A number of churches that previously sponsored Boy Scout troops have said they plan to sever ties to the organization following its decision to lift a longtime national ban on admitting openly gay Scouts. Openly gay adults will still be barred from leadership roles in the organization.
“I think 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 Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee, told ABCNews.com.
Page said that the Southern Baptist Convention — the largest Protestant denomination in the United States — would be holding its national meeting in two weeks, after which it would likely recommend that its 47,000 U.S. churches pull away from the Boy Scouts of America. From there, it is up to each individual church to decide what to do, said Page.
About 70 percent of all local Boy Scout troops are supported by religious groups, according to the Boy Scouts of America, and the Southern Baptist Convention currently sponsors “hundreds of troops, probably thousands,” Page said.
“We don’t hate people,” said Page. “We don’t hate anybody, but we just felt like there’s got to be some objective standard, and we felt they were maintaining that until recently.”
The Mormon church, which sponsors most of the troops, has endorsed allowing gay Scouts. The Roman Catholic Church, the second-largest troop sponsor, has said it was going to use the time before the new policy takes effect on Jan. 1 to think about how and if it would affect the church.