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. jonp

    Hopefully, the religious crazies will become fed up with America and they will leave the country all together. Preferably, to the moon.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • M

      No, but I believe that this is another lesson for them through the school of hard knocks, and a few of them will come out wiser ... and leave that religion and its hatred behind.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  2. LevAryeh

    Well, goodbye and good riddance, although I feel sorry for your kids. These are the exact same groups who founded "whites only" private schools in the South in response to desegregation. It seems like some people never learn.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
  3. cometkatt

    GOOD RIDDANCE – and it IS about hate no matter what they CLAIM.. its about hate, intolerance & bigotry and if they preach it they should just GO AWAY.. if the boy scouts cant survive with out the churches then they didnt really exist did they.. they were just another 'church' gang

    June 1, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  4. .


    June 1, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  5. Walt

    I was born and raised a Baptist.

    I was taught, both in Sunday School and during church services, that the doors of the church (a Baptist Church) are open to everyone, and that includes even those we might perceive as being sinners.

    The BSA is simply following the very teachings of the Baptist Church itself. The BSA is NOT advocating boys becoming gay. It is simply welcoming/accepting those boys who just MIGHT be gay into their fellowship.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      I thought you believed everyone is born a sinner and is only redeemded by the sacrifice and torture of another human being.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Jenny

      Thank you Walt, I totally agree with you! AS a scout leader our job is to raise/teach young boys into better men. We will continue to do our job gay or not. AS for the teaching and raising of the kids. In today's society some parents are not raising their kids they want others to do that for them. Ask any school teacher they will say the same thing...Our job is to LOVE and hopefully show them the right way. These are the same boys that were in our troop before this policy changed..We have hours of training still to come with this policy change.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  6. Will

    Southerners need to

    1. Leave
    2. Secede


    June 1, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • southerners

      you first

      June 1, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Dax Lara

      they tried that, then there was this whole civil war thing & really, who wants that kind of hassle again?

      June 1, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • lol??

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      Socies are great at makin' refugees. Must be a talent.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • lou


      we'll let them go peacefully. I want to see them pay their own bills without OUR governments help.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  7. Mona

    Thought the bible says God loves all his children. I didn't see any mention of gay or straight listed. Shame on the Baptists
    for making such a stink!

    June 1, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • c

      That's because you didn't have to worry about gays back then when the bible was written. Now look at society...all kinds of jacked up....gay boys, gay women, and black and white couples...f'n disgusting!

      June 1, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • One one

      Maybe it's because they love to hate. And if they can find a passage in their "good book" to justify it, all the better.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
  8. One one

    I wonder why, of all the "thou shalt nots" in the bible, Christians are especially obsessed with this issue ?

    Also, I thought, according to Christians, OT rules don't count anymore. That's their excuse for this command from their god, Jesus:

    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”

    June 1, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Rod

      You're right. Christians believe Jesus came in fulfill the Old Testament Law. That is why, for example, we do not follow Old Testament dietary restrictions. The only thing true Christians need to do is follow the teachings of Jesus, which boil down to love God and love each other. Jesus welcomed everyone, even those who were considered sinners. It is sad when people misuse the Bible for their own agenda, especially when that misuse results in condemning others and pushing them away.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • One one

      @rod, so why do Christians keep trying to display the 10 commandments in public places ? They come from the OT. Seems like Christians do a lot of cherry picking. It destroys their credibility.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • Rod

      @oneone You're right, many people do cherry pick. People want black and white answers, and a concept like love everyone is difficult for a number of reasons. The ten commandments are a quick and easy reference tool, which make them popular, and following them perfectly conforms with loving your neighbor. If people want to display them in public, I am fine with that. I am also fine with people who want to display teachings from Buddhism or Islam. Wanting to display the ten commandments isn't the issue. Being militant about displaying the ten commandments as a sign of someone's piety is. Our interactions with other people on a human level define us as Christians, not our displays. Many people do not understand that.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • One one

      @rod, I agree 100%. IMO, one of the biggest problems for Christian belief is the concept that, if you don't accept my beliefs, my god will send you to hell to suffer eternal torture. Since Christians worship this god, they obviously are in complete agreement that this is OK. This doesn't make doubters or non- believers feel good about Christians.

      Now, you, or others, may debate that this is not what hell is really about. But that's not the impression that the average person has about hell and damnation.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
  9. Grow up!!

    It is very sad that the The Boy Scouts – which is an organization based on charity, developing character and a love of the outdoors for young boys has become so politicized. I think this is what happens when you have a group of conservative, religious men making decisions about the direction of an organization. We see it time and time again, whether it is in government, schools – the list goes on and on. Keep religion in churches and places of worship and many of our problems would be solved.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini, D.D. ©™

    Perhaps Southern Baptists do not comprehend that the Boy Scouts' "lifting a ban" does not require Boy Scouts to be gay. The straight ones can stay straight, and the gay ones can be gay.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
  11. Name*stephanie

    So if you have a gay child will the Baptist Church kick them out as well?

    June 1, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Tim

      only the lucky ones will get kicked out....

      June 1, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  12. One one

    This contributes to why more and more people are giving up religion. No decent person wants to be associated with a group that espouses beliefs that are hurtful to another group for simply being who they are.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  13. LocalCrank

    Once again, Leviticus trumps Jesus.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Nice Try

      If you believe that then you are truly lost...

      June 1, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • M

      Indeed, anything can trump Jesus if it supports a hatred.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Yeshua wrote Leviticus

      Jesus didn't eat pork...Why on earth would you eat something that He cast demons INTO?!

      June 1, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • Rod

      Leviticus mainly deals with ritual purity laws for the priestly class. Christians also believe that Jesus came in fulfillment of the Law, which is why we do not follow all the Old Testament laws (dietary restrictions, for example). It is sad when people cherry pick the Bible to reinforce their own belief instead of actually following the teachings of Jesus, which are to love God and love one another. It is very simple, but for some reason very hard for many to grasp. If someone uses one Old Testament law to condemn another but they do not follow all the Old Testament Laws they have no credibility. Take the log out of your own eye before taking the speck out of your neighbors.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • M

      Nah, that cast the demons into would-be BBQ is just another myth.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • Yeshua is the Word

      Isa 66:15 For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.
      Isa 66:16 For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.
      Isa 66:17 They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one [tree] in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.

      I wouldn't want to be caught eating pork, or anything declared unclean by Leviticus 11 at the 2nd Coming. Looks like it won't bode well for anyone who is, does it?

      June 1, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • One one

      @., is this the word of Jesus?

      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”

      June 1, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Yeshua is the Word

      Looks like Jesus has to come back to teach us the law(towrah-that the church says has been done away with?).
      Mic 4:1 ¶ But in the last days it shall come to pass, [that] the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
      Mic 4:2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Yeshua is the Word

      Who's cherry picking here? All 613 laws in the Towrah have to do with either a) loving God or b) loving your neighbor. They are ALL still applicable today. And it will be taught on the Sabbath-not Sunday. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Funny the church has forgotten the commandment that starts with the word "Remember". Ironic.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  14. bubba in the woods

    Well, there is a huge response to this discussion. It warms my heart to see how the here-is-what-our-cult-stand-for Westboro haters have unintentionally opened the publics eyes. God works in mysterious ways. He can even use a hate-group to serve his will.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Which "God" did you have in mind? There have been so many...

      June 1, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  15. GatorALLin

    It will be interesting if other chruches will step up and see this as an oppourtunity to invite scout troops to use their meeting rooms or facilites to help offset this huge loss for Boy Scounts (affecting 100,000 kids is massive). As an Eagle Scout myself, I am greatful to the Baptist church that allowed us to use their facilties for 15+ years, here in Noth Central Florida. I know at this church and others that many of our Life and Eagle projects were to help repaint or repair church buildings (mostly Baptist churches, eventhough our own Churches we attended may be Luthern, Catholic or other). Familes that were new to town and joined the troop would often attend this Baptist church and so it is my perception that Baptist Churches will only realize some of the other losses beyond just public outcry (that this goes against what they think of for the bible's message of the golden rule and one of love and acceptance). I see this decsion to abadon the scounts as just another blow for organized religion in general as the scandles for Catholic and other churches seems to show a mass exidus from organized religion in the last few years. I hope other churches step up and help offset this loss for the Boy Scouts. I look back with very fond memories...

    June 1, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • M

      Maybe the Catholic Church will "jump" on the opportunity with the Boy Scouts.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Mona Lisa

      RE: "Maybe the Catholic Church will "jump" on the opportunity with the Boy Scouts...."
      Ah, yes... thanks for reminding us how the cult-of-Americas-pastor likes to ridicule other denominations too... are there any bounds for your cults hatred?

      June 1, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
  16. Peaceful

    It also says not to judge others in the Bible. Then there is the vengeance is mine says the Lord part. So maybe if it says its a sin and you are adhering to those words, you should also adhere to the rest of it. Live and let live and love all. Period

    June 1, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Mark

      No where does the Bible say live and let live. And yes we are to judge to identify right from wrong. We aren't to judge and condemn, only God does that. We aren't condemning when we follow the teachings of the Bible.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • Tim

      I don't care what it says in your bible. Keep it to yourself.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Sarkazein

      Pretty sure the whole "Do unto others" part means live and let live. If you don't want different treatment based on your lifestyle, then don't force it on others for their lifestyle.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • becool

      Not judging is a thing, and stick with the abstained issues is another thing!

      June 1, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Misty mooblie

      RE: " yes we are to judge to identify right from wrong... "
      Does "you will be judged as you judge others..." ring a bell? Does "remove the stick/plank from your own eye first" ring a bell? Show us where we are commanded to be sanctimonious, cruel, hate-filled and then call it 'workin' fer jeeezus" like the Westboro 'brethren'. Hate is hate.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  17. Margaret

    This will be a good thing for the Scout groups. Affiliation with religion should be avoided.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • M

      Nah, she's got it right.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  18. David

    Hasta la vista, bigots.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
  19. Spike

    Scouts should have just implemented a don't ask don't tell policy. It worked fine in the military.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • PTUBAN

      Huraaah!.......sister! 🙂

      June 1, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • M

      No, because the underlying hatred would always be there.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Nice Try

      M... You mean like the underlying hatred you have for Christians? Go figure...

      June 1, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • M

      No, no hatred here. If you look over my comments, you'll see I paint them as they are – the American version of the Taliban.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Nice Try

      You said, "You mean like the underlying hatred you have for Christians?"
      Hey dumbfuck, when was the last time christians couldn't openly show their ignorance? When was the last time they could get fired from their jobs for being delusional christians? When were they denied to marry?

      Just because you're no longer able to dictate your sick and twisted mental illness on the sane part of society doesn't mean that you are suddenly persecuted. You just don't get to force your bullshit on the civilized parts of society. You are still free to remain as blissfully ignorant as you wish.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  20. JiminNM

    A moral line in the sand has been drawn to see how people will respond. There is no fence to sit upon. Their choice will be clear and accountable. It would seem easy to make the choice not to expose your child to immorality on such a grand scale.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Rod

      You're right. On the moral side of the line are those who follow the teachings of Jesus, which include loving, welcoming, and respecting all people, even those we consider sinners. On the other side are people like those who are leaving, who disregard the teachings of Jesus and try to usurp the authority of God, who is the only one that can judge the souls of men.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • where the big money is

      division, segregation has been the business model of this cult-that-spawned-Westboro from their beginning. Appealing to ignorance can be very profitable... look at the computer giant who made using computers much easier to grasp. Making religion easy to grasp works like this: have a witchhunt... give them something to hate... tell them that their hate is somehow serving gaaaaaawwwwwwds will. See how it works? I'm starting my own cult soon. That's where the big money is.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:01 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.