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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. Saraswati

    The funniest part of all this is that once the Southern Baptists leave the BSA will be able to move forwards with removing the rest of the discriminatory policies much more easily.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • Scott in Texas

      Kudos to the BSA for finally crossing the line.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • Devin

      Yes, I agree. Soon the fellows over at NAMBA will be enabled to be scout leaders. It would be nothing less than discrimination to prohibit their rights.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • Galactus93

      Boy Scouts will become a national jokes as the Boy Scouts are made fun of

      June 2, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Nice try, Devin. Could you have been any more idiotic ?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • Obsidian Order

      @Galactus93

      The boys scouts survived being made fun of when pedophile scout masters were being caught in the '80's and '90s.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • Devin

      midwest. Thanks, I thought it was a valiant effort myself. You do realize yours is just a ruse? You just pick and choose your moral truth according to your level of comfort.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Devin, you can continue to play cutesy word games all you wish. There is no connection between being gay and being a pedophile, that's the uncomfortable truth you can't deal with.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Devin, I don't know how you choose your morality, but most of us in the sane world base it on accepting things that provide more benefits than harm to society and for all but the dimmest it's pretty obvious that child molestation is harmful. Are you having problems understanding why that is the case

      June 2, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
    • RA

      Oh yes but they surely won't be removing the discrimination against Christians and people with morals! You have to get rid of them!
      I'm really looking forward to sending my 8yr old son on a Boy Scout camping trip with a adolescent gay scouts. That will be great when they're in the tent at night together.
      I might as well send my daughter along too for the straight boys.
      You guys are some really sick people and have lost your minds.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
    • Devin

      But you misunderstand. I'm not equating being gay with pedophilia.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
    • Devin

      Sasraswat. Then obviously your determining factor in choosing moral truth is your own subjective opinion. What gives you the right to decide what is good or harmful for society?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • Inaccurate

      Devin...they don't understand and they are not going to understand. There is no place in their paradigm for absolute truth. Everything is weighed and measured against their own beliefs and everyone has a right to their own beliefs. As long as you are not intolerant of anything then you're okay. If you're intolerant, well, that is just intolerable and you shall be attacked for the reprehensible human specimen you must sure be.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • Devin

      Innac

      Yes, I know. IT's just a lot more fun having a discussion in "the lion's den" than it is preaching to the choir.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • Seriously

      @inaccurate and devin

      do tell where empathy lies in you. do tell when you became pure. do tell why you believe you are on the right path.

      June 3, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • Inaccurate

      My empathy shows when I am kind and generous to others. When I give money to someone on a street corner without regard for what he will do with it. When I take time to help someone who cannot help me back. When I remember what it is like to be in bondage to addiction. You know nothing about me. I don't believe I am pure. Evidence for "my path" is all around me.

      June 3, 2013 at 1:11 am |
    • Seriously

      @ Inaccurate

      My point exactly. I know nothing about you and therefore CAN NOT CONDEMN you. You know nothing about the people you speak to here and can not condemn them. None of us should condemn anyone.

      The evidence of your path is often how you portray the one you serve. We are all guilty of multiple wrongs.

      June 3, 2013 at 1:18 am |
    • Inaccurate

      Who did I condemn?

      June 3, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • Seriously

      @inaccurate

      "Devin...they don't understand and they are not going to understand. There is no place in their paradigm for absolute truth. Everything is weighed and measured against their own beliefs and everyone has a right to their own beliefs. As long as you are not intolerant of anything then you're okay. If you're intolerant, well, that is just intolerable and you shall be attacked for the reprehensible human specimen you must sure be.

      Did I misunderstand the "they"? Why are they separate?

      June 3, 2013 at 1:36 am |
    • Seriously

      @inaccurate

      It was not my intent to harm.

      June 3, 2013 at 3:06 am |
  2. Obsidian Order

    My Man Neil DeGrass Tyson..

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3sPsbv3fnY&w=640&h=360]

    June 2, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • mama k

      I have found Neil Tyson's video's very enlightening recently.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
    • Dippy

      Mama, it's "videos," not "video's."

      June 2, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
    • mama k

      Ah! lol, thanks, dippy.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:04 am |
  3. Erica

    I am a lesbian because of issues with my mother.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • Scott in Texas

      No, you are a lesbian because that is the way you are.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Scott, I think this is the same troll who was Nelson on the last page.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • Max

      I expect you are a lesbian and that you had issues with your mother, but the later did not cause the former. If you're a lesbian.. you would have been that way one way or the other.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • Dippy

      "Latter," not "later."

      June 2, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
  4. Scott in Texas

    Religion appears to be at the root of all controversy and death in the world. Let's leave it behind and move forward.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • Ken78

      Not a real student of history, huh?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • MalcomR

      He's right, by and large. Religion has been used either directly or indirectly (to "motivate" populations) to justify atrocities throughout history.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • Hez316

      Lenin, Stalin and Pol Pot would agree with you

      June 2, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • Ken78

      Some of the great societies with atheist leadership . . . USSR, Mao's China, North Korea, Fidel's Cuba, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy . . .

      Yeah. I see your point.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
  5. Devin

    The progressives have arrived. And yet, God remains undeterred

    June 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Hate-Based Religion

      How do you know that "God" even exists?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • jimmy swaggart

      Devin is one letter away from devil. Your parents are satanic.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • Devin

      Well, He appeared to me one morning in my omelette. Actually, I'm sure you already know the answer to your question.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • sam stone

      god remains undeterred because god is a fantasy

      June 2, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
  6. Nelson

    Most of the hot gays are at the clubs right now. I am in my mother's basement typing on CNN forum pages with my cat in my lap.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
  7. faith

    This sense of oneness, with the consequent release from the burden of self, I take to be God—something which indubitably exists; which not only has not died, but cannot die. Such has been the testimony of those in the past whom I most revere— like Christ, St Paul, St Augustine and St Francis, Pascal, Bunyan, Blake, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. To their testimony; with the greatest possible diffidence, I add my own, so hesitant, fitful and inarticulate.

    New Statesman, 6 May 1966

    malcolm muggeridge

    June 2, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • jimmy swaggart

      Malcom is a tool of the devil.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • MalcomR

      These allegorical approaches to god – "I take god to be the sum total of the universe" or whatever, are some of the most banal and insipid artifacts of b.u.l.l.s.h.i.t. I've ever encountered.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
  8. Nelson

    I am gay and considered a troll by the younger men after putting on a few years and some belly weight. What am I to do?

    June 2, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • jimmy swaggart

      You must cast satan out of your belly.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • P.L

      They are following stereotypes too because they don't have any decent rolemodels in their life. Being gay doesn't mean being thin or handsome, or being fashionable. Those are stereotypes that don't match up with reality.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Susan

      And if Satan refuses to leave your belly, then torture him with zumba and botox. Godspeed Nelson!

      June 2, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • MalcomR

      You do the same thing us straights do. Accept your fate as an aging troll and use the internet as it was truly intended – a cornucopia of pron for us old trolls!

      June 2, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Find a hobby; something you love to do. You may not find love or companionship, but it's a better bet you'll find them doing that than nothing. Enjoy life, you'd be surprised how quickly love will come your way when you're not looking for it. Inner peace and outward joy are fairly attractive traits. Get started, I say.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
  9. droffilc

    Couldn't have been said more perfectly MalcomR. Right on.........religion is the worst thing that even happened to mankind.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • jimmy swaggart

      Satan will throw you in a pot of boiling lava.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • Ken78

      You might want to go back and take a look at societies where the leaders were atheists or agnostics. I don't think you are going to like what you find.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Ken, youmean Australia, France, the UK, Uruguay...?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • Ken78

      I mean Mao's China, the USSR, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, North Korea, Castro's Cuba . . .

      BTW, most of the countries that you named are going to hell in a handbasket. But if you like them so much, by all means, please feel free to move there. TIA!

      June 2, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
  10. janemutiny

    Hooray! Bye. It will only make the scouts better and stronger.
    They can start their own fascist delusion club and pretend they are righteous.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
  11. Jeremy

    Christians were born that way. Same argument you use.

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

      Every single person who has ever lived was born an atheist.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Jeremy

      You said, "Christians were born that way. Same argument you use."
      Only that it is bullshit. You only believe the utter nonsense that you believe because your parents indoctrinated you into their cult. The only difference between your god and the Tooth Fairy is that you were allowed to stop believing in one, and not the other. Probably around the time you ran out of baby teeth to trade.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • jimmy swaggart

      Yes, but do you believe in the devil?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Except that there's no evidence at all to support that. We use twin and adoption and physical trait studies to look at how people are "born" a certain way (which is a lot more than genetics) and the data very much supports the idea that se.xuality is determined mostly before birth. While there is some data to support a genetic or epigenetic component to religiosity, there is as yet nothing to support the idea that people are borth to a particular religion. Indeed, people are almost always a member of the religion in which they are raised.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • MalcomR

      No, this is the huge problem with religion. xians are MADE not born. It's indoctrination into a mindset that crushes free inquiry. Unfortunately some people (many) are predisposed to being manipulated this way. I get sick when I think about the human intellectual capital that has been destroyed over millennia by the meme from hell (yeah, I said it).

      June 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Ronriques

      Actually, they weren't. They choose to repent from sin because their eyes are opened by the Holy Spirit of God. They hear about the sacrifice of God's only Son and believe in their hearts and are saved. The world is not their home, so they don't follow the lusts of the flesh, but the leading of the spirit. The carnal mind cannot understand this, because it's spiritually discerned. The carnal mind is dead. It is rotting to death without the hope of eternal life or regeneration through God's Son who happened to come to the earth. Remember Christmas? Oh, yeah... It's Happy Holidays now because the world is ashamed of Christ. I forgot. Well, that Son we used to celebrate is savior. He was crucified and rose from the dead to save mankind from death, hell and the grave, but... Happy Holidays to all you spiritually dead hearts out there.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • LinCA

      @jimmy swaggart

      You said, "Yes, but do you believe in the devil?"
      The devil is just as much make-believe as any god. It's the monster under your bed for adults (with limited mental abilities).

      June 2, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Ronriques

      You said, "Remember Christmas? Oh, yeah... It's Happy Holidays now because the world is ashamed of Christ. I forgot."
      Get a fucking clue, you dimwit. you have to be moronically stupid to not realize that there are far more celebrations around the winter solstice than your precious pagan holiday.

      You are still free to celebrate the birth of your dude, exactly as you wish. You just don't get to claim the entire holiday season.

      It is moronically stupid posts like this that reinforce the notion that you have to suffer from mental illness to be a believer.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
  12. Susan

    They may need to reevaluate their GA aka 'Girls in Action' name. That could conjure up all kinds of images.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
  13. Hate-Based Religion

    There is no evidence that God, especially the God of the Bible, even exists.

    So why spend your life hating people just because they are different than you?

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

      Jesus is a historical figure.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Hate-Based Religion

      There is no historical evidence that Jesus ever existed.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Larry

      Look into the sky and see the stars. You purposely close your eyes to what the Creator has made.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Larry

      You said, "Look into the sky and see the stars. You purposely close your eyes to what the Creator has made."
      Just because you believe that nonsense doesn't mean it's true. Just because you refuse to allow for other possibilities doesn't mean the fairy tale you choose to believe got it right. Please provide some real evidence for your god.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Hate-Based Religion

      Unfortunately, there is no proof of a "creator".

      June 2, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • sam stone

      larry: why do you equate a creator with a god?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
  14. jimmy swaggart

    Satan lives.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
    • Ronriques

      Inside of you?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
  15. Robin Rhodes

    Good riddance, buh-bye

    June 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
  16. Susan

    Haha, what, do they think no gay boy scouts existed before this?

    June 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • jimmy swaggart

      Yes but they were possessed by the devil.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Susan

      No Jimmy, they grew up to be family value Deacons.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • Ken78

      At least until now they could maybe toss them out before they victimized some little boy. Good luck with that now.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
  17. L.J. Rhodes

    Actually, there already is a large, male-centric organization that caters to the values and beliefs of these churches that are parting ways with the BSA to form an alternative program. It's called the Ku Klux Klan.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • Robin Rhodes

      Ku Klux Klan – White Southern Baptists; pretty much cut from the same cloth.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
  18. jimmy swaggart

    hell fire and damnation

    June 2, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
  19. William House

    Bigots.

    Their Churches are NOTHING but Monuments to Bigotry.

    Bigotry is a Shame,
    Not a Value.

    The Real Abomination is their bigotry, their discrimination, and their Violence.

    Religious Bigots like that Killed Jesus.

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

      Hey, William. Slow down on the random word capitalization. You would appear to be much smarter.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • Ronriques

      You're calling God a bigot. God is the one who calls it sin.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
  20. dogowner

    CNN belief blogs are nothing but a hate group against the Christian faith, they are worthless.

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

      CNN is run by Satan.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • MalcomR

      We are just doing our small part to help speed the eradication of religion from society. I thank CNN for the opportunity to help with that, even in this tiny way.

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

      All I hear is barking coming from dogowner. It's easy to bark. Even dogs do that.

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

      @dogowner

      You said, "CNN belief blogs are nothing but a hate group against the Christian faith, they are worthless."
      I know, right. What has this country come to when good real christians are chided for spewing their hatred? We should go back to when the gays were in the closet, the women in the kitchen (barefoot and pregnant), and the blacks picking cotton.

      Get a fucking grip, and quit your whining. If you spew hate, you should expect some backlash.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • William House

      Pot calling kettle black.

      It is the Southern Baptist Churches who are the Bigots, the Hate Group.

      Freeing one's self from Bigotry is not an attack on Human Rights, it's the other way around.

      But what do you expect from BACKWARDS THINKING BIGOTS.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • Ken78

      You have to remember than CNN's founder Ted Turner is an anti-Christian bigot who called Christianity a loser religion.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
    • sam stone

      yet you are here, dogmounter

      June 2, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • sam stone

      you gonna bark all day, little doggie, or are you going to bite?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:50 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.