By Bob Allen
The president of the Southern Baptist Convention warned the Boy Scouts of America that the nation’s second-largest faith group behind Roman Catholics will be watching when the organization decides at its upcoming annual meeting May 22-24 whether to drop its ban on gay members and leaders.
Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, said in a March 27 interview on Christian radio that the more than 45,000 Southern Baptist churches in the United States and Canada have more than passing interest in a proposal to change the Boy Scouts’ current policy against granting membership “to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals.”
“All the Southern Baptist churches that I’ve talked to — and I’ve gone around the country quite a bit in the last seven, eight months that I’ve been in this position — all the ones that I’ve talked to are really in an uproar about this, because most of our Southern Baptist churches have Boy Scout troops in them, including the church that I pastor,” Luter said on Rick Wiles’ TruNews radio. “So it’s something that we’re watching.”
Luter said it would be “tragic” for the Boy Scouts to change the policy, because that would force Southern Baptists and churches of other denominations to re-evaluate their support for the organization.
“If this thing passes, I know a number of Southern Baptist churches that would withdraw their Boy Scout troops from the Boy Scout organization, because there’s no way we can compromise and allow something like that to happen,” he said. “It will really cause a lot of problems in Southern Baptist churches across the country.”
“I see a lot of churches just withdrawing their troops from the Boy Scouts,” Luter said. “I know our church will. There is no way we will continue to be a part of it by allowing that to happen. It just definitely would not happen here at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church.”
Luter said dropping the ban “would have an adverse effect, I’m sure,” on the Boy Scouts. “It’s something that I’m just amazed they are even considering,” he said, “but we’re living in a time when people want to be politically right.”
Luter, the first African-American to serve as president of the 16-million-member denominational group, said he is surprised that conservatives have capitulated on so many things since the re-election of President Obama.
“I’m just amazed at some of the compromises that we’re making in the conservative movement,” Luter said. “Whenever we compromise with the enemy — whenever we compromise our principles, our morals, our values — that is definitely not a good thing for us. It can only divide us more and it can only separate us more.”
Luter said standing up over battles like gay marriage is a spiritual issue.
“When I think about Jerry Falwell — who’s now gone home with the Lord — when he started his Moral Majority, he was one who just stood on the housetop and said: ‘We will not stand for this as believers. We will not stand for this as those of us who love Jesus Christ,’” Luter said. “It’s now probably time for someone like a Jerry Falwell to once again challenge the believers across the country — to say ‘Hey folks, it’s time for us to stand up and be the church.’”
Luter said he believes compromises by conservatives are harming the movement’s reputation with politicians. “They don’t see that it has that much effect any more, where they can possibly not win elections, where they can possibly not get votes,” he said. “I don’t think they see it as a threat anymore.”
Luter said his emphasis as SBC president is summarized in the theme he chose for this year’s annual meeting, scheduled June 11-12 in Houston, “Revive Us That We May Be One.”
“We are in desperate need of revival in America, and if revival is going to happen, it’s not going to happen in Washington, D.C., from the government,” Luter said. “It’s not going to happen from the governor’s office, the mayor’s office. It’s not going to happen with police chiefs, with the criminal court system. If revival is going to happen, it is going to happen starting with the churches.”