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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. Rick

    Kudos to the churches that walked away!

    June 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • Doobs

      Absolutely! Now the scouts don't have to worry about those nasty Southern Baptists trying to brainwash them anymore.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • blackyb

      i second that KUDOS.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  2. Thinkergal

    Goodbye, Baptists, and good riddance.

    June 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
  3. RonnieRaygun

    I wonder if the Baptists are now going to leave the military, since DADT is over with.

    June 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  4. Arlen

    Welcome to the People of Faith column of CNN. This is about as all inclusive a bunch as you would ever want because EVERYONE who reads this column has some kind of faith, even the atheist. Christians believe in Christ, Muslims in Allah, and so on. Atheist have faith in the theory "there is no God." How is that faith? Well, they believe there is no God; they just can't prove it, that's all. And to show you just how close minded, unintellectual, uneducated and defensive they are, they hang out en masse for columns like this on the Internet to pillage and slander anyone who does not believe like they do, sort of like liberals. So much for tolerance.

    June 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Athy

      Atheists' faith in there being no god is a rather edgy use of the word "faith." Some concepts are just too utterly absurd to call misbelief in them "faith." Does it take faith to not believe in the tooth fairy? Does it take faith to disbelieve there are no leprechauns? Get real, Arlen.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • James

      Arlen, that's total bull. I'm an atheist, not because I have faith there is no god, I'm one because there is no evidence of a god. You can't disprove something doesn't exist, but you can prove something that does exist. So how about you proving there is a god? You can't., so your only defense is to demand someone disprove there is a god. Pure insanity. You religious types keep trying to shove your ways of thinking onto the people that don't fall for what you do. You can manipulate the word faith all you want, but in the end it is still a manipulation of you trying to deceive yourself into thinking everyone has to think like you. We don't. Some of us walk erect these days.

      And do you not see the total hypocrisy in "And to show you just how close minded, unintellectual, uneducated and defensive they are, they hang out en masse for columns like this on the Internet to pillage and slander anyone who does not believe like they do, sort of like liberals. So much for tolerance." is? You just did ALL of that. You're on the internet to pillage (your term, because it's a total misuse of the word) and slandering (another misused word, as since we're writing here it would be libeling) those who don't believe like you do. You're doing exactly what you're accusing everyone else of doing.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Jared

      ANYONE that says "EVERYONE" that reads some blog is this or that should have their head examined. As an agnostic reading this it proves your theory is asinine. And just as your assertion that Atheist "just cant prove it." tell me how that is different than believers of anything else, what religious BELIEFS can be PROVEN? Oh wait, let me guess yours huh?

      June 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Atheism does not require faith, because atheism is not a belief. It's the ABSENCE of a particular KIND of belief.

      Do you have faith that borgsnarx don't exist? No, of course not. You've never heard of borgsnarx before, because I just made up the term — and your att¡tude toward them is exactly the same as every other human being's: no reason to believe that any such thing exists. That doesn't require faith, just an ordinary, thinking brain.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  5. Cholmendely Warner

    Shouldn't their book be in the Fiction section?

    June 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      I always see it in the special fiction section "religion"

      June 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  6. timothy

    Very funny place. Belief blog seems to be a place of intolerance where people only come to mistreat others. So much for what we 'believe'. LOL

    June 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • LinCA

      @timothy

      You said, "Very funny place. Belief blog seems to be a place of intolerance where people only come to mistreat others. So much for what we 'believe'."
      You are free to believe whatever nonsense you want. If you display your ignorance here, you should expect to et called on it.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • ~My Path's View

      LinCA...you're a hoot. You have your "you said's" you do and then your foolish comments to add. At least you are entertaining 🙂

      June 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • LinCA

      @~My Path's View

      You said, "you're a hoot."
      I aim to please.

      You said, "You have your "you said's" you do and then your foolish comments to add."
      Anything in particular that you consider "foolish"? I'm always willing to correct your mistaken interpretation.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  7. CommonSense

    " ... young Ambassadors earn patches for memorizing Bible verses ..."

    Brainwash them when they are young. Sure sounds like a madrasah to me ...

    June 2, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  8. Bob

    On my honor, I will do my best
    To do my duty as gay to my country and to obey the Scout Law;
    To help other people at all times;
    To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally gay.

    June 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Being gay does not have anything to do with morality, but your Jesus did have something to say about you judging others.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Closet

      Get out of here Bob.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • ~My Path's View

      Richard....http://www.gotquestions.org/do-not-judge.html

      June 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • JOregon

      Bob
      The BSA has never been Christian.
      Many Christian denominations have Gay Clergy members that are Morally Straight.
      Methodists are second only to the Mormons in BSA membership.
      Lutherans are Scouts.
      Unitarians and Episcopalians are too.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Thanks mpv...but I have no need of your god spell. I have read it many times over and it is of little use to free thinking people such as myself.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • ~My Path's View

      You are not a free thinker. I doubt you even read it. Unteachable much?

      June 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Sheshie

      Richard, The Baptists' can leave an organization that they no longer relate to or believe in. Speaking of judging...Stop doing it! It works both ways.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • overexposed1

      God will decide who is going to heaven, not man. How He will judge a gay person is His decision, not ours. Having said that, I believe that having young boys ( 13/14 ) that can be influenced by older boys ( 16/17 ) spend the night together is not a good idea. This is a liberal way of ruining scouting because until now it had strong moral values. I would be interested in reading how other parents would deal with an obviously gay teen ( older ) spending the night with their son on a regular basis which is what liberals have pushed scouting to accept..

      June 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  9. Eric

    This exodus is shameful! If those who preach and follow "the word" truly believe that "he without sin [should] cast the first stone," then they are hypocrites to the core to condemn an organization for not barring those they consider to be "sinful". Isn't there enough hate and rejection in this world without manufacturing a sudo-religious rationale for belittling young men? This is a shame. Shame on those who demagogue at the expense of these boys, thereby violating the meaning of the word they claim to represent.

    June 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Sheshie

      Why do you care if they stay or go? You got what you want, so stop complaining!! You guys complain and call for a mass exodus on every business or corporation who doesn't agree with you!! Talk about hypocrisy.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  10. suesark

    Lucky Boy Scouts! No more Baptists!

    June 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Athy

      Yeah, I think the scouts are actually the winners here.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • JOregon

      It won't last.
      The SBC has shown in the past to be more than willing to change their minds when it begins to lose membership.
      Scouting is a recruiting tool and kids will still want to be scouts. Other churches will take them.
      The SBC will not willingly give up those familie$.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • ~My Path's View

      Athy, but the boys lose out when the dust settles.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Billy

      Yes, MPV, the children of the SBC who will garner only further ignorance.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  11. Robert Smith

    It's funny to see how mad the gays get on here when someone points out that their choice is a sin and subject to the judgment. come on people, you have to know that you will pay for your choice in the end. the Baptist did the right thing breaking ties with the BSA. good for them in being moral.

    June 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • mjbrin

      it's "funny" that you enjoy making people mad

      June 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Athy

      Being bigoted is moral? Where do you live, Robert?

      June 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      The irony is wasted on the poster.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Jesus freaker

      Moral? You've obviously never read the Bible. Follow the morals of the Bible and you will find yourself locked up.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Robert Smith

      You said, "It's funny to see how mad the gays get on here when someone points out that their choice is a sin and subject to the judgment."
      Holy fucking shit! You are fully indoctrinated, aren't you? Only complete morons keep insisting that being gay is a choice.

      When did you choose to become heterosexual? I bet you never did. I bet you are still in the closet.

      You said, "come on people, you have to know that you will pay for your choice in the end."
      Your imaginary friend and it's heaven and hell, are no more likely to exist than the Tooth Fairy. There will be nothing "in the end". Grow up and shed your infantile beliefs.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Robert Smith

      Thank you to everyone for proving my point. I really don't have an opinion on the subject. I was merely pointing out how easily the gays let their buttons be pushed! It's hilarious! They just can't STAND it when someone says, "I don't like you because you are an immoral pervert and I don't want my kids around perverts." It's just hilarious to watch them squirm with anger. Thanks for the laugh...

      June 2, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Robert Smith

      To call you a despicable piece of shit would be an insult to shit.

      You said, "Thank you to everyone for proving my point."
      All you proved was that you are worse than scum.

      You said, "They just can't STAND it when someone says, "I don't like you because you are an immoral pervert and I don't want my kids around perverts.""
      Standing up to bullying is the only way it's ever going away. Would you stand idly by if your kids or friends, or yourself were called perverts? Anyone with a decent bone in his or her body wouldn't.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • Jesus freaker

      Robert,

      We like to stand up for the little guy. It reminds me of this mother goose tale about a little guy named David and a giant.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • Robert Smith

      hahaha....hilarious...they are getting madder! I'm loving it.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Robert Smith

      You said, "hahaha....hilarious...they are getting madder! I'm loving it."
      I rarely get mad, nor am I now. Scumbags like you aren't worth the hassle. I wouldn't expect a mental midget like you to be able to understand.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  12. Greyhound37

    Excellent news! Now those who remain will be even more inclusive without the bigotry of, at least, that group. Thank you, Baptists!

    June 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • VoiceOfReason

      By "inclusive" I assume you mean "willing to receive others warmly." I agree completely.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  13. The Pope

    Baptists are not the true Christian Church.

    Only the Catholic Church is the true Christian Church.

    June 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • No True Scotsmen

      Google my name, dummy.

      The only true Scotsman...

      June 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Nun

      Not true – the Roman Church broke away from the Christian Church in 1054, almost 1000 years ago.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  14. Fundies Gone Wild!

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0-04VDrCbM&w=640&h=360]
    . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    June 2, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Heretic

      That's a lot of crazy zombies.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Heretic

      "Look around these are business men, teachers, lawyers, carpenters"- "You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged and many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it".

      June 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  15. Gwen

    Where does it say in the Bible that you shouldn't be around sinners? We are all sinners. If Jesus hadn't of chosen to be around sinners, no one would've been saved. Why not show compassion and demonstrate the behavior that our Savior displayed.

    June 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Terry

      Ahh that old Christian guilt trip. Gwen, sin is an artificial concept for stupid folk.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  16. tb63

    Being Baptist does not exempt one from having a gay son or lesbian daughter. Everyone who has kids stands an equal chance. To say that it's a choice is a lie. If the Baptist church says it's a choice, then the Baptist church is lying. Period.

    June 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Robert Smith

      Wrong again my friend. All of the current science points to gene expression, not genetic difference. It's a choice, and a poor one, and a sinful one. Period.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Christian Marcos

      No, it isn't a choice. Period.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Sure it exempts you...you just have to be experts in denial, if that doesn't work, you can beat it out of 'em, if that don't work, ye can pray it away, an if that don't wirk y' kin always just marry'em off'n their cousin and keep it in the family nice and quiet like. Yup.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Robert Smith
      There is no such science that says any such thing. Especially the sin part since sin is not a part of science. When did you choose to be straight?
      Show me this science of yours. I guarantee that it is not science at all.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • CRUZ

      Robert, I suggest you stop while you aren't ahead. Your opinion is in the minority these days. Just because you are afraid, doesn't give you the right to tell others what to do. You want to know the difference between this movement and you? Gays aren't forcing their way of life on you. Them being able to get married and join BSA does not affect YOU in ANY WAY, except that it makes you mad and terrified. On the other hand, you saying that gays cannot do those things, and trying to force it into law... IS forcing your way of life on them, by not letting them live life the way they want. You are forcing your beliefs on them, whereas they just want equal rights and do not affect you at all. Looking at it that way, who is the one in the wrong?

      June 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  17. JOregon

    I see the censor is still a computer.
    I have never seen a verse that condemns a Gay that has never done the no-no

    June 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • LinCA

      @JOregon

      You said, "I see the censor is still a computer."
      Yup.

      CNN uses WordPress blogs for their opinion pieces, and they use automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. If your post doesn't show up, it most likely had a forbidden word in it.

      On the Belief Blog, repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

      The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):
            arse             as in Arsenal
            bastard
            bitch
            clit
            cock           as in cockatiel
            coon           as in cocoon
            cracker
            cum             as in circumstance
            cunt
            douche
            effing
            fag
            ftw
            fuck
            goddamn
            gloryhole
            homo         as in homosexual
            hooters
            horny
            hump
            jackass
            jap
            jism
            kinky
            kooch
            necrophilia
            nipple
            nigger
            orgy
            pis
            poon
            porn
            prick
            queer
            rape         as in grape
            sex           as in homosexual
            shit
            slut
            smut
            snatch
            spic         as in despicable
            tit               as in constitution or title
            twat
            vag           as in vague
            whore
            wonderful us
            wop
            wtf
            xxx

      To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      June 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • JOregon

      Yep it is one of the reason I rarely come here anymore. You have to have a dirty mind to find the error.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Scott in Texas

      how can Hobocexual be a censored word? mis spelled on purpose.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • JOregon

      The Biblical book of Ti*tus is a dirty word. You have to dig for the bad word within a word. It gets tiresome.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Spell it like this

      Homosexual

      June 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  18. Bob

    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.

    Sadly, to be re written!
    ?????

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

      Morally Straight does not mean the Straight you are thinking of.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Deacon John

      Not all Scouts belong to a hate-based religion.

      What's your point?

      June 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bob

      You said, "Sadly, to be re written!"
      True. If they want to join the 21st century, they'll have to get rid of the reference to imaginary friends. At least they are half way to being morally straight. All they need to do there is allow gay adults.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Bob

      On my honor, I will do my best
      To do my duty to ?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 gay

      June 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      There is no need for a re-write...there is a need for you to do a re-think...it is with people like you that the problem lies, not with the BSA code.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Science

      Where do morals come from?

      By Kelly Murray, CNN

      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/12/where-do-morals-come-from/#comments
      Gravity is not up for debate !

      BY the way ...................Splat goes a fairy in the sky !...............bye bye tinker bell !

      Einstein's Gravity Theory Passes Toughest Test Yet..............................E = mc2..........(U–Pb).................two math formulas.

      That do not lie !

      June 2, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • JOregon

      Bob
      The BSA is not, nor has it ever been a Christian organization.
      Plus there are many Christian denominations that have Gay Clergy members, that are Morally Straight.
      In fact the Methodists are second only to the Mormons in BSA membership.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  19. Daniel in California

    GOOD. Because Southern Baptists are the most evil, reprehensible, bigoted, hateful, neanderthal, angry, xenophobic, EVERYTHINGphobic Christians in a sea of evil, hateful, bigoted, reprehensible Christians.. They represent the WORST of Christianity... the WORST of the WORST. Hello? Southern Baptists are the wonderful people that gave us the KKK. Yeah. Enough said. GOOD RIDDANCE.

    June 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  20. The Christian Mind that Galileo Had to Face

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YIj4rLYo0c&w=640&h=360]

    June 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Daniel in California

      LOL!!! Nailed it!

      June 2, 2013 at 4:40 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.