Nashville, Tenn. — The nation’s largest Protestant group is calling on members of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America to uphold a ban on gay Scouts and leaders when it votes in May.
The executive committee of the 16-million member Southern Baptist Convention passed the resolution Tuesday, stating that a proposal to alter the ban would “place the Boy Scouts organization at odds with a consistent biblical worldview on matters of human sexuality, making it an organization that would no longer complement, but rather contradict, our belief in God and His moral precepts that serve as the basis for our Christian faith.”
The Scouts announced last month that they would consider a proposal to let the sponsor of each individual troop decide its own policy on gays.
About 70 percent of all Scout units are sponsored by religious denominations, including many that have supported the ban on gays. Since the proposed policy change was announced, the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention has been among the most vocal opponents.
The Tuesday resolution includes a call for like-minded corporate leaders to support the Scouts financially, “sending a strong signal to those corporations that have pressured the Scouts to capitulate to popular culture by financial coercion.”
And the resolution expresses “dismay and disappointment” at any Scout leaders who may have lobbied to remove the ban.
Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith responded to the resolution by email, stating, “We recognize, deeply respect and appreciate the sincere religious beliefs held by our members and chartered organizations.”
The policy was supposed to be settled on Feb. 6 by the Scouts’ 70-member national executive board. Under intense pressure from both sides, the board punted the decision to the 1,400-member National Council, which meets the week of May 20.
The National Council includes regional presidents and representatives of the Scout’s 290 local councils, and is more reflective of the organization’s base than its executive board, which includes high-powered business executives and civic leaders.