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Baptist church members give $10,000 in show of support for Boy Scouts

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (BP)–A vote by city commissioners in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., against giving the Boy Scouts $4,167 to help disabled and disadvantaged children was offset by a Baptist church’s show of support Sept. 11.

Hundreds of Christians rallied on behalf of the Scouts when city commissioners, after a five-hour hearing, voted against the grant to Learning for Life, an in-school Scouts program for students in high crime areas.

Larry Thompson, pastor of Fort Lauderdale’s First Baptist Church, was met with cheers when he handed the commission a check for $10,200 — $200 above the Scouts’ original request, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported.

“There are many of us really just exasperated with the gay lobby that continues to push an agenda far beyond the limits of civil rights,” Thompson told the newspaper after the meeting.

The church’s gift was raised in donations of no more than $100 each by members of the Southern Baptist congregation, Thompson said.

Meanwhile, several national Christian groups are organizing to support the Scouts, the Internet news site Crosswalk.com reported. Focus on the Family, Family Research Council and the Center for Reclaiming America are gearing up to try to stop local governments and other longtime financial supporters from turning their backs on the Scouts over its ban on homosexuals, Paul Hetrick, spokesman for Focus on the Family, said. Actions could include a boycott of tourism in Fort Lauderdale, Crosswalk.com reported.

Broward County, with its seat in Fort Lauderdale, also has voted to withdraw $92,884 from the Scouts, and Miami-Dade schools postponed a Scout recruitment drive over the ban on gays, according to Crosswalk.com.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle cast the lone vote for the Scouts, saying he was ashamed that the commission “chose to listen to a very militant lobby to take away funding for something as wholesome as the Scouts,” Crosswalk.com reported. Naugle also warned that denying the grant could result in the loss of tourism dollars if Scouts’ supporters were to follow through on calls for a boycott of South Florida, the Sun-Sentinel report.

Meanwhile, one city commissioner, Cindi Hutchinson, was quoted as saying, “The national Boy Scouts organization decided to fight for the right to discriminate” in a reference to the Supreme Court decision earlier this year affirming the Scouts’ right to exclude homosexuals as scout leaders. “This is the year 2000, my God, haven’t we gotten past this?” Hutchinson said.

Banners at the rally read “Save Our Scouts” and “Keep Your Hands Off Our Scouts.” Several pro-homosexual protesters in the crowd booed the pro-Scouts speakers.

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