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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. New Merit Badge

    (_I_)
    ===>

    June 1, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  2. GOD

    Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much hate.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:14 am |
  3. Rick

    They only want to live in "Christian America". They don't really want to live in the larger, real America that includes people different than themselves. I'm not sure if that makes them unpatriotic, or just snobbish.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • kit cole

      Christians need to stand up for their beliefs. Other groups like NAACP stand up for what they believe – why attack Baptists for doing the same? And certainly the "gun control" people stand up for what they believe – Baptists are free to do the same. The only problem will be that they offer "free locations and Scout Masters and help" which will make a big difference for local groups of Scouts that continue to form and grow. Maybe Civic organizations can take up the slack.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Rick

      Sure, they have the right to stand up for their beliefs, but it's the difference between standing up for inclusion, or exclusion. We are a huge, diverse country. Christians like this really want to ignore that and say America is just for them.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  4. Mary

    Bye bye baptists ,
    Can't say there are many who will miss your neurotic anti love god ways .
    Any chance you can TOTALLY leave us ?

    June 1, 2013 at 11:14 am |
  5. TAK

    This is another example of a very dangerous trend. These christians are self-segregating from society and fracturing this country. They don't like scouts so they form their own youth groups, They don't like what's on TV so they watch Fox news. What's next, their own police force to enforce their "values"? Think that's far fetched? One word: militias. This is how the taliban got started.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Jason

      No, the people trying to force a new, politically correct, morality on this country to replace traditional values are the idiots fracturing this country. If you don't like the morals of a society, leave it. The most dictatorial people are those who impose new values over tradition.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • The real Tom

      You mean traditions like slavery?

      June 1, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Rick

      Or, "traditional" like keeping your handicapped kids out of public schools and out of organizations like the BSA? How about getting rid of all those untraditional opportunities for girls we now have, or making interracial marriage illegal again? I'm old enough to remember all these things, and I sure wouldn't want to go back to them again.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:27 am |
  6. Dale

    This is great,,,get the dinosaurs out of there. Bapist's were polluting their brains anyway with garbage. Bapists are cultists.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • TruthandConsequence

      You're a cultist...whatever the heck that most overworked word is.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  7. martiniano

    THERE'S the Christian spirit!

    June 1, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  8. praline

    Terrible! These churches are supposed to be there for ALL YOUTH. I am thanful every single day Jesus was not Baptist =)
    He loved everyone and had no issue sitting among all humans. Get over it and leave these boys alone. They have enough to worry about as teens!

    June 1, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • Rick

      They still say that they're there for all youth, only that gay youth are somehow "bad" and need to be fixed. Christians like this really aren't into the whole "diversity" thing. They want America to be one, giant, beige wall, with no tolerance whatsoever for individuality, it seems.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Tamsyn

      Jesus would cringe if he saw what the tenets of his mentor John the Immerser's ministry has turned into.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  9. garwin1

    The Southern Baptist convention is already seeing this as a way to extract more donations from it's congregants. Smells like money!!

    June 1, 2013 at 11:06 am |
  10. Kary T

    Yes, because this is 'Jesus would do'. He came to be with the sinners. He specifically chose to be with people who did the 'bad' things. I ask you, Church, how are we to be light to those that need it, when we abandon them??

    And for those that keep spouting law, rules and punishments from the Old Testament – get a clue. If you had actually READ the Bible, Jesus tell us that He is the NEW Covenant, that the old one stands no more. His main law was, "Do unto others, as you would have them do to you." and "Love others, as yourself". As He told the adulterous woman He saved from stoning, "Go, and sin no more".

    June 1, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Science

      Hey Kary T

      Rugrats from Alia Shawkat

      June 1, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • Bob

      Kary, that's nonsense. Your bible says that Jesus said the old OT rules still apply. All of them. And you can find some pretty nasty stuff in both wicked testaments of your book of nasty, so limiting yourself to the new part of your book of nasty AKA the bible ain't so good. Fine stuff like these favs is in both OT and NT:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      June 1, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • TexasR

      Great! Salvation's guaranteed! No rules! I am, therefore I'm perfect.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:20 am |
  11. mordac

    Haters gonna hate.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • tas

      why are baptists judging? i thought only god/jesus can pass judgement.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • sam stone

      because religioius folk think they are god's representatives.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  12. Paladin Knight

    Wondering how many gay people are in the Baptist church...seems kind of hypocritical when there can be no doubt that there are gay members in that denomination. Since when did Jesus teach discrimination and hate?

    June 1, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  13. MagicPanties

    Why is it that the vast majority of "believers" have the exact same views as that of their parents, and the religious culture within which they are raised?
    Yes, there is the occasional conversion but that is rare.
    It is clear that children are taught to believe what their parents believe.
    This is brainwashing, nothing else.

    June 1, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • Mike

      This is correct. Religion is a bust and its sad to see people still waste their lives on it. I for one encourage these fools to leave the BSA. One step closer to having a more respectable association for those children who wish to get a head start on life. Preaching should not be anywhere involved in that.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • TimTripod

      Statistically speaking, atheists have the lowest retention rate of any belief system. It would seem people are wired to believe in God. Of course, there are those who try to convince themselves otherwise (Psalm 14:1). Quite reading Richard Dawkins' pseudo-science and consder the evidence.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Bob

      Tim, you are short 2 legs from being able to stand. All that your claim shows is that religion is a successful meme. Anthropic principle too; we are still seeing it because of that. Doh. You must be pretty stupid.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  14. Ed

    i find it quite funny and stupid of the "church" of any religion to come out and say they will no longer support the boy scouts just because they are trying to fix a wrong of discriminating against gay youth, when there is a long history of those in all levels of the "church" abusing boys. they should realize that those pastors abusing young boys are not only gay but the worst of them all, offenders against young children, child molesters, i personally believe that if anything the boy scouts will be better off without the support from the "church" in reality this issue has nothing to do with the beliefs of the church or the general public opinion on gays, it is more about equality for all which is something that has long been sought after in this country. hope the scouts find a non-for profit organization that will allow them the support they need to replace the "church", scouting is one of the kind of organizations needed in today's world where kids are addicted to tv and cell phones and computer games. kids need to disconnect from all the junk and get outside and see nature,learn new things and have some fun the old fashioned way, become active and make friends from all walks of life because the "real" world is a terrible place to learn the hard way.

    June 1, 2013 at 10:55 am |
  15. Spuds Mackenzie

    Bigots. Simply said. The Boy Scouts are better off without them and they're support. And the world would be better off without them. The Baptists are the ones who gave us Westboro after all. Should be an indication of how they are.

    June 1, 2013 at 10:52 am |
  16. Bostontola

    It's interesting that children of Christian parents put up for adoption and brought up by parents of another religion believe in the adopted religion.

    Could it be that the deep feeling out truth in your religion was programmed in by the people you love and trust most?

    June 1, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • MagicPanties

      Yes, if it weren't for the indoctrination (brainwashing) of children, organized religion would fade away in a generation.

      June 1, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Russ

      @ Bostontola:
      “Suppose we concede that if I had been born of Muslim parents in Morocco rather than Christian parents in Michigan, my beliefs would be quite different. [But] the same goes for the pluralist...If the pluralist had been born in [Morocco] he probably wouldn't be a pluralist. Does it follow that...his pluralist beliefs are produced in him by an unreliable belief-producing process?”
      ― Alvin Plantinga

      June 1, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • Bostontola

      Nope,
      Compelling argument.

      June 1, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • TexasR

      It's equally as interesting that I learned algebra from an algebra teacher, and history from a woman schooled in history.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • Bostontola

      To Russ,
      I don't disagree. Belief is unreliable. Religions cast belief as infallible and unchanging, my beliefs are quite fallible and change with new knowledge.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • The real Tom

      Texas, what a stupid response. Math and history aren't belief systems.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • Bostontola

      Texas,
      The beauty of algebra is it is the same in all countries and religions. Completely consistent, without arbitrary differences to kill over.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Russ, Actually what we find is that there are similarities in development in humans around the world who are exposed to multiple cultures, regardless of what those multiple cultures are. People who have a monocultural upbringing, regardless of the culture are more likely to be rigid, slow to change and unaccepting of new ideas. Once people are exposed to more than one significantly different culture they develop a very different way of thinking which leads either to a retreat into one culture (usually when there are social or family difficulties) or, more often, a more global and flexible view which resembles that of others who have shared the intercultural experience. As a result those who have lived in both Ja.pan and Kenya are very similar in world view to those whose life experiences were split between France and Thailand. Without intercultural experience one can gain this view through studies but is is quite difficult and not as effective.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:27 am |
  17. Owl Creek Observer

    I'm always amused whenever I read CNN's so-called "Belief Blog." Virtually all of the articles are about UN-belief, as are most of the comments. The point of this article was apparently to single out Southern Baptists as bigots for refusing to violate their moral standards and to hold up certain quasi-religious groups like the Universalist-Unitarians as more acceptable and enlightened.

    For Southern Baptists to continue sponsoring the Boy Scouts would be like allowing strip clubs and casinos to use their facilities during the week. They believe that such activities are immoral and for them to sponsor them would violate God's will. You may disagree with their beliefs, but ridiculing them for practicing what they preach says more about you than it does about them.

    June 1, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • The real Tom

      They apparently had no problem upholding slavery.

      June 1, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • MagicPanties

      The problem is they pick and choose which of "god's words" to use in justification of their bigotry.

      Why no stoning or chopping off hands?
      That's in the bible too, but somehow those words don't count, only the anti-gay words that the southern baptists like.

      June 1, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Bostontola

      Owl,
      This article is not about Un-belief. As an atheist, my belief that there are no gods is as strong as your belief.

      June 1, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Pilo

      I can't find anything in the Bible about strip clubs and casinos...maybe I'm not looking hard enough.

      June 1, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Bill

      Atheism and Christianity are both faiths rather than science. An atheist has to just believe there is no god but cannot prove it. He can go thru philosophical hoops to explain why he believes that, but in the end it's just that: a belief.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • Jay Shapiro

      In response to Bill, in human discourse, the one who puts forth a positive assertion, i.e., the Earth revolves around the Sun, has the burden of coming forward with evidentiary support for that proposition. If the person cannot do that, then their assertions should simply be ignored as having no substance. Those people who "believe" in invisible people who live in the sky have NEVER in all recorded history provided a scintilla of evidentiary support in favor of their positive assertions. Atheists do not have the burden of proving a negative; like it or not, that is simply not the way discourse and debate works.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • A_Thought

      Where does it end though, really? We are not to judge others beliefs and show them acceptance. Leaving sponsorships is not Ok due to an organization adopting the new cultural norm. They shop at retailers daily whom have adopted new cultural norms, what's the difference?

      June 1, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • TexasR

      Liberal bigotry is special due to the degree of arrogance and smugness attached to it. It's not hate if you're the one who's right. Conservative bigotry, in it's true form, is just plain hate. The hard part is figuring out when discernment, distinction and decision become bigotry. If someone tells me I can't do exactly and only as I please, is that person a bigot? I welcome gays into my church. I pray that they will live their lives according to God's word. But, I won't be the one they'll answer to. We'll all either be disappointed, or pleasantly surprised.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • The real Tom

      cap'n asshole, who's denying anyone's right to speak? You can yap all you want and I'm free to ridicule your idiocy as much as I wish.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  18. GRS62

    Rats leaving a sinking ship.

    June 1, 2013 at 10:47 am |
  19. ruralite

    when are they going to cut ties with the banks because making money on your money is an aberration in the Lords eyes.

    June 1, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • BRB

      Yup – jesus kicked the moneychangers out of he church, can't have any of that filth around. Baptist pedofiles are very common also. God I love religion and the nuts that endorse it.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:11 am |
  20. jules

    I do not support the scouts position, but my reasons have nothing to do with God or even an axe to grind with gays. I used to be a Baptist and backed away over the years for a number of reasons. At any rate I think in this instance they are probably doing the right thing but for the wrong reasons.

    June 1, 2013 at 10:45 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.