Southern Baptists

Southern Baptists, The Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution Wednesday expressing its opposition to and disappointment in the Boy Scouts of America's new policy allowing gay scouts.
The resolution was voted on by members at the denomination's annual meeting in Houston. It also called on the Boy Scouts to remove executive and board leaders who tried to allow gays as both members and leaders without consulting the many religious groups that sponsor scout troops.

Though the resolution does not recommend Southern Baptists drop ties with the scouts, it expressed support for those churches and families who decide to do so. It also encouraged churches and families who choose to remain with the scouts to work toward reversing the new policy.

Because all Southern Baptist churches are independent, the denomination cannot force any church to drop ties with the scouts. However, churches occasionally are kicked out of the convention for practices considered incompatible with Southern Baptist beliefs.

The resolution takes a softer tone than the denomination has many times in the past.
In 1997, the Southern Baptist Convention asked its members to boycott the Walt Disney Co., in part because it provided benefits for same-sex partners of employees and hosted gay theme nights at its amusement parks. The SBC dropped the boycott in 2005.

Although the Nashville denomination claims 16 million members, its membership has been in decline for six years in a row. Recently, the convention has sought to expand its appeal beyond its traditional white, Southern base. Last year, the convention elected an African American president for the first time in its history. The Rev. Fred Luter was reelected without opposition Tuesday.

In other resolutions introduced Wednesday, the membership passed a resolution calling on all Southern Baptists to report allegations of child abuse to authorities.

The nation's largest Protestant denomination has resisted implementing a database of ministers accused of abuse, saying all churches are independent and the denomination does not have authority to order local churches to submit that information.

Members amended the resolution to urge denominational leaders to use caution in affiliating with groups or individuals with questionable practices of protecting children.

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