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. Mitzy

    I guess the BSA can bring back the Dancing merit badge now.

    June 1, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  2. mytoys666

    Now, if we could only get the baptist to leave the country as well............

    June 1, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  3. Brampt

    "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." – Mahatma Ghandi

    The comment of the day!

    June 1, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • lol??

      What would a pharisee know??

      June 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • lol??

      Eric Holder, "What law??"

      June 1, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  4. Glen

    Thanks Baptist Church . You are doing an awesome job attributing to the decline of people who had a religious faith. Now I can see why.


    June 1, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Dippy

      Attributing?? Maybe contributing?

      June 1, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  5. bkgrandma

    This is a win-win for the Boy Scouts. They get gay boys in the scouts and get bigoted boys out of the scouts. Isn't it sad that young boys have to be taught to hate by their churches and their bigoted parents. Somehow I don't think that is what Jesus had in mind.

    June 1, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      As usual, unbelievers have it backwards. Hate would be NOT informing you that Jesus will toss you into the eternal flames.

      Genesis 7:15

      And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein [is] the breath of life.

      Romans 7:7

      What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

      Galatians 5:16

      [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

      James 1:15

      Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

      1 John 2:16

      For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.


      June 1, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • ...

      Psalms 137:9

      Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

      So much for Bible nonsense.

      June 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Southernsuga

      Shame on name calling grandmas.

      June 1, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • The Deist

      It amazes me that BSC religious whack-jobs use the Bible to preach at Atheists and those who choose not to fall into the trap and brain washing of religion.

      They don't believe in your God, your Bible, or your beliefs. Why are you quoting scripture?

      June 1, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Science

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

      Ne se-x there faith.

      or pounding the sand/dirt does not work you know chadie/HS

      June 1, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      science, what part of Genesis 1:22 do you not comprehend?

      June 1, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      HeavenSent cleverly posted: "As usual, unbelievers have it backwards. Hate would be NOT informing you that Jesus will toss you into the eternal flames."

      This is exactly why I don't worship, accept, or believe in your grouchy, violent, murderous, cranky jerk of a god.

      June 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  6. Chris

    The christian God is not real, and if he is he is one heck of a monster.

    June 1, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Brampt

      The comment of the day:

      "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." – Mahatma Ghandi

      June 1, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • lol??

      Favorite attorney pharisee, Brampt?? He'd be locked up on s*e*x* charges today or deported, by you.

      June 1, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • faith

      U R A LIAR

      June 1, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  7. Science

    Looks like someone did not like view source comments ?

    June 1, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Thanks, I thought I was going insane.

      June 1, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • LinCA

      Yup, the root post is now awaiting moderation. Some people must not have liked my helpful hints. Oh well.

      June 1, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Science

      Secular Humanist from Ohio .............you are not seeing things it did disappear !
      Hey HS and.....or HAR

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

      No se-x needed ?

      June 1, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      Yeah, after a few horror-stricken comments, I took out some of the more obvious no-brainers. Sheesh, these tips are pretty necessary to post here.

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN Belief Blog/WordPress automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters or some html tricks to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in racc-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, sopho-more, etc.
      ho-oters…as in sho-oters
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      inf-orms us…
      hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-oon… as in sp-oon, lamp-oon, harp-oon
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sm-ut…..as in transm-utation
      sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, t-itle, ent-ity, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, salt-water, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
      There's another phrase that someone found, "wo-nderful us" (have no idea what sets that one off).

      June 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • LinCA

      Here is the trick for all to see: consti<b></b>tution

      June 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      It's the 21st century and I can't type ho.mo sapiens to describe humans. Good thing this isn't an academic or biology blog.

      June 1, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  8. Error In Thinking

    One day those prejudiced churches will come to realize the error in their thinking in that God did not exclude any one of His children for any reason from His house. But by the time those churches who discriminate against others come to realize that, God would have already judged them accordingly and they will surely have to pay the price.

    June 1, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  9. Brampt

    Scouts are for gay people... Doesn't matter if your gay or not... Still gay!!

    June 1, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  10. brown

    Filthy humans ... you are still living in the stone age but too ignorant to realize it.

    You matter not!

    June 1, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  11. jjkhlk

    Good riddance to bad rubbish. Baptists should just go away and leave everyone else alone.

    June 1, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Bruce

      I can't believe your arrogance and hypocrisy. You don't want inclusion. You want to take over and force others out. You believe in freedom for perversion but not for religion. You're a very miserable and ugly person.

      June 1, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  12. Hitting the Nail Right On the Head

    "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." - Mahatma Ghandi

    June 1, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Bruce

      You have no idea what you are saying. Your ignorance is incredible.

      June 1, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • habshockeygrl


      June 1, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • habshockeygrl

      (the quote, not the first response just to be clear)

      June 1, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Brampt

      Good one. Their Christ is their Money.

      June 1, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  13. Kona

    Good riddance!

    June 1, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  14. Bob Saget

    Adios, don't let the door hit ya "where the good lord split ya!"

    June 1, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  15. Mark Wittkofski

    So many hypocrites in this world...you know straight little Jimmy as a Boy Scout goes on a camping trip and automatically comes home gay...for Catholic churches to ban the Boy Scouts really takes the cake considering how many of their priests are gay or pedophiles (not to mention the millions of dollars many of their churches have had to pay-off altar boys who were abused). You all need to wake-up from your sleepy 1930s dreams and join the 21st century!

    June 1, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      You unbelievers are too odd in what you believe. You condemn one and condone the other.

      June 1, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  16. faithmouse

    Keeping Gay boys out of scouting is going to be quite a chore, especially the undeclared ones, as most boys act Gay to some extent. They are weak, effeminate, and have high squeaky voices. Many walk around like Pee Wee Herman, roll their eyes, mince, and dress strangely. They squeal and giggle. They hate girls, especially the younger ones.

    June 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  17. Steven CaboWabo

    The bible also talks about stoning people. If they are going to be true to the bible they really need to start doing that, at least to their members that do something listed in the bible as worthy of stoning them.

    June 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  18. Brampt

    Boy Scouts??!... When I was growing up I was going with my family and friends to the beach, playing sports all the time... Why scouts?? Do these churches really need to do that to try to recruit followers??.... Screw you charlatans!!

    June 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  19. Jimmy

    Good riddance!

    June 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  20. Gay Eagle Scout

    When I was a scout, it wasn't relevant whether the scouts in the troop were Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or some other denomination. I don't think any troop should be run by a church because then it would exclude some scouts who come from different religions. In the end, being a scout is about boys growing into good men who care about their community and help all people.

    June 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      I agree. Half my troop was Jewish and my family was atheist, and the Scoutmaster was a lesbian. We ignored the biblical claptrap aspect and just focused on teamwork and survival skills. I have very fond memories of that time and learned much which proved useful later in life.

      June 1, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
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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.