NASHVILLE (BP) -- The Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution that criticizes Boy Scouts leadership for trying to change the policy on homosexuality but also urges the Scouts' voting members to uphold the current policy in May.
The resolution also commends the Southern Baptists' Royal Ambassadors program "irrespective" of what the Scouts ultimately decide.
The Boy Scouts executive board appeared poised in early February to lift its prohibition on gay Scout leaders and members and replace it with a "local option," whereby each sponsoring organization would decide the policy. But facing pressure from its base, the board decided to put the matter before its 1,400 voting members at the national convention in May.
"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," the resolution states. "... e 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."
The resolution is critical of Boy Scouts leadership, noting that in January Executive Committee President Frank Page learned in a conference call with Boy Scouts leadership that they "had been working behind the scenes for many months to reverse this policy" while "keeping the more conservative majority of the scouting family in the dark concerning their initiative." That, the resolution states, amounted to "breaking trust with the very Scout Oath and Law they pledge to uphold."
The Executive Committee, the resolution says, expresses "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."
Lifting the policy, the resolution says, would "increase legal exposure" for any "chartered or sponsoring organization" which decides to uphold the biblical view of sexuality. The resolutions also says that "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."
Further, if the Boy Scouts change their policy, it would place them "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."
The resolution also calls 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."
The resolution mentions the Royal Ambassadors, the Southern Baptist missions organization for boys in grades 1-6.
"rrespective 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," it says.
Following is the full text of the 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 United State Supreme Court 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 Continued...