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May 31st, 2013
04:19 PM ET

Baptists plan exodus from Boy Scouts

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - For Southern Baptist pastor Tim Reed, it was Scripture versus the Scouts.

“God’s word explicitly says homosexuality is a choice, a sin,” said Reed, pastor of First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge in Jacksonville, Arkansas.

So when the Boy Scouts of America voted to lift its ban on openly gay youths on May 24, Reed said the church had no choice but to cut its charter with Troop 542.

“It’s not a hate thing here,” Reed told CNN affiliate Fox 16. “It’s a moral stance we must take as a Southern Baptist church.”

Southern Baptist leaders say Reed is not alone.

Baptist churches sponsor nearly 4,000 Scout units representing more than 100,000 youths, according to the Boy Scouts of America.

That number could drop precipitously.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, will soon urge its 45,000 congregations and 16 million members to cut ties with the Scouts, according to church leaders.

The denomination will vote on nonbinding but influential resolutions during a convention June 11-12 in Houston.

“There’s a 100% chance that there will be a resolution about disaffiliation at the convention,” said Richard Land, the outgoing head of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, “and a 100% chance that 99% of people will vote for it.”

“Southern Baptists are going to be leaving the Boy Scouts en masse,” Land continued.

Roger “Sing” Oldham, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, emphasized that local congregations make their own decision on the Scouts.

But he, too, said he expects Baptist delegates, which the church calls “messengers,” to voice their disagreement with the BSA's decision to allow gay youths.

“With this policy change, the Boy Scouts’ values are contradictory to the basic values of our local churches,” Oldham said.

Several religious groups with strong Scouting ties support the new policy.

“We have heard from both those who support the amended policy and those who would have preferred it would not have changed,” said BSA spokesman Deron Smith.

Faith-based organizations charter more than 70% of Scout chapters, providing meeting space and leadership, according to the BSA.

“There have been some organizations that have decided not to renew their charters with Scouting," said Smith, "but we can’t quantify the impact of the amended policy."

The National Jewish Committee on Scouting, the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which sponsors more Scout units than any other faith, all endorsed the change.

The National Catholic Committee on Scouting, which is run with oversight from a bishop, said Thursday that allowing gay youths in the Scouts does not conflict with church teaching. Each bishop will decide whether or not to allow churches in his diocese to charter Scout units, the committee added.

“We ask that Catholic Scouters and chartered organization heads not rush to judgment,” said Edward Martin, chairman of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting.

But the Rev. Derek Lappe, pastor of the Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Bremerton, Washington, has already made up his mind.

“I do not feel that it is possible for us to live out, and to teach, the authentic truth about human sexuality within the confines of the Boy Scout’s new policy,” said Lappe.

The priest told CNN affiliate FOX16 that his parish will part ways with the Scouts and develop its own programs.

There may soon be an alternative to the Scouts for social conservatives like Lappe.

John Stemberger, founder of On My Honor, a group that opposed the Scouts’ change in policy, plans to convene conservatives in Louisville, Kentucky, in June to consider forming a new Scout-like group, which could be up and running by the end of 2013.

“Churches and Scoutmasters are looking for leadership and direction,” said Stemberg, an attorney in Orlando, Florida.

A number of conservative religious denominations already sponsor their own groups.

For instance, the Southern Baptists have the Royal Ambassadors, an explicitly Christian program founded in 1908 for boys in first through sixth grade. (A similar group called Challengers equips older boys in “mission education.”)

The name comes from the New Testament, in which the Apostle Paul tells Christians to be “ambassadors for Christ.”

The estimated 31,000 Royal Ambassadors pledge “ to become a well-informed, responsible follower of Christ; to have a Christlike concern for all people; to learn how to carry the message of Christ around the world; to work with others in sharing Christ; and to keep myself clean and healthy in mind and body."

While not as outdoorsy as the Boy Scouts, Ambassadors do camp and play sports, said Land, who was a member of the group during the 1950s. But instead of merit badges for archery and bird study, young Ambassadors earn patches for memorizing Bible verses and mission work.

Southern Baptists said they are preparing for a surge of interest in the Royal Ambassadors at their upcoming convention in Houston.

“We really have an opportunity here to strengthen our RA programs,” the Rev. Ernest Easley, chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, said in a sermon last Sunday, “and to get the boys in a program where they’re going to be protected, where there’s a high moral standard and where they will have an opportunity to learn about camping, missions, evangelism in the local church.”

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Christianity • Church • Gay rights • gender issues • Politics • United States

soundoff (10,821 Responses)
  1. Michael

    Southern Baptists are probably the most backward of all major American demoninations. And thats saying something. Best that they isolate themselves for all our sakes.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  2. Douglas

    Celibate gay boys scouts are NOT in violation of the BSA honor code,
    as is the case with abstinent straight boys.

    Insist that all boys adhere to the honor code.

    No special rules to permit gay boy scouts to fornicate are needed.

    The BSA honor code should be enforced. No fornication period...gay or straight.

    No special rights for gay scouts to practice fornication.

    That settles it.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • tallulah13

      All dougie can think about is sex. He's really quite creepy.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Science

      Hey doogie is that you chad ?

      June 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Doobs

      Doug, you are so fixated on "gay coitus" that you can't even see this isn't about allowing special rights to fornicate, it's about their right to join the organization.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Salero21

      In the case of male ho-mos is called Sodomy, not Fornication. Fornication is between unmarried men and women. Ever read the Bible?

      June 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Saraswati

      saalero, and yet neither merriam or theoed specify gender/se.x of the participants, so it looks like we have some diversityin the definitions.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      There is nothing in the BSA code about having $ex. It says to keep morally straight, which is so ambiguos that it cannot be considered, many would say having $ex does not cross any moral thresholds (eye of the beholder type thing). That's like Bush with the "traditional family values" he tried to push....You'd better have a better definition than that.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Salero21

      @ saraswati,

      Can you read or are you just that stupid of an atheist?

      June 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Doobs

      @Salero

      Yes, I've read the bible many times, cover to cover. In English, Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek.

      The bible is not a dictionary.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • sam stone

      isn't that nice, doogie is still in the closet. why do you think about gays so much, queenie?

      June 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Saraswati

      salero, last time tested my reading comprehension was in the top 1/2 of 1% of college grads, but hey, maybe I haven't noticed some early onset Alzheimer's sneaking up on me. Exactly what do you think I was missing?

      June 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  3. James PDX

    Conservatives before this decision: Leave the Scouts alone. They have a right to have any rules they want.
    Conservatives after this decision: I no longer support the Scouts. This decision is disgusting.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Maddog2020

      You do not get it do you. Conservatives leave scouts alone. Your right scouts have the right to do what they want. American have the right to do what they want. If they want to leave then they can. What is the problem exactly.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • James PDX

      Maddog, you do not get it, do you. It's the hypocrisy. But religious people believe in hypocrisy. They have to, since it's inherent in their mythology.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
  4. Chedar

    Here comes "GOD" telling the Baptist to discrimate.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  5. Over 40,000 sects of insanity

    A recent poster wrote that God hates the sin of homosexuality.

    Religions that agree with the poster's statement claim such a notion as an absolute moral truth. We know such notions are founded in ancient writings from millennia past. For many things we have learned about through science, beliefs have had to adapt to keep from looking silly and being out of date with current knowledge. This is simply another time where fundamental religions are struggling to keep up with current knowledge and throwing a hissy fit about the discomforting situation they find themselves in.

    We know that homosexuality has always been a naturally occurring feature across many species including mankind, and science is now getting closer and closer to answers on how it survives across generations. Now that the scientific research shows that homosexuality is not a choice, but formed very early via epigenetic factors (resistant to change), religions that abhor homosexuality look sillier than ever on the issue. For Christians in particular, I would also say their wildly conflicting Biblical interpretations regarding a wide array of topics including this one is just another indicator that their objective truths are anything but objective.

    For issues such as this, with the knowledge we have today, Christians need to come to the table without "scripture", and ready to discuss such issues rationally. Otherwise they will continue to face an ever increasing tide of distrust and an ultimate indictment of irrelevancy.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • VoiceOfReason

      What does Science have to do with morality?

      June 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • tallulah13

      What does religion have to do with reason?

      June 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • James PDX

      Well said. But when you are limited in what you can believe based on what you are told by a religion, you suffer from deaf ears or at least selective hearing.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • mama k

      Quite a bit, VOR. James PDX gives a good hint. Morality is claimed by theists as "objective" or coming from God. On the subject of hom-ose-xuality, we now know much more that goes against these alleged "truths" from religion. Also religion is conflicted with itself about its own "objective" truths. For religion to ignore the latest science on this subject, and also be conflicted with itself only makes such "object moral truths" so obviously subjective and catering to fear and self-service. Religion had to come to terms with Galileo, and if they are to remain significant in these times, they will have to come to terms with the latest science on hom-ose-xuality as well.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • VoiceOfReason

      mama k, Science is observation. You come up with a hypothesis, you test it, and you draw conclusions from the data. That has nothing to do with how you form opinions of morality...or at least it shouldn't. Science explains what happens but doesn't make assumptions about whether said thing is good or evil.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  6. Frogman

    The Southern Baptist Convention is the group that quit the American Baptist Convention in 1863 when the American Baptist Convention voted in favor of abolishing slavery in America. Somethings just don't change.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Geraldine

      Don't forget a big part of the continued outdated ignorance of the SBC is their official insistance that women are subordinate to men. I guess they will stay in the cave until they fade away to nothing. Their numbers have barely increased in fifteen years.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Scott in Texas

      Again – they quoted the bible. The bible says it's OK to own slaves.

      However, we don't own slaves anymore do we?

      June 2, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  7. nik green

    Good riddance. These baptists are a waste of otherwise valuable space.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  8. Scott in Texas

    I wonder what would happen if this were the other way around?

    what if the BSA told the SBC they could not be part of the scouts?

    June 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Frogman

      Good point. I'm betting that the SBC would be howling foul till dooms day.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  9. Science

    Earth’s timeline ................chad remember this...........L4H but me on the list for this.

    Trace our planet's geological and biological ages............better than the bibles timeline.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/33184839/ns/technology_and_science/

    Church Refuses to Host Troops Over Scouts' New Gay Policy
    NBC News·16 hours ago

    See also: More stories ·
    Top stories

    Big circle here chadie...................

    look what shows up on Bing 16 hours ago

    June 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • science

      Chad are you stuck in green stuff ?

      June 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  10. Theseus

    Seriously, who would want to end up in heaven if the Christian right-winged are going to be there? "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints".

    June 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Disgusted

      I doubt very seriously you need be concerned with ending up in heaven -- do not fret this - non issue for you

      June 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • James PDX

      Based on what a heinous, hypocritical, and violent being god is, I don't think heaven is going to be what Christians think it is.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Scott in Texas

      It's sad that the Baptists won't know they were wrong once they are dead. They will just be dead.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • One one

      @discusted. "I doubt very seriously you need be concerned with ending up in heaven - do not fret this – non issue for you"

      We're looking in a mirror when you,said this ?

      June 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  11. The-law

    It's there religion, move on, you folks are the bigots. It's all about you.. Do as I say don't do as I do.. That's you..

    June 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Miss Demeanor

      True. It isn't gods's religion, it's a cult. But the decision affects others now, doesn't it. So it isn't simply the Westboro-cult's business. Typical Westboro-like remark. Scouts are better off not picking up what your cult teaches.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  12. Ken

    I don't agree with everything the Baptists teach, but they have this one right. The comments here aptly illustrate how dark the hearts and vile the thoughts of atheists and perverts are. The scriptures are exactly right about you.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • MikieJ

      Keep drinkin' that Kool-Aid my man.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • James PDX

      Let me guess; you'e fine with divorced parents being Scout leaders.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Colin

      A divorce is a one time tragedy being qu eer is a lifetime of perversion

      June 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • VoiceOfReason

      You'll have to excuse "MikieJ." He is parroting phrasing he hears on most liberal outlets. He is a freshman at UC Berkeley, majoring in Liberal Arts with emphasis in African-American and Chicano studies despite being white, he loves Starbucks, he voted for Obama, and is currently reading "The Communist's Manifesto" by Karl Marx. He also firmly believes that gun violence will decrease with the outlawing of civilian owned firearms.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Sara

      I'm not an atheist or agnostic and believe theBoy Scouts have the right to make any decision they want to make. Know one thing rather be in an atheists shoes at judgement rather than a hard line Baptists ones. Baptists are the modern day Pharisees, followers of the law and ignore the teachings of christ. CINOs.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • James PDX

      Colin, once you're divorced, it's for life. Getting remarried is adultery in the bible(s). And divorce actually harms people, including children. I'm sure you think it's not as bad simply because you want to maintain your right to get one.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Doobs

      You'll have to excuse "Voice of Reason." He is parroting phrasing he hears in most Christian outlets. He is a freshman at George Wallace High School, despite being 20 years old. He loves Fred Phelps, he voted for Romney, and is currently reading the bible because he isn't allowed to read any other books. He also firmly believes that the gay population will decrease with the withholding of their civil rights under the law.

      See how easy it is to make up lies about someone you don't know?

      June 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • VoiceOfReason

      So Sara would rather face God in judgment and admit she didnt belief in His existance than be a follower of His word; even if it meant standing up to social pressure saying otherwise. +1 for strong logic.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I don't think anyone disagrees that they have the right to withdraw their support. But thanks to the First Amendment, we have the right to call them out for their superstition-based bigotry in return. I don't know about you, but I don't think discriminating against children because they were born a certain way is a virtue, Ken.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • On the Other Hand

      Speaking about vile hearts and dark thoughts, Kenny, you need to be preaching that to your straight counterparts who commit Abortion, Divorce, beat their children, and sleep around. They need to hear about how vile their heart is and how dark their thoughts to be able to be doing things like that which are clearly against God.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • VoiceOfReason

      talle...children come into this world naked so why aren't you in favor of us all walking around in our birthday suit?

      June 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • James PDX

      VoiceOfReason, that was a stupid and meaningless post. I think you may actually be in high school.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Miss Demeanor

      RE: " they have this one right..."
      No judgemental self-appointed authoritiy could have said it any more clearly. Clearly nobody deliberately chooses to be non-hetero in our society in the face of such bizarre hatred. Would you or any of your relatives (I can guarantee you have one cowering in the closet somewhere in your family tree...). Even if they don't 'practice' it, they are still non-hetero... right? So, that's the way they were made... right? So... who made them? You don't think too much to figure this one out.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • VoiceOfReason

      James = typical liberal. Insult people rather than give any meaningful rebuttal. inb4 another insult as response to this post.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  13. Davidhi5

    The Baptists can leave scouting if they wish. I've decided to keep my Eagle Scout badge as a result of the Boy Scouts allowing gays to be a part of the organization. I was ready to return it if they had done otherwise.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Thank you David. It's nice to know that honor isn't dead in the world.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Great Thinking

      Good for you, Davidhi5! That is good of you to adhere to your principles of Equality For ALL! God bless you!

      June 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  14. alan

    kill the perverts out

    June 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • Sally

      The hypocrites of the SBC have a lot to learn, but that's no way to address their problem.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Colin

      It worked at Sodom

      June 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • tallulah13

      That's a little harsh, alan. I don't think anyone wants the Southern Baptists dead. We would just like them to grow up and to learn how to be decent people.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  15. urmomlol

    Good riddance.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Disgusted

      BIGOT

      June 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  16. Kilgore Trout

    I'm working toward my Royal Ambassadors merit badge in "Using obscure scripture passages to prop up your personal prejudices"

    ...it's one of the easier ones.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • M

      No, the alternative is their new group, Crusaders Camping for Christ (CCC). It does have that ring of the KKK. Onward Christians soldiers....

      June 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • mama k

      document.getElementById('LikeButton').click();

      June 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  17. richunix

    I hope you understand that your Gods name is Baal or EL....So Before you start taunting OH NO! You best read your Bible!

    June 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Jose a Citizen

      Baal was Not a bad good to worship. I for one would acquaint myself with Lucifer if we can be rid of all religions in this country and the world, then I would also be rid of Lucifer himself. The Gods only depend on us to keep them alive. Once we stop believing in them they will just Go Away!

      June 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I tried to read the bible, but it was dry. If you're going to read mythology, then I recommend the Iliad. It's a compelling read and the lessons are still relevant to humanity.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  18. mikewadestr

    Cool! So now the scouts can change their name from Boy Scouts to Men in Boys.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      hindu gay, filth hind lovers club. Want your child to be abused, join the club.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • NESTLE FOUNDATION OF OVALT INE

      Islamabot; dog-free bigot ism; bigot by ideology; go boom by ideology; pieces scatter.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Akira

      Absurd.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Doobs

      Did it take you very long to come up with that uber witty little joke?

      June 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • tallulah13

      And you can now call yourself "ignorant dolt," Mike!

      June 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  19. Andrew

    I'm sorry, but if you leave scouting over this you are a bigot, pure and simple and you don't stand for the morals that scouting stands for.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Disgusted

      TOTAL BS Sodomy is a sin; most Christian religions tolerate gays and lesbians; they do not agree with them; and if they feel the influence of a bunch of what the majority in the world see as perverts is potentially harmful to their kids aduring their informative years, then they should leave. If I were in Scouts, I would leave too. You gays can do what you wish -but do not try to make us accept you or like you -- You do not have that right. As for teaching childetn – we will teach them toleration and non hatred ( unlike the gay bigots on this post) BUT we will never teach them to embrace that which is perverted and sinful..

      June 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • In Agreement

      Of course they're bigots, Andrew, no matter what others who are cut from the same fabric may say. When they choose to leave based upon something unproven that this or that "may" take place or "could" take place, that is bigotry rearing its ugly head at its worse. I don't see how it could come any closer.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  20. Haha

    "There may soon be an alternative to the Scouts for social conservatives like Lappe." Yes, I believe that it is called Hitler youth! LOL!

    June 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • M

      No, the alternative is their new group, Crusaders Camping for Christ (CCC). It does have that ring of the KKK. Onward Christians soldiers....

      June 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.