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. laughcry

    tolerance, acceptance, understanding were never the basis for any organized religion. Christianity is a rapidly declining religion, down over 10% in the past in the past decade & accelerating each year. Individuals know love, tolerance, understanding & acceptance, it is only as a misguided & small minded group that we fail.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:08 am |
  2. hubert39

    God said this and that? God never said anything. Men who wrote the Bible said this and that.
    I was raised a Southern Baptist. Went to church every time the doors open from the time I was 8 until around 24 years old.
    99% of Baptist are what we called the, cafeteria Baptist. They go thought the bible and pick out the sins they don't like and sins they don't pay any attention too.
    The Bible says their are 617 sins . Preachers like Tim Reed obey only around 6 of the so called sins and ignore the other 611. Lets see a photo of Reed and see if he cuts his hair and shaves.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • jennifer walker

      You need to read 2Tim 3:16-17. It is still inspired by God and men like Paul were used as instruments to get it told. If People read about Paul and the person he was before he started living for God, you will know that God can change and use anyone for His good. It is God who changes people, not people. We are to love people the way they are and pray, but God does the changing. It does not mean we are to act as if sin does not exist and not stand up for what is right.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • Charles

      Thank you for pointing that out!!! I'm Jewish and we have 613 commandments and it always ticks me off that Christians pick and choose which ones to follow. If you really want to get down to it Jews only hold christians accountable to 7... the ones G_d gave to Noah because they were meant for all man while the rest were only meant for Jews.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • sam stone

      jennifer....your god seems like quite the egotistical little pr1ck

      June 1, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  3. Bostontola

    The Christian creed(s) are so numerous and conflicting that members of the various sects must get confused. Since the basic tenet is; "Our creed is the one true creed and infallible", it leads to hypocrisy.

    Good thing for the religious sects that people are poor at detecting their own hypocrisy or they'd have far fewer members.

    More, good thing for religious sects that people's senses and self awareness are much poorer than they think or they wouldn't believe in their only "evidence" of god, their internal feelings of love and dependence.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:07 am |
  4. don keller

    In the book of Leviticus, chapter 11, v. 7, it is recorded that God declares the pig to be unclean for believers. Then, in verse 8, God says: “You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.” This command is repeated in Deuteronomy 14:7-8. Then, in Isaiah 65:2-4, and 66:17, God issues a stern warning against those who eat pork.
    I wonder how many baptist eat hot dogs?

    June 1, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • .

      check out the why before leaping to the wrong conclusions

      June 1, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • kblakecash

      Christians can eat hot dogs, because Christians are followers of Christ. The New Testament is the teaching of Christ, the Old Testament is history. The Old Testament is the holy book of the Jews, who do not eat hot dogs.

      Most Christians don't realize that, and quote the Old Testament when it fits their needs.


      June 1, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • t-ho

      From the looks of many Southern Baptists, they've misinterpreted the scripture to infer that hot dogs are ALL they should eat.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • jennifer walker

      You need to read Acts 10:9-16, and Romans 14:1-13. The Old Testament was a guide, we live by God's grace and mercy under the new covenant of Jesus.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • The real Tom

      Jennifer, you seem to do a lot of this "you need to" business. I don't "need to" do anything but think. Maybe that is what you "need to" do, too.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  5. Tiger

    This is another example of more Christian Hate. Jesus would never support these kinds of actions. I understand that currently Religious fundamentalism as expressed by these type associated events and false Christian claims is under review for consideration as a form of ‘mental illness’. I pray that these folks will come to a more Christ like expression of love for one another and stop all this anti-gay hateful rhetoric.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • saggyroy

      As I posted before, they (all religions) need to look thru their holy books for passages of inclusion just as hard as they do for excuses for exclusion. Why is it always the negative?

      June 1, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • anothermuse

      . But truth as it is claimed here, is very much in the eye of the beholder, or perhaps believer.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • The real Tom

      Is your apostrophe key broken along with your brain, dot/cap'n?

      It's sad that you're such a lamebrain.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  6. yabbut

    Scouting will not miss the sanctimonious & judgemental. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  7. Donatello

    The devil uses the same vocabulary, except its own dictionary in defying " sins".

    June 1, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • sin?

      What sin are you talking about? There is no such thing as a "sin".

      June 1, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Unbeliever preaching!

      Christians, love your neighbor, will ya?

      June 1, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • brad

      the only devil i see is the one that preaches intolerance and hatred for something they dont agree with

      June 1, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  8. Fertilizer

    Southern Baptists, Jesus never walked away from sinners, why do you? Turning your back on the Scouts only serves to separate the church further from mainstream American culture. If you wish to spread the gospel, then alienating the non-religious is counter productive. Your actions are feeding the ongoing marginalization of Christianity in America. Praise Science!

    June 1, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • saggyroy

      I know what the answer is: Jesus was not a "true Christian" ; )

      June 1, 2013 at 9:07 am |
  9. GeneT

    Why stop at an exodus from the scouts? Why not an exodus from the united states. Perhaps the rest of the churches will follow you and we can finally have some peace and quiet.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:52 am |
  10. saggyroy

    @BillFitt – If you are going to troll, please learn how to do it right.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  11. JKL

    I grew up in Southern Baptist confinement...18 years! I was taught as the song says..."Red, Yellow, Black and White, they are equal in His sight...Jesus loves the little people of the world" Guess that only applies to certain people, and not the ones the southern baptist determine unworthy....such hypocrites...

    June 1, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  12. John

    Scouting is not a religious organization as such and not recognized as such even though they do mention God in their creeds. Churches use scouting to get new church members, but scouting does not use churches to get people into scouting. It is high time that scouting make a break from religious organizations and find new sponsors to let them use facilities and such. If a church is going to try and dictate what the troops must do to get what the churches offer, then those troops need to find new sponsors get rid of the interference of the scouting experience. There will be some upheaval, but it will make scouting a much better experience for those involved and make it much stronger. Churches will find out that people will leave in droves, but it will be the churches seeing the exodus not scouting.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:49 am |
  13. Stormy

    I can't help but think a lot of things get pushed on people a bit too fast in this country at times. Perhaps a beginning of something new would have been a better plan in this case....they could have called it, "Gay Scouts of America." or something catchy like that. If they would be worried about the social stigma of being openly gay, no one would be forcing them to admit they're gay and they could join the regular scouts. At least until folks had the time to wrap their heads around something this controversial, and completely against so many peoples upbringing and morals. Things this large can't just be shoved down peoples throats...it just wont be as readily accepted. Personally, i'd be ashamed to be one that brought a child into this argument when it really didn't need to be done this way. Kids in this country have enough issues on their plate without adults forcing their views and ways on them.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • Jorge Jimenez

      Just like they should have started a segregated black Scouts of America or Jewish Scouts of America?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • Jorge Jimenez

      Then why did people like the Baptists force the issue of orientation? They are the ones that added the discriminatory policiis regarding orientation. Orientation could and should have been a non-issue, but these churches tried to force the issue by specifically excluding a subset of God's children.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      dot ain't got no place in this world or the next they are perverting the god myth and nature they are a sub human monster destroying the fabric of freedom with their perverse viewpoints

      June 1, 2013 at 9:04 am |
  14. greg

    The message the Baptist Church sends is that gay youths should hate themselves, that gay youths are like lepers to not even be associated with. I was raised Southern Baptist. Southern Baptists are fine, decent people as long as you are like them. But beyond that, they tend toward angry, bitter, hateful, and justify it through scripture. They are a destructive, an anti-life affirming influence, and the Scouts are better off without them. Unfortunately, the Baptist youths segregated into groups like the RA will not be served.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • Peruna

      You mean, kind of like liberals? They like you and tolerate you as long you agree with them, but minute you disagree with and don't bow before Socialism or kiss Obama's ring, then they are the most hateful group in America?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • The real Tom

      Peruna, the election was 7 months ago. Time for you to stop picking at the scab and move on.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • sam stone

      "They like you and tolerate you as long you agree with them, but minute you disagree...."

      You have just described the pseudo conservative right wing

      There are intolerant factions on both sides. The conservatives of today seem to be beholding more to morton downey jr. than to william f buckley

      June 1, 2013 at 9:18 am |
  15. jac999

    The Bible DOES explicitly state, for example:
    Cast the beam out of your own eye before you are worthy to cast the mote out of your brother's eye...
    Judge not that ye be not judged...
    And especially most of all: Love One Another.....
    IMO As long as people are condemning each other, then people are not PRACTICING the tenants of their faith.
    Even Jesus HIMSELF did not condemn Mary Magdalene.... so who do the rest of us think we are by condemning people for what we believe to be their wrongs? Who do we think we are to play God?
    Christians, it is not your job to condemn. It is your job to live the eternal Love of the Christian faith as Christ meant it to be lived. It is your job to become one with Christ and that is all there is.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Austin

      then what?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Science

      Are you lost like chad and Austin ?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • drtdwood

      You understand the Scriptures, unlike those who and doing the condemnation. Christians like you attract followers; the actions of those who want to cut ties with the Scouts because they will allow gays (and this is some how worse than the teens fornicating who are in the Scouts) push people away from Christ. As a former Baptist deacon, proud to have you in God's family jac999. May God continue to richly bless you with wisdom!

      June 1, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • science

      Austin to funny you are lost .....................time stamped you.

      Ah sh-it !

      June 1, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • dede42

      What? How does one become one with Christ? Is that like becoming one with the rock I am hanging on to while I rock climb 1000 feet above the forest floor? There is not a single human being on this planet who could live their life EXACTLY as it is reported by some who lived 2000 years ago that this person supposedly did. And if they did who would want to be around them. They would smell and look really bad. It's all a bunch of hooey designed to allow people to not have to take personal responsibility for their lives and their actions, because they can say, "Oops, I sinned, so I will go ask god for forgiveness." People who go around taking to god claiming god told them to do something are delusional. And if this god is so loving as some say why do so many fear that god. Excuse me, but I'm going to go be one with my rock now. lol

      June 1, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
  16. sarahfalin

    Zeus loves you! Allow him into your heart.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Mirosal

      You can have your Zeus ... I'll worship my Jupiter... I challenge your Zeus and my Jupiter to a lightning bolt duel!! Gee I wonder who would win?? lol

      June 1, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Thor wins!

      June 1, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • dede42

      Zeus? Another god even crazier to believe in than the non-thunder god. Or the god of the second helping.

      June 1, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  17. retiredmike

    I left the southern baptists in 1961 at age 14. they said rock n roll was the work of the devil and I would burn in hell. thank you god that I left.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • Saraswati

      lol...they are always two steps behind. The fact they have to play catch up and apologize over and over doesn't seem to ever clue them in that the culture is on the slow side and maybe they should realize their approach to the world stifles learning. It's amazing how good people are at forgetting how very often they've been wrong. It's like people who vote for a candidate with 100% certainty, decide he lied and tricked them, and then oppose him in the next election with the same zealous certainty, never questioning that their own powers to evaluate candidates might be in question.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:49 am |
  18. Andyc1110

    Hey baptists... Four words. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Read them. No, don't listen to your preacher's interpretation. Read them. When you are done, give some thought to your preoccupation with this issue and how it is or is not consistent with the teachings of Jesus.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • Mirosal

      You do know that those 4 names were arbitrarily as'singed, right? The real authors aren't known. But, it IS known that not a single author, NOT ONE, of any book in the New Testament, had ever met, talked, or walked with your jeebus guy. They simply wrote stories that were passed down for at least 40 years AFTER he supposedly lived and died. There is not one eyewitness account written in the first person by the witness anywhere in the New Testament.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • A Conversation

      "But, it IS known that not a single author, NOT ONE, of any book in the New Testament, had ever met, talked, or walked with your jeebus guy." I don't know who Jeebus is, but we're pretty sure Paul, James, Jude and probably John (if it is John the Apostle who the wrote The Revelation) met, talked and probably walked with Jesus.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • dede42

      someone once told me Jesus was a carpenter. Now you are telling me Jesus was a teacher. Which is it? If you live your life by a religious compass, get rid of it, because it is leading you astray toward the darkness of the second helping. lol

      It is irrational thought based on a belief system that is self-fulfilling and circular, because it allows the follower to believe whatever is convenient at the time in order to justify thoughts or actions that come out of their own thinking. Or do you read a book without thinking? It allows the person to do things or believe things that have no rational basis or grounding in fact simply because someone else said so. You can thus say Jesus or Christ or God said to believe something is a certain way when there is no way to prove otherwise or to be able to prove it is so simply because you say it is so. How convenient. If you want to believe it go right ahead. Just don't ask the rest of us mortals to do so.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  19. Matt W

    So isn't divorce a sin according to scripture? I'm pretty sure the boy scouts have never had a problem with divorced scout leaders, but where was the uproar about that?

    June 1, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • billfitt

      I would bet that their wives divorce them all the time. Most don't want to be married to little boy lovers.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:36 am |
  20. saggyroy

    Next thing ya know they will be allowing atheists to join.....

    June 1, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • billfitt

      Gay atheists. Pretty much are one in the same. To tell ya the truth, I'd probably be an atheist myself if I were gay. What guilt and bitterness that condition creates.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • The real Tom

      It figures. You're a dumbbell who thinks the phrase is "one in the same." Why are you fundies so fucking stupid?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Wow bill, we can educate ignorance but in your case stupid can't be educated. Try getting an education before acting like such a fcktard bigot!

      June 1, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • .

      thats rich liar prefails calling someone else a fvcktard bigot when the foreign pos isn't a valid voice in its own country what an ass hole if there are any bigots around here liar prefails is the prime candidate

      June 1, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Have you ever heard of a dictionary. How about syntax?...Grammar?...

      Prefail is what happens before you start to write. You have failed before you have begun.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • The real Tom

      captain ass is out on or the home on a weekend pass again.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:10 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.