IRVING, TX, May 22, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – As the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) prepare to vote Thursday on whether to allow openly homosexual members, thousands of current and former scouts and dozens of religious leaders are urging the organization to stand up to “intimidation” by gay activists and stay true to its roots.

Nearly 19,000 scouts, former scouts, and members of scouting families signed a petition to the BSA, urging the group to “uphold the values that have defined the organization for over 100 years.”

“The Boy Scouts should once again stand firm on moral principles that have successfully shaped our nation’s boys into leaders for generations,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) spokesman David Cortman, whose group delivered the petition to the BSA. “This is the expressed desire of thousands of Scouts and their families who have signed this petition. The Constitution protects the Boy Scouts’ freedom to promote the values that have defined the organization and to ensure that its leaders and members adhere to those values.” 

A group of fifty U.S. religious leaders have also signed a joint statement encouraging the BSA to maintain its current standards.

“We strongly support the Boy Scouts of America current prohibition on open homosexuality and retaining it without revision,” the statement reads. “Nearly 70 percent of BSA troops are hosted by churches and religious institutions. Upholding traditional morality is vital for sustaining this partnership, for protecting Scout members, and for ensuring BSA has a strong future.”

The statement is signed by officials of the Southern Baptist Convention, Assemblies of God, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Anglican Church in North America, Evangelical Presbyterian Church and several Pentecostal denominations, among others. The total membership represented by the signers is over 20 million.

“A proposal from the BSA board to prohibit ‘discrimination’ based on ‘sexual orientation or preference’ for BSA members potentially would open the Scouts to a wide range of open sexual expressions,” wrote the group. “In our current culture, it is more important than ever for our churches to protect and provide moral nurture for young people and for the Scouts. We implore members of the upcoming BSA Council to affirm the BSA's present policy, which the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed, and which has served BSA well.”