– Los Angeles Times

HOUSTON – Members of the Southern Baptist Convention voted at their annual meeting Wednesday to support families who leave the Boy Scouts because of the group’s plans to accept gay Scouts, urged the removal of Boy Scout leaders who championed accepting gays, and encouraged former Boy Scouts to join a Southern Baptist youth group instead.

“Homosexuality is directly opposed to everything that Scouting stands for. I am disappointed in Scouting,” the Rev. Wes Taylor said in speaking for the resolution endorsed by the convention. “They are moving away from the principles that it was founded upon. This is an attempt to open the door to broaden the acceptance of homosexuality in that organization. It is an environment that would prove just fertile for young boys to be exposed to something that is ungodly and unacceptable.”

The proposal was submitted by the Southern Baptist Committee on Resolutions.

Before Wednesday’s vote, some Baptist pastors spoke in favor of the Boy Scouts in proceedings that have been streaming live online.

“The Boy Scouts have said they are against sexual activity (involving) any boy. I don’t think they are condoning homosexuality,” said the Rev. Charlie Dale of Indian Springs First Baptist Church in Indian Springs, Ala. Dale said he didn’t think the vote “will help the cause of Christ,” and noted that Baptist youth groups don’t exclude gays.

“I don’t think we should hold the Boy Scouts to a standard we would not put on our own churches,” Dale said.

Others wanted the convention to go even further, severing ties with the Boy Scouts and describing homosexuality as a “preference” rather than a “perceived sexual orientation.”

“Say it now, say it clearly, and say it in love. The SBC in no way should ever shake or bend to our biblical convictions. We should always say as we always have that homosexuality is wrong or sinful,” said the Rev. Mike Janz of First Baptist Church of Rosamond, in Rosamond, Calif.

His suggested changes to the proposal were rejected. But members voted to approve the resolution, which is a nonbinding opinion expressed by the convention to member churches.

Members, or “messengers,” voted by raising their ballots at Houston’s convention center for the convention’s newly re-elected president, the Rev. Fred Luter, to count. After counting, Luter — who has spoken out against gays in Scouting — smiled.

“Overwhelmingly in support of this resolution — thank you, thank you very much,” he said.

Separately, a Maryland pastor proposed a motion Tuesday that the convention investigate the Boy Scouts’ decision to lift the ban on gay youth and report back with options for families this fall. That proposal was still being considered Wednesday.