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On The Change Of Membership Policy Of The Boy Scouts Of America

WHEREAS, For more than a century, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has been a values-based boys 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 contains language that is consistent with belief in God and biblical 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 throughout its history has restricted from membership and leadership those persons who would affect the group’s ability to advocate its viewpoints in regard to belief in God and His moral precepts; and

WHEREAS, In 1992, and again in 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted resolutions affirming the Boy Scouts in their stand that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations of the Scout Oath, encouraging the BSA “to maintain its historic commitments” (1992) and “to hold fast to its traditional ideals” (2000); and

WHEREAS, The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the constitutional right to freedom of association allows a private organization, as part of its “expressive message,” to exclude a person from membership when “the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group’s ability to advocate public or private viewpoints” 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 Boy Scouts 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 appointed by the National Council of the Boy Scouts completed a two-year study and reported its unanimous decision that the Boy Scouts retain the current policy as outlined above; and

WHEREAS, NBC News reported in breaking news on January 28, 2013, that the BSA executive leadership, in concert with certain members of the BSA board of directors, was poised to change the Scouts’ historic policy at its February 4–5 board meeting the following week to allow avowed homosexuals into membership and leadership positions within the Boy Scouts of America; and

WHEREAS, During the week between when news broke of this proposed policy change and the February board meeting, the Boy Scouts received an outpouring of feedback from Scouts, Scouting families, sponsoring organizations, and the American public; and

WHEREAS, On February 6, 2013, the BSA board determined that, “due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a deliberate review of its membership policy”; and

WHEREAS, The National Council of the Boy Scouts voted on May 23, 2013, to approve new membership guidelines that state, “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone”; and

WHEREAS, While those who embrace a biblical worldview are grateful that the leadership policy of the BSA remains unchanged, the executive leadership and certain members of the Boy Scouts board clearly signaled their desire to change both the membership and leadership policies of the BSA; and

WHEREAS, This decision of the BSA is viewed by many homosexual activists as merely the first step in a process that will fundamentally change the BSA, putting the Scouts at odds with a consistent biblical worldview on matters of human sexuality; and

WHEREAS, This decision has the potential to complicate basic understandings of male friendships, needlessly politicize human sexuality, and heighten sexual tensions within the Boy Scouts; and

WHEREAS, Many Southern Baptist churches sponsor Boy Scout troops and many Southern Baptists are involved in Scouting; and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message states that “Christians should oppose . . . all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography,” and Southern Baptists consistently have expressed their opposition to the normalization of homosexual behavior in American culture through more than a dozen resolutions over the past thirty years; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston, Texas, June 11–12, 2013, express our continued opposition to and disappointment in the decision of the Boy Scouts of America to change its membership policy; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we express our gratitude for the thousands of individuals within the Scouting family and the culture at large who expressed their opposition to the BSA executive leadership’s intent to change its membership and leadership policies in regard to homosexuality, leading to the compromise recommendation it presented to the BSA National Council; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we express our gratitude to each voting member of the National Council who voted in opposition to the policy change for membership; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we express our well-founded concern that the current executive leadership of the BSA, along with certain board members, may utilize this membership policy change as merely the first step toward future approval of homosexual leaders in the Scouts; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on the Boy Scouts to remove from executive and board leadership those individuals who, earlier this year, sought to change both the membership and leadership policy of the Scouts without seeking input from the full range of the Scouting family; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we affirm the right of all families and churches prayerfully to assess their continued relationship with the BSA, expressing our support for those churches and families that as a matter of conscience can no longer be part of the Scouting family; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage churches and families that remain in the Boy Scouts to seek to impact as many boys as possible with the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ, to work toward the reversal of this new membership policy, and to advocate against any future change in leadership and membership policy that normalizes sexual conduct opposed to the biblical standard; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage churches that choose to sever ties with the Boy Scouts not to abandon their ministry to boys but consider expanding their Royal Ambassadors ministry, a distinctively Southern Baptist missions organization to develop godly young men; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we declare our love in Christ for all young people regardless of their perceived sexual orientation, praying that God will bring all youth into a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.