Southern Baptists to Vote on Boy Scouts' New Gay Policy

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 12 2013 11:13 AM

Southern Baptists Want to Make It Clear They Really Don't Like the Scouts' New Gay Policy

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Alan Hoyle, of Lincolnton, North Carolina holds up a sign opposing gays in the Boy Scouts at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center May 23, 2013 in Grapevine, Texas

Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images

Members of the Southern Baptist Convention are expected to vote today on a resolution disapproving of the Boy Scouts of America's recent acceptance of openly gay members.

While the resolution doesn't openly call for churches to stop sponsoring troops as some had had expected, it's clear that the leaders of the country's largest Protestant denomination find the new policy incompatible with their beliefs, and plan to continue to push back against the BSA's new policy. Reuters has more on the details of the new resolution, which was made public this morning:

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The Southern Baptist resolution ... urges churches that decide to continue with the Boy Scouts to work toward the reversal of the new membership policy and to advocate against any change in leadership and membership that "normalizes sexual conduct outside of the biblical standards." The resolution says homosexual conduct is contrary to a scout's oath to do his duty to God.

It's certainly no surprise that the Southern Baptist Convention is issuing this resolution—after all, many leaders expressed strong disapproval when the issue was being decided upon in late May. Some Southern Baptist churches—such as the one led by former Southern Baptist President Bryant Wright—have already stopped sponsoring troops, though the new policy will officially take effect on Jan 1. The Associated Press noted Wright's position on the new policy: that it would not allow Scout masters to counsel those Scouts to "live a life of sexual purity according to Scripture."

But that doesn't mean that other religious organizations have decided to stop supporting the Boy Scouts of America. The two largest sponsors of scouting troops nationwide—the Church of Latter-day Saints (which serves some 430,000 boys) and the United Methodist Church—have accepted the new policy without any issue.

The Scouts has along worked hand in hand with churches all over the country, with about 70 percent of the group's more than 100,000 units charted by faith-based organizations, according to Reuters.

Jennifer Lai is an associate editor at Slate. Slate Plus members, email her here.