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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. Alias

    The way the BSA dresses, I don't think any gay males really want to join anyway.
    Especially those socks!
    No sane human being could call those outfits fabulous!

    June 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  2. wds503@msn.com

    It is truly sad when any group, religious or not, will ignore common sense and worse when it is the 'religious' groups that will play on select words of the Bible in an attempt to validate thier statements and ignore Jesus Christs teachings, ignoring the true message he brought to this world. This is the main reason so many people identify 'hypocrisy' with religions. You can't just attend 'church' claiming to worship and becoming 'Christ like' while walking out the door and being the opposite of the message you heard inside. As far as the Baptist's concern? who cares...SEE YA!

    June 3, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • A Good Reminder!

      That well reminds me of a wise saying by a wise man.

      "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." - Mahatma Ghandi

      June 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  3. VTC

    We have such a long ways to go.

    June 3, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Dh

      They (racist bigoted so called Christians) have a ways to go.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  4. chaynes

    And the brainwashing of America's youth continues. In my opinion, Scouts should not be a part of any religious denomination and you don't need to be a part of any religion to be in the Boy Scouts. According to the scouts – the group helps our kids develop academic skills, self-confidence, ethics, leadership skills, and citizenship skills that influence their adult lives. All things that we, as their parents, should be teaching them as well. Scouting just helps to enhance and reinforce those skills. All while learning about the great outdoors through camping, fishing, orienteering...etc.

    So, here's an idea...you take your own child camping – grab some neighbors and their kids – some friends and their kids – and viola'! you have just created your own troop or den! You don't need the churches for that.

    June 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Though they are non-denominational, they still make you claim that there is a god, so they are still excluding atheists. Still a ways to go.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • hopelessinseattle

      So the solution Richard is just like chaynes said, form your own troop. Why is it okay for you to force your beliefs on any group, yet any group that chooses to exclude those beliefs are a target?

      June 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • ezra

      Why do you atheist want to be part of the Boy Scouts? Can you not start you own organization and call it Boy Without Shorts!

      June 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      or...take a good look at why you have the scouts in the first place and decide if excluding people for their beliefs, or the way they were born is really the image you want.

      As a child I was invited to join by several people...I joined and was forced to either admit there is a god, or leave...I left with several others who had remained silent until I refused to stray from my beliefs.

      Your solution is one, the other is to include all. I prefer to include all, and am richer for it.

      Like the pledge of allegience...in the fifties it was taken away from all who do not believe in gods, uunconst!tuionally, it has not been returned to its original form yet ( and it was originally written by a minister), and I will always refuse to recite it, until it is corrected. Do you think I should just declare myself a new country, or fight for the one I have already fought for?

      June 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • ollienkd

      Oh Ezra, I see you survived the abortion...sort of...

      June 3, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      ezra
      Is that supposed to make sense?

      June 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  5. Jeff in TX

    Don't you love it when one man writes a book, hands it to another man to read, and then the reader claims it is God's word? Take your pick of any religious rule-book – Bible, Torah, Koran, Book of Mormon, the other one written by the SciFi author, etc. – they were written by man. Yet their followers throw its content back in your face as if it was written by God Himself.

    June 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • hopelessinseattle

      Great point and frankly something I've struggled with personally. But that is why its called faith and not proven fact (don't misunderstand I believe the Bible to be fact, but I cannot prove every aspect of the Bible is factual). God expects us to proceed on faith, if He showed us everything over the next hill then we wouldn't be proceeding on faith. So believe, or don't, God gives you that choice. Choose carefully.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @hopeless, you have been told, indoctrinated if you will, that god expects you to proceed on faith. there is no legitimate reason to actually believe it to be true.

      June 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      why hopelessinseattle?
      why would a god want us to proceed on faith? he most certainly didnt apparently start out that way, what with popping up left right and center and showing various miracles, talking to various prophets, handing over commandments and so on.
      So when did this sudden shift to 'faith' thing occur?

      June 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • hopelessinseattle

      That is where you are mistaken snowboarder...I have read Scripture for myself and have formed my own opinion. Now if you want to say my 'indoctrination' comes from God, then so be it. What is preached in most churches is woefully inadequate and if not Biblically inaccurate certainly only telling half the story.

      As for empirical proof, you live in it every day, the world. Just stop and think for one minute about this world and all the living organisms that exist in it. If you think that all happened by random chance then you have a stronger, deeper faith than I could ever have. Just one structure, such as an eye is so complex that you will never convinced me it 'evolved' out of nothing. I need no other proof. As science itself attempts to explain the physical world many times their explanations come back to something eerily similar to Scripture. Does everything makes sense..no, at least not to me. Somebody is likely wrong or at the very least there are key pieces of information missing so that it all comes together. I will believe in God and in His Word until such time it is proven wrong. What is the worst that can happen, I live a good and moral life, I can live with that outcome. If God lays everything out for us to see there is no need for faith. Even seeing 'miracles' doesn't always lead to a saving faith, why, because people choose to go their own way. But if the miracle of life is not enough for you there probably is no amount of proof that would convince you anyway. Case in point I personally experienced what I believe was a miracle, I survived a car accident that judging by the empirical evidence I shouldn't have. I call it a miracle, what would you call it, lucky? To each their own and that is they way God designed it, He doesn't force you to believe.

      June 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • hopelessinseattle

      @cedar rapids, our relationship with God has always been based on faith, from the time of Adam and Eve. Look at the fall for instance, God instructed Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the tree of life or they would die. They didn't believe Him, they didn't have faith that what He said was true and they ate of the forbidden fruit and brought death into the world because of it.

      So why do we not see the parting of the Red Sea now as God revealed to the Israelites? I don't know. I can give you lots of reasons and some might even be correct. In the end two points though, even with such might miracles many Israelites failed to believe and turned away from God (I mean while FOLLOWING a pillar of cloud and/or fire they created golden calves for themselves, so how does that happen?). Only answer I can give is that is the very nature of man, to put himself before God and create his own God, one that suites him rather than the one that IS. The 2nd point is that I believe miracles still occur, the mom that lifts a car off a child, the car wreck that is survived, the cancer that disappears with no explanation. They happen and you read about them occasionally, something like that may have happened in your life, have they caused you to believe?

      June 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      hopeless, "Just one structure, such as an eye is so complex that you will never convinced me it 'evolved' out of nothing"

      Then you should probably read some science books. The eye did not evolve out of nothing. It evolved over millions of years from prior structures.

      June 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      hopeless, You're attributing the randomness and uncertainty inherent in life to the will of a god. Strangely the religious attribute only the good things in their lives to this god, but the bad things are not attributed to this god when it follows that if this god were the omnipotent, omniscient being that created the universe and all in it, it would be responsible for good and bad.

      June 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • LinCA

      @hopelessinseattle

      You said, "I have read Scripture for myself and have formed my own opinion."
      What was it that compelled you to read the scriptures? What caused you to pick the christian holy texts and not, say, the hindu or muslim texts?

      You said, "Now if you want to say my 'indoctrination' comes from God, then so be it."
      No, your indoctrination comes, most likely, from your parents and their substitutes. You were, very likely, led to believe at a very young age that there was a creature that your parents called their god. You were, most likely, dragged to church every week where the indoctrination was reinforced. You may have also been subjected to religion based education.

      You said, "What is preached in most churches is woefully inadequate and if not Biblically inaccurate certainly only telling half the story."
      Have you tried all 38,000 of them?

      You said, "As for empirical proof, you live in it every day, the world. Just stop and think for one minute about this world and all the living organisms that exist in it."
      It stands to reason that those that need their sheeple to remain in the flock, will model their fairy tale to what can be observed in daily life. But beautiful flowers, and immensely impressive starry nights are no evidence for any gods, no matter how much you want them to be.

      You said, "If you think that all happened by random chance then you have a stronger, deeper faith than I could ever have."
      Saying "I don't know (yet)" is far more reasonable than claiming it was the Easter Bunny that farted into existence. Saying "goddidit" answers nothing. It only changes the question to "where did this god come from and who created it?".

      You said, "Just one structure, such as an eye is so complex that you will never convinced me it 'evolved' out of nothing."
      Your ignorance of elementary evolutionary science is no evidence your imaginary friend did it.

      You said, "I will believe in God and in His Word until such time it is proven wrong."
      By the same logic, you should then also believe in the Tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny and every other imaginary creature ever thought up by anyone. There is equal evidence for all.

      You said, "What is the worst that can happen, I live a good and moral life, I can live with that outcome."
      For one, you could be worshiping the wrong god. Of the thousands ever invented by man, very few look kindly upon believers in the competition.

      You said, "Case in point I personally experienced what I believe was a miracle, I survived a car accident that judging by the empirical evidence I shouldn't have."
      Thousands of people survive accidents where others perish. Even so, if you were saved, why not all the others? Why did your god save the atheist mother (featured here last week), while letting mostly believers perish?

      You said, "I call it a miracle, what would you call it, lucky?"
      I'd call it bullshit. I'd call it gullibility.

      You said, "To each their own and that is they way God designed it, He doesn't force you to believe."
      That's mostly because it doesn't exist.

      June 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • hopelessinseattle

      and of course in santa you have proof of this, correct? Given all of our technical savvy we've been unable to create life from absolutely nothing. Yet you want me to believe that because it is written in some book (written by man) that I am suppose to just accept it as fact? Talk about hypocritical. You won't accept my book as fact, but I am suppose to accept yours. Heck they can't even get history correct, history measured in years or decades and you want me to believe some theory about something that happened thousands and perhaps millions of years ago? There is a reason it is called the THEORY of Evolution and not the LAW of evolution. Darwin himself rejected his own theory before he died.

      If you want to believe that life came from non life randomly and then evolved into amazingly complex and diverse organisms, its your choice.

      June 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Just one structure, such as an eye is so complex that you will never convinced me it 'evolved' out of nothing.'
      but it didnt appear fully formed one day, evolution makes no such claim. it was incrimental steps.

      'our relationship with God has always been based on faith, from the time of Adam and Eve. Look at the fall for instance, God instructed Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the tree of life or they would die. They didn't believe Him, they didn't have faith that what He said was true and they ate of the forbidden fruit and brought death into the world because of it.'

      Yet god is supposedly all powerful and all knowning. He MUST have known what the outcome was and therefore planned for it to happen. There was absolutely no reason to place the tree in the garden and yet not only did he do so but specficially pointed it out to them. That whole setup negates the idea of 'faith'.

      'Given all of our technical savvy we've been unable to create life from absolutely nothing.'

      Current lack of ability to do something does not therefore equal that a god had to be involved. Thats a cop out position.

      'Yet you want me to believe that because it is written in some book (written by man) that I am suppose to just accept it as fact? Talk about hypocritical. You won't accept my book as fact, but I am suppose to accept yours'

      Science books do not claim magical events in them. That is a huge difference.

      'Heck they can't even get history correct, history measured in years or decades and you want me to believe some theory about something that happened thousands and perhaps millions of years ago? '

      perhaps? you want to ignore all the earth sciences that show the earth is 4 billion years old?

      'There is a reason it is called the THEORY of Evolution and not the LAW of evolution.'

      That just shows your lack of understanding of the differences between a theory and a law in science. A theory does not get upgraded to a law when it is 'proved' or something.

      'Darwin himself rejected his own theory before he died. '

      No he didnt. That is a straight out falsehood.

      June 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • hopelessinseattle

      @In Santa

      That is a blanket statement that certainly doesn't cover all Christians. You are correct in that is much of what the church today teaches, it is not what the Bible teaches. Read the book of Job, it'll tell you about all sorts of things that happen to a good man. While God didn't do them to Job Himself, He certainly allowed satan to do them.

      Bad things can and do happen to good people and sometimes they come from God. God struck down a child of David's because of David's sin. God destroyed (via the Israelites) the inhabitants of Canaan because of their sin (those Israel disobeyed which resulted in their own problems down the road). God flooded the Earth killing all but 8 humans because of sin. Jesus warns that if we follow Him we will be persecuted as He was persecuted and warns us to consider carefully in choosing to follow Him. Paul speaks of a thorn in his side that He repeatedly asked God to remove, but God did not and Paul concluded it was to help keep him grounded. I could go on, but hopefully I've made my point. God does bring what we might consider bad things into our lives, but they are generally for a greater purpose.

      If you punish your children would they consider that good or bad? Most likely bad, but why do you punish them, because you love them and want them to have correct behavior. Why should we expect different from our Heavenly Father?

      June 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'If you punish your children would they consider that good or bad? Most likely bad, but why do you punish them, because you love them and want them to have correct behavior. Why should we expect different from our Heavenly Father?'

      If i killed my kids because they misbehaved, or tortured them for eternity with a hot branding iron.......i would quite rightly be condemned and locked up.

      June 3, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • hopelessinseattle

      @LinCA

      I appreciate your comments and I did take a great deal of time in responding to them, but it either it did not post, its been removed or it posted somewhere else in the thread. I am out of time for now, if I have time later I will try to rewrite them or rather some version of them. Either way I hope things go well for you.

      June 3, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • LinCA

      @hopelessinseattle

      You said, "I appreciate your comments and I did take a great deal of time in responding to them, but it either it did not post, its been removed or it posted somewhere else in the thread."

      CNN uses WordPress blogs for some of their opinion pieces, and they use automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. Quite a few of these words and fragments are totally innocuous (some not so much).

      Your post probably had a "forbidden" word hidden in it. If it happens again, you can use the back button on your browser and your comment will most likely still be there. It is often easiest to write your posts in an offline text editor and when it is finished, copy it into the comment box. That way, if your post falls victim to the word filter, you at least have your original.

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

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

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

      June 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • hopelessinseattle

      @LinCA

      Is there also a character limit, just tried again to respond to you and nothing. It does seem its mostly my longer posts that aren't making it to the board.

      June 3, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • LinCA

      @hopelessinseattle

      You said, "Is there also a character limit, just tried again to respond to you and nothing."
      I don't think there is a character limit. I've seen, and posted, some annoyingly long posts.

      You said, "It does seem its mostly my longer posts that aren't making it to the board."
      The longer it gets, the higher the risk of offending the filter.

      If you want, you can send your post to me at linca.wordpress@gmail.com. I can see if I can spot the problem.

      June 3, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  6. Johnna

    It seems as if everyone is gay nowadays. Maybe the boy scouts should merge with the girl scouts and be called the Rainbow Scouts.

    June 3, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      So by your own admission, you are gay ( you are a part of everyone) so what do you have against it.
      As long as they continue to teach the core values that scouting represents, what difference does a name make...a rose by any other name....

      June 3, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Closet

      Johnna,

      Get out of here.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  7. mama k

    I believe the church has every right to do as they wish with their relationships and affiliations. That being said, many of us also have the right to point out the incredible ignorance revealed as many posters here echo their opinion that they claim as a belief that being gay is a "Christian" judgment of perverse "sin". What has occurred to me is that it is a level of ignorance, but also hypocrisy that is very deep and wide because we know three things to be true:

    1. The type of Christian that has the belief described above is out of step with current scientific knowledge from biology and psychology about homosexuality. This is similar to when the RCC didn't believe Galileo's claims at first, but had to reckon with science evenutally.

    2. The type of Christian that has the belief described above is in disagreement with other Christians. Each think they are the spokesperson for their God and yet they disagree.

    3. The type of Christian that has the belief described above does not treat all moral "sins" in the same way. Look at issues from the Bible on divorce for instance.

    It's pretty obvious that it looks foolish to claim that one knows a Christian objective (from God) moral truth on this issue in light of the ignorance of current scientific knowledge, inter-Christian conflict, and hypocrisy. Quite simply, Christians no longer have a leg to stand on in their judgment of gays.
    ==========

    June 3, 2013 at 12:33 pm |

    • Psychology

      The American Psychological Association states "there are probably many reasons for a person's sexual orientation and the reasons may be different for different people", and says most people's sexual orientation is determined at an early age. Research into how sexual orientation in males may be determined by genetic or other prenatal factors plays a role in political and social debates about homosexuality, and also raises concerns about genetic profiling and prenatal testing."

      Professor Michael King states: "The conclusion reached by scientists who have investigated the origins and stability of sexual orientation is that it is a human characteristic that is formed early in life, and is resistant to change. Scientific evidence on the origins of homosexuality is considered relevant to theological and social debate because it undermines suggestions that sexual orientation is a choice."

      The Royal College of Psychiatrists stated in 2007:

      "Despite almost a century of psychoanalytic and psychological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person's fundamental heterosexual or homosexual orientation. It would appear that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Sexual orientation is therefore not a choice."

      Biology

      The following is from the article:

      Homosexuality ultimately a result of gene regulation, researchers find (12/11/2012 – LiveScience)

      [ The search for a "gay gene" may be off-target, new research finds. Another process called epigenetics that switches genes on and off may explain why homosexuality runs in families.

      Epigenetics are heritable changes caused by factors other than DNA. Instead of traits getting passed down through the genes, epigenetic change happens because of the way genes are regulated, or turned on and off.

      These genetic regulators may be the reason homosexuality persists in nature despite the fact that gay people are less likely to reproduce, suggests the new study published in the journal The Quarterly Review of Biology.

      "These things have evolved because they're good for the parents, but they sometimes, not [with] high frequency, but sometimes carry over" into offspring, study researcher William Rice, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told LiveScience. In a male fetus, Rice and his colleagues write, an epigenetic change that benefited the mother may lead to "feminization" of sexual preference — homo- or bisexuality. The same may be true for epigenetic changes passed down by dad to a female fetus. (The terms feminization and masculinization of sexual preference refer to sexual orientation only — not to physical or personality traits of the offspring.)

      The findings add to past research suggesting gay men haven't died out, because female relatives of gay men tend to have more children on average than other females. The study researchers specifically found that two genes passed on through the maternal line could produce this effect.

      Hormones, epigenetics and orientation

      Rice and his colleagues focused on epi-marks, which are molecular changes that act like temporary "switches" to turn genes on and off. If a gene is a blueprint, the epi-mark is the construction foreman who makes sure the product gets built. An epi-mark also determines when, where and how much a gene is expressed, according to the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis.

      These molecular switches are usually erased very early in the developmental process, but they can be passed down from generation to generation, too, Rice said.

      Some epi-marks are particularly important during fetal development, when they promote normal physical development in the sexes despite natural variations in testosterone during pregnancy. Researchers know that fetal exposure to too much testosterone can masculinize the genitals, brain or behavior of a genetically female fetus. Likewise, too little testosterone can make a genetically male fetus more feminized.

      But here's the catch: There's lots of overlap between the levels of testosterone male and female fetuses get exposed to. That means there must be another side to the story, Rice and his colleagues wrote.

      That side appears to be epigenetics, Rice said.

      "Early in development, we think these epi-marks are laid down so that girl fetuses will be relatively insensitive to testosterone and male fetuses will be relatively sensitive to testosterone," Rice said.

      Biological behavior

      Thus, if an epi-mark that kept a mother from getting exposed to high testosterone in development gets passed on to her son — the opposite sex — it could desensitize him to testosterone, contributing to his sexual preference for men. Similarly, if a male-specific epi-mark from dad gets passed to a daughter, it could "masculinize" her sexual preference, making her more interested in women.

      These findings could explain why twin studies show that homosexuality runs in families, but no "gay gene" can be found, Rice said. In identical twins, there's about a 20 percent chance that if one twin is gay, the other will be too. If genetic change were responsible for homosexuality, you'd expect a much higher match, Rice said. Epigenetics, however, can explain the heritability without the need for a specific genetic change.

      The hypothesis could be tested by examining epigenetic marks in parents of kids with gay versus straight offspring, Rice said. There are, of course, concerns that this knowledge could be used by parents who want to avoid gay offspring, Rice said, but that concern already exists around certain hormonal conditions in utero, which are known to contribute to an increased chance of offspring being lesbians.

      "That cat's already out of the bag," Rice said. He added that an understanding of the biological underpinnings of homosexuality could help emphasize that same-sex behavior is not "unnatural."

      "In fact, it's a major part of the natural world," Rice said. Fourteen percent of Western gulls raise chicks in female-female pairs, he pointed out. And 8 percent of male sheep show zero interest in fertile ewes, but get sexually excited by other rams. ]

      June 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • Doug

      I agree that there is but one judge and that is God himself, and he will judge all that are lost. The sad truth is that many will find that out too late. I will continue to stand on the solid ground that is my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1

      June 3, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Doug
      So you don't subscribe to any of the thousands of other gods men have created, and even though we can see exaclty the path men took in creating the bible, and your god, see the previous versions of the stories, you still want to cling to your myths. Even though various sciences have shown how wroong the bible is, and the base immorality it is to be christian, you still cling to it. The brainwashing really took on this one.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • ollienkd

      @Doug, sorry buddy. When you die, you turn into dirt. The little-kiddie stories about clouds and seeing all your dead beagles again ain't true. The part that bothers me is, you won't konw you're wrong. You'll just be dead.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  8. Wes Scott

    While the Boy Scouts still have a very long way to go to get back to what Scouting was when I was a kid more than half a century ago (back when Scouting was actually fun and all inclusive), being separated from the Southern Baptists and Catholics is definitely a huge step in the proper direction. For much too long Boy Scouts have been dominated by a far right wing religious and political philosophy that is anathema to their very purpose and intent.

    Scouting will only be better for not being affiliated with Baptists and Catholics, both of which hate each other as much as they appear to now hate Boy Scouts.

    June 3, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Orville Richardson

      Agreed.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
  9. Doug

    There are moral absolutes and if an organization decides to permit/condone/accept a behavior that is sinful/corrupt/forbidden by Scripture, then the churches have every right to distance themselves from that organization and to no longer be affiliated with them or offer them meeting space, etc. No one can force another to believe/accept/condone anything that is contrary to their faith or beliefs. It is called freedom. All should be welcome in any church, whether they be gay/straight, black/white, etc. The idea is that the message of Jesus Christ is a transformative one and we are to leave our sinful ways behind us and live according to the Holy Scriptures. All of us are sinful and need daily repentence and forgiveness.

    June 3, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      The bible itself teaches morally corrupt behavior. All of the religions that it has spawned are immoral as well. Why don't you try working on the immorality that is the bible?

      June 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • fred

      See the root post by mama k above, Doug. Christians now do look ridiculous claiming any kind of objective moral truth on this issue.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Paul

      "live according to the Holy Scriptures"
      So anyone violating the sabbath should be put to death? You must believe that since you want to live according to the scriptures?

      June 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • snowboarder

      there are no moral absolutes and there is nothing sinful about hom ose xuality.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      who determines these 'moral absolutes'?
      i ask because the bible has been used to justify slavery, racism and all sorts of actions.
      were they moral absolutes?

      June 3, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • ollienkd

      Show me the Christian who obeys all the scriptures (or even TRIES to obey all the scriptures) and my atheist butt will sign up with his/her church today!

      June 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • hopelessinseattle

      @olliekd

      You said, "Show me the Christian who obeys all the scriptures (or even TRIES to obey all the scriptures) and my atheist butt will sign up with his/her church today!"

      Satan has done his job well hasn't he? Still while there are plenty of hypocrites in the church there is always room for one more, at least in our congregation, consider yourself duly invited. You've also missed the point of Jesus. God knows it's impossible for man to follow the Scriptures, which is why Jesus had to die on our behalf, so that we could be reconciled to God.

      Following God is hard, I don't always want to do good things. I'd prefer to satisfy myself (whatever that craving might be) and say the heck with you. That is my fallen nature. I resist that desire though (I am not 100% successful) and I give up what I want in order to consider my fellow man first. Would I like to screw the pretty blond down the street, sure, but it's wrong, would I like to take your car, your truck, your boat for my own (assuming I could of course), sure, but its wrong, would I prefer to take all the money from the collection plate as it passes rather than put money into is, you betcha, but its wrong. And I resist satan's temptations to the best of my ability as an act of obedience to God. I have a horrible, sinful nature I am corrupted by sin and it is only by God's grace that I am able to have a relationship with him.

      June 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  10. Jon O

    Remember folks, according to people like Choir Loft, gay is bad...

    But r ape is great, child murder is fine and slavery is just grand.

    After all – those are three practices his barbaric God endorses.

    June 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • kippyafd

      What are you smoking?

      June 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • ollienkd

      @kippy, you wrote "smoking" when I think you meant "reading." (Hint: it's The Bible.)

      June 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      It's true.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  11. truth truth truth 2013

    I feel sorry for the kids because to tell them its okay to be gay by adults is plain wrong and guess what GOD will have the last word on this because you adults are telling the kids it is okay to be gay. Boy scouts you fell into the snares of the devil.

    June 3, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Lying to children , telling them that being gay is wrong, is far worse.
      Judge not lest ye be judged.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Jon O

      Funny joke, got another?

      June 3, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • TC

      Won't gay kids benefit from scouting in the same way that opther kids do? What makes that kind any different? Why woul God demand that gay kids be expelled from scouting ONLY for being truthful?

      HE made them gay, after all.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • .

      "I feel sorry for the kids because to tell them its okay to be gay by adults is plain wrong"

      YeahRight

      The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      Like their heterosexual counterparts, many gay and lesbian people want to form stable, long-lasting, committed relationships. Indeed, many of them do and that large proportions are currently involved in such a relationship and that a substantial number of those couples have been together 10 or more years.

      Research demonstrates that the psychological and social aspects of committed relationships between same-sex partners closely resemble those of heterosexual partnerships. Like heterosexual couples, same-sex couples form deep emotional attachments and commitments. Heterosexual and same-sex couples alike face similar issues concerning intimacy, love, equity, loyalty, and stability, and they go through similar processes to address those issues. Research examining the quality of intimate relationships also shows that gay and lesbian couples have levels of relationship satisfaction similar to or higher than those of heterosexual couples.

      A large number of gay and lesbian couples raise children. Children and teenagers whose parents provide loving guidance in the context of secure home environments are more likely to flourish – and this is just as true for children of same-sex parents as it is for children of opposite-sex parents. Based on research findings, mental health professionals have also reached a consensus that the quality of relationships among significant adults in a child’s or adolescent’s life is associated with adjustment. When relationships between parents are characterized by love, warmth, cooperation, security, and mutual support, children and adolescents are more likely to show positive adjustment. In contrast, when relationships between parents are conflict-ridden and acrimonious, the adjustment of children and adolescents is likely to be less favorable. These correlations are just as true for children of same-sex parents as for children of opposite-sex parents.

      Assertions that heterosexual couples are inherently better parents than same sex couples, or that the children of lesbian or gay parents fare worse than children of heterosexual parents, have no support in the scientific research literature. On the contrary, the scientific research that has directly compared outcomes for children with gay and lesbian parents with outcomes for children with heterosexual parents has consistently shown that the former are as fit and capable as the latter and that their children are as psychologically healthy and well adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • ollienkd

      Dang-it, Richard! Stop trying to reason with the mentally ill. That person literally believes in an invisible sky-man. You can't talk that sort of crazy down. Just raise your own kids right, let the whack-jobs screw up their kids, and in a couple generations this problem take care of itself.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Mick

      I think it has more to do with a sense of fairness then the influence of a magical invisible demon.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @2013, your comment is just a steaming pile of excrement. without even a bit of truth in it.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  12. colonyboy

    Why is it that when conservatives feel threatened, they feel the need to state that they want to live as they chose, but when conservatives want to constrain the same rights for those whose values they oppose, it is OK?

    Why can one or two "policy makers" within a group decide for the whole group and even try to impose their narrow beliefs on the whole country?

    Maybe the masses who want to leave the Boy Scouts aren't as massive as their so called leaders want you top believe?

    Those who wish to leave the scouts over the admission of gay scouts are no better than those who would leave over the admission of non-white or foreign Scouts.

    June 3, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Dean

      There is a little bit of a difference between being gay and being Chinese. Only a fool would equate a way of life to a race or color.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • ollienkd

      The point is, you're born how you're born. Someone chooses to be Chinese as much as someone chooses to be gay.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Patrick

      Honestly, good riddance to the Baptist groups et al who are cancelling their charter with the scouts. These bible selectivists (I'm sure that's been used before but I feel it's a good term for their religious beliefs) are not providing a safe and non-judgmental space for these kids to learn the myriad of useful and character building skills that the scouts offer.

      It's like separating the chaff from the seed, baptists being chaff in this situation.

      Remember what your poster boy Jesus Christ said: "Judge not lest ye be judged." I'm seeing a lot of judging going on here and Karma is a b**ch.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Dean...only a fool would equate a way of life with h0m0$exuality. There is no choice, like skin color or being straight.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • .

      " Only a fool would equate a way of life to a race or color."

      Erik

      All major medical professional organizations concur that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise. The American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and European Psychological, Psychiatric, and Medical Associations all agree with this, as does the World Health Organization and the medical organizations of Japan, China, and most recently, Thailand. Furthermore, attempts to change one's sexual orientation can be psychologically damaging, and cause great inner turmoil and depression, especially for Christian gays and lesbians.

      Reparative therapy, also called conversion therapy or reorientation therapy, "counsels" LGBT persons to pray fervently and study Bible verses, often utilizing 12-step techniques that are used to treat sexual addictions or trauma. Such Christian councilors are pathologizing homosexuality, which is not a pathology but is a sexual orientation. Psychologically, that's very dangerous territory to tread on. All of the above-mentioned medical professional organizations, in addition to the American and European Counseling Associations, stand strongly opposed to any form of reparative therapy.

      In my home country, Norway, reparative therapy is officially considered to be ethical malpractice. But there are many countries that do not regulate the practice, and many others that remain largely silent and even passively supportive of it (such as the Philippines). Groups that operate such "therapy" in the Philippines are the Evangelical Bagong Pag-asa, and the Catholic Courage Philippines.

      The scientific evidence of the innateness of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded sexual orientation – and that's all sexual orientations, including heterosexuality – as a phenotype. Simply put, a phenotype is an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For the scientific community, the role of genetics in sexuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology.

      On the second point, that there is no conclusion that there is a "gay gene," they are right. No so-called gay gene has been found, and it's highly unlikely that one ever will. This is where conservative Christians and Muslims quickly say "See, I told you so! There's no gay gene, so being gay is a choice!"

      Take this interesting paragraph I found on an Evangelical website: "The attempt to prove that homosexuality is determined biologically has been dealt a knockout punch. An American Psychological Association publication includes an admission that there's no homosexual "gene" – meaning it's not likely that homosexuals are 'born that way.'"

      But that's not at all what it means, and it seems Evangelicals are plucking out stand-alone phrases from scientific reports and removing them from their context. This is known in academia as the fallacy of suppressed evidence. Interestingly, this is also what they have a habit of doing with verses from the Bible.

      This idea of sexuality being a choice is such a bizarre notion to me as a man of science. Many of these reparative "therapists" are basing this concept on a random Bible verse or two. When you hold those up against the mountain of scientific research that has been conducted, peer-reviewed, and then peer-reviewed again, it absolutely holds no water. A person's sexuality – whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual – is a very deep biological piece of who that person is as an individual.

      The fact that a so-called "gay gene" has not been discovered does not mean that homosexuality is not genetic in its causation. This is understandably something that can seem a bit strange to those who have not been educated in fields of science and advanced biology, and it is also why people who are not scientists ought not try to explain the processes in simple black-and-white terms. There is no gay gene, but there is also no "height gene" or "skin tone gene" or "left-handed gene." These, like sexuality, have a heritable aspect, but no one dominant gene is responsible for them.

      Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore do have a role in sexual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in sexual partner selection have been identified, and their neuro-biochemical pathways have been worked out in great detail. A great number of these mechanisms have been preserved evolutionarily in humans, just as they are for every other behavioral trait we know (including heterosexuality).

      Furthermore, there are many biologic traits which are not specifically genetic but are biologic nonetheless. These traits are rooted in hormonal influences, contributed especially during the early stages of fetal development. This too is indisputable and based on extensive peer-reviewed research the world over. Such prenatal hormonal influences are not genetic per se, but are inborn, natural, and biologic nevertheless.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  13. Justin S.

    Let the Baptists go, religious loonies have been poisoning the Scouts for too long. Youth have been fleeing the Scouts for decades now due to the strict conservative influence. Nowhere in the Scout Law does it say a Scout is Judgmental, Hateful, Intolerant... The BSAs recent decision is a small step in the right direction.

    -A proud Eagle Scout

    June 3, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • ollienkd

      Huzzah! I joined scouts for the outdoor experiences and ended up praying in a church basement. I high-tailed it out of there. Wish this split had come when I was scouting age.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
  14. A. West

    I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church...some good people, a whole lot of hypocrisy. Other than most all SB churches STILL almost entirely being segregated to this day, I remember the who missionary bit thing. Our church financed a missionary family in a foreign country for decades. As an adult, I moved to the same place with my job as the missionary's family. He was there living in a comfortable home trying to sell the Baptist faith to confirmed Catholics. His chapel, a rented office in a warehouse. His 'flock' – nobody. What a sham.

    June 3, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • bc

      Makes you wonder if there is a clearing house organization that gets kick backs on the donations that sets missionaries up with churches such as that one.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • hopelessinseattle

      There is truth in what you say. There is a lot of hypocrisy within the church (Baptist or otherwise). That isn't to say that all are hypocrites and because of the hypocrites that doesn't mean you should shun God (assuming of course that you do). It's sorta like saying, I am not going to drive because of all the bad drivers on the road today. Driving is still good and helpful and you likely drive in spite of the dangers and bad drivers. So why turn away from a good God because people (which He's told us) are generally pretty crappy?

      June 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  15. Moonraker

    Don't you just love these "Christians". Such a tolerant bunch. The scouts are better off without these awful people.

    June 3, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Considering the scouts still exclude athesist, even with their very code, they still have a ways to go.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • kippyafd

      Christians are an awful bunch? Wow, aren't YOU a tolerant one!

      June 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Dave

      No one is required to be tolerant of things they find objectionable. You aren't tolerant of it (as evidenced by your post)- and no one else has to be either.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • ollienkd

      They're not all awful, but the ones who try to push their nonsense on others sure are. Matthew 6:6, "But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private." Do what you want behind closed doors, but don't expect people to support your crazy in public.

      June 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  16. karenbeth123

    To the “ethics” of the Southern Baptists' rejection of the Boy Scouts: Do you think there are others, especially within your own administrative/pastoral offices, that you can reject and turn your back on in that same "Christian" way for “immoral/questionable” activity? Definitely. Look at yourselves, deep inside, then explain to the Lord with purity in your hearts that you are righteous and worthy of this decision against children. They are our CHILDREN. Christ's children. We learn hate and intolerance as children from the adults who influence our lives. Hate and intolerance is your message to the children of Southeast Christian Church. WHAT WOULD JESUS SAY and how would He explain this "Christian" intolerance to the children?

    June 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Dean

      Not sponsoring and supporting their ideals is not as you put it "turning their backs".

      June 3, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  17. irunner

    Good riddens.

    June 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  18. wakiash

    Best news I've heard in years!!! The fewer baptists the better!!

    June 3, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  19. Martin

    Hard to understand what these people are upset about. If their church did not allow sinners in, it would be empty according to the bible I know "for all have sinned and came short of the glory of god" sound familiar? So whats the fuss?

    June 3, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • hopelessinseattle

      You demonstrate a lack of understanding of the Scriptures. When you come into a congregation you are to repent. That isn't to mean that a particular sin (or any sin) will not be committed in the future. But a truly repentant heart should be one doing their best within God's power not to commit sin, of any type. Scripture is very clear (1 Cor 5) that those within the church that live in rebellion seemingly not caring if they sin or not are to be dealt with, the church does a horrible job on this issue and you are right if handled Biblically congregations would be much smaller. Why is this not followed, personally I think it would lead to smaller buildings, fewer programs, less contributions, smaller (or no) salaries, and small to no benefit packages. This is one Christian that believes God will deal harshly with His church.

      June 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
  20. Kentucky girl

    Do Southern Baptists realize that the founder of the Boy Scouts–the organization they have supported in the past–was a gay man??

    June 3, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • hopelessinseattle

      This is news to me....source?

      June 3, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • billfitt

      Gay men love boys, so a gay man creating the Scouts makes perfect sense.

      June 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
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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.