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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. ~My Path's View

    Really-O? You are the bigot my dear, oh and your liberal intolerance is predictable.

    June 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • darth cheney

      You so don't get it. The intolerance is the people who can't tolerate inclusion (of gays). It's their TOLERANCE you can't stand.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • .

      Warning. Tea party jihadist on board.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • ~My Path's View

      darth cheney...wrong!

      June 2, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • ~My Path's View

      Liberals are the most intolerant bullies we have. Well there is another group, but that's not part of this discussion 🙂

      June 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Jeeebus Chribusss

      Poor baby...people are so intolerant of your intolerance and bigotry. What's a hate-filled bigot to do?

      June 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @~My Path's View –

      Why did you start a new thread? Anyway, what, precisely, do you mean when you use the term "liberal"?

      June 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  2. supiormind

    Forcing changes on people is NOT what freedom is about. Changing Marriage, changing the Boy Scouts, changing American values! That's really what it's all about. The people IN CHARGE know better than the people at large, or so THEY say. You know what will happen? The new groups that will form as a Christian alternative will have to ask the COURT if they can keep GAYS out. Now who believes that the COURTS will allow it? Zionists have their hands on ALL the levers of power, and they are DETERMINED to destroy Christian AMERICA. Wake up America, it's NOT Muslims destroying your world!

    June 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Again, who's forcing anyone to do anything?

      These are all independent decisions by independent groups, which they're perfectly free to decide for themselves, because we have freedom of association in America.

      BTW, love the irony in your screen name.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Sue Zahnd

      I don't think any "forcing" is being done. First, a vote was taken and the majority accepted that boys should be allowed to continue to participate whether gay or straight. Second, The Baptists are quite free to withdraw. What is appalling here is that they are ignoring the fact that very young boys were recruited and they think it is okay to kick them out when they are teens...deny them their earned awards.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Saraswati

      An organization which is predominantly religious in nature can already keep out anyone they want. The only reason these issues ever come up is when a business which is not a religious organization tries to limit employement or when a government supported organization, like the Boy Scouts, insti.tutes religiously based discrimination.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I really couldn't parse all that. I got most of it, but I just don't see

      If Zionism then Gays in (or was it if Gays in then Zionism?)

      June 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      The courts repeatedly upheld the right of the BSA to keep gays out. They decided to change their policy.
      You are right – it's not the Muslims – if it's anyone it's the people who try to insist that this is a Christian country.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Rick

      Hey another zatzi, just replace Christain with "Jew" and you will want to start another concentration camp. stupid liberal fascists.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  3. Calmobserver1

    Leave it to the turd burglars to ruin something good: The Boy Scouts.

    June 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Doobs

      Yeah, those Southern Baptists are real asdholes.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Doobs

      Oops, I mean assholes.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  4. shattered32

    Religion be it Christianity, judiasm, Islam, or whatever is the largest breader of hatred in the world. When will people get that?

    June 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Z

      Religion isn't the problem. Rigid ideology is. People will hate each other regardless of religion, and just find something else to justify themselves.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Rick

      And another ss natzi. Just replace Christian with "jew" and you will be worshiping at the alter of hitler.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ Rick

      Can you come up with anything better than calling people you don't agree with Hitler?

      BTW, it's Nazis, not natzis

      June 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • MCruise

      Rick, take your swastika-obsessed, gay-bashing self and go seek out a tornado.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  5. His panic

    Hum... an exodus is not an stampede of course. Therefore those who trust in God and in Jesus Christ God's only Son will not Panic, neither stampede. I think that the BS will Panic!

    June 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Spoken like somebody who really knows his BS!

      June 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • sam stone

      if you have this much trust, step in front of a speeding train and test it

      your soul will be with jeebuis

      come on, big mouth

      June 2, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  6. TheChoice

    Anyone out there that believes hmos’xuality is a choice is incapable of rational thought.

    Try to follow this: If hmos’xuality is a choice, then heteros’xuality must also be a choice. In other words, if you choose not to be gay or lesbian, then you are heteros’xual by choice. Right? If you are heteros’xual, you must certainly have experienced true s’xual arousal (hopefully lots of times in your life). You know the feeling... no need to describe it. Lets just say the motors start running, all of the sudden and all on their own. Hmmm... A choice implies you have the ability to experience that same reaction with both the opposite gender and your own gender. If you can truthfully claim this ability, well then, congratulations... you're bis’xual. If not, then you're either heteros’xual or hmos’xual. Whichever is your case, it is that way because that is your nature – as in God's nature.

    The true choice is whether to be accepting of others the way God made them, or to discriminate against others based on your bigotry of choice. It’s really that simple.

    The unfortunate reality is that gays will always be a minority (statistically) and people of all walks of life, religions, nationalities, races, gender... whatever... people that are always on guard against discrimination of their own particular origin, or belief, or s’x… those same people choose, repeat choose, to be prejudiced, hateful, and hurtful to someone merely on account of their s’xual orientation.

    Hmmm... Talk about a choice!!!

    June 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
  7. Bob

    The biggest problem with the baptists is that they do not hold them underwater long enough. If they would just shut up and crawl back into their little holes the rest of us would not be bothered with their drivel.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  8. TG

    For ' faith-based organization to charter more than 70% of Scout chapters' speaks volumes. It is apparent that the churches are not doing "God' business", but are in the business of socializing, having "get-togethers", having car shows like the Baptist church right down the road from me.

    The churches have integrated into the "world", those alienated from God, so that they are "part of the world", in contrast to Jesus command to his genuine disciples to be "no part of the world."(John 15:19) They have involved themselves in the arena of social reforms, such as Jesse Jackson, who ran for president of the United States in 1984 and (as well as Pat Robertson) in 1988.

    Because the churches have totally mingled with the "world", even ' committing fornication with the kings of the earth '(Rev 17:1, 2), our Creator, Jehovah God has set an appointed time to deal with them.

    At Revelation 17, it says that the "scarlet-colored wild beast", the United Nations, will tire of the churches as well as the rest of Babylon the Great (the world empire of false religion) riding on its back (Rev 17:3, 5) dictating "policy", so that it rears around and will "make her devastated and naked", and will "eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire."(Rev 17:16)

    But this destruction of her will not be the "scarlet-colored wild beast" thinking, but "God put it into their hearts (the "ten kings" [ Rev 17:12] or all the political governments existing during the "last days", our time period) to carry out his thought, even to carry out their one thought by giving their kingdom to the (scarlet-colored) wild beast (the United Nations), until the words of God will have been accomplished."(Rev 17:17)

    June 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Isn't this about where Rod Serling steps into the frame and says "Submitted for your consideration ..."?

      June 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Russ

      @ TG: so what do you make of 1 Cor.9:19-23? or Jer.29:7?

      June 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Psalms 137:9

      Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Z

      You realize Revelation was basically political propaganda, right? It was a message to Christians of the time not to assimilate into Roman culture. This type of literature was common at the time, because people would be punished for criticizing Rome outright.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Psalm 137:
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/25/psalm-137-7-9-understandi_n_2550586.html

      June 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  9. Brian Smith

    News flash – not all boy scouts are gay. But then if you love to HATE people, join a baptist church.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • VoiceOfReason

      And if you REALLY hate people, post on CNN.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • James PDX

      You just did, VoiceOfReason, you just did.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
  10. Craig

    We could argue about what "God" may or may not have said. But...according to that same book, Jesus, the guy who supposedly founded the "Christian Church"...i.e. the general idea behind the Baptist Church...was pretty clear about how to treat everyone. This ain't it! This is nothing but a bunch of hypocrites who want to take their ball and go home....because somebody pointed out they weren't playing by the rules...the rules that Jesus created. If he really is/was the "son of God" then maybe these folks should listen to him.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  11. Tired of Christian Lies

    At what point do we say enough is enough and stop religion from dictating the rules of this country.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      We have freedom of religion in America. It's our greatest gift to civilization. Churches can SAY any damn fool thing they want to. It's guaranteed under the First Amendment.

      That same amendment guarantees that they can't force their rules on the rest of us.

      Separation of church and state! It's what's for liberty!

      June 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  12. ~My Path's View

    Good for the Baptists. Why be forced to go along with something you don't agree with. That is dictatorship to be forced, or bullied in this case, because you choose not to support the Boy Scouts after the decision they made.. Liberals can be such bullies. Let the church not allow the Boy Scouts in if they don't want to and quit bellyaching. If you think the Boy Scouts need somewhere to meet, open up your own doors!

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

      People have every bit as much legal and moral right to criticize the Southern Baptists as the SBs have to criticize the boy scouts. Why are you upset by one set of criticisms and notthe other?

      June 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • VoiceOfReason

      They should open up their doors...back doors.

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

      Nobody said anything about forcing anybody to do anything.

      Nobody forced the Scouts to exclude gays back when they chose to do so.

      Nobody forced the Scouts to admit gays when they changed their minds.

      Nobody's forcing the Baptists to keep running Boy Scout troops.

      That doesn't mean nobody's got OPINIONS on the subject.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • ~My Path's View

      Saraswati, not upset, but both are not right and it definitely isn't the Boy Scouts.

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

      Wow, VOR, you sure are a witty one! Do you have a headache from thinking that one up?

      June 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • ~My Path's View

      RichardSRussell. Only one opinion is right, God's. If you don't believe in Him, that is your choice, but your unbelief does not make you right on this topic.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • mama k

      In case you missed my answer from previous page, VOR. You had asked what science has to do with morality. This was my reply:

      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 4:00 pm |
    • Really-O?

      "Only one opinion is right, God's."

      So says the bigot.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • VoiceOfReason

      Comeon Doobs, I heard you chuckling.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • mama k

      Oh so MPV is another one that thinks they are God's spokeperson. Which of the 40,000 sects of Xtianity colors your interpretation, MPV – you know , just so we can start to get a handle on how "God is speaking through you"?

      June 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • mama k

      (spokesperson)

      June 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Mama K –

      I'll be the first to narrow it down with a (safe) bet...it's Evangelical.

      Next?

      June 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • One one

      The problem is, they claim to follow the teachings of Jesus. Like love your neighbor , forgiveness, etc. but what the do is different than their talk. They are hypocrites and liars, and have every right to be.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  13. RichardSRussell

    If the Southern Baptists keep dissociating themselves from everybody they don't like (the same way they split off from the national Baptist church over slavery back in 1845 and are bailing out on the Boy Scouts now), they'll eventually be down to 2 crotchety old white men sitting alone in an empty church, reminiscing about the good old days, until one of them decides he's had enuf of the other.

    And that'll be the end of it.

    And good riddance.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  14. James PDX

    A perfect, all-powerful and all-knowing god can do anything he wants, any way he wants, with just a thought. That means that god chose to force mankind to suffer pain, illness, death, and possible eternal damnation just because he wanted to. Nice god.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Doobs

      He has his reasons, and it's all part of his master plan. You know, the one we don't get to know about until we're dead.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • James PDX

      Good point Doobs, except that such a being doesn't need a master plan or a mysterious plan, or any plan at all. Any objective he wishes to accomplish he can accomplish instantaneously with equal effectiveness. Such is the nature of perfection and total power over everything. The Christians claim their deity is all powerful and then don't bat an eyelash when he acts in an exact opposite manner.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  15. Gus

    More proof that religious people are idiots. The good news is that as the younger generations become better informed, they shun the brainwashing of their elders, and perhaps, in a few centuries, we can be rid of the cancer of disinformation that is organized religion...

    June 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • VoiceOfReason

      +1 for strong logic from the group who brought you the reasoning "the way to stop criminals from owning guns is the make them against the law."

      June 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • James PDX

      VoiceOfreason, I didn't see them say anything about guns. Perhaps you could actually show some signs of reason.

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

      VOR, this is a specious argument. Should we get rid of all laws because criminals break them? Should we never enact any new ones because criminals might break them? Criminals break laws. That's why they're criminals.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Doobs

      +1 for strong logic from the group who brought you the reasoning "the way to stop gays from turning all our children gay is to deny them their civil rights."

      June 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • trowe

      Yeah, like that President Obama

      June 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  16. NotTheJesus

    Good riddance Baptists. Don't let the vestibule door hit you in the ass on your way out.

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

      agreed

      June 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  17. chuck

    This country thinks about Gay way too much
    they are a tiny population but its a constant in the media

    June 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • M

      maybe because the hate is constantly upon them from the religulous.

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

      Girls kidnapped and held hostage in the basements of psychos also get attention disproportionate to their numbers. Same for people who are awaiting a heart transplant and get get it because they are in the wrong region. We like to think people are treated fairly in this country, and when someone is perceived to be getting a bad (or in the case of kidnapping victims, very, very bad) deal we like to hear about it and hopefully find a way to correct the injustice.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Doobs

      This country is founded on equal rights for all. Even tiny minorities.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  18. eyeballstab

    Baptists are largely closet cases anyway,having grown up in a baptist community I feel qualified to say the scouts are better off these people are quite possible the most self important of all the fake christian religions.

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

      I feel confident that you are right. If people doubt you, you can always tell them your credentials...Dr. Eyeballstab, PhD.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  19. M

    The Southern Baptists will be replacing the Boy Scouts their new group, Crusaders Camping for Christ (CCC). It does have that ring of the KKK that the Southern Baptists once loved (and some still do). Onward Christian soldiers....

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

      I see you are still making things up.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      And I see that Taylor appears to be sarcasm-impaired.

      June 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Taylor

      So yellow journalism is ok as long as it is sarcasm? You realize thats how rumors get started right? One day you will Richard.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Doobs

      "yellow journalism" LOL! It stings when you realize they're not laughing WITH you, doesn't it?

      June 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  20. HJC

    As usual, the parents are ruining it for the kids.

    June 2, 2013 at 3:43 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.