Since the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) voted two weeks ago to allow gay members, there has been a mass exodus of churches that sponsor troops. One pastor in Arkansas says his church will no longer sponsor its Boy Scout troop and now investigating other options to mentor its boys.
Tim Reed, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge, said troop leaders of his congregation decided months ago that if the Boy Scouts opted to accept gay youth they could no longer be leaders.
“On the Boy Scout Charter it says the council agrees to respect the aims and objectives of the chartering organization,” Reed said. “When they made this decision they definitively showed they didn’t respect what our aims and objectives are as a church.”
Reed conceded that it has been a difficult week for the church, but has received support from across the nation.
“Something that God’s Word calls sinful and shameful we cannot teach, condone or uphold in our church as being acceptable,” Reed added. “We have openly gay people in our church here on Wednesdays and Sundays. We have adulterers, thieves, liars, gossips and murderers, too. We don’t condone their sin either.”
Reed said it is likely the Southern Baptist Convention will encourage its 45,000 congregations at its annual meeting this summer to disassociate with the Scouts. But in the meantime, congregations like First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge are looking at alternatives to the Boy Scouts, like Royal Ambassadors or another group called On My Honor.
BSA reports roughly 5,000 Scout units are chartered to Southern Baptist churches, comprising more than 100,000 children. The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in America with 45,000 congregations and 16 million members.
According to Baptist Press, Southern Baptist Convention president Fred Luter called it "a sad day in the history of an organization that for years stood on Christian principles, particularly for the thousands of Southern Baptists who grew up as Boy Scouts like myself."
"My prayers," Luter said, "go out to the parents and churches who have been forced to make decisions about being a part of the Boy Scouts organization. As Southern Baptists, our commitment to the Word of God and Christian values must take priority over what is 'politically correct.'"
Publication date: June 6, 2013