HOUSTON (ABP)—The Southern Baptist Convention stopped short of urging churches to sever ties with the Boy Scouts of America in a resolution condemning the organization’s recent decision to drop its ban on gay Scouts.
The nonbinding resolution at the SBC annual meeting in Houston expresses “continued opposition to and disappointment in the decision of the Boy Scouts of America to change its membership policy” and called for the removal of Scout leaders who pushed for the policy change.
It affirms “the right of all families and churches prayerfully to assess their continued relationship with the BSA” and expresses “support for those churches and families that as a matter of conscience can no longer be part of the Scouting family.”
Meanwhile it encourages churches and families “that seek to remain in the Boy Scouts to impact as many boys as possible with the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Continue ministering to boys
The resolution urges churches that choose to end sponsorship of Scout units to continue ministering to boys by expanding the Royal Ambassador ministry, “a distinctively Southern Baptist missions organization to develop godly young men.”
It also cites “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.”
Reporting sex abuse
In other action, the convention also adopted a resolution calling on church members to be diligent in reporting alleged child sex abuse to legal authorities.
The nonbinding resolution stresses the “legal and moral responsibility to report any accusation of child abuse to authorities in addition to implementing any appropriate church discipline or internal restoration process.”
It calls on Southern Baptists to “cooperate fully with law enforcement officials in exposing and bringing to justice all perpetrators, sexual or otherwise, who criminally harm children placed in our trust.”
Messengers approved an amendment from the floor by Georgia pastor Peter Lumpkins, who proposed the original resolution behind the committee’s statement encouraging denominational leaders and employees to “utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliation with groups and/or individuals” that have questionable policies or practices to safeguard children from criminal abuse.
The resolution comes amid recent reports of high-profile Baptist leaders voicing support for a pastor named in a lawsuit alleging a massive abuse cover up, failing to report an admitted child molester to police and refusing to share findings of internal investigations into abuse allegations with police.
“There’s no greater time in the history of evangelicalism, and Southern Baptists particularly, that we need a strong resolution about child abuse,” Lumpkins said. “This resolution speaks strongly to that. However, I think it needs to be stronger.”
SBC messengers also approved a resolution urging churches to develop intentional, compassionate ministries for people with mental illness. The resolution urges Southern Baptists to “oppose all stigmatization and prejudice” and supports “the wise use of medical intervention for mental health concerns when appropriate.”
It also expresses support for “research and treatment of mental health concerns when undertaken in a manner consistent with a biblical worldview.”
Editor’s Note: The last two paragraphs were added to the article after it initially was posted.