May 31st, 2013
04:19 PM ET

Baptists plan exodus from Boy Scouts

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(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

    The Southern Baptists have been filled with hatred for their fellow man from the very beginning... they split from their Northern brethren because the North wouldn't support their slavery loving ways. This latest development is just another in their long line of bitter misanthropy and bigotry.

    May 31, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
  2. amercon

    The Boy Scout council exited from the Boy Scouts.

    May 31, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
  3. Fate

    So instead of staying the course and trying to instill good values in Americas youth, these southern Baptists choose to retreat. They don't seem to grasp the concept that by cutting ties with the BSA, they're conceding defeat.

    May 31, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • Athy

      It's like they did the right thing for the wrong reason. Doesn't get any better than that, does it?

      May 31, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • montyross

      many churches split in the 90's over the new style of worship music that had been introduced by music ministers

      May 31, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
  4. Uh-Clem

    While this may grab some headlines and several op-eds, in the end will be nothing more than a well worn speed bump in the road. The larger vision and trajectory of the Boy Scouts of America as a more inclusive organization and being true to one of the promises in the Boy Scout Oath: "On my honor I will do my best. To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." To help other people at all times and morally straight, when interpreted in the broader definition of ethics is where the current actions are fully supportable.

    May 31, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Then please tell us how this jives with the clause "To Do My Duty To God"? The word of God clearly states that the Lord wants us to "separate ourselves" from unbelievers and from those who walk disorderly. Nowhere in the word of God does it tell us we're supposed to be friends with people who are the enemies of God (and gays are the enemies of God)...

      2 Thess 3:6 – Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

      James 4:5 …know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

      2 Corinthians 6:14 – Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

      2 Corinthians 6:14 …And what communion hath light with darkness? 15 ...or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord,

      May 31, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      Just the Facts:

      Somehow you're under some misguided impression that your ever-so-precious bible has facts. Wow, that's rich! Also, if god hates gays and they are his enemies, why did he make so many of them? Just asking....

      May 31, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Nicodemus… Whoever told you the bible was NOT fact? It's certainly not a work of fiction. Secondly, whoever told you God created gays? Whoever told you that, lied to you…

      The belief that God created gays is not only a lie, but is nothing more than a trick of the devil to keep you from recognizing that you can change. Because Lucifer knows, if you never do change, you'll end up in hell…

      May 31, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Just, The majority of Genesis is disproven, much of the rest of the bible is unproven or unprovable. A few places and people are proven. So it largely is a work of fiction really, no compelling reason to pin your whole life on it.

      May 31, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
  5. Bill

    This is such a sad situation because being gay is not a choice. The Lord made you that way. Perfect in his image. All the Southern Baptist Convention will accomplish is showing the world that prejudice is alive and well in the Southern Baptist Churches.

    May 31, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • Athy

      In the long run, it may be a good thing. It draws attention to the utter stupidity of extreme religions like these southern baptist wackos.

      May 31, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • browcarey

      What can I say but AMEN! Thank you!

      May 31, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • Steve

      God makes a lot of uis inherently racist too, however we have the moral courage to overcome that obstacle as well.

      May 31, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      No Steve, racism is NOT inherent, it's taught. Like the ignorance that is religion, it is foisted upon you, usually by your parents.

      May 31, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Bill… Some people will believe anything. Being gay is and always has been a choice. No one is born gay. If you believe anything else, you've believed a lie…

      May 31, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      browcarey… Bill can't save you but Jesus Christ can. Perhaps you should find out to what Jesus Christ says about it and how he feels about gays. Just because someone says something that make you feel good, that don't make them right...

      2 Timothy 4:3-4 – For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

      May 31, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • midwest rail

      " Being gay is and always has been a choice. "
      Delusional idiocy.

      May 31, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • LinCA


      Get a fucking clue, you dimwit.

      You said, "Some people will believe anything."
      They're called believers.

      You said, "Being gay is and always has been a choice."
      Bullshit. If being gay is a choice, being straight must also be a choice. When did you choose to be straight?

      You said, "No one is born gay."
      You should try to get a basic understanding of science and try to read something else (if you read at all) than the bible. You should also try to read for comprehension.

      You said, "If you believe anything else, you've believed a lie…"
      Being a believer is a choice. Believing in the Tooth Fairy or other imaginary creatures like your god, is a choice. Remaining willfully ignorant is a choice.

      May 31, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      midwest rall… What you call "Delusional idiocy" is nothing more than the truth you don't want to hear. Furthermore, the scripture I quoted is specifically talking about people like you...

      May 31, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
    • midwest rail

      JustThe"Facts" – you are enti/tled to your opinion. But that is all it is.

      May 31, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      midwest raill… Since my opinion jives with the Word of God, I'd call it much more than that...

      May 31, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
  6. Science

    Chad ...............has a link on BING..................lmfao.............chad you from the south ?

    Quarterback's next play: Going long with the Bible – CNN Belief ...


    Feb 01, 2013 · Since we've got Chad buybull ... Jurassic Park came out. Now that it has been found, ... You have nothing but a 2000 year old stone age book written ...


    May 31, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
  7. WWJND

    WWJND or "what would Jesus NOT do" – thanks to the SBC for showing clearly what Jesus would not do – focus on defining and calling out sin in others and then withdrawing from those who they feel are "sinners" according to their interpretation. Sounds very much like the Pharisees of Jesus' time to me. If Jesus had followed their example to the extreme, he would have been a monk, withdrawing from all human contact for fear of exposure to sin. Thankfully he did the opposite, reaching out and showing compassion and love and even identifying with those considered as "sinners" by the Pharisees and religious leaders of his day.

    I hope for their sakes that the lives of SBC leadership are able to bear the judgement that they are brining on themselves according to Matthew 7:1-2. I will love them enough to call them out on their sin, that of a judgmental, legalistic, self-righteous spirit, may God help them repent and turn from their wicked ways. This position has NOTHING to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ and everything to do with their frustration and anger in losing their influence with groups such ad the Boy Scouts of America- basically ego and pride, nothing else. Some things never change...

    May 31, 2013 at 9:15 pm |

      Pharisees were hindu secular s, criminal self centered, deniers of truth absolute in life, and claiming to have authority to over rule truth absolute, for being children of prophets, consult gospels. Son of blessed Mary rejected their claim to have authority over truth absolute in life, he condemned them in public and faced them like a man. Be like him, than to be running away like hinau Pharisees, crook secular, self centered by faith, deniers of truth absolute GOD, Elohim.

      May 31, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
  8. browcarey

    BSA will be better off without the bigotry of the Southern Baptists (not to mention their colossal ignorance), but it's sad that the Baptist kids will have to lose out on the opportunities that scouting offers.

    May 31, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
  9. Yup!

    normanpemper, they really did preach it all wrong! It was NOAH not Moses on the ark with the dinosaurs

    May 31, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
  10. Austin

    670 people came to faith in Christ, and we took up another Church that wanted to become a "sister affiliate". anyways, saturday nights we have a celebration and we praise God with singing and jamming out and singing to the Lord. and on saturdays frequently at the end there are 4 or 8 people who come down and pray with the prayer team and then and there, ask and receive the Holy spirit, of forgiveness and life.

    May 31, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Athy

      How sweet, Austin. I'll bet that singin' and prayin' really helps a lot. Stay deluded, you'll be happier that way.

      May 31, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  11. Dani3l

    Good start. Now, if only they would take it a step further and disassociate themselves from Christianity. They're making it look bad.

    May 31, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • mountainlady

      I seem to remember from all my childhood Sunday School classes that Jesus welcomed everyone and taught love and tolerance. Whatever happened to that?

      May 31, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • ldean50

      lol... well said. I was thinking as I read this... so, that's how you get rid of those crazy Baptists. Once they leave, I'll let my son join the scouts. I feared their bad influence. lol

      May 31, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • ldean50

      well said. I was thinking as I read this... so, that's how you get rid of those crazy Baptists. Once they leave, I'll let my son join the scouts. I feared their bad influence. lol

      May 31, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      ldean50… If so, then we all know how that story will end. Your son will join the Scouts. He'll wind up being turned out and will become gay. As a consequence, will end up in hell. And once he hell, he'll forever hate you for not telling him about God and that being gay was a sin…

      May 31, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
  12. normanpemper

    I grew up in the Southern Baptist Convention. Don't let their lies deceive you. They do preach hate. They do preach bigotry. They are vile. Their worldview is distorted, cruel, and ruthlessly unforgiving. I was taught how Moses had dinosaurs on the Ark and any teacher who disagreed with me was possessed by the devil. I was taught that rock music was a way for demons to penetrate your soul since the rhythms came from African voodoo. If they are fleeing the Boy Scouts, then the Scouts are doing something right.

    May 31, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Has it ever occurred to you that maybe what you were taught was right? I didn't think so...

      May 31, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • Dp

      Your church leaders were spiritually abusive. That stuff isn't SBC, it's a narcissistic pastor abusing the congregation. Telling you other congregations would treat you the same way is part of trapping you in that congregation.

      May 31, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Dp… You don't know what spiritual abuse is. It is just a word you use for stuff you don't want to hear…

      2 Timothy 4:3-4 – For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

      May 31, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • Austin

      more of the Word, less of the world.

      May 31, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • normanpemper

      Well, I was exposed to many congregations. I was taught how to "convert" aka "save". We had missionaries galore come through. I went to revivals. I read their tracts. I saw the damage they did to people. But I got away. Don't fall under the impression that my experiences were abnormal. There are tens of thousands of people who were in the same situation. Search online for some of these groups. The most fervent atheists I know are those who went through what I did.

      JustTheFacts... I went to Bible studies 4 times a week. I know the Bible inside and out. I studied theology. I don't have time for the fools that quote scripture one sentence at a time. They pick and choose as they see fit. The book is filled with nothing but contradictions. And those that quote the most are always those that can't form sentences on their own. I like to think of them as Hallmark Christians. Pick a card off the shelf and pretend it is their sentiment. They lack any original thought. Regurgitate away, but please keep the spray from hitting my shoes.

      When I got out I did nothing but read and study and finally got to see the world for what it is. Believing in one deity over another does not make any person more special. I know some amazing people who are Christian. Just so happens some of the worst people I've ever known call themselves Christian too. The worst are the loudest and the ones most convinced of how right their are and how wrong everyone else is.

      I could very easily become truly anti-religion, condemning everyone who believes in anything. But I won't. Unlike the loudmouths who tell me they are right and I'm going to burn in Hell, I'll set the example. I'll be the kind and conscientious person that Jesus tried to get people to be. I may not follow any religion, nor do I believe in any god, but I understand empathy and I get the point.

      May 31, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
  13. cpc65

    And they wonder why churches are closing down all over the country.

    May 31, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Athy

      Just another nail in their coffin and a great boost for atheism (aka truth).

      May 31, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
  14. Mary

    Bye bye baptists – – – Bye bye baptists – – –
    Don't let the door hit your behind on the way out . . .

    May 31, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Dave

      No, they will have headaches. Their brains are in their ass.

      May 31, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Hmccabe

      As a man I have been told that my input on women's health issues (aka-abortions) is not welcome or needed. I don't understand why anyone named "Mary" feels compelled to voice an opinion on the Boy Scouts of America.

      May 31, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  15. Jesus freaker

    It's good to see the Boy Scouts have not chosen the Baptist path of hate and discrimination.

    May 31, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
  16. MizFrizz

    Yep, 'cause that's exactly what Jesus would do... walk away from those He considered sinners.... oh wait.... never mind. Bigots. I certainly hope none of those pastors have trimmed beards, rounded temples or bacon breath!

    May 31, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  17. Baptists and Boy Scouts

    Religion and organizations such as the Boy Scouts, etc., should have no association with one another. What about Jewish, Muslim or atheists? For any religious organization which wants to disassociate itself from the Boy Scouts, don't let the door hit your rear end on the way out!!

    May 31, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  18. anitique-republican

    remember this....God and Spirituality are not found in a book much less in words of men from couple thousand years ago

    May 31, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
  19. frontgate

    To the baptists and others of like mind – don't let the door hit you in the rump.

    May 31, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
  20. Beloved4ever

    Please just forget about all the Old Testament laws and Commandments.....We are under a New Covenant/Testament .....Christ is Come !! He came not to abolish the Laws but to fulfill them – Matt. 5:17
    New Covenant....New Promises....No More Laws...except The New Law of Love..."A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV, John 13:34-35)

    May 31, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • D

      So then the 10 commandments don't apply anymore too, right?

      May 31, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      We may indeed be under the New Testament, but the scriptures also state the following...

      2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

      Note the words "All scripture" above. It means the sent preacher is free to use any scripture in the bible he wants – including those of the Old Testament – for use in his ministry...

      May 31, 2013 at 9:29 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.