June 13, 2013
At their annual convention the Southern Baptist Church approved a resolution strongly opposing the Boy Scouts of America decision to allow openly gay members. The majority of boy scout groups are sponsored by religious organizations and baptist is the nation's largest protestant denomination.
One local mother has two sons who started as cub scouts.
"I think what they get from scouting are things they don't get anywhere else," said Julie Richardson who has two sons in boy scouts for several years now. "Leadership, camaraderie without competition, love for nature and having some very positive male role models in their life other than parents and relatives."
Pastor Hodari Hamilton of First Baptist Church in Charlottesville agrees with Richardson but it's the recent vote by Boy Scouts of America that he does not agree with.
"We're not against boy scouts at all we support boy scouts, we believe in their mission as a whole. We disagree, I disagree as a pastor in presenting marriage with alternatives that don't exist in the scripture," said Hamilton.
Three weeks ago Boy Scouts of America voted to lift a longtime ban and accept openly gay boys as scout members.
On Wednesday, during the four-day national convention, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee stated the strong opposition to the vote. The resolution did not call on its member churches to stop sponsoring troops.
Pastor Hamilton said he will continue to welcome boy scouts to visit the church or use the church as a meeting spot just as he does with other faith groups.
"Historically the boy scouts have been a great organization for helping boys to understand maleness, understand what it is to be a boy," said Hamilton. "And this decision does not do that. It does not give the best example that we want for our boys to grow into men and be husband to their wife."
Richardson says they are a Christian family but that will not change their view of the BSA as an organization.
"They provide opportunities to boys who sometimes don't have those opportunities so I think by admitting a new segment of the population it's additional outreach to some of these boys who aren't getting these influences from anywhere," said Richardson.
Starting on January 1, 2014 Boy Scouts of America will begin accepting openly gay members.
Boy Scouts of America released this statement regarding the Southern Baptist Church resolution:
“We have a deep respect for the Southern Baptist Convention and its churches that use Scouting in their youth ministries. Scouting’s youth member policy is not about the BSA condoning homosexuality, or forcing its chartered organizations to do the same. This change allows Scouting to be more compassionate in its response to a young person who expresses a same sex attraction, but is not engaging in sexual activity, by no longer calling for their automatic removal from the program. Scouting’s policy prohibits any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age and requires all members to demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others. We believe the BSA policy is fully consistent with how Southern Baptist Churches respond to young people in their congregations and allows them to maintain their beliefs about homosexuality and minister to children who are still learning and developing."