The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination, has approved a resolution seeking to remove some of the Boy Scouts' leadership after the youth organization voted to allow openly gay youth to join, according to multiple reports.
The governing body won't ask its affiliated churches to cut ties with the Scouts or pull sponsorship, and will leave those decisions to the individual congregations — though some U.S. religious leaders have already severed relationships, saying they'll no longer allow scout troops to meet at their churches.
Instead, they are encouraging more Christian youth groups, such as the convention's Royal Ambassadors.
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While not naming specific Boy Scouts leaders, the SBC calls on the Boy Scouts of America to remove those executives and board members who earlier pushed to allow gays as both members and leaders without consulting the many religious groups that sponsor Scout troops.
Allowing openly gay youth in Scouting "has the potential to complicate basic understandings of male friendships, needlessly politicize human sexuality, and heighten sexual tensions within the Boy Scouts," according to the resolution, made public on Wednesday. It urges churches that opt to continue with the Boy Scouts to strive toward the reversal of the new membership policy and fight against any change that "normalizes sexual conduct outside of the biblical standards."
Homosexual behavior is contrary to a scout's oath to do his duty to God, the resolution said.
This action comes three weeks after the BSA voted in an historic ballot to let gay youth to join
after the issue of LGBT membership had been debated for years. Gay adults are still banned, but the Southern Baptists feel that will change as well, which concerns conservative religious sponsors of the Boy Scouts.
"We express our well-founded concern that the current executive leadership of the BSA, along with certain board members, may utilize this membership policy change as merely the first step toward future approval of homosexual leaders in the Scouts," the resolution said.
BSA spokesman Deron Smith told the Los Angeles Times that, while some groups stopped sponsoring troops after last month's announcement, "most are continuing with the program."
"Our executives work with troop leadership
to identify another suitable chartered organization and ensure a smooth transition for the families involved," Smith said. "We are finding that when people read the new policy they see it is reflective of the beliefs of most of Scouting's major religious chartered organizations. ... We hope everyone stays with Scouting because we believe our organization is bigger than this single issue."
The Southern Baptist Convention has more than 45,000 churches with nearly 16 million members nationwide, according to the group's website.
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