Boy Scout units hosted by Southern Baptist churches may soon dwindle in number, in response to the Boy Scouts of America's recent vote to allow openly gay boys to be Scouts. Baptist leaders say the move is counter to their religious beliefs, and they may leave the organization "en masse." More from CNN's Belief Blog:
Baptist churches sponsor nearly 4,000 Scout units representing more than 100,000 youths, according to the Boy Scouts of America.
That number could drop precipitously.
The Southern Baptist Convention, the country's largest Protestant denomination, will soon urge its 45,000 congregations and 16 million members to cut ties with the Scouts, according to church leaders.
The denomination will vote on nonbinding but influential resolutions during a convention June 11-12 in Houston.
"There's a 100% chance that there will be a resolution about disaffiliation at the convention," said Richard Land, the longtime head of the Southern Baptists' Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, "and a 100% chance that 99% of people will vote for it."
"Southern Baptists are going to be leaving the Boy Scouts en masse," Land continued.
Roger "Sing" Oldham, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, emphasized that local congregations make their own decision on the Scouts.
But he, too, said he expects Baptist delegates, which the church calls "messengers," to voice their disagreement with the BSA's decision to allow gay youths.
"With this policy change, the Boy Scouts' values are contradictory to the basic values of our local churches," Oldham said.
Image: Church, via Shutterstock