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. Jesussaysgoodriddance

    Since we are quoting the Bible:
    Leviticus 19:28 – "'Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD; " That's inconvenient for a few million people! The Baptist Convention going to ban tattoo parlors?
    Leviticus 20:10 "'If a man commits adultery with another man's wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death." Whoops there goes half the congregation and a good few Baptist preachers thrown in – but what a run on funerals.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • Science

      And............Biggest JOKE under the SUN.................NO heaven or horn-y red devil..........never has been !

      Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

      By Dan Merica, CNN


      PS Do a simple search for Prof. Higgs.............the church hates that

      June 1, 2013 at 9:57 am |
  2. Independent thinker, voter, believer

    This was predictable. In the end, the Boy Scouts will be the better for it.
    But it says far too much about the mindset of the SBC. Ideology trumps Christianity with them.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  3. Obediah

    We must be patient with our Southern Baptist brethren. After all, they are still adjusting to all of the changes needed to adapt to the 19th century.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  4. John Reuter

    Thank you Baptists for your decision. Please now consider leaving other organizations as well !!

    June 1, 2013 at 9:49 am |
  5. DLB

    I would say if the Baptists don't want the Boy Scouts meeting in their buildings fine. If it goes against their beliefs they don't have to allow it just as Catholic hospitals can opt out of procedures that go against their beliefs. The Boy Scouts will find somewhere else to meet. I assume that the members of the Baptist denomination will not allow their sons to be Boy Scouts since the denomination doesn't approve? Or will they do as plenty of people who believe their church is too narrow minded do, ignore the church's stand on the matter, and allow their sons to participate in Boy Scouts elsewhere .

    June 1, 2013 at 9:46 am |
  6. sybaris

    Did their Jesus man abandon anyone?

    June 1, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • ChristialLiberal

      No, not even them. Ironic....no, Christian.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • danielwalldammit

      Jesus is God to these folks; that absolves them of any responsibility to be like him.

      June 1, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  7. Alias

    Relilgious extremists have been taking over and corrupting the Boyscouts for a long time.
    This will be a very good thing for the BSA. It will give them a chance to get back to being the respectable american organization that they used to be.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  8. Ron Donaghe

    If the Baptists leave the Boy Scouts, scouting will be sooo much better for it.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Alias

      The Baptists are very bad about picking what sins to commit and what sins to condemn others for. I would rather take my chances showering at Penn State with a priest than to go to a Baptist convention.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:43 am |
  9. Science

    Remember chad........... the talking donkey you like so much might of chewed on that BONE.............that created eve.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:38 am |
  10. LeeCMH

    Onward Christian soldiers
    Marching right into war,
    With your bombs for Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesus
    Killing on before.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:37 am |
  11. Luciafurr

    All those who are searching for God's love can rest assured they will not find it with the Southern Baptists.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Thomas Nichols

      So you have God's address?

      June 1, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Doug

      Amen to that... It's not a choice to be gay, it is however a choice to be a bigot !

      June 1, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Luciafurr

      Not the street name, but the number is 666.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Dan

      "All those who are searching for God's love can rest assured they will not find it with the Southern Baptists."

      You are confusing love with approval and being in agreement with something my friend. Southern Baptists love you, But, they just don't approve or agree with what you believe in/do. And God, as written in the Bible doesn't either. Southern Baptists are just being obedient to what God tells us to do.

      You already have Gods love. If you want His approval or want to be in agreement with Him. Just hear and obey. And you will have fellowship with Him and all the Southern Baptists you want,

      June 1, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Luciafurr

      Lol, what a cop-out. Seriously, you guys just please take your ball and go home.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • The real Tom

      Dan says: "they just don't approve or agree with what you believe in/do. And God, as written in the Bible doesn't either. Southern Baptists are just being obedient to what God tells us to do.

      You already have Gods love. If you want His approval or want to be in agreement with Him. Just hear and obey."

      Suppose the god you believe in told you that being straight was wrong and the he "didn't agree with what you believe in/do"? Would you become gay, then? Why not? Could you? How?

      June 1, 2013 at 9:54 am |
  12. Pierre

    Why don"t they leave America alltogether???

    June 1, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • The real Tom

      Nobody else wants them, either.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  13. mykroft

    Little Johnny goes to the new Christian scouting group. "Guess what Mom! I just got a merit badge in Creationism! Did you know that science is lying about evolution, and about how old the universe is? My scoutmaster also said scientists lie about the Sun, because they say it runs on fusion. We also learned that the Trail of Tears was a good thing, because it brought the Indians to Jesus, and that the KKK did a lot of good things."

    If you think this stuff is made up, check out the A Beka books used in many of Louisiana's Christian charter schools. This is what they teach in publicly funded (through vouchers) schools there.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Teaching creationism is child abuse.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  14. devin


    June 1, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • The real Tom

      Good job using the "reply" function, dev!

      June 1, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • devin

      Real Tom You know the old adage about "assumptions". I was testing different words to see why the CNN filter was deleting a new post I was typing. Thought you had me, eh?

      June 1, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, yes, you're such a sly devil, honey.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • Alias

      Fuck that stupid filter. It should go away, just like the dumb cunts in charge of the Southern Baptists.
      What a cowardly bunch of hater they are when they are in a group. That is, when theyare not hiding under those white hoods. Useless cock suckers!

      June 1, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • The real Tom

      By the way, devin, why do you assume your god is male?

      June 1, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • devin

      Don't hold back there Alias.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • The real Tom

      Alias, should we fill dev in on how to get around the filter? Apparently, his god hasn't given him the secret code.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  15. Oh,you consume me

    I love talking about Christians,you consume me!

    June 1, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Oh,you consume me

      I am possessed by the Christian!

      June 1, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Observer

      Looks more like an 'obsession' with the Christian.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Observer

      : a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling; broadly : compelling motivation

      June 1, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Oh,you consume me

      I live for you, Christians! Not just the fleeting moment,but very waking moment!

      June 1, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  16. James

    It amazes me how people can pick and choose versus from a bible that was written hundreds of years after Jesus walked the earth, has been edited, chapters removed, and so on....to spread forth their hate. Most of these people cannot even live by the 10 commandments. Which if these are continuously being broken by so called religious leaders?

    You shall not commit adultery.
    You shall not steal.
    You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
    You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

    Yet the sheep continue follow the wolf blindly and are all going to hell.

    9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

    Boy Scouts will be better place without religion.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Gyh8r

      No Gays in the scouts!

      June 1, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • James

      I believe I was talking about the Boy Scouts but.... How has religion helped this country? How has God protected it? How is religion helping any country? Religion in itself is a weapon of hate, that charges people's emotions and always leads the ignorant to violence and war.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • Al Wolfe

      see if u can find this one.... in the Bible
      Because knowing God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful. But they became vain in their reasonings, and their undiscerning heart was darkened.
      Professing to be wise, they became foolish

      June 1, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  17. Frogman

    I think that what would be most fitting would be for the Southern Baptist Convention to leave Christianity.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Miss Demeanor

      That happened long ago, when the SoB's sided with plantation owners and slavery... for money.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:32 am |
  18. jac999

    It is so sad after all these centuries of time, that we still have not heard the one and only lesson that the words of the Christ gave to all human beings. It was made so simple, but we humans have completely missed the point altogether, corrupting it with our personal agendas. Look what we have done – we have mutated the teachings so greatly, that they have become unrecognizable from their original intent and meaning, because we have remade them and reworked them to suit ourselves. Among other things, we have branded them religious, put our own name upon them, and have set up our own set of rules and obligations according to our own desires. Then we have demanded that everyone else bow down to the small god we have created.
    We have simply missed the entire point of the spiritual part of ourselves.
    Will we ever learn?

    June 1, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • ed dugan

      You evidently never learned the computer mantra: GARBAGE IN GARBAGE OUT. The bible has always been filled with garbage, fairy tales, talking snakes, regurgitating whales, etc. The fact that you believe even one word of it is mind-boggling. Many bookstores, when asked if they have copies of the bible tell their customers they do not stock christian fiction. And ain't that the truth!

      June 1, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • ed dugan

      No, you got it all wrong. Will YOU ever learn?

      June 1, 2013 at 9:37 am |
  19. American Pie

    Another hyprocrite "Christian"...It really bothers me he uses the name Pastor before his given name...YES it is hate...I ask you "pastor", do you ban divorced people from your church? Do you ban Women who have cut their hair from your church? These are sins...read your Bible, and if you have, stop picking and choosing which group you are going to target for hate...

    June 1, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • The real Tom

      Why do you care, dot? They won't let you vote anyway.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • The real Tom

      "Truth you better run qu eer bait" is a candidate? Gosh, when's the election, cap'n imbecile?

      June 1, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • The real Tom

      You tell us, dear. You're the one that's infected.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • Alias

      Having someone to hate brings people together and makes them feel superior. People feel better about themselves when they feel superior to others.
      What could be less christian about that?

      June 1, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  20. Dave in SC

    I know several Baptist families that have an illegitimate child in their household.

    "Take the beam out of thy own eye first..."

    June 1, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • ed dugan

      The scouts only got half the job done but getting rid of those baptists is a GIANT step forward. They are the most hypocritical, bigoted, predjudiced, ignorant people on the face of the earth. They smile sweetly while inside they hate everyone that isn't like them. What a disgusting group of people! The good side however is they are driving more and more young people who can think for themselves, into becoming atheists.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Miss Demeanor

      RE: "that isn't the issue moron..."
      So the SoB's ARE reading this website. Isn't it on your 'pastors' forbidden reading list? Shouldn't you be intruding in a funeral somewhere... doin' 'gawwwwds will' by demeaning 'quaaaars'?

      June 1, 2013 at 9:43 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.