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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. dc1975

    Dear liberals, yes the baptist may be boycotting, but your beloved Islamist will be cutting heads off, once they are in control. Sadly you will wish for the good old days of boycotts.

    June 1, 2013 at 5:52 am |
    • Lewis

      For all those who are thinking "but the Bible says it is wrong" remember, the Bible also says the following...
      Marriage has not always been between one natural man and one natural woman. In Deuteronomy 21:15-16, a man has more than one wife. In 1 Kings 11:3-4, Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. His sin was worshiping other gods, not multiple wives.
      In addition, Exodus 35:2 states that you should be put to death for working on the Sabbath.
      It is permissible to discriminate against the disabled according to Leviticus 21:18-20.
      If you eat bacon, ham, shrimp, lobster, or clams you are sinning according to Leviticus11:7-8, and 11:10-12.
      Have your children been unruly lately? If so, Leviticus 20:9,
      21:9, Deuteronomy 21:20-21, and Zechariah 13:3 commands parents to kill their disobedient children.
      Bible passages were used until just recently to outlaw interracial marriages. When you read Leviticus 25:44 and 19: 20, you will discover the Bible was used for centuries to justify slavery.
      There are MANY STUPID THINGS IN THE BIBLE!

      June 1, 2013 at 5:55 am |
    • dc1975

      Lewis you are not going after christians you are going after the Jews. Have fun being a racist.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:04 am |
    • 1word

      Lewis
      God did not expect for men to have more than one wife, the Bible provides us examples of past mistakes so we don't make the same mistake. Jacob had 2 wives 1 beloved and 1 despised. You cannot truly love more than 1 wife unless you have the love of God in you, then you can love your neighbor as yourself. After you have Accepted Christ, I doubt you would even consider having more than 1 wife because you would know that someone will be neglected. If I were you I would pick up the New Testament and read that, yes the OT had a lot of weird things going on but the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is love. Hope that helps.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:11 am |
    • MawcDrums

      How about no boycotting OR beheadings? Just drop religion period, we'd all be a lot better off.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:12 am |
    • Mirosal

      @ 1word.... you'd better re-read your testament. Even your jeebus guy said that the old laws STILL apply. He didn't erase them. He didn't negate or expunge them.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:14 am |
    • MawcDrums

      1word

      Please tell me more about how you pick and choose only certain parts of your religion to conform to today's moral code. Clearly your bible does not lay down the moral code that we follow today if you're having to ignore certain parts of it for "having weird things"

      June 1, 2013 at 6:14 am |
    • dc1975

      ok crazy outspoken atheist, I have no said a thing about my religious or non religious views. But feel free to lump me into a religious nut bag, since you are already doing it.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:30 am |
    • Lewis

      dc1975, 1word
      of course you missed my point!
      The same passages that condemn gay people in the Bible are located interspersed within the same nonsense I posted about. (see scriptural references in last post.) SO, if it is ok to condemn gay people, it should be ok to kill your children for unruly behavior????
      New Testament – Jesus NEVER said anything about gay people, HOWEVER he did have plenty to say about divorce! In Matthew 19:9 he says that many divorced and remarried people are committing adultery. Why aren't the S. Baptists trying to ban divorce? Because they PICK AND CHOOSE which passages work for them!

      June 1, 2013 at 6:33 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      dc1975

      Lewis you are not going after christians you are going after the Jews. Have fun being a racist.
      ------------------------------------------

      Christians use Leviticus to condem gays, and Lewis points that out.
      How does that make him a racist ?
      You are an idiot.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:43 am |
  2. gwtheyrn

    Why am I not surprised?

    Typical backwards southern mentality. I guess they think that when Jesus said "Love eachother", it was opposite day.

    June 1, 2013 at 5:45 am |
    • dc1975

      Why because there a lot of black people in the south? Go back to Germany Hitler.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:01 am |
  3. jim

    S(he) who is without sin, cast the first stone. Judge not, lest you be judged. The brother Baptists are being a bit self-righteous

    These are just kids.....if they behave inappropriately, deal with that one kid..

    June 1, 2013 at 5:44 am |
  4. No one

    Sounds good, go to the scouts to learn about living in nature and the science of it, and you can avoid the church, win win?

    June 1, 2013 at 5:33 am |
  5. Zee1

    I'd like to stone some Baptists. The Bible says I can do so. Just line 'em up! I'd also like to have some Baptists as slaves. The Bible says I can.

    June 1, 2013 at 5:33 am |
    • Mirosal

      well, if you let them have the same rights as any other citizen is enti'tled to have, then there won't be anything to get angry about, will there?

      June 1, 2013 at 5:52 am |
    • Mirosal

      This is getting a little strange. The posts I am replying to seem to disappear. Does anyone know why? I've also noticed the total comment count bouncing up and down like gas prices. Who is deleting this stuff? Have the Baptists hacked into the CNN servers?

      June 1, 2013 at 5:58 am |
    • dc1975

      Mirosal Cnn deletes any post that uses the N word. Please try to keep your racism to yourself.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:08 am |
    • Mirosal

      what "N" word are yu talking about? And as far as racism, I have said nothing even remotely concerning ANY race at all.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:12 am |
    • dc1975

      Mirosal we all saw what you said about African Americans before CNN took it off. Please go back to your klan meeting and leave us normal people alone. Spread your hate else where.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:17 am |
    • Mirosal

      I think you must be in Colorado smoking some new legal weed. I have said nothing about anybody's race whatsoever. It isn't MY posts that are being deleted, it's the posts I am replying to. My replies are there, the posts I originally replied to are not. So if what you say is true, then it wasn't me who typed that word, because my words are still there. Or, is simple logic too hard for you to follow?

      June 1, 2013 at 6:21 am |
  6. Summer

    They really are showing wonderful Christian values and supporting the 10 Commandments' commandment of LOVE THY NEIGHBOR. People use religion as an excuse for exclusion. It's pathetic. This is why I left the church. I believe in God, but don't believe in our modern-day view of organized religion. I really don't know why we can't all just get along.

    June 1, 2013 at 5:14 am |
    • Mirosal

      Love thy neighbor isn't one of the original 10. Read Exodus again.

      June 1, 2013 at 5:25 am |
    • Dan

      "We don't hate the gays, we would just prefer if they don't exist please ya'll."

      June 1, 2013 at 5:29 am |
    • Seriouslt?!?!

      This is for Mirosal:

      Summer referred to LOVE THY NEIGHBOR as being the "ten commandments' commandment".

      So did Jesus: "On these two commandments (LOVE GOD and LOVE THY NEIGHBOR) depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

      Read Summer's post again.

      June 1, 2013 at 5:49 am |
    • Anonymous

      AGREED. We're all human, intelligent ( well, mostly...) and equal... So why's everyone so desperate to prove their superiority over the rest of the world? Stuff like this makes me lose faith in humanity when I see it. So much for "love thy neighbor".

      June 1, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
  7. North Dallas Don

    Recall the Baptists' boycott of DisneyWorld and DisneyLand in the 1990s? That wasn't exactly effective. So now we're going to boycott the Boy Scouts. How is this boycott supposed to turn out any differently?

    Maybe you should work on healing and delivering God's message - as the Bible says to do - rather than casting judgment and condemning others. That would be the "Christian" thing to do, and that's in God's words.

    June 1, 2013 at 5:05 am |
  8. Nicole

    In what part of the bible does Jesus instruct his followers to shun gay people? I've read the gospels, and I don't seem to recall that. I recall quite a bit of love thy neighbors, feed the poor, and heal the sick. But nothing about exclude the gays.

    June 1, 2013 at 4:51 am |
    • Saiko

      On the contrary, Jesus said that the most important commandment (more important than other his commandments, and by the way these are more important than so called ten commandments) was to love another as yourself, and "That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another". One can argue that is is outright gay – 1) he was saying that to men, 2) when you love "yourself" you love your own gender ;), but even if not interpreted that way it is obvious that there are no anti-gay sentiments.

      Baptists are heretics, they clearly reject the New Testament.

      June 1, 2013 at 5:25 am |
  9. Mirosal

    why not play fair? Have everyone boycott the Baptist churches? This pastor, mentioned in the first line of the story (Tim Reed) is an idiot. I have just one question for him. If he thinks that being gay is a choice, I want to know exaclty WHEN did he choose to be straight?

    June 1, 2013 at 4:27 am |
    • lesia

      Says so in the bible honey. It's wrong. I do believe it states "It's an abomination unto God" and that's not the only statement on it.

      June 1, 2013 at 4:51 am |
    • Mirosal

      Actually, I'm straight as a laser beam. Not one professional medical organization will tell you it's a choice. And, as far as your little book of fables, it was written by herders in an agrarian, patriarchal society that no longer exists. Society evolves, but you choose to live by their myths in modern times. Do you enjoy being held back by the chains of a long-dead civilization that was ruled by myth?

      June 1, 2013 at 5:22 am |
    • Lewis

      For all those who are thinking "but the Bible says it is wrong" remember, the Bible also says the following...
      Marriage has not always been between one natural man and one natural woman. In Deuteronomy 21:15-16, a man has more than one wife. In 1 Kings 11:3-4, Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. His sin was worshiping other gods, not multiple wives.
      In addition, Exodus 35:2 states that you should be put to death for working on the Sabbath.
      It is permissible to discriminate against the disabled according to Leviticus 21:18-20.
      If you eat bacon, ham, shrimp, lobster, or clams you are sinning according to Leviticus11:7-8, and 11:10-12.
      Have your children been unruly lately? If so, Leviticus 20:9,
      21:9, Deuteronomy 21:20-21, and Zechariah 13:3 commands parents to kill their disobedient children.
      Bible passages were used until just recently to outlaw interracial marriages. When you read Leviticus 25:44 and 19: 20, you will discover the Bible was used for centuries to justify slavery.
      There are MANY STUPID THINGS IN THE BIBLE!

      June 1, 2013 at 5:23 am |
    • sam stone

      the bible says it's wrong.

      bully for the fvcking bible

      do you seriously believe that 21st century man is not much more aware of human se-x-ual-ity than were a bunch of iron age sheep mounters?

      June 1, 2013 at 7:49 am |
  10. Burt

    There is absolutely nothing hate filled in this article. Something is against a group's beliefs so they choose not to participate.

    June 1, 2013 at 4:25 am |
    • Splishkid

      Disguised hate due to ignorance. The BSs will be better off without them

      June 1, 2013 at 4:46 am |
    • Burt

      @Splishkid. They don't sound 'ignorant' and they are not preaching hate. I just attended a Baptist service last Sunday. It was wonderfully positive.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:02 am |
    • The Deist

      Nope, no bias there!!

      June 1, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • JustMyOponion

      You've got a point in that there's no obvious hate in the article, but actions speak louder than words. I'd be willing to wager that some (if not most) of the guys think that the Boy Scouts' changes will somehow lead to 'the degeneration of America' and that Gomorrah's fate (city in the Bible that got obliterated because of their sin, but the Bible emphasized more on the 'gay' aspect) will be a part of it. Just a thought.

      June 2, 2013 at 12:25 am |
  11. Dream Weaver

    I think both sides are pathetic.

    The BSA is ruined for everyone its done! Way to go Gays and Bigots! You have to be the two most selfish groups of humans the earth has to offer.

    The planet and america would be a better place without you.

    Signed... Who cares now

    June 1, 2013 at 4:23 am |
  12. Jay

    Christ, please help your "followers." In the name of Jesus, amen.

    June 1, 2013 at 4:23 am |
    • 404 Error

      Message Undeliverable. Addressee not found. Please check to be certain of its existence.

      June 1, 2013 at 4:38 am |
  13. Big Gay Al

    So when will they start executing those who commit adultery? (Deuteronomy 22:22, Leviticus 20:10)

    And when will they start executing women (and only women) who are found not to be virgins on their wedding night? (Deuteronomy 22: 13-22)

    The Bible states those explicitly as well.

    June 1, 2013 at 4:19 am |
  14. The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester

    Good. Don't let the door hit you in the gluteus maximus on the way out. The ones I feel sorry for are the children you'll be forcing your bigoted stupidity on. The rest of society will move on.

    June 1, 2013 at 4:15 am |
  15. les

    so much hatred about this

    June 1, 2013 at 4:02 am |
  16. skytag

    The Klan claimed it was a Christian, patriotic organization, and it existed primarily in parts of the country that were predominantly Baptist. Maybe the the Baptists could start a new organization that burns crosses in the yards of gay people and claim it's God's will.

    June 1, 2013 at 4:01 am |
    • Fladabosco

      You've never heard of the Redneck Church of Irritating Idiots, er, I mean the Westboro Baptist Church? They do essentially what you say, just in a different way.

      June 1, 2013 at 4:17 am |
    • Unbelievable

      The Straight Boy Scouts of America...until you touch your friend's peepee, then you shall be banned. Like kids don't experiment...or should I say use their gawd given talents of observation and experimentation to find out things about the world. Oh, did I say something wrong????

      June 1, 2013 at 4:54 am |
    • so

      i hope they do, they will get an ass full of lead in my yard.

      June 1, 2013 at 5:14 am |
  17. John

    "here may soon be an alternative to the Scouts for social conservatives like Lappe."

    Yes, no doubt. "Little Nazis for Jesus" or some such.

    I am not gay. I've been a scout leader, for my daughter and then for my son. So long ago now! And we never had any reason to ever bring this up, not to MY memory, but now we will have a group which explicitly points our their moral superiority to 'other,' maybe 'common,' scout groups. Why else-be honest here-form another one, if not to highlight this distinction? To divide not join. To NOT be tolerant of other people's whatever.

    Dante Alighieri designed a special place for you, you know. And it ain't north.

    June 1, 2013 at 4:00 am |
    • skytag

      "Little Nazis for Jesus"

      ROFLMAO

      June 1, 2013 at 4:08 am |
  18. The Deist

    Between the BCOA and gay marriage being legalized they may even leave the country. Bon voyage!!

    June 1, 2013 at 3:58 am |
    • Steve Leslave

      OR we could just take away there citizenship. then we dont have to wait for them to leave!

      June 1, 2013 at 4:10 am |
  19. skytag

    I get so tired of condescending Christians prattling on endlessly about God, what the Bible says, what Jesus wants and so on when everyone knows there is no evidence to support any of it. Not one shred. Yet for some reason we're all supposed to just accept that its true, and on the basis of this discriminate against and persecute people because someone writing down his opinions 2000 years ago said that's what we should do.

    June 1, 2013 at 3:54 am |
    • Fladabosco

      Sorry but you are so wrong. No Christians actually do what Jesus said to do. None. And they will you so, because we are all sinners and we sin. Doing what Jesus doesn't want us to do is a sin.

      It gives some of them an excuse to be high and might towards others.

      June 1, 2013 at 4:20 am |
    • Actually

      Your point is kind of irrelevant in this case. If you see a headline that says "Baptists plan exodus from Boy Scouts" you know what you are getting into before you click on it. And if you click on it and bother to read it and comment, you really aren't sick of it, you thrive on it.
      If you don't want to hear or read about "Christians" and their ideas about any particular topic don't click on the link its obvious what the topic is and dont' read the story

      June 1, 2013 at 4:56 am |
  20. Kyactivist

    He is the only one making this choice, his small-minded bigotry is what makes these boys lose. It's on his head

    June 1, 2013 at 3:45 am |
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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.