The nation’s largest Protestant group on Tuesday added its voice to the growing chorus urging the Boy Scouts of America to maintain its ban on openly gay members and leaders.
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) challenged the group’s national council to stand up for its longstanding conservative values when it meets the week of May 20 to consider the ban.
In a written resolution that revealed as much strength and conviction as the gay-rights groups that started the controversial mess, the executive committee of the 16-million member SBC said 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."
Scouts leaders said last month they would consider a suggestion to let the sponsor of each individual troop decide its own policy on gays.
Around 70 percent of all Scout groups are sponsored by religious denominations, many of whom have supported the Scouts’ biblical view on human sexuality. The Nashville-based SBC has been among the most vocal opponents since the proposed policy change was announced.
The bold resolution includes a call for like-minded business leaders to back the Scouts monetarily, "sending a strong signal to those corporations that have pressured the Scouts to capitulate to popular culture by financial coercion."
The resolution also expresses "dismay and disappointment" at any Scout leaders who may have pushed to remove the ban.
Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith responded to the resolution by email: "We recognize, deeply respect and appreciate the sincere religious beliefs held by our members and chartered organizations."
The issue was supposed to be settled on Feb. 6 by the Scouts' 70-member national executive board, but after facing intense pressure from both supporters and opponents, the board passed the decision on to the 1,400-member National Council, which meets three months from now.
Voting members of the council include regional presidents and representatives of the Scout's 290 local councils. Its members offer a better representation of the organization's base than its executive board, which includes high-powered business executives and civic leaders.