May 31st, 2013
04:19 PM ET

Baptists plan exodus from Boy Scouts

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(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. SAHMwriter

    Let them walk. No organization needs to be influenced by intolerance and bigotry especially from those who purport to represent the love and faith of Jesus. The Boy Scouts should be proud to have taken such a tolerant, enlightened and morally correct stance and should stick to their position despite ugly threats.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  2. thegadfly

    “It’s not a hate thing here,” Reed told CNN affiliate Fox 16 ... presumably with a straight face.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • Kary T

      A stand for morality doesn't equal hate.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Really-O?

      @Kary T – "A stand for morality doesn't equal hate."

      It does if your "morality" involves the ill treatment of others.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • sam stone

      kary: what makes you think orientation has anything to do with morality?

      June 1, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Cletus Jones

      While slyly obfuscating the truth, notice that he didn't say what blabtists are promoting is love... the show should have interviewed a Westboro spokesman...

      June 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • tallulah13

      So Kary, please explain the morality of discriminating against children because they were born with a different orientation? Can you please tell me one "moral" thing about said discrimination? If you feel compelled to use the bible as your evidence, please include your proof for the existence of your god, and proof that the bible is actually the inerrant word of that god.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  3. Ben Mitchell

    First, I'd like to know to which scripture Reed is referring. Secondly, to the Southern Baptist (the church who used the Bible to support slavery and segregation) I'd like to say this. Don't let the door knob hit you where the Good Lord split you. Bye Bye.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  4. Tom Broughton

    Baptists are leaving? WONDERFUL ! The Boy Scouts are now cleansed of their lunacy!

    June 1, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  5. John P

    Glad to see the writer is not a woman because the bible says 1."I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be quiet." (1 Timothy 2:12).

    June 1, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  6. Sensa Bill

    The KKK is still a functioning organization but you don't see gays clamoring to join. If these bigots want to make their own special club and deny kids entrance based on the question "So do you like boys Jimmy?"

    Let them have their "exclusive club" for bigots. It's sad but that's their right.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Northwoods Sinner

      God created all of us – not just some of us. As a long time scouter I applaud the BSA for joining us in the present. If troops choose to leave over an issue like this, then adios. Wish you could stay with us but there's no room for hate and intolerance – particularly of children. Don't even begin to tell me that being gay is a choice for an under-18 boy. A boy is who he is. God made him that way.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Saraswati

      The problem is that the scouts aren't just any organization. Several government laws and policies support the organization with special exemptions and policies as well as tax payer funded goods and even military services and reserved facilities. They receive a wide variety of tax payer funded supplies from the military and federal law required that schools sponsor troops if any minority of community members demand it, even if local laws prohibit other discriminatory organizations to be sponsored by or use public facilities.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
  7. Lainie11

    While not a Baptist, I applaud them for standing their ground. The liberal agenda in this country is redefining society. Margaret Mead an anthropologist said many years ago, that when a society no longer has taboos, or embraces long held taboos, it it on a downhill slide. Not exact words but the idea is there. She was correct in that there are no longer any taboos. Those of us who still maintain some sense of morality/virtue will continue to live by those standards as our country has always held. Again, if you don't like it, go elsewhere.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      There are many taboos, which is why we have so many laws dictating acceptable behavior.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Sensa Bill

      Downward spiral when you accept taboos right? Like the taboo of a white girl marrying a black guy. That was taboo. Like a woman showing her ankle. That was taboo.

      Like standing in the public square and pointing at the bigoted morons who deny others the same rights they enjoy based on their religious litmus test and saying "THESE ARE THE DISGUSTING THINGS THAT SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM SOCIETY! HATE! BIGOTRY! RACISM! S EXISM! GET THE FVCK OUT OF OUR COUNTRY!!"

      June 1, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • bob

      if you dont like it go elsewhere?
      thats not how it works, toots.
      change is inevitable.
      in a free country people can largely do as they please.
      maybe you ought to ocnsider moving to a nation where religious values are taken a bit more seriously. dont forget your burqua

      June 1, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Northwoods Sinner

      Liberal agenda?? Wake up and smell the toast pal. It's a matter of collective consciousness raising. There is no "agenda". It's just code for the the conspiracy theory right. Give me a break.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Irish eyes

      Theres a reason your not a Baptist isnt there? My guess is they simply are'nt judgemental enough for you and thats saying something!

      June 1, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • sam stone

      lainie: society is continuously being redefined

      June 1, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  8. Maria Carvalho

    Good riddance.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  9. Floyd from Illinois

    Once again, the SBC reveals that it is more committed to hatred for human beings than committed to the redemptive power of the Holy Spirit.

    They are haters masquerading as Christians, and always have been.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Another No True Scotsman argument...weak.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:27 am |
  10. James

    You have to be kidding me regarding the Catholic Church having anything to say about gay youth scouts. If it was up to me the Catholic Church would have nothing to do with any minor child. The simple idea that they have any comment regarding these issues is nauseating.
    Southern Baptist, I am happy to see you go. The Boys Scouts will be a better organization with you involved. As far as the Mormon church, I am happy to see you support the youth.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • James

      Sorry I meant to say the Boy Scouts will be a better organization with out the Southern Baptist Church involved.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  11. Reckless

    @Jason No the dictatorial people are those who try to keep the status quo against the will of the majority. Society changing because the majority of people feel a certain way is how a democracy works.... It's sad how so many people try to use patriotism for their own selfish reasons. Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel Jason

    June 1, 2013 at 11:23 am |
  12. HONEyWoMAN

    Obviously, the church has the right to ban/disconnect from whomever they choose. This makes me very happy because it's one more divisive act that will be the DOWNFALL of the church. If the church leaders think that the parents of those Scouts, or any relative of those Scouts, or any friends of those Scouts, will ever attend their church again, I believe they have another thing coming. I say, let them destory themselves all day long!!

    June 1, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • tracey

      right on.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  13. hippypoet

    "Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission,"

    Is it just me or does the words ethics and liberty belong nowhere close to the words religious and commission?
    I would have to say that the religious ethics are based upon oxy morons and the idea that liberty can be found through tyranny is just laughable! I wonder who gets the commission for the sale of this SM.UT!

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

      Ethics is not good for religion !

      Hey all creationists ...........chadie too....the truth below !

      The fairy in the sky DID NOT create US !

      Ancient life...............3.5 billion years ago.............NO god(s) or horn-y red devil (666 the beast) never has been

      Disappearance of Stromatolites, Earliest Visible Manifestation of Life: Ancient Enigma Solved?

      May 28, 2013 — The widespread disappearance of stromatolites, the earliest visible manifestation of life on Earth, may have been driven by single-celled organisms called foraminifera.



      The University of Sydney.........................geology..............the dirt guys.

      Precious opal veinlets in a sandstone from central Australia.


      Answer to opal mystery shows Red Centre's links to Red Planet

      31 May 2013

      The dramatic geological events that created opal, Australia's national gemstone, have been described for the first time by a University of Sydney researcher.


      + the damn fossils ..............works better than the BIBLE !

      Scientists Recover Wooly Mammoth Blood ..................cloning could happen maybe

      Posted by Soulskill on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @01:52PM
      from the wooly-mammoth-vampires-very-excited dept.


      New study restores famed fossil to "bird" branch

      Wednesday May 29, 2013 | Alicia Chang for The Associated Press


      AND chadie has a link on Bing

      Quarterback's next play: Going long with the Bible – CNN Belief ...


      Feb 01, 2013 · Since we've got Chad buybull ... Jurassic Park came out. Now that it has been found, ... You have nothing but a 2000 year old stone age book written ...


      All creationists...............a turtle.............but is it to old to have come from the ark ?

      Or chad crawled into his shell on the ark and finally found his way out .............you know chad ?

      The mystery of how the turtle got its shell has finally been solved by scientists studying a 260-million-year-old fossil.

      Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/scientists-have-figured-out-how-the-turtle-got-its-unique-hard-shell-2013-5#ixzz2UspYoTOm

      Prehistoric Park : T-Rex Returns – Episode 1


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

      Chomp Chomp.............make sure to look up creationists for the next big chondrite !!!

      June 1, 2013 at 11:27 am |
  14. indysteve9

    Good, segregate all religions from these types of functions and then TAX the churches.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:20 am |
  15. Scout Oath

    On my honor I will do my best
    to do my duty to God and my country
    and to obey the Scout Law;
    to help other people at all times;
    to keep myself physically strong,
    mentally awake, and morally straight.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • The real Tom

      How is one's s3xual orientation immoral?

      June 1, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • devin

      "morally straight" That's too funny and ironic at the same time. Is that really in there?

      June 1, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • The real Tom

      Jeebus melmo, devin, even I know that, and I'm female. How can you be commenting on this issue when you don't have a clue what you're talking about?

      June 1, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • tracey

      man-made, just like all the cr@p that is the entirety of religion.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • LC

      Thank you for reminding us what is at stake: honor, leadership and service. Boy Scouts have pledged this oath for decades and it has made us better. Those that disagree can form their own groups, with their own agendas and their own beliefs.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  16. Jesus

    Jesus was gay. He could also levitate as a new born. Gays gave up levitation for all men's sin. I don't think it was worth it. Women are doiing ok these days without such a scarafice being made. The world would be much better off with levitating gay boy scouts. We could more avoid easily escape the Southern Baptist Hate Group.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  17. devin

    I've got to hand it to those of you on the left. It is sheer brilliance the way you vilify and castigate individuals who are simply adhering to their sense of moral right and wrong. I imagine in the vast majority of cases these individuals are polar opposites of the spiteful bigots they are portrayed to be . Of course, if the reality was mentioned, your agenda wouldn't be served.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • The real Tom

      What agenda would that be?

      June 1, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Abraham Lincoln

      " It is sheer brilliance the way you vilify and castigate individuals who are simply adhering to their sense of moral right and wrong."

      Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • The real Tom

      cap'n, what is "good and decent" about discrimination?

      June 1, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • devin

      MR President. Please don't equate belief in a moral absolute with that of denying someone their freedom. Not only is it fabrication it's also beneath your office.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Reckless

      You'll just claim anything wont you? Sorry you're the minority when it comes to this issue, that's how democracy works. What's sad is you claim it's a "left" thing. Your opinion isn't even in line with the majority of the right. Equality/anti-discrimination isn't an agenda, it's a human right. Do they also kick out those who have committed adultery? Those who didn't wait till marriage? See this just simple bigotry, disguised as religious morals.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • The real Tom

      It must be very upsetting to people like devin to see their bigotry rejected by the majority of people.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • Saraswati

      The problem with your logic is that you can use you "sense of right and wrong" argument for anything a person believe. Have a "sense" that having an untouchable's shadow touch you is wrong? Who's to criticize the caste restrictive policies of your organization. Have a sense that women should undergo FGM? Who's to criticize. Pretty much covers anything you want.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • devin

      Reckless Let me clarify something for you that I admittedly realize you probably will never comprehend. Moral truth is never determined simply by the acceptance of the majority. Can you begin to grasp this concept? Let me know if I can provide further help.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Abraham Lincoln

      Mr. Devin, You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "I've got to hand it to those of you on the left. It is sheer brilliance the way you vilify and castigate individuals who are simply adhering to their sense of moral right and wrong. I imagine in the vast majority of cases these individuals are polar opposites of the spiteful bigots they are portrayed to be . Of course, if the reality was mentioned, your agenda wouldn't be served."

      If your belief did not impede on the equal rights of all, we would not have reason to vilify you. I am the first to admit that I can be bigoted, I'm bigoted against a belief system that encourages hate...even if you don't see it that way. Set aside a simple factor here, one that we'll never agree on-the 'reason' for there being gay people. Take this to a different level...ask yourself exactly what harm they are doing to you? If you didn't have your bible, would you have reason to feel the way you do about certain things? Would you be a rapist, a pedophile? We're no different. We just base our morals off a different level of reasoning.
      You really don't have a clue about us.
      I treat everyone equally until given reason not to. I do not have a book to turn to for my morals. I base my morals on weighing out the potential consequences.
      In my life outside of the internet, religion is not really discussed. My husband (AtheistSteve) and I live across the streets from an amazing Catholic family and next door to JW's, we have better things to speak of than belief...if it comes up we're straight forward about it and it is short lived.
      I come here because it gives an interesting insight into the reality of our world and it is a way to communicate with like minded people. You have your church, we have the internet.
      I will stand for what I feel to be true, just as you do.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Dan

      ", if the reality was mentioned, your agenda wouldn't be served."

      The reality is that their s exual preference IS NONE OF YOUR FVCKING BUSINESS so it should not even be asked of anyone. People are born predisposed to be attracted to one gender or the other, and it's not anyone else's job to police another persons feelings.

      Get your stupid heads out of the sand you morons, the tide is rising and you really don't want to have your heads down there when it comes in...

      June 1, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • The real Tom

      Well, they actually have their heads up their asses, so maybe they'll learn to survive on methane.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • devin

      Truth. Actually, I have more than a clue about you. In addition, I readily concur that we " just base our morals off a different level of reasoning. I applaud you for being able to condense the issue down to it's primary meaning even though are conclusions are diametrically opposed.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • The real Tom

      You have yet to explain what the "agenda" is, devin. Why?

      June 1, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Dan

      The agenda is for people who have been marginalized and swept under the rug for many many decades to stand up and join society as the productive, loving, caring and contributing members they are. That is "the gay agenda". On the other side you have the "bigot agenda" which is to keep American benefits exclusive for straight lighter skinned Christians who should get first pick at our top schools and programs and tax exempt status for their clubs.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • devin

      Dan, I was about to launch into this big dissertation when I realized, simply saying you are wrong would suffice.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      devin: No you don't have a clue about me...outside of what you see here, you know nothing. If I were to agree to the fact we have an agenda, I would think most would concur that it would be to finally see a world not divided by who has the better god and in turn working for the betterment of our fellow man. What I do in the privacy of my own home affects me, my husband and my cat. So if it is not harming anyone, why the hell do you care so much? I try to look at every issue from the opposite side. Equality is my only 'agenda'.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • The real Tom

      What was "wrong" about Dan's statement?

      devin, do you really think that gays are going to become straight because the right-wingnuts think being gay is a sin? What is it you hope to achieve by denying gays the right to marry and then telling them that s3x outside of marriage is wrong? Do you think that's going to make them change their orientation? Can you change yours?

      June 1, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Dan

      I think Mr. President summed it up best above and I have not heard a reply from Mr. Devin. So devin?

      "You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today."

      Try and evade it as you like, but the future is coming so I suggest being ready for it instead of denying that it's on its way.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  18. kit cole

    Good for them -someone standing up for their beliefs according to the Bible. It has long been known that the Boy Scouts are no longer what they used to be. Just like the YMCA is no longer what it was in the beginning. There will be plenty of Boy Scout organizations left to help all young man that wish to join them. I think it is a shame that the leadership is the team pushing this new "stance" and not the boys who join Scouts.

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

      Complete lie. the scouts themselves have been advocating for allowing gays for years now.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Saraswati

      Given that most young people are very supportive of gay rights I suspect a vote of the scouts would have the organization far more liberalized than this mini step.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      The problem is that it's a belief that is not founded on evidence of any form and in the end it teaches innocent children to be hateful bigots and then grow in to hateful bigots. I would think we'd want to raise better children than that...please don't breed.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  19. Bostontola

    Matthew 7

    June 1, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  20. Joshua in Raleigh

    This is fantastic! The most extreme elements keeps chiseling themselves off from mainstream politics, religion, and now traditional cultural youth groups. It's called self-segregating folks, and it should be strongly encouraged for the most extreme and intolerant elements such as these. Now we can all go on with our strife free lives in acceptance and tolerance while they withdraw into their cult-like compounds. Good riddance!

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

      Would you also include in this group POTUS, who until his recent evolution discriminated against gays because AT THE TIME he believed marriage should only be between a man and a woman?

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

      devin, some people learn and progress. Appears that you don't.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:23 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.