Members of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston, Texas today have passed a resolution opposing the recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America to accept gay scouts. And while the resolution doesn't encourage individual churches to sever ties with their affiliated troops, Baptist churches throughout the country are considering just such a move. In East Tennessee, at least three churches are weighing their options, but not all are Baptist. Scout Executive Larry Brown of the Great Smoky Mountains Council of the Boy Scouts of America wouldn't identify the specific churches, but he tells WUOT News one is Baptist, one is Lutheran and one is inter-denominational. In addition to the possibility of church sponsor defections, Brown says some East Tennessee Scout leaders have resigned since the Boy Scouts announced last month's change in policy.
In the meantime, the West Hills Baptist Church in Knoxville has extended an invitation to any displaced Scout troops to merge with its own troop. "Our congregation has a long tradition of supporting the Boy Scouts," Senior Pastor Drew Prince said in a statement. "We expect to continue that relationship long into the future."
Brown says the Great Smoky Mountain Council is working with individual troops to make sure they continue to have qualified leaders and church partners. According to the Associated Press, approximately 70% of the nation's Scout units are sponsored by religious organizations.
The Great Smoky Mountain Council oversees more than 400 troops and related programs in 21 East Tennessee Counties.