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. Jim

    Hey this group says you cannot drink liqueur, or dance, this even though Jesus danced and drank wine. What a group.

    June 2, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  2. Loubies

    Sometimes I think Lincoln should have just let the South go. The slaves would have an uprising as they did in the Caribbean, (the North could have aided them. Slipped them weapons or something), they wouldn't be such an economical drain on our country, they could kill each other off with their guns, and I wouldn't have to live around so much bigotry constantly being justified as "truth".

    June 2, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • dan

      Or you could move now

      June 2, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • faith

      helter skelter "i am jesus christ" manson counted on that scenario, right after he murdered sharon tate. he was a fine christian, like hitler.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Epidi

      Your statement is bigoted and irrational. I grew up in the south during the civil rights movdement & I've seen my share of bigotry to be sure. I've also lived in Europe, western USA, and have currently lived in the northeast USA for the last 30 yrs. There's as much hate up here as the south ever had. Hate & fear doesn't have boundary lines like the Mason Dixon. If it did, explain to me why there were KKK in robes, pumping gas next to me here in PA on thier way to a rally a few years ago.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Loubies

      My statement is based on the fact that I have lived in the South for 35 years (that's called experience hon). Racism and bigotry is so ingrained in the psyche that they don't even realize how bigoted they are. And I'm sorry, but what percentage of the church going population outside of the South is actually Baptist?

      June 2, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • Ashley Cooper

      Loubies – I'm sure you are a member of the party of "tolerance" and "inclusion", right?

      June 2, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • Athy

      Epidi, maybe their tank was almost empty and they needed to fill it.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Epidi

      Loubies, darlin, I too have much experience living in the south. I was born & raised in Alabama and return quite often to visit family. My point is that hate & bigotry has no state boundaries. I have traveled much and seen as much hatred & bigotry entrenched everywhere else as I have the south. Other countries included.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
  3. Crisco

    >>>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.<<<

    Good riddance to those who can't manage to look beyond themselves.

    June 2, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
  4. Really-O?

    ...sorry for the duplicate text.

    June 2, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • science


      Chad is doing his polka again > chad and his JELL-O

      June 2, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  5. pickandchoosemuch?

    Do Baptist Churches also not allow US Military in their churches since the military allows openly gay members?

    June 2, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
  6. Dyslexic doG

    Yesterday morning there was a knock at my door. A pleasant and enthusiastic young couple were there.

    John: "Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."

    Mary: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us."

    Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?"

    John: "If you kiss Hank's ass, He'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, He'll kick the guts out of you."

    Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"

    John: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can't until you kiss His ass."

    Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..."

    Mary: "Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?"

    Me: "Well maybe, if it's legit, but..."

    John: "Then come kiss Hank's ass with us."

    Me: "Do you kiss Hank's ass often?"

    Mary: "Oh yes, all the time..."

    Me: "And has He given you a million dollars?"

    John: "Well no. You don't actually get the money until you leave town."

    Me: "So why don't you just leave town now?"

    Mary: "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and He kicks the guts out of you."

    Me: "Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?"

    John: "My mother kissed Hank's ass for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."

    Me: "Haven't you talked to her since then?"

    John: "Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it."

    Me: "So what makes you think He'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?"

    Mary: "Well, maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street."

    Me: "What's that got to do with Hank?"

    John: "In this town, Hank is the same as good luck. All good things are attributed to Hank'"

    Me: "I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."

    John: "But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass He'll kick the guts out of you."

    Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him..."

    Mary: "No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank."

    Me: "Then how do you kiss His ass?"

    John: "Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His ass. Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on."

    Me: "Who's Karl?"

    Mary: "A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."

    Me: "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His ass, and that Hank would reward you?"

    John: "Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."

    From the Desk of Karl
    1. Kiss Hank's ass and He'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
    2. Use alcohol in moderation.
    3. Kick the guts out of people who aren't like you.
    4. Eat right.
    5. Hank dictated this list Himself.
    6. The moon is made of green cheese.
    7. Everything Hank says is right.
    8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
    9. Don't use alcohol.
    10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
    11. Kiss Hank's ass or He'll kick the guts out of you.

    Me: "This appears to be written on Karl's letterhead."

    Mary: "Hank didn't have any paper."

    Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."

    John: "Of course, Hank dictated it."

    Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"

    Mary: "Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people."

    Me: "I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the guts out of people just because they're different?"

    Mary: "It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right."

    Me: "How do you figure that?"

    Mary: "Item 7 says 'Everything Hank says is right.' That's good enough for me!"

    Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."

    John: "No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."

    Me: "But 9 says 'Don't use alcohol.' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."

    John: "There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure."

    Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..."

    Mary: "But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese."

    Me: "I'm not really an expert, but not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it plausible that it might be made of cheese."

    John: "Ha! You just admitted that scientists don’t know everything, but we know Hank is always right!"

    Me: "We do?"

    Mary: "Of course we do, Item 7 says so."

    Me: "You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying 'Hank's right because He says He's right.'"

    John: "Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."

    Me: "But...oh, never mind.

    from Jhuger.com

    June 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Scott in Texas

      I started to kiss Hank's ass once when I was 14, but found the strength to walk away.

      My mom never forgave me, but I opted out.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  7. Homer10

    Too all hating Baptists. See Ya! Now go sit in the corner, and pound salt.

    June 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
  8. Really-O?

    Actually, Chad, here's one that would convince me –

    A man appears and says, "I am Jesus, the Christ, your savior. I will bring your father back from the dead to demonstrate that I'm am the son of god." Poof...before me appears a man who looks like my father, sounds like my father, and knows things about me only my father should know. LabCorp then performs paternity testing with samples from me, my mother, and this resurrected man and, low and behold, he's my dad. Praise Jesus! I'm converted.

    See how simple that would be?

    June 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Chad

      astonishingly enough, that VERY EXACT SAME SITUATION is described in the bible..

      If this doesnt send chills down your back, you should get yourself checked..

      “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
      22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
      25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
      27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
      29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
      30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
      31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
      - Luke 16

      One thing I completely didnt understand was the commitment to non-belief.. that has come as a surprise to me..

      June 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Until proven, that's just another bullsh!t story. Let's see your imaginary best friend do it in modern times with competent scientists observing and verifying every aspect. When and where can you arrange this Chad?

      June 2, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Chad


      think that you are saying that had you been there, watching those miraculous events unfold, you are saying they would have convinced you?

      So.. for you, it isnt a matter at all to be investigated, because even if you had personally witnessed them, they wouldnt have convinced you.

      this commitment to non-belief. I find it simply amazing..

      June 2, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      If I had witnessed the alleged event with the knowledge of the average alleged witness of the day, I probably would have believed the alleged miracle had happened. But today, the average non-delusional has far greater knowledge – they would be looking for the trick and demanding independent verification.

      The commitment isn't to disbelief – it is to facts, and your story has none.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Chad

      But if YOU had been there, 2000 years ago

      would you have been convinced?

      June 2, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  9. Charles Darwin

    I wonder how many gay members and preachers there are in the baptist church?

    We all know there have to be thousands of them.

    The baptists will lie and deny of course.

    June 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      5 to 10%.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • gospel261

      Lots of them...far more than they will ever admit.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
  10. Trent

    Christianity is on its way out. 2000-year-old bigotry has no place here in the modern world.

    June 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • Jesus Christ

      ME Trent! You know it's not my fault! My Father damn it!

      June 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
  11. deersaw

    I hope they {the gay ones} have to sleep in a designated gay tent on campouts

    June 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      And hopefully their own drinking fountains. We wouldn't want to spread any gay germs. sarcasm off.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • BFD

      I hope the bigoted ones are left home.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Scott in Texas

      Deer –

      there will be no change at the campground. No one will be coming out now any more than they did before. This is a political issue with the SBC.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Homer10

      No, they will be sleeping in your tent right next to you. Deal with it.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      In the next tent or sleeping bag, just as they always have. How many problems have there been?

      June 2, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  12. Jonathan

    7400 comments? The Oklahoma tornado disaster didn't have half as much. Is what a bunch of redneck baptists do really that important?

    June 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • Scott in Texas


      I agree with you, but the tornado was not a choice. this is.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  13. Scott in Texas

    Back on subject

    This seems to have taken a religious themed point of view. Can we get back on subject?

    June 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
  14. gpaschall

    The first thing that comes to mind is what would Jesus do? Would He urge children to en masse leave the Scouts out of bigotry and fear? Or would be be tolerant of people's differences? I wonder...

    June 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Scott in Texas

      Jesus has nothing to do with it. this is today and now.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • john

      I don't know. Ask the moneylenders in the temple.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
  15. To Know

    This is what the haters and those who are intolerant of other human beings need to know about!

    Gay gene, deconstructed


    June 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • YBP

      How about Gay Brain? Google it.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  16. Dog Backwards

    Good riddance.

    The Boyscouts don't need to be in the business of preaching hatred to children anyway.

    That's the job of the Church right?

    June 2, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • YBP

      Absolutely right.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  17. Steve - Dallas

    Who cares?

    June 2, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  18. Religion = Hate

    To hate a group of people because you believe that a book written by a bunch of bronze age goat herders tells you to hate them, is the definition of insanity.

    June 2, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Iceaxdave

      I don't hate the people...just their behavior. I got hit on by a scoutmaster 40 years ago...nothing happened because I punched him in the balls. I quit the next day, and made up an excuse...I never told any adult the truth.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • ogre12

      and you think you are right..but I tell you truly evil one you are sadly mistaken. OH you dont want to hear that do you...well it is true.

      June 2, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • Loubies

      Yet you suddenly decide to "tell the truth" 40 years later on the internet to a bunch of strangers?

      June 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  19. Science

    By the way HAR..........your header on post was ............see below.

    Your request was successfully submitted.

    Bing Webmaster Tools

    June 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |

    June 2, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  20. Anne Lamott

    “You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

    June 2, 2013 at 6:53 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.