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June 4, 2013 Print

Faith-Based Organizations React, Cut Ties with Boy Scouts of America

by Bethany Monk

Churches and other faith-based groups have announced plans to remove affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) after the organization changed its membership policy last month to allow openly gay members.

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) will likely recommend that its 47,000 U.S. churches withdraw their support, SBC President Frank Page told ABCNews.com.

“I can say with pretty strong accuracy that the vast majority of Southern Baptists are very disappointed in the latest change in policy … deeply disappointed,” Frank told the news outlet. “We just felt like there’s got to be some objective standard, and we felt they were maintaining that until recently.”

The denomination is likely to vote next on a nonbinding resolution to disaffiliate from BSA.

More than 60 percent of BSA national council members passed a resolution on May 23 changing its policy. It states that “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” The 1,400-member council voted in Grapevine, Texas. The policy change will go into effect Jan. 1.

The BSA has trained and mentored boys since 1910 to create a more conscientious, responsible society. Faith-based groups run more than 70,000 of the 116,000 local units.

Shortly after the policy change announcement, the Assemblies of God released a statement about its disappointment over the vote. The world’s largest Pentecostal denomination comprises more than 65 million members.

“We believe — as do a majority of Boy Scout volunteer leaders, and parents — that this is not the best policy for BSA,” the organization states. “(The) vote to allow homosexual youth members negates BSA’s ability to legally defend it position regarding leaders and opens the door to more efforts by lesbian, gay and bisexual and transgender (LGBT) lobbies to make further policy changes.”

The American Heritage Girls (AHG) has announced that it would cut ties with the BSA. The nationwide nonprofit helps build women of integrity via service to God, family, community and country.

Ernest Easley, an Atlanta-based pastor, advised parents during a sermon late last month to take their children out of the BSA. His church, Roswell Street Baptist, is cutting ties with its Troop 204, he said.

“I never dreamed I’d have to stand up publicly and say to parents: ‘Pull your kids out of the Boy Scouts,'” he told the Baptist Press last week. “If you would have asked me five years ago, 10 years ago, I would have laughed. And even as I was saying it Sunday morning, I thought, I cannot believe I’m having to address this and encourage parents to take their children out of the Boy Scouts of America.”

Read AHG’s letter to the BSA ending its Memorandum of Mutual Support.

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