Delegates at the Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution Wednesday opposing a new Boy Scouts of America policy to allow gay youths to join the troops.
It’s a move applauded by the leadership of area congregations, with Lakewood Baptist Church’s senior pastor calling the new Boy Scout policy “another example of moral compromise.”
“I think that the legacy of producing great leaders has been lost,” Tom Smiley said, “and I’m very saddened by it.”
The Boy Scouts of America voted in May to allow openly gay youth to join troops, though the council continues to prohibit gay leadership. The changes are scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2014.
While the Southern Baptist Convention’s resolution is opposed to the Boy Scout policy, and supports churches that choose to sever ties with Scouting troops, it does not specifically call for churches to do so.
The resolution does encourage churches and families who remain with the Scouts to work toward the reversal of the policy. It was approved at the group’s annual meeting in Houston.
Lakewood Baptist Church leadership will be reviewing that policy, as well as any future connections with the current Cub Scout program that uses the church facility for its meetings.
“We’ll be making that decision as a local congregation,” Smiley said, adding that church leaders are scheduled to meet within the next “couple of weeks,” and this would be one of the topics.
He noted that Southern Baptist churches operate independently of each other, so there would not be one universal stance.
The resolution reads, in part, that allowing homosexual youths in the Scout program “has the potential to complicate basic understandings of male friendships, needlessly politicize human sexuality, and heighten sexual tensions within the Boy Scouts,” according to a press release of the Baptist Press, which is covering the Southern Baptist Convention.
Smiley said that many who speak out against gay marriage are not homophobic.
“It’s very sad that there’s name calling, and hatefulness that is expressed against people like myself who have very principled objections to this,” he said. “It’s not because I hate anyone, or am against anyone. It’s just that I have very principled core values.”
Student minister Justin Lewallen with Pleasant Hill Baptist Church agreed.
“As far as I’m concerned, I believe that the fact (is) that they’re standing by their beliefs in regards to homosexuality,” he said. “The Bible’s clear about homosexuality, and it’s a sin.
“I am in full support of the Southern Baptist Convention standing firm in our beliefs on homosexuality,” he added.
Pleasant Hill Baptist Church does not have any ties to the Boy Scout program, Lewallen said.