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Southern Baptists Condemn Boy Scouts Policy But Won’t Force a Boycott

                                                                                c. 2013 Religion News Service

Southern Baptists overwhelmingly voted 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.”

While expected, the Baptists’ resolution stopped far short ofcalling 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.


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