(Southern Baptist President Fred Luter has been outspoken against the Boy Scouts permitting open homosexuality.)
The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee has resolutely implored the Boy Scouts not to surrender their longtime official disapproval of open homosexuality. Under pressure from liberal groups and some corporate sponsors, the Scouts will debate their policy at a National Council meeting in May. One proposal would allow local Scout groups to decide their own policy without any national policy.
Seventy percent of Scout units are sponsored by religious groups, and the Southern Baptists are the sixth largest religious sponsoring group.
Since the conservative resurgence within the Southern Baptist Convention starting in the late 1970s, the church, America’s second largest after Roman Catholics, has been strongly outspoken in defense of traditional Christian beliefs. Absent this conservative resurgence, the Southern Baptist public witness today almost certainly would more resemble the liberal or ambiguous stances of old line Protestants.
For example, the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society has long opposed the Boy Scout policy.
Here’s the Southern Baptist February 19 resolution:
RESOLUTION ON THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA’S PROPOSAL TO CHANGE ITS MEMBERSHIP AND LEADERSHIP POLICIES
WHEREAS, The Boy Scouts of America has, for the past 103 years, been a values-based organization designed to “prepare young people for a lifetime of character and leadership,” equipping them “to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law”; and
WHEREAS, The Scout Oath and Law contains language that complements, and is not contradictory to, belief in God and His moral precepts that serve as the basis for Christian faith (“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”); and
WHEREAS, The leadership of the Boy Scouts has, for these 103 years, restricted from membership and leadership those persons whose presence would affect in a significant way the group’s ability to advocate “public or private viewpoints” in regard to belief in God and His moral precepts; and
WHEREAS, The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 2000 that opposition to homosexuality is part of BSA’s “expressive message,” and that allowing homosexuals as adult leaders would interfere with that message (Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale); and
WHEREAS, In 2004, the BSA adopted a policy statement that said, in part, “Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed.”; and
WHEREAS, In 2012, an eleven-person committee convened by the national council of the Boy Scouts completed a two-year study and reported its unanimous consensus that the Boy Scouts retain the current policy as outlined above; and
WHEREAS, It was reported by NBC News as a breaking news story on January 28, 2013, that the Boy Scouts were poised to change their historic policy at their February board meeting, scheduled for February 4-6, 2013; and
WHEREAS, On January 28, 2013, it was learned in a conference telephone call that included Frank S. Page, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, and the three top leaders of the Boy Scouts of America that Scout leadership had been working behind the scenes for many months to reverse this policy, seeking input from activists and disaffected elements of the broader scouting family while keeping the more conservative majority of the scouting family in the dark concerning their initiative, thereby breaking trust with the very Scout Oath and Law they pledge to uphold; and
WHEREAS, During the week between when news broke of this proposed policy change and the February board meeting, the Boy Scouts received “an outpouring of feedback from the American public”; and
WHEREAS, On February 6, 2013, the national board of the Boy Scouts of America determined that, “due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a deliberate review of its membership policy”; and
WHEREAS, The national BSA board has stated its intent to “further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns” and to allow the “approximately 1,400 voting members of the National Council” to “take action on the resolution at the National Annual Meeting in May 2013”; and
WHEREAS, The Boy Scouts of America is organized as a hierarchical structure in which authority flows downward from the national organization to keep the program consistent across the country and make the movement of members from one Scout unit to another possible; and
WHEREAS, This proposed policy provides for each chartered organization—in many instances sponsored by a religious, civic, educational, or other community-based organization — to determine for itself how to address the issue of homosexual membership and leadership, a tenuous position that would allow divergence from the historic, hierarchical structure of the Boy Scouts and increase legal exposure for its chartered or sponsoring organizations; and
WHEREAS, Should this new policy be adopted, dues from all local Scout troops and chapters would flow upward to help fund a national organization that would no longer share the complementary values once espoused by all chartered groups within the Boy Scouts of America; and
WHEREAS, Biblical teaching is clear that human sexuality is expressed most nobly and appropriately as a monogamous marital relationship between one man and one woman for life; and
WHEREAS, If adopted, the resolution will 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, belief in God and His moral precepts that serve as the basis for our Christian faith; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention express its deep dismay and disappointment at the conduct of any Boy Scout leader who openly or surreptitiously built support for their proposal to reverse the Scouts historic position on this issue, thereby alienating conservative religious bodies that sponsor the vast majority of Boy Scout units; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we applaud the many Scouts, Scout families, Scouting leaders, host church leaders, and other interested individuals for raising their voices with courage by contacting the national leadership and national board of the Boy Scouts of America; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on and urge the representatives of the approximately 1,400 voting members of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America courageously to stand strong on their moral convictions and vote to reject the proposed resolution from the national Scouting leaders, retaining the current policy of moral rectitude that has marked the Boy Scouts of America for more than one hundred years; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on business and corporate leaders who believe in the values of sexual purity, human morality, and biblical righteousness to render financial support for the Boy Scouts of America, sending a strong signal to those corporations that have pressured the Scouts to capitulate to popular culture by financial coercion; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That, irrespective of the decision of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, we continue to lift up and commend Royal Ambassadors as a Christian values-based organized that, for 105 years, has taught Christian values to boys in Southern Baptist churches, educating at least two million boys in biblical missionary principles and winning tens of thousands to faith in Christ through chapter meetings, Royal Ambassador camps, and other Royal Ambassador activities.