Frankly, I can't imagine a Southern Baptist pastor who would continue to allow his church to sponsor a Boy Scout troop under these new rules. —Richard Land, a senior Southern Baptist Conference official
The Boy Scouts of America will get no reprieve from controversy after a contentious vote to accept openly gay boys as Scouts.
Dismayed conservatives are already looking at alternative youth groups as they predict a mass exodus from the BSA. Gay-rights supporters vowed Friday to maintain pressure on the Scouts to end the still-in-place ban on gay adults serving as leaders.
"They're not on our good list yet," said Paul Guequierre of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights group. He said the HRC, in its annual rankings of corporate policies on workplace fairness, would deduct points from companies that donate to the Boy Scouts until the ban on gay adults is lifted.
In California, gay-rights leaders said they will continue supporting a bill pending in the Legislature that would make the BSA ineligible for nonprofit tax breaks because of the remaining ban.
The Boy Scouts' chief executive, Wayne Brock, pleaded for the Scouting community to reunite after the divisive debate that led to Thursday's vote by the BSA's National Council. The proposal to lift the ban on openly gay youth — while keeping the ban on gay adults — was supported by about 60 percent of the council's 1,400 voting members.
However, Brock's plea failed to sway some conservative religious leaders whose denominations sponsor many Scout units and who consider same-sex relationships immoral.
"Frankly, I can't imagine a Southern Baptist pastor who would continue to allow his church to sponsor a Boy Scout troop under these new rules," Richard Land, a senior Southern Baptist Conference official, told the Baptist Press.
Land advised Southern Baptist churches to withdraw their support of Scout troops and consider affiliating instead with the Royal Ambassadors, an existing SBC youth program for boys that combines religious ministry with Scouting-style activities.