Update: Are Southern Baptists in Town to Break up with the Boy Scouts?
Update: The Boy Scouts of America responded to our request for a comment with a written explanation on their stance on the issue from Deron Smith, public relations director for Boy Scouts of America:
"We respect the deeply held religious beliefs of all of our members. We're finding that when people read the new policy they see it is reflective of the beliefs of most of Scouting's major religious chartered organizations. This policy reaffirms that doing ones 'duty to God' is absolutely explicit and one of the fundamental principles of Scouting and states that sexual conduct by any Scout, heterosexual or homosexual, is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. Further, it states that while no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of stating their sexual orientation alone, Scouting expects appropriate behavior from all members. We are unaware of any that believe a youth member simply stating he or she is attracted to the same sex, but not engaging in sexual activity, should make him or her unwelcome in their congregation. While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting."
To sum it up, none of the scouts should be having sex, no matter their sexual orientation, and those in the organization believe that being a scout is good for all kids, again, no matter their sexual orientation, according to Smith. So that's why they changed the policy.
Still haven't heard back from the Southern Baptist Convention, but hopefully we'll hear from them soon, fingers crossed. Original Entry:
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Breaking up is hard to do. There are all kinds of songs about it. But sometimes it's got to be done, and it looks like the Boy Scouts of America and the Southern Baptists may have to admit to each other that their relationship just isn't working.
A couple of weeks ago, the Boy Scouts of America decided to allow openly gay boys to join the ranks of the Boy Scouts' troops. Adult gay scout leaders are still banned, but boys who want to learn the ways of the Scouts would finally be able to be members of troops, no matter their sexual orientation.
In the wake of the Boy Scouts of America vote, it was predicted that churches would split from the organization quicker than Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor after their second marriage (or that Kardashian chick and the giant basketball player she married for like two seconds, if you're hungry for a more current reference). Well, a few churches have announced an end to their association with the Scouts -- officials of conservative churches in Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia have said that they won't allow the Boy Scouts to use their facilities for meetings anymore -- but everyone is waiting to see what the big guys are going to do. Yep, we're talking about the Southern Baptists of America, the Associated Press reports.
Of course, Gov. Rick Perry jumped right in to take a firm stance against the decision, stating that he was "greatly disappointed with the decision." This statement coming right after he had the nerve (or whatever you call what it was he had to allow him to say this) to equate opposing allowing the ban on gay youths to end with being against slavery. (Yes, we got a nice big welt on our forehead from banging our head on the desk in absolute frustration after reading that little bit of "wisdom" from the head honcho in Austin.)
Considering that barring a kid from joining the Boy Scouts for any reason seems like the kind of cruelty that we so often say only children are capable of, it shouldn't be surprising how eager the grown-ups have been to get on the bandwagon. Some churches have already parted ways with the Boy Scouts over the end of this century-old ban, Reuters reported. Not to be outdone, leaders of the Southern Baptists said they expect to issue a resolution against the move when they hold the Southern Baptist Convention this week. Which, coincidentally, is going to be held in Houston. The Southern Baptist Convention is slated to be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center on Tuesday and Wednesday and the group may use this gathering to get together and make a statement on the end of the ban, which is slated to go into effect January 1, 2014. It's a likely assumption that they won't be speaking in favor of ending the ban if the topic comes up. In fact, if you want to talk to your bookie, it's a pretty sure thing they will be talking about the ban and the talk won't be warm, fuzzy encouragement for the Boy Scouts of America.
With more than 16 million members, Southern Baptists are the largest Protestant body in the U.S. They are second only to the Catholic Church in number of members. If they decide to part ways with the Scouts over this decision, it'll mean a whole bunch of troops will have to find new places to meet. But then, if they choose to break up with the Scouts over this (which is the Scouts finally doing the right thing), then maybe it's best they go on and break up now.
Also, it seems that members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests -- a.k.a. SNAP -- will be on hand for the convention. They have asked to speak to the convention about sexual abuse and are urging Baptist clergy to train their staff on how to handle accusations of abuse.
In a release issued last week, SNAP leaders say that congregants and clergy often "immediately and publicly rally for an accused child molester instead of keeping an open mind and urging anyone with information to come forward." Then, SNAP contends, "Victims, witnesses and whistleblowers are frightened or depressed and stay silent. And as a result, all too often, those who commit and conceal child sex crimes walk free, remain hidden, and hurt others."
Kind of like how a church just outside of Dallas tried to whitewash sympathy for the victim of a sexual assault by a pastor.
No word on whether the Southern Baptists will let SNAP members address the convention. We tried to contact the folks at both the Boy Scouts of America and the Southern Baptist Convention, but haven't heard back yet. Now we'll just see how all this goes down once the convention gets going.
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