Southern Baptist leader Frank Page took part in a conference call Monday (Jan. 28) with Boy Scout leaders and urged the organization not to change its policy on homosexuality, days ahead of a vote on the proposal that has led to significant pushback from the Scouts' base of support.
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Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, took part in the conference call which included Wayne Brock, chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America (B.S.A.); Wayne Perry, president of the B.S.A.; and Tiko Perez, national commissioner of the B.S.A. Roger S. "Sing" Oldham, vice president for convention communications and relations with the SBC Executive Committee, also took part in the call and gave Baptist Press a summary of the conversation.
The Boy Scout leaders said during the conference call they are facing pressure -- both internally and externally -- to change the policy, which prohibits open homosexuals from leadership positions. Page, though, told them that pressure should never trump principle, and he added that he could no longer laud the Scouts for standing on principle.
Just six months ago, the Boy Scouts released a statement standing by the ban, saying a "majority of our membership" agrees with the policy and that the "vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their rights to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting."
The Boy Scouts released a new statement Monday describing the proposal, saying that the national policy would be rescinded in favor of a policy allowing local councils to determine their own policy. That means that in each city, one council might allow gay leaders and another might not. The Boy Scouts board is expected to vote on the proposal next week.
Page told the Scout leaders that although the new policy might allow the sponsoring organization to set local policy, such autonomy would disappear when there is a national or even regional meeting.
"National policy will always trump local autonomy" in such situations, Page said. "I believe this will be a death blow to Scouting. ... I think this is a self-inflicted wound."
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SOURCE: Baptist Press