The Southern Baptist Convention has voted to oppose the Boy Scouts of America's new policy allowing gay Scouts, but stopped short of moving to sever ties with the scouting movement altogether.
The Baptists' resolution, brought at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptists Convention on Wednesday, described the Boy Scouts — after the organization recently voted to allow gay youth to join — as no longer promoting a "consistent biblical worldview on matters of human sexuality."
In proceedings that were streaming live online, the convention called on the Boy Scouts to remove executive and board leaders who tried to allow gays as both members and leaders without the agreement of religious groups that sponsor Scout troops.
"This decision of the BSA is viewed by many homosexual activists as merely the first step in a process that will fundamentally change the BSA, putting the Scouts at odds with a consistent biblical worldview on matters of human sexuality.”
While it did not recommend that Southern Baptists drop ties with the Scouts, the resolution expressed support for those churches and families that decided to do so.
"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 Southern Baptist Convention claims to represent more than 45,000 churches and missions, and nearly 16 million members.
Meanwhile, Fox News cited a top church leader — Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee — as predicting a "mass exodus" of youths from scouting.
"Churches are finally going to have to come to realize – there is a point when you say, 'sorry, no more.’"
And the LA Times cited Rev. Wes Taylor as expressing his "disappointment" in the Scout movement, and saying at the convention:
"Homosexuality is directly opposed to everything that Scouting stands for... They are moving away from the principles that it was founded upon. This is an attempt to open the door to broaden the acceptance of homosexuality in that organization. It is an environment that would prove just fertile for young boys to be exposed to something that is ungodly and unacceptable.”
However, other Baptist pastors have spoken in favor of the Boy Scouts.
The Rev. Charlie Dale of Indian Springs First Baptist Church in Indian Springs, Alabama, said that while he did not think the vote would "help the cause of Christ":
"The Boy Scouts have said they are against sexual activity of any boy. I don’t think they are condoning homosexuality."