(Courtesy of Baptist Press/Thomas Graham)
HOUSTON—The Southern Baptist Convention voted Wednesday to approve a resolution that expresses the denomination's "opposition to and disappointment in the decision of the Boy Scouts of America to change its membership policy" to allow openly-homosexual members. The resolution does not require churches and families to sever their ties with the BSA, though it does ask that they "prayerfully assess their continued relationship" with the organization. If they continue their partnership with the BSA, the resolution asks churches and families to "work toward a reversal of this new membership policy."
The SBC resolution states that the BSA's policy change "needlessly politicizes human sexuality, and heightens sexual tension" within the Scouts, putting the organization "at odds with a consistent biblical worldview on matters of human sexuality."
After a contentious challenge to their membership policy, the 1,400 delegates of the BSA voted overwhelmingly last month to adopt an amendment that effectively lifts the ban on openly-homosexual youth in the organization, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
Sixty-one percent of the delegates voted in favor of the resolution while 39 percent voted against it at the organization's national annual meeting that was held in Grapevine, Texas.
The BSA's policy states that: "No youth may be denied membership in the BSA on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone." This policy change conflicts with the religious and moral beliefs of the Southern Baptist churches that sponsor Boy Scout troops, as well as the Baptist Faith and Message, which declares that Christians should oppose all forms of sexual immorality, "including adultery, homosexuality and pornography."
Despite the SBC's opposition to the BSA's policy change, the approved resolution affirms believers' "love in Christ for all young people regardless of their perceived sexual orientation." But none the less acknowledges that the BSA's membership policy is in conflict with the biblical standard of sexual conduct.
LGBT advocate groups told The Christian Post last month that their next step is to push the BSA to vote to change the youth organization's policy banning openly-homosexual adults from participating as troop leaders and volunteers.
To further express their disappointment in the BSA executive board's actions, the resolution calls on members of the BSA to "remove from executive and board leadership those individuals who, earlier this year, sought to change both the membership and leadership policy of the Scouts without seeking input from the full range of the Scouting family."
In a written statement Deron Smith, director of public relations for the BSA, stated that: "We believe the BSA policy is fully consistent with how Southern Baptist churches respond to young people in their congregations and allows them to maintain their beliefs about homosexuality and minister to children who are still learning and developing," as reported by Fox-26.
In the BSA's official "Voice of the Scout" survey, among the members of the scouting community, 61 percent of respondents agreed that it's acceptable for an openly gay teenager to be denied membership into the Boy Scouts. Likewise, 58 percent of the scouting community supports the current policy that "prohibits open homosexuals from being scouts or adult scout leaders," and agree that the policy "is a core value of scouting found in the Scout Oath of Law."