The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the US, is expected on Wednesday to vote on a resolution which would express disapproval of the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) new policy accepting gay youth members.
Back in May, the BSA’s final vote on the issue of gay members took place in Dallas-Fort Worth, Grapevine, where over 60% of the 1,400 strong national council of local leaders, voted to lift the national ban. The ban on adult members remains in place.
The Southern Baptists have left the decision of whether to cut ties with the organisation down to individual congregations, many churches have already disassociated themselves from the BSA, meaning troops cannot meet at their churches.
The resolution by the Southern Baptists, expected to be voted on on Wednesday, urges churches which remain with the BSA to work towards having the new policy including gay members repealed, and to work against any change which “normalizes sexual conduct outside of the biblical standards.”
It continues to say that homosexual conduct goes against the scouts’ oath to do their duty to God.
The advice for those congregations who wish to sever ties with the BSA, is not to abandon young boys, but to consider expanding a “Royal Ambassadors” ministry, a Southern Baptist missionary organisation which aims to develop “godly young men”.
The resolution also states “our love in Christ for all young people regardless of their perceived sexual orientation.”
The BSA has strong ties to various churches across the US, with about 70% of the group’s 100,000+ units chartered by faith-based organisations.
The Southern Baptist Convention has more than 45,000 churches and church-type missions, with almost 16 million members across the US, according to its website.
The two largest religious sponsors of the Boy Scouts, the Mormon Church, and the United Methodist Church, have both said they will continue their roles in scouting.
The third-largest sponsor, the Catholic Church, has acknowledged that the change in policy does not take place until January 2014, and has said it will use the “adequate time to study its effects.”