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Southern Baptists soften hard line on gay Boy Scouts (+video)

Southern Baptists vote to condemn gay Boy Scouts, but did not ban Scout troops from Southern Baptist churches.

By Juan A. Lozano and Travis LollerAssociated Press / June 13, 2013

Fred Luter, Jr. , President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and senior pastor of the Franklin Ave Baptist Church in New Orleans at the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston Wednesday.

(AP Photo/Bob Levey)

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Houston

The Southern Baptist Convention tackled topics at its annual meeting this week that seemed to show a concern for a broadening array of social issues, including human trafficking, homosexuality, and the country's high rate of incarceration.

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While a resolution expressing opposition to the Boy Scouts of America's new policy allowing gay Scouts was expected, some other resolutions were not. And even the Boy Scout resolution took a softer tone than many had expected by not urging Southern Baptists to drop all ties with the Boy Scouts.

In the past, the nation's largest Protestant denomination has often been more heavy-handed in its condemnation of homosexuality.

In 1997, the Southern Baptist Convention asked its members to boycott The Walt Disney Company, in part because it provided benefits for same-sex partners of employees and hosted gay theme nights at its amusement parks. The SBC dropped the boycott in 2005.

The Boy Scout resolution also calls on the organization to remove executive and board leaders who tried to allow gays as both members and leaders without consulting the many religious groups that sponsor troops. It passed overwhelmingly, but not unanimously, by the nation's largest Protestant denomination at its annual meeting in Houston.

Before the vote, Charlie Dale, pastor of Indian Springs First Baptist Church in Pelham, Ala. said the resolution "is not going to help the cause of Christ."

Of boys who say they are gay, he said, "Let's bring them in, show them what real biblical manhood is about and love them."

Some delegates to the convention tried to toughen the language of the resolution. Paul Taylor, of First Baptist Church in Mauriceville, Texas, successfully proposed an amendment to strike language about churches and families that chose not to drop ties with the Boy Scouts.

"That seems like we are going on record encouraging a relationship with Scout troops that have homosexual members," he said.

But a few minutes later, similar language was put back in the resolution when the convention passed an amendment by David Uth, of First Baptist Church, Orlando, Fla. His amendment encouraged those churches that continue to sponsor Boy Scout troops to "seek to impact as many boys as possible with the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ."

"We're not trying to bring condemnation or Hell fire on scouting or their leadership, though we sort of hope they get new leaders or leaders that change their minds," said Steve Lemke, chair of the committee on resolutions.

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