Knoxville Baptists and Boy Scout leaders are talking about the latest in the ongoing controversy over gay scout members.
In May, the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow gay members. Not long after that, prominent leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention called for churches to cut ties with the Boy Scouts.
On Wednesday, the SBC approved a resolution criticizing the Boy Scouts new policy, but not go so far as to recommend churches cut ties altogether with scouting groups.
"There will be some churches who will, and have already, asked the Boy Scouts to leave," said Reverend Drew Prince of West Hills Baptist Church. "And I think that's very sad, and I hope there are many churches like ours who will invite them to come."
West Hills is considered a moderate Baptist church, dually aligned with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and, much more loosely, the Southern Baptist Convention.
"I quit going to the SBC when they decided to boycott Disney in 1997," Prince said. "They don't speak for our church. They don't speak for me. But that's what most people hear, and I would hope that our church would be a different voice for those kinds of things."
"We understand people feel passionately about this," said Larry Brown, Executive Scout for the Great Smoky Mountains Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
"Some really, really good people are struggling with this. And they're deciding whether or not to leave or stay with the Boy Scouts. And I respect that, as the leader of the Boy Scouts, and I hope they'll stay with us. They're good people and I really appreciate what they do for the Scouts."
Brown said the change in Boy Scout policy was a big one, but he expects the organization will continue moving forward.
"I hope we'll be able to move forward, and we'll be able to continue on with our great leaders, our great kids, our great parents and our great families," he said. "We want to move scouting forward and really do things that make a difference in the community."