Nashville -- Southern Baptists will not ask their churches to boycott the Boy Scouts over a change in policy that allows openly gay scouts.
The nation's largest Protestant denomination is having its annual meeting this week in Houston.
Some prominent Baptist leaders, including the chairman of the Nashville-based Executive Committee, had called for churches to cut ties with the Boy Scouts of America because of the policy. Others had predicted that Southern Baptist churches, which sponsor 3,981 units, would exit the scouts en masse.
But a resolution approved Wednesday falls short of calling for an exodus.
About 70% of all Scout troops are run by faith-based organizations, according to the Boy Scouts of America. About 37% are Mormon, 10% Methodist and 8% Catholic.
Instead, the Baptists' resolution criticizes the organization over the policy and calls for ouster of Boy Scout board members and staff who supported gays becoming more involved in Boy Scouts.
The resolution also recommends the Royal Ambassadors, a Southern Baptist youth program, as an alternative for churches that drop Scouts.
Attempts to amend the resolution Wednesday so that it would call for churches to cut ties with Boy Scouts were defeated.
Boy Scout programs bring many newcomers to churches and allow those churches a change to share their faith with those outside the church, said the Rev. David Uth of First Baptist Church in Orlando.
That's one reason to remain in Boy Scouts, said Uth, whose Florida church with about 14,000 members announced recently that it will continue to sponsor a Boy Scout troop.
"We should seek all partnerships to share the gospel of Jesus Christ," he said.
Baptists who stay in scouts should try to reverse the new policy, the resolution states.
"We encourage churches and families that choose to remain in relationship with the Boy Scouts ... to advocate against any future change in leadership and membership policy that normalizes sexual conduct opposed to the biblical standard," the resolution also says.
Baptists have no hostility toward gay scouts, according to the resolution: "We declare our love in Christ for all young people regardless of their perceived sexual orientation, praying that God will bring all youth into a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."