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. Rick

    You say you want tolerance & despise hate but if I don't agree w/ everything you say, you call it hate & intolerance. Explain that to me?

    June 2, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Observer

      Underlining Christianity: Do exactly as we say or else you are such lowlife that you deserve to spend eternity in hell.

      Now talk about tolerance.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Devin

      It;s rather simple, they realize that vilifying those who have a different take on moral truth is the most effective means of promoting their agenda. And, they are right.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Intolerance is like murder. The term doesn't apply when one is acting to defend oneself or others from the viscous acts of a group like the Southern Baptists any more than murder or assault apply as terms when you are acting to protect your self or family.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • Jeremy

      So we are supposed to do everything the gays say???

      You don't have to go to Hell. You are choosing it by denying Christ's atonement for your sin.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • Athy

      Fuck hell. There's no such thing.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • Ken78

      They can't.

      H0m0______ activists are the most intolerant group in Amerika. Calling h0mo______lity immoral is not intolerant Intolerance is like murder. The term doesn't apply when one is acting to defend oneself or others from the vicious insults of pro-h0m0______ groups any more than murder or assault apply as terms when you are acting to protect your self or family.

      BTW, how funny is it that CNN screens out the word "h0m0______." Alice in Wonderland indeed!

      June 2, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
  2. MalcomR

    Religion is the worst plague to ever afflict mankind. Truly, only the weak minded and ignorant embrace religion. It gives comfort you say? Yes – a hollow "comfort" who's price is ignorance and bigotry. I've been watching the religious and the non-religious for over 50 years now, and one thing is blatantly obvious. The vast majority of the religious are truly ignorant and intolerant, while the vast majority of the non-religious are far more compassionate and intelligent. I hate the mind-virus of religion. The poor fools who have this disease are doomed to a kind of hell-on-Earth of their own making. They will never be in harmony with anyone but their own tiny sect of this splintered and psychotic world-view.

    There is no god. How do I know? How do you know there are no garden fairies? An absence of evidence as utterly complete as it is for god(s) is indeed evidence of absence.

    There is no afterlife. When you die, you cease.

    As a species, and the de facto stewards of the only planet we may ever have, we are the means of our own salvation or destruction. There is no parent in the sky to guide or protect us. If we use our reason and compassion, we already know we can do great things for ourselves and our future. I'm grateful to have lived to see the withering of the religion disease, slow though it may be.


    June 2, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Tammy

      Unfortunately you are grossly inaccurate and wrong. How does your "science" explain how the world was created?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Jeremy

      Do you believe in the wind? You can't see it.

      Do you believe in radio waves? You can't see it.

      Do you believe in gravity? You can't see it.

      Do you believe in God? He has evidenced himself by His creation. Open your eyes.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • MalcomR

      I feel for you. And if by "my science" you mean the same science that lets you communicate via the internet, then I suggest you stop using technology, since it's the same process that explains, in good detail, how the earth formed by accretion in the primordial solar nebula.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • MalcomR

      Oh Jeremy. I pity you.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Do you believe in the wind? You can't see it."
      It can be measured.

      You said, "Do you believe in radio waves? You can't see it."
      It can be measured.

      You said, "Do you believe in gravity? You can't see it."
      It can be measured.

      You said, "Do you believe in God?"
      Do you believe in the Easter Bunny? Ther's equal evidence for it as for your god.

      You said, "He has evidenced himself by His creation. Open your eyes."
      Bullshit. Just because your moronically simple fairy tale tells you that your imaginary friend created the universe, doesn't mean it did.

      But humor me, how exactly does what I see mean it was created by your god?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • Saraswati


      "Unfortunately you are grossly inaccurate and wrong. How does your "science" explain how the world was created?"

      Really, you want to pull this stuff you should at least get the argument right. No one has any controversy about how the earth was created. What you probably mean to ask is how the universe was created...just a tip ...

      June 2, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • Eric


      I don't think Malcom mentioned science. Why do the indoctrinated like yourself assume that the only way to Atheism is through Science? Science is nice and all but all I ever needed was the Bible to first determine what an SOB god was and then to determine though simple biblical logic that the bible was full of crap – a largely plagiarized work of an early iron age people.

      As for how the world was created... . It was created 4.54 billion years ago when solar nebula matter coalesced due to gravity. Within a few ten’s of millions of years after it formed it was destroyed in a cataclysmic impact with another body which formed a new Earth with, now, a moon. Within another billion years primitive organic chemistry yielded simple, single celled, life through a process we have yet to understand. These simple life forms soon evolved photosynthesis and by 2.5 billion years they were oxygenating the atmosphere which allowed life, still single celled, to use more advanced chemical processes. This led to more complex life, land plants and vertebrates, and then to the greatest expansion of species ever witnessed, the Cambrian Explosion about 500 million years ago. Evolution continued in a very well studied, understood, and proven fashion and yielded current, modern, humans about 150 thousand years ago.

      I know you have a 2-5 thousand year old book, written by people who didn’t know that the Earth went around the Sun or that not washing their hands could get them sick, who have a different story. My story is better.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
  3. Fargon@q.com

    'It's not a hate thing". No, it's an ignorant thing. Fargon

    June 2, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
  4. RT

    Good riddance....hypocrisy is something we don't want the other scouts to learn from the Baptists.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • Mr Man

      Your a hypocrite for saying that about another group.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Mr. Man, I think you are confused about the meaning of the word "hypocrisy"? Otherwise could you point out precisely RT's statement demonstrates a particular moral belief or beliefs that he or she is falsely claiming to have and live by?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Athy

      And you're (not "your") a hypocrite for saying "your (sic) a hypocrite ...". You religies are barely literate.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  5. GTA

    religion is the adult version of Santa Claus. It is the biggest fairy tale ever told

    June 2, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • kev


      June 2, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "religion is the adult version of Santa Claus. It is the biggest fairy tale ever told"
      Don't lump Santa in with the gods. There is far more reason to believe that Santa is real, and alive, than there is for any god. Santa, while likely long dead, was a real person. All that would need to have happened is for him to live an extra couple of hundred years. That is far more reasonable than the bullshit stories about gods.

      Gods are far more like the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny than Santa Claus, Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Ronriques

      So, Christ wasn't a historical figure? Hmm... Seems odd. I see historical evidence that causes me to believe that there's something more to life than just existing from day to day on a big blue marble in the middle of a universe that cannot be explained. When I read the historical facts about Christ it makes sense to me. Maybe you're just prejudiced against Christians. Smells that way.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious


      I think that your average Muslim would say almost the same thing you said about Mohammed and Islam.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
  6. Lauren

    I must be a different kind of Christian. Knowing about badly gay people are treated, I refuse to believe that anyone would choose to be gay. I also refuse to believe that simply being gay is enough to send someone to Hell.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Mr Man

      Your a Christian. Dont lie to yourself, how badly are Christians being treated? You still choose to be Christian, though.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • LinCA


      I suspect that there are millions like you. Maybe it's time for the more reasonable among you to become a little bit more vocal and stand up for the rights of the oppressed.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I refuse to believe that a good god would allow a hell to exist at all. I can think of no more evil and terroristic being than one that would allow a place of eternal torture to exist. Bin Laden never dreamed so grand.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Jen L

      ROFL How badly are Christians being treated? Well, let's see: they hold the majority of the power in the US. They comprise most of the population of the US. It is considered the default religion for any person in the US. The churches pay no taxes but break laws with impunity, especially the laws that grant them tax-free status.

      That other people have the right to freedom of religion is not persecution against Christians, nor is refusing to hold all citizens to the standards of your personal SECT of Christianity in any way related to persecution of Christians.

      You do choose to make false equivalencies in order to justify your hatred of others and your pretend persecution complex, in contradiction to what Jesus said to do, so I really don't care what you choose to justify hating anyone who disagrees with you.


      June 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • Hummus

      @Cpt. Obvious

      God doesn't want anyone to go to hell, and all a person has to do to avoid it is accept the sacrifice Jesus made for them.

      It's understandable that some people have real trouble accepting Jesus without proof of who He is, and I really hope they will be given an opportunity to see the proof with their own eyes before it's too late to accept it.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
  7. Obsidian Order

    For those Christians who are suffering from cancer and believe the that radioactive dating does not work say no to a PET Scan. Pet scans operate on the same laws of physics as potassium argon radioactive dating.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
  8. Hate-Based Religion

    Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time!

    But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • Ronriques

      Nice. Completely use a George Carlin rant and don't give him credit for his work. Even if his work isn't fair toward God, it's still his work. He deserves ALL the credit.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
  9. faith

    Carl Wilson notes that decadent cultures display seven typical characteristics: Men reject spiritual and moral development as the leaders of families; men begin to neglect their families in search of material gain; men begin to engage in adul terous relationships or h o m os ec ual scks; women begin to devalue the role of motherhood and homemaker; husbands and wives begin to compete with each other and families disintegrate; selfish individualism fragments society into warring factions; and men and women lose faith in God and reject all authority over their lives. Soon, moral anarchy reigns. When the family collapses, the society soon follows.


    June 2, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • faith

      Sorokin's study of decadent cultures convinced him that a healthy society can only survive if strong families exist and se ck ual activities are restricted to within marriage. Seck al pro m isc uity leads inevitably to cultural decline and eventual co l! lapse.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • Athy

      Thanks for the warning, Faith. I will scoop it up and dispose of it appropriately.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • Obsidian Order

      So secular is bad? What does that say about our Declaration of Independence that was written by three secular humanists: Adams – Unitarian ; Franklin – Diest ; Jefferson – Diest.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • faith

      Unwin found that nations that valued traditional marriage and s eck al abstinence were creative and flourished. He described this as "cultural energy" that can only be maintained when s cku al activities remain restricted within marriage.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • faith

      Unwin stated it this way, "In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on prenuptial and postnuptial continence."

      June 2, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
  10. rp518dan

    This is honesty rising to its proper place. If you want to train kids to be evangalists, just do it. Don't pretend to be scouts.

    These churches never were interested in scouting. Their goal was religious and political indoctrination. Scouting will be betting off without anti-environment corporate shills fleecing the flock in the name of Jesus and Scouting. Bye.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
  11. Hate-Based Religion

    By every measure imaginable, there is no evidence of a God.

    Why spend your life hating over some imaginary angry sky daddy that's obsessed with what everyone is doing with their genitals?

    June 2, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
  12. Let's look inside the Christian brain that Galileo had to argue with. . .


    June 2, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Obsidian Order

      Actually Galileo was a devout Catholic.

      His exile was more about Galileo being a jerk rather than his scientific ideology...

      Your argument is just as ignorant as those who you are attacking for being ignorant!!

      June 2, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • Hate-Based Religion

      Gallileao was persecuted by the Catholic Church for saying that the world wasn't flat.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • chomac15

      @ Observer... umm you state that God discriminates against women & the handicap but that's further from the truth. The Bible talks about Jesus breaking social barriers which we take for granted today. (I can point scriptures that shows each example.)

      In terms of this issue, it belongs to each churches decision to determine what is right based upon the Bible.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Let's look inside the Christian brain that Galileo had to argue with. . .


      Galileo's championing of heliocentrism was controversial within his lifetime, when most subscribed to either geocentrism or the Tychonic system. He was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, and they concluded that it could be supported as only a possibility, not an established fact. Galileo later defended his views in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. He was tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy", forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
  13. Obsidian Order

    I am bereft of any ideology including religion!

    I am neither liberal nor conservative. Think for myself.

    I think Sofia Vergara is HOT!

    I believe in the Multiverse!

    June 2, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
  14. Paul

    I am sorely looking forward to the day of space travel. Then, God willing, the Baptist will leave seeking their promised land leaving the rest of us in peace. Then again, could the vacuum of space really handle the Baptist mentality? Oh wait, Baptists already live in a vacuum.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
  15. Hate-Based Religion

    Why waste your life hating people just because they're different from you?

    Who did Christ hate?

    June 2, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • rp518dan

      Lots of people.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • Tabano

      No, Christ did not hate; but Jehova did destroyed Sodoma and Gomorra just for the same reason of what is happening now in our country: people going p-er==ver=ted

      June 2, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • gsdfg

      We don't hate gays, but we don't approve and certainly won't have dealings with them,

      June 2, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • Athy

      Much to the relief of gays.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
  16. nestor

    with very and contend reason the word of G-d says:the leaders of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel

    against the LORD,and against his anointed ,saying : let us break their bands asunder and cast away their cords from us, for sure the words of these clowns will pass , but the word of my LORD will go for ever and ever these devil liberal corrupts gays and lesbian generation.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • Obsidian Order

      You spew nothing but ill will and hatred and you want me to follow that ideology??

      Good luck!

      June 2, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
  17. Dan

    I believe this is what they call cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
  18. Obsidian Order

    @Nice Try

    Maybe you should around and look up at the stars and see actual facts.

    The iron in our blood is traceable to the center's of high mass stars that blew their guts and created all of the elements that filled the periodic table.

    This is a reproducible irrefutable fact.

    We have many photos of the accretion disks that are the embryos of forming planetary systems that show how are solar system was formed.


    You should worship volcanoes. Volcanoes are the directed result of a hot and active planetary core whose convection generates the magnetic field that protects our atmosphere from the steady stream of plasma that our sun generates. When the volcanoes start disappearing it will be a sign that the internal convection is going to stop, the plasma will rip our atmosphere to shreds and we die!

    June 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
  19. Lord Eze

    An Eagle Scout here whose son will not be joining–I issued my concern-our society is based on Christian Morality and we must stand up for it at all costs-the BSA has done what Eagle Scouts were always not taught to do–give in to peer pressure and not stand up for what is right even if the whole world is wrong. SHAME ON YOU BSA. My grandfather and the founders of scouts would roll over in their grave-you leaders are a disgrace to scouting

    June 2, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • Deflated

      Ooooo – special powerzzzz! Christian Morality. I might have had an argument if he hadn't capitalized morality.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I hope your son is more literate and tolerant than you.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • Steve

      You're a disgrace to humanity. So, there you go!

      June 2, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Didit everoccurto you that justasopinionsinsociety at large are changingso arethe opinions of those in the BSA? Did if further occur to you that opinions might be changing for a reason, such as additional information available now over what we knew 50 years ago?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
  20. John

    what percent of effiminate boys actually want to go hang out with masculine boys. Boy scouts have been an organization purposed around helping develop masculinity in young men. If the men become the women and the women become the men, even though you may have changed your natural use, only you will be ever living a lie. Demonic is what it is, to attempt to destroy anything that proposes and support normalcy. Male and male isn't normal just female and female aint normal. what do these "parents" teach their children about normal attraction.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • M

      Well sure it's natural, that's why it occurs.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • sam stone

      by what authority do you purport to KNOW what is normal?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Hate-Based Religion

      Male with male and female with female has been with us as long as there have been males and females. When "God" stops making gay people, perhaps you'll have room to judge them. Until then, if you have a problem with them, take it up with "God".

      June 2, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • sam stone

      i suppose lots of effeminate boys want to hang out with butch type masculine boys, and vice versa....

      do you confuse effeminate with gay and masculine with straight?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Could you define "normalcy"? If you are using a strictly statistical definition, any one with academic genius or exceptional athletic abilites is abnormal. Or do you mean something else? Please define, because I'm not sure what you mean by this.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • P.L

      You're confused by a stereotype. Get to know some real gay people instead of the ones on tv.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:46 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.

May 2013