bible camp, which mean would already like to do. Fortunately for many of us, Church has its place, but it doesn’t rule our lives.

        • There is nothing loving about supporting, encouraging, condoning, celebrating, accepting or remaining silent over sinful behavior. Having SSA is not a sin, acting on it however is.

      • Ric..”The only Hate I am seeing here is from those of you who feel that homosexuality is a good thing.” Your statement does not even make sense. Did God or Jesus ever use the word hate…not in my bible. The Baptists should be ashamed of themselves. These are kids that need love and nuturing…not evil words and exclusion. Do you know how many dinner table conversations have been generated by this action? As the younger generation is so much more informed I hope you are prepared for kids start speaking up and saying .this is no big deal and why did the church turn away from us and stop the support? I think we are all going to see a backlash which the SB’s did not expect.

  2. GET OVER YOURSELF! Seriously? this is just plain stupid. If your religious beliefs say do not be gay, who cares. That does not stop PRIVATE NON RELIGIOUS institutions from admitting OTHER AMERICANS to their community. If you do not like it, TOO BAD. Don’t send your kids there. Make up your own camps where YOUR OWN PRIESTS DO NOT MOLEST CHILDREN. Oh wait, that’s right, THEY ALREADY DO.

    Really? Get over yourself. Condemn your own “religious” leaders.

  3. how long can you wallow in your own filth……hate is hate is hate…and all it brings to you is hate and more hate….you are a sad reminder that your bible teaches nothing but hate and intolerance…..and that is only toward shell fish eaters

  4. i was a boy scout in the seventies…was exposed to 10,11 and 12 years who were aggressive sexually and it was swept under the rug….I recently commented my story to big news outlets such as huffington on aol. new York daily news among others who not only removed my comments but continue to sweep the truth under the rug, citing respect for a choice of sexuality when ignoring the fact that young men don’t always abide by their (foolish parents and teachers) and assault other young people….don’t believe me–your a complete fool and you not only assisting boys who cannot controls themselves you create sexual rape and assault….the church will hold its ground due to the truth.

  5. Homer Anderson Sr,h

    I was a boy scout in my early youth. I was happy to be a scout. It taught me to be a better human being. I would not change anything for my experience.I am strictly opposed to allowing known homosexuals in the organization.

    • And I bet you’re a Christian as well. Do you like picking on kids? And exactly how do you know there weren’t any gay youth in your pack? You don’t. I’m not gay, and all I see is a bunch of heartless adults, so full of righteousness and hate, they can’t see past their ignorance. Gay teen suicide rates are up due to depression and non acceptance. How do you live with yourself knowing that the way you think destroys the lives of these young men? Probably ok, because people like you justify your actions by a few lines in the bible. We’ll see how that helps on judgement day. Because like I said in another post, if you think you’re going to be praised in the afterlife for what you and people like you are doing, you’re sadly mistaken. Luckily though, there are many loving people out there combating hateful people like you, and they will continue to win, because it’s the right thing to do.

      • Gay teens are committing suicide because the selfish people are encouraging them to make their sexual attractions their identity so they themselves can feel better about their own life.

        Pitiful that those supporting homosexual behavior are using these teens for their own advantage.

  6. So what is the definition of a hate group again? Oh…yah…right….expressing your “rights”. Sure, you can justify calling it whatever you want. Hate is hate. Any you know what? God and Jesus WILL judge you someday. Last I checked there is like one line in the Bible about gay. Plenty of stuff about hate.

  7. Just another reason I gave up religion years ago, too much hate. When I was young I remember church talking about Jesus and love, but that’s all turned around now. It’s all about who they can attack next, and trying to elect Presidents by influencing their congregation and criticizing things instead of trying to make them better. I even saw a meme that said “God loves Guns”. People are leaving the church in droves, and instead of church leaders taking a long hard look at themselves, they would rather say people are straying. Well, I strayed a long time ago and I’ve been living a very happy and fulfilling life. I don’t go around trying to have young people kicked out of everything because of an outdated illogical belief. Gay teen suicide rates are high….and some wonder why. Personally I wouldn’t be able to look at myself in the mirror if I did what these so called Christians do. If I believed, I would be confident in saying that people like these that try to repress and pick on kids will have a special place in hell. You really think Jesus is going to high five you and say “Way to go!!”? I think not…

  8. Anybody ever stop to think that maybe the Boy Scouts are actually purposely ridding themselves of hateful, bigoted people, in one simple, easy step? :)

  9. Good reporting, Adelle!

    Of all the counter-gospel resolutions to pass, this has to be at the top of the list. Gay people have always been in scouting, just as they’ve always been in churches. Shutting down a scout troop just means the church is loudly proclaiming that such people aren’t welcome. I can’t imagine Jesus giving a religious leader advice along these lines if he were in his earthly ministry in the present day.

    A sad day for SBC.

    My take on why churches should embrace the opportunity the BSA policy has given them: http://timfall.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/boy-scouts-homosexuals-and-jesus/

    Cheers,
    Tim

  10. Please remember that Boy Scouts is about the boys, agendas to promote one stand or another should not be fought out where it harms America’s youth. Please do not tear down this long standing organization that helps so many boys try to become trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, curious, kind, obedient, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent young men. America needs all that they can get, LOOK AROUND!! They are just boys, they don’t care what National’s policies are, they will treat everyone with kindness, they take an Oath to. Boy Scouts is not a hate group, I believe once people that are running it now leave their positions and they realize that the organization did not fall apart because they let openly Gay Boys in, just like the military, just open the closet door, let’s all adapt and move on, so we can get back to the Boys learning and having fun.

  11. Most Southern Baptists are contaminated with the same virus of ignorance and prejudice as the South is culturally and politically. Southern religious and political activities continue to demonstrate these ugly prejudices for the rest of the country that does not spend much time in the South to see these strange, ignorant, and wicked phenomena. The North and West are bad enough, the South is extremely evil.

    The South continues to be the biggest factor of obstructionism in our do-nothing Congress, all based on ignorance and the evil that ensues. It would have been better to simply emancipate the slaves, invite them north, and let the South secede. We have been functioning like two antagonistic nations ever since the Civil War.

    Saving “King Cotton” for economic reasons was the real purpose of the Civil War, not emancipation, just as preserving slavery in our original, unamended Constitution despicably preserved despicable slavery. What good is it to claim we are the “United States” when we have always been so deeply divided?

  1. [...] Southern Baptists condemn gay Scouts policy but won't force a boycottReligion News Service(RNS) Southern Baptists overwhelmingly voted Wednesday (June 12) to stand with churches and families that drop ties with the Boy Scouts of America over its decision to allow openly gay Scouts, and urged the BSA to remove leaders who supported the …Southern Baptists officially oppose gay Scout ruleHilton Head Island Packet [...]

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