JEFFERSON CITY — The Feb. 6 decision by the Boy Scouts of America to delay until May making a choice on admitting homosexual scout leaders prompted Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) leaders to express their ongoing concern for the spiritual condition of America.
“The fact that we’re even watching the discussion and the dialogue is kind of a sad statement of our culture,” said Wesley Hammond, MBC president and pastor, First Baptist Church, Paris. “Here you have an organization that has been very strongly in support of boys and young men, and the challenge that they’re facing with the culture is causing them to even consider putting young men in situations that would not be in their best interest.”
MBC Executive Director John Yeats, who also serves as recording secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), agreed with Hammond that it is “a sad commentary on our culture” that the Boy Scouts are in this predicament.
“Here is an organization that has at its core the mission of helping boys become men of character,” Yeats said. “Now, no matter how the board votes, they will never satisfy everyone. If they opt to embrace political correctness, they stand to shrink their organization into something much smaller and less effective. If they choose to stand by their founding values, they will lose a small minority of members and be demonized by the politically correct crowd.
“Yet, by standing by their core values, the Boy Scouts of America demonstrate historic character that has made scouting an iconic organization.”
Hammond said the church should be examining itself even as the Boy Scouts look at redefining themselves.
“Churches have been making compromises for years,” he said. “We’re reaching the point in time where we’re going to have to take some stands over those things that the Bible very clearly and plainly teaches on as far as what is necessary for the strength of society, for us to honor God with our relationships so that we can be people of responsibility toward Him.
“We want to by all means reach out to and care for homosexual people, or at least those that are choosing that homosexual lifestyle, but we also want to care for those that are not.”
Hammond said Christians ought to ask where we stand.
“Instead of us seeing this as a victory or even as a reprieve, we ought to see it as an opportunity for us to do some self-evaluation,” he said.
There are six Boy Scouts of America local councils in Missouri. They are: Great Rivers; Greater St. Louis Area; Heart of America; Mississippi Valley; Ozark Trails; and Pony Express. Many Southern Baptist churches in Missouri host troops.
Paul Meinsen, a member of Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City, who serves as chaplain and assistant scoutmaster to Boy Scout Troop No. 11 that meets at First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, said he hopes the Boy Scouts will stand for Christian truth in May.
“Part of the Boy Scout philosophy is duty to God,” he said. “So if we’re going to do our duty to God and honor God, then it (the philosophy) must stand against things that are sinful. So it stands against allowing openly homosexual men to be in leadership of a Boy Scout troop.”