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. tre

    .........Baptists..............snake handlers, NO medical assistance for kids just use prayer, ...........now this.. I suspect a hearty portion of these unenlightened and UN Godly minds are RADICAL RIGHT in politics.............

    June 3, 2013 at 7:14 am |
    • Robert

      I'm not a Baptist but I do know they neither handle snakes nor disapprove of medicine. Sadly, many atheists seem to be such very dishonest people.

      June 3, 2013 at 8:13 am |
  2. pbernasc

    Baptists leaving the scouts? Perfect! Nobody and no organization need idlots to stick around

    June 3, 2013 at 7:11 am |
    • billfitt

      OK, so they're idlots, and you are an idiot. Now things make sense.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:22 am |
  3. jimkon

    The notion that faith in god is to be rewarded by an eternity of bliss, while a dependence upon reason, observation and experience merits everlasting pain, is too absurd for refutation, and can be relieved only by that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance, called "faith."

    June 3, 2013 at 7:07 am |
    • Ed

      When you go to bed each night do you KNOW you will wake up in the morning? NO you don't. It's called faith.

      June 3, 2013 at 8:07 am |
  4. jimkon

    Is [God] willing to prevent evil but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil.

    June 3, 2013 at 7:03 am |
  5. Science

    Chadie has a link on Bing..........shows that the bible sucks !

    Quarterback's next play: Going long with the Bible – CNN Belief ...


    Feb 01, 2013 · Since we've got Chad buybull ... Jurassic Park came out. Now that it has been found, ... You have nothing but a 2000 year old stone age book written ...

    \BIG SPLAT chadie

    June 3, 2013 at 7:02 am |
  6. Reality

    Please read the referenced article before commenting:

    From the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said review addresses the following “How do genes associated with ho-mose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”

    "Most scientists who study human se-xuality agree that gay people are born that way. But that consensus raises an evolutionary puzzle: How do genes associated with h-omose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?"


    June 3, 2013 at 7:02 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Man made excuses, excuses. instead of taking responsibility for your choices in life.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:12 am |
    • WASP

      @reality: that's an easy one. just look around at how many "late bloomers" we have. you have 30 plus year old males/females that have had families and maritial partners then finally find the guts to admit what they have been fighting their whole lives.

      if you go back in history being "gay" to say wasn't looked down on unless you failed to fulfill your "manly/womanly" duties to the community..........i.e. having offspring. it's not that truly complicated if you simply view human nature and human culture over the past couple thousand years.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • Reality

      Obviously, Heaven Stent did not read the referenced study.

      June 3, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  7. I AM Not YOU

    In most cases , the churches are no more than a sponsor and a place to meet. There is little input from most churches in the way the Boy Scouts are run. However, a church or any organization of sponsor can refuse to keep a scout troop at anytime.

    June 3, 2013 at 6:57 am |
    • Austin

      and you can refuse to defile yourself with a/na.l se.x.

      its a pretty blatant and outgoing incident.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • Austin

      oh excuse me, oops! I didn't mean to do that.....

      June 3, 2013 at 7:55 am |
  8. Don

    The church doesn't want any adulterous members either .Woops ! There goes half the congregstion .

    June 3, 2013 at 6:51 am |
  9. john

    The great thing about this country is that you are free. you don't have to agree with or condone the gay lifestyle. it is your choice but that doesn't make you bad. people that do not have God do not have to agree with or condone a Christian. But the name calling back and forth is wrong. if you are gay, so be it. I do not have to accept the way you live. I don't have to agree to it. it is my choice as an American.
    According to the Bible it is a Sin. Two cities were destroyed because of these kinds of acts. God will judge us on all of our sins in the end of days.
    One thing you all need to learn is that this society allows us to think and feel what we what. Both sides call each other names and are horrible adults to one another which in turn creates bad examples for our kids. Agree to disagree and leave it at that. it is like we are devolving as a society. try some mutual respect.

    June 3, 2013 at 6:50 am |
    • Kevin

      According to the Bible, eating a shellfish is a sin. Until Baptists leave Red Lobster in mass, one can only assume that they are picking and choosing which antiquated verses they want to follow and that it is based on hate and nothing else.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:07 am |
    • M

      You should know that hatred can be given no quarter, no respite, no sanctuary.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:10 am |
    • sam stone

      does calling it a "lifestyle" rather than an orientation make it easier to justify your disdain for gays?

      June 3, 2013 at 7:38 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Sam, explain why gay folks don't want to have and raise their own children. Explain why they are not curious to see what they could have created if they listened to God's blessings.

      June 3, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • The real Tom

      Even I didn't think you were that dumb, HS. Must be a troll.

      Gays want and have children all the time. They're not sterile.

      June 3, 2013 at 10:58 am |
  10. Colin

    Any chance you Southern Baptists could relent? I don't think you realize the harm you are doing to young gay kids, especially those gay kids who are also religious.

    Growing up in a religious environment, knowing deep down you are different and widely despised by the religious majority must be very difficult as it is. When you do something like this, you cement in these poor kid’s minds the idea that they are somehow vile and disgusting. You also teach your own kids it is ok to disdain gay children.

    Look, imagine how you would have felt if, when you first started to notice girls, a group of adults began telling you that you were a deviant. Please find it somewhere in your hearts to cut these kids some slack. They’re just little children for the love of God.

    If this is too much to ask and you must hate them for who they are, please at least have the human decency to do so silently. I don’t believe it is too much to ask that you subordinate your desire to punish and inflict pain on those you do not like to a little compassion and understanding. I am sure most of you are generally good people who would not blink at doing so in most other walks of life.

    Many and varied are the victims of this continuing social evil we call “religion.”

    June 3, 2013 at 6:42 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Colin, kids aren't thinking about the s3x act unless an adult introduced it to them. Kids learn, explore their world, play (hopefully they learn to share with others), and enjoy this time of their lives. The s3x act isn't an issue to them until years later.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:00 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      HS: Adolescent kids have raging hormones but before that you're right, they're not thinking about sex. We still need to educate them on all aspects of it.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:08 am |
    • Science

      Hey HS asked faith this on Christians be Nice article ...........does se-x education work for creationists ?

      No answer from faith.............the answer was about 50 pages of comments disappearing .

      What is your answer ?

      June 3, 2013 at 7:11 am |
    • HeavenSent

      S3x education for the last 40 years has a hidden agenda.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:14 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Truth Prevails, we need to educate kids about not receiving the unwarranted s3xual vibrations from adults.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:17 am |
    • Science

      Hidden what....................you are full of BS HS.................MOM and DAD did IT.............they created you.

      NOT a fairy in the sky !

      June 3, 2013 at 7:21 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Science, Science, Science. Time out. Now go sit in the corner until you can act civilized and not like a ape swinging into a conversation to disrupt it. Come on, they've got peeled bananas for you.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:27 am |
    • Science

      The crickets !!...............you are full of BS HS !

      Bananas are great for US..............lots of potassium .!
      They can also be used for what HS

      June 3, 2013 at 7:31 am |
    • Austin

      shun ho.mose.xual feelings, learn to enjoy real s.ex.. love is a gift you can give the opposite s.x. anyone can.

      if the boyscouts insist on being "openly" =flauntingly gay they should do it outside the church. The church can not be openly sinful.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • Science

      By the way HAR/chadie....HS too......your header on post was ............see below........so do not go deleting comments

      like what happened on Christians Be Nice article.

      Your request was successfully submitted.

      Bing Webmaster Tools

      June 3, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      " The church can not be openly sinful."

      But yet you can be by judging others...right???

      June 3, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • Austin

      when talking about the issue and since there is the pride attatched to the offence here................yes judge.

      June 3, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • HeavenSent

      TRUE BELIEVERS JUDGE (not according to their own standard Matthew 7:1-2)

      "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." John 7:24 (Ephesians 5:11, 1 Corinthians 5:12)

      "But he who is spiritual judges ALL things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one." 1 Corinthians 2:15 (1 Corinthians 6:2-3; 10:15; 14:29, Romans 16:17)

      Judging Is Believing.

      Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right? (Luke 12:57)

      What is right?

      The statutes of the Lord are right (Psalm 19:8).

      False Christians and unbelievers tell us it is not right to judge. Some fools hypocritically condemn us for judging (Luke 6:37), and they all hypocritically judge that we judge. When we identify preachers as false teachers leading both themselves and those who follow them to hell, when we declare others as on their way to hell, and especially when we warn them they are lost, we often hear these words (or the equivalent), "Judge not" (Matthew 7:1). Yet, these words are exactly why we judge (discern).

      Jesus said,

      Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)


      June 3, 2013 at 8:41 am |
  11. One one

    What do they do when they discover one of their kids is gay ?

    June 3, 2013 at 6:41 am |
  12. Kevin

    Unless these churches have a "no gay people allowed in the church" policy, they are hypocrites. And if they do have such a policy, they are definitely not behaving the way Jesus would. All this feeds into the growing irrelevancy of religion in the 21st century. Time to cure ourselves of this deity obsession and take responsibility for our own destiny, instead of believing in an all-powerful sky-Daddy who is credited for saving us from tornadoes but not held accountable for causing them.

    June 3, 2013 at 6:40 am |
  13. David

    Baptists are the biggest phonies on the face of the planet. Aren't they gonna be shocked when they get to the pearl gates and are told to GTFO!

    I despise Baptists!

    June 3, 2013 at 6:39 am |
  14. RayB

    Its a shame that people still use religion to get their way...they might as will toss their lot in with the Middle East. I mean they "Force" their beliefs on people, and of it doesn't work., kick them out or even worse.

    June 3, 2013 at 6:33 am |
  15. demovsemperor

    The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are going to be a LGBT youth organizations within 5 years.

    June 3, 2013 at 6:30 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Set aside the whole sexual orientation issue and teach these children to treat everyone equally. Boys ad Girls Scouts should not divide but instead bring these children together to learn, have fun and grow to be productive loving adults.

      June 3, 2013 at 6:35 am |
  16. mdn7779

    Hate is hate, it is the Baptist church that supports that so called preacher in Topeka that shames everyone who is a Christian. These people aren't Christians.

    June 3, 2013 at 6:25 am |
    • saggyroy

      Anyone who imagines themselves a Christian is a Christian. Is there a test? Are there monthly dues? I thought once you are "born again always born again"

      June 3, 2013 at 6:29 am |
    • One one

      @sag, yet so often we see christians accusing other Christians of not being "true" Christians.

      June 3, 2013 at 6:40 am |
    • HeavenSent

      saggyroy, your answers are in the Bible. Seek and ye shall find.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:24 am |
    • Science

      I see HS can not read to well either.............. see above post HS..........chadie has his own link on BING on the bible.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Science, tune in. It's bad enough you unbelievers view those sites. Never mind that a Christian should waste our time.

      June 3, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Science

      HS there is no fairy in the sky................plenty of sites available.

      HEY HAR you too you are the one stuck in the matrix.............now do not go deleting comments !

      Current search on Bing chadie ..........bookmark update chad........3rd one from top of page.

      RDFRS: When Christians become a 'hated minority'


      11,000,000 results Any time

      Splat Chad

      June 3, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  17. Colin

    You know a person is grasping at straws when the only support they can muster for their position is that their invisible sky-fairy friend wants it......

    June 3, 2013 at 6:24 am |
  18. saggyroy

    I'm not so much pro-gay as I am anti-baptist.

    June 3, 2013 at 6:19 am |
    • rememberwhatbushdid

      See how much hatred is stirred-up by one act of intolerance, this time by a one Baptist Church? This proves intolerance is not God's way at all.

      June 3, 2013 at 6:49 am |
  19. Mc

    Go screw yourself, you hateful piece of garbage.

    June 3, 2013 at 6:01 am |
  20. BoneDog

    My gay son is a testament to the fact that being gay isn't a choice. Anyone who claims that it is not is blind to the truth. I believe that Jesus himself adores us all, but he especially adores those of us who are persecuted. Why so many use the Bible to generate hate and loathing is baffling to me. It reminds me of some sick imams in the middle east cherry picking lines from the koran and using them to convince healthy young people to strap on explosives and walk into a crowd before detonating them. They completely miss the message of love contained within the Bible/Koran.

    June 3, 2013 at 5:59 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Kudos to you for being accepting and loving your child regardless. I hope he realizes how fortunate he is to have your support.

      June 3, 2013 at 6:21 am |
    • billfitt

      I think what you just proved is that gaiety IS a choice. Unless of course you are saying that you are gay, and that he inherited the "gay gene" from you. Or maybe you're saying that your wife is gay? Which one is it, or is it both?

      June 3, 2013 at 6:31 am |
    • rememberwhatbushdid

      The lesson here is that the Boy Scouts are at least trying to be more tolerant while this Baptist Church remains intolerant. The Bible was written by men who mostly either claimed they were speaking for God or God was speaking through them. But with all the contradictions in the Bible which are we to believe? That's why I turn to the verbatim quotes of Christ about loving all, being tolerant, etc. handed-down through those who were there. To me this is the most likely way more people will come to God. Certainly not through the adherence of the Dark Ages of intolerance practiced by this self-righteous Baptist Church. I love them and hope they will rethink their decision.

      June 3, 2013 at 6:43 am |
    • HeavenSent

      BoneDog, who in your son's life made it horrendous for him not to want to be fruitful and multiply? There's your answer.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:20 am |
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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.