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. Jack

    The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in protest of Northern hostility to slavery, which they were sure, according to their reading of the infallible Bible, was the will of God. Bigotry is nothing new to them.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Doobs

      If they are around fifty years from now, you can be sure they'll figure out a way to take credit for it. Just like they did with abolishing slavery and allowing interracial marriage.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Doug Lynn

      You haters are such hypocrites. You want to force your Hedonistic values on everyone. When did you become gods and when did anyone give you authority to determine right and wrong. You are bigots. You mock and are intolerant of anyone that accepts Biblical morality as their truth. Your arrogant hypocrisy is pathetic.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ Doug Lynn

      Oh boo hoo. You don't get to marginalize and discriminate against a minority anymore and you're butthurt.

      Come back when your church takes an equally hard line against premarital sex, divorce and remarriage, and we'll talk. Until then, you're just a loudmouth who hates change, and exactly what you accuse us of being, a hypocrite.

      June 1, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  2. Solitairedog

    I guess they should pull their kids out of all schools as well since there are children there who may grow up to find they are gay. And they shouldn't go to work because there may be gays there too. Avoid all amusement parks, weddings, movie theaters and sports events as gays are likely to be there as well. In fact, even a Baptist's own home is not safe since gay children are mostly born to straight adults. Life is likely to get pretty dull for the proper Baptist who insists on hating his fellow man... and woman.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  3. tallulah13

    When you boil it down, these Baptists are cutting their charter because they will not be allowed to bully children.

    What big, brave men. Onward, christian soldiers.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  4. Scott

    Yea because we all know a penis in an ass is love...sick

    June 1, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      $ex is different than love. Also, hetero couples do that too...your argument is weak.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • tallulah13

      Poor Scott. Maybe someday you'll grow up enough to realize that sex does not equal love. Until that day, I hope that all your potential partners realize that you are just using them for your own physical needs. That way, those women who are seeking a serious relationship will avoid you like the plague.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Maui420L

      I'll check with some local Priest....

      June 1, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Dan

      This is a prime example of the Christian moron mindset. They are so perverted that the only thing they can think about when they hear the word "gay" is a penis in the a s s. When they hear the term "het ero" they don't immediately think of penis in va g ina do they? Or are they just that perverted by their sad Christian upbringing?

      June 1, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • PR

      Better to have a penis in the ass, then be an ass with a penis. Just sayin'.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Doobs

      When you meet new people, is your first thought about them an image of where they put their penis or vagina? Do you automatically picture a hetero man's penis going in and out of a vagina when you have a conversation with him?

      A human's sexuality is only one aspect of their person. If that's the only thing you think about when you interact with people, you're probably a little too invested in their personal lives.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • The real Tom

      PR, I'm stealing that one.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Best answer I've heard all week, PR.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      PR speaks the truth of it. LOL

      June 1, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  5. EndPoliticalParties

    Baptists (and the like) = Bigots = meaning they are NOT 'Christians/Christ Like'! Supposed to Love Everyone!!

    June 1, 2013 at 11:48 am |
  6. capitan

    "God's word" says a lot of stuff.. A few verses over, it mentions not eating shellfish, or wearing clothes made from two different types of cloth. I guess they should make their boy scout uni's all one type of cloth. Also, no shrimp.

    -from a FORMER Southern Baptist

    June 1, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • doe_john2

      You should look up something call progressive revelation.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Doobs

      "Progressive revelation" is what church leader call it when they are forced to change their stance because advancements in science refute what the bible says.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
  7. Stevenson

    The Boy Scouts in Canada saw membership drop over 50% when they admitted openly gay scouts years ago. The same will happen here.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Solitairedog

      Perhaps, but I'll bet the Canadians have somehow recovered.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Maui420L

      Big Lose, at least kids won't be subjected to radical bigoted hate via BSA....

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

      Uh, no it didn't. Did you get that off a flier from the Westboro Baptist Church? Here's the continuous downward trend since 1990 (was already going down steadily since the 1960s):


      You see the same thing everywhere. The fact is parents are either putting their kids in enrichment classes or organized sports to help on college applications or are letting the kids wallow in front of video games. No one cares about a few gay scouts except the occassional religious nut.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  8. Dan

    The only ones who lose here are the children of these bigots. It's sad but hopefully they will see their parents for the hateful losers they are.

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

      Yes, those who discriminate based on how someone was born are losers, ignorant disgusting losers. You were not "born" a bigoted, hateful Christian, that is something you chose, so I have no qualms pointing out what a bunch of disgusting people the bigots are.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Miss Demeanor

      Sad but true. It's a shame when a church perpetuates a new approach to hatred after racism quit drawing in the 'body counts' required to fill their quotas. The cult of Westboro has some sick, sick people. I see by the replys you've gotten how you've exposed the truth.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • doe_john2

      Depends on how one defines discrimination.

      M Demeanor ... please stop being so pretentious. You don't carry it well.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Neither do you, doe.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  9. Nick Gonzalez

    The Southern Baptist Religion, a true Hate group. How great so many people are leaving their Religions. Finally, some Sanity!

    June 1, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • doe_john2

      'So many are leaving their religions'? How many are? Statistics still support that most believe in something – which really is religion.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  10. tamtam

    I think it is really sad that a church would judge a group, especially boy scouts. Jesus come to the lady about to be stoned for committing adultery and said to the people which were all religious and said let him that is without sin cast the 1st stone. This church is not showing compassion, but arrogance!

    June 1, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • thoughtsjustsome

      He also told her to go and sin no more...

      June 1, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • pentecostal

      and they are still sinning

      June 1, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • concerned

      The scripture also told the woman to go her way and sin no more.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Doobs

      Why would Jeebus tell her to do something that, according to the bible, is impossible? She still carried the sin of Adam, right? And Jeebus hadn't died yet, so she couldn't be saved by believing he died for her. She was still a human, and yet he told her to do something he knew she couldn't do.

      Typical of your god to make rules it knows are impossible to follow. No wonder no one can agree on what your book says.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  11. aldewacs

    I suspect the Boy Scouts will enjoy a lot more freedom to make sensible decisions without the baggage of religious hooligans trying to push them in their demented direction.
    "Think Critically and Independently" – maybe there should be a badge for that.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • miisaahni

      'Think Critically and Independently" ... I would agree with the statement but I imagine not your positioning on it.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • miisaahni

      Oh, btw ... none of us can totally think independantly since we are socially created beings.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      I like your idea aldewacs.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      good idea aldewacs.
      The badge would be awarded when the individual puts the bible down, and never picks it up again.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  12. aldewacs

    And how many parents and their children will now find another building to talk to their deity on Sundays?
    How typical of the Baptists to try and force their beliefs on others. Because this is not just about holding on to their own beliefs – it's about making others do their bidding. A power play, in other words.
    This may backfire big-time ... I'm smiling already in anticipation.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • miisaahni

      How are they forcing their beliefs on anyone? They don't like what the boy scouts are now selling and as consumers it is their free choice not to attend ... I'm guessing you won't be attending church tomorrow. Is that you forcing your beliefs on anyone?

      June 1, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  13. Will

    Seems like a "hate thing" to me.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • doe_john2

      Of course it does because it goes against your own opinions which nowdays we label 'hate'.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  14. Good

    The more religion pulls away from public organizations, the better for the public. Go back to your churches and stay there.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:35 am |
  15. dt

    Southern Baptist = American Taliban

    June 1, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • doe_john2

      Yes, because they are known for hacking people up with meat cleavers, flying planes into buildings and blowing up parades. Please take your exaggerations elsewheres.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Miss Demeanor

      I tried for ten minutes to come up with some differences. The only one being the name of the gawwwwd that blabtists claim to revere. It's a great analogy. Taliban = Westboro = Zealous, bitter hatred.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • doe_john2

      Miss Demeanor ... I'm not saying I agree with the manner that the people at Westboro think. I am saying that in this country people are allowed freedom of speach/thought ... for better or worse. Even the people at Westboro are not doing what terrorists are. So stop trying to be cute in comparing the two.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  16. mindstorms

    Interesting how one can use the Bible to justify anything they want. It was used to justify slavery at one time. Did God change his mind or did society evolve?

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

      just less then half the the bible was written of slaves

      June 1, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • miisaahni

      Try looking up progressive revelation.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Doobs

      Like I said above, progressive revelation is the excuse church leaders use they are forced to change their stance due to scientific or societal advancements.

      The idea that a deity withholds knowledge of its expectations and allows large segments of humanity to suffer in ignorance until it decides to enlighten us is cruel, yet typical.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  17. Jobu

    Wow! Just as the Catholic Church starts to pull it head out, the SBC puts it's head even further in!

    June 1, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  18. Reckless

    @Bob do they also kill women who aren't virgins when married? Do they kick those who commit adultery out? This is bigotry disguised as religious morality. I'm assuming God doesn't look to kindly on that either

    June 1, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  19. Bostontola

    Straight from the Southern Baptist creed, gays are admissible in heaven:

    Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.

    God's Purpose of Grace
    Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. …All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end.

    June 1, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • Miss demeanor

      Baptists say gays can go to heaven? Well, that sure makes their hatred OK then. I know the cult that said slavery was gawwwwds will would be the go-to authority I'd check with. Thanks. You made my day

      June 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  20. Wildman

    Disagreement with another viewpoint does not equal hate. If you want a society where everyone thinks and acts the same, stop by your local totalitarian regime.

    In a democracy, presentation of various viewpoints - and the freedom to express those viewpoints without reprisal - is essential. Whatever your view, don't shout down your opponents, discuss the issues and wait for history to decide the winner.

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

      In a democracy it also says majority rules...

      June 1, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Ben Mitchell

      Nor does disagreement with a viewpoint equate a lack of moral conviction. Treat everyone equally is a nice moral value to follow.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Miss Demeanor

      A pure democracy (which, btw, the US is not) does not protect the rights of minority groups. The gubmint of the good ole US of A was specifically designed to protect minority groups... all of us at some time in our lives... from bullying zealots like Westboro.

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


      You said, "Disagreement with another viewpoint does not equal hate."
      True, but... Religion is a choice. Picking a religion that promotes discrimination is a choice. Remaining with a church that promotes discrimination is a choice. Justifying dislike for others, using religion is a choice.

      Nobody is forcing anyone to stay with one that promotes despicable views like the one in the article. There are plenty of interpretations of the various holy texts that don't require discrimination. There are plenty of other churches around. The one someone chooses to associate with says a lot about their prejudices.

      You said, "If you want a society where everyone thinks and acts the same, stop by your local totalitarian regime."
      Diversity is welcomed, discrimination, not so much.

      You said, "In a democracy, presentation of various viewpoints – and the freedom to express those viewpoints without reprisal – is essential."
      Pointing out the fallacies in those viewpoints is also essential.

      You said, "Whatever your view, don't shout down your opponents, discuss the issues and wait for history to decide the winner."
      What do you think we're doing here? I'm not coming after you with a pitchfork and a length of rope. I'm not burning down your house. All I do is show the fallacy in using fairy tales to hurt real people.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154
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.