home
RSS
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. georgieboy

    This whole subject makes me sad. I think back on when I was a girl scout and I don't remember ever wondering whether or not someone was gay. But then, this makes me sad too because now I know others girls, at that time, must have been gay but probably felt unwelcome. We were so innocent then. I wonder if we are ruining childhood for our children by this constant focus on what essentially should be adult issues? Groups/clubs have rules or traditions, right or wrong. We have the choice whether or not to belong to those groups. Generally, forcing your beliefs on others never works out.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Dragon Slayer Lights Your Fire

      I feel the same way

      June 1, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
  2. Gary

    F___ing knuckle draggers!

    June 1, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  3. annieL

    Does BSA allow any leaders who are divorced? Does it allow any leaders who use birth control in their marriages? Does it allow any leaders who are adulterers or fornicators? I'm fine with having Biblical "moral standards" for church sponsorship of Scout groups as long as those standards apply to all.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • lol??

      Are you an XX??

      June 1, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Dragon Slayer Lights Your Fire

      I co-sign that. No cherry picking allowed

      June 1, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
  4. 4ormorechars

    Of course it's about hate, calling it "morals" doesn't change the fact that this pastor wants to single out gay people, just like in the past when morals kept blacks and whites from marrying.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • ForReal

      Except "gay" is not a race....No matter how you twist people's comments. It is not about hate, it is about sin and not giving in to those who disagree with your religious beliefs. Christians have every right to vote with their feet and leave the scouts.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • M

      and it would make those that leave look like the haters they are.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • cindy

      A lifestyle you can change your skin color I beg to differ

      June 1, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      ForReal – no, being gay is not a race. However, like being of a certain race, being gay, or straight, is something inherent in someone – something they're born with. Are you going to tell us that, at the start of puberty, you had to decide if you were going to be gay or straight. That, before that time, you didn't just know whether you liked boys or girls?
      It's bigotry and hate and ignorance, and those Southern Baptists are relying on a book that condones slavery, ra-pe, genocide, child abuse – the list goes on and on.

      It's good that they are going public with this idiocy, because that idiocy and hate, when exposed to the light, will eventually die.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  5. M

    I'm glad to say I know some liberal Baptists that were kicked out by the Southern Baptists, and they even had a couple of gay couples in their congregation. There was great love there.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • cindy

      lol

      June 1, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • M

      No double entende intended – it was a great church, and they loved everyone.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  6. joesmith

    if we had this issue, and lived in saudia, heads would already be rolling, OFF, that is..

    June 1, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Saudia? Where's that?

      June 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  7. Jim

    This is good......Baptists need to be seen as equivalent to 'radical' Muslims

    June 1, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Justice

      You are a very sick man.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
  8. Drew

    I'm not sure what else you'd expect from a denomination that formed for the sole reason of promoting slavery.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      None other than hinduism, racism formed to promote slavery.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • LevAryeh

      Exactly!

      June 1, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • lol??

      Whopper call.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  9. ljpne

    Just goes to show you that these Baptist sponsors are more interested in furthering their own agenda than helping young boys find their (own) way in life...

    June 1, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • Justice

      Moral and ethics issue. The gays should have started their own organization instead of trying to destroy everything with their sickness and sin.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
  10. Animal

    Time to put away the self-righteousness. Read the sermon on the mount.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • juanmoretime

      Hypocrites, where were the baptists when human beings were being held as slaves in the south. How many marched during the civil rights movement? Yeah, only the black baptists, right? During the height of the KKK, how many of them were baptists?

      June 1, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  11. DaveLake

    Do you notice this idiot leaving comments without a name and reply button. What a coward with his replies. The person is filled with hate against hate and thinks god is on his side. What a sad joke of a human!

    June 1, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • DaveLake

      Sorry -the person is filled with hate against gays..........

      June 1, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  12. Brian DelVecchio

    How about an exodus from the US? That would be awesome!

    June 1, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • Justice

      The choice is theirs and I stand by them even though I'm not part of their church. Morals is the key word here!!

      June 1, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Brian DelVecchio

      Not really. Being gay is as immutable characteristic as being black. It's immoral and illegal to discriminate on the basis of an immutable trait. If you all had any sack, you'd understand that.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
  13. Hilda

    It's long been known that the baptists will rot in everlasting hell. Heathen pigs!

    June 1, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Justice

      Judging them is not your right.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Justice: Try taking your own advice moron. Judging gays is not your right but you seem to be doing a great job of it.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • Simon

      Known? Were you a prophet before or after you lost your mind?

      June 1, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  14. Brian DelVecchio

    How about an exodus from the US?

    June 1, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Kichu

      Brian, do you know which way you or your grandparents (or great grandparents) came into US? leave that way...

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

      Maybe the gays should leave instead of destroying the fabric of marriage and family values.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • Brian DelVecchio

      My relatives didn't spew hate. In fact, they fought it. Get on the same team jagoff.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Justice

      Gays have been around for a long time. Other species have gay members too. There has been no destuction to speak of. Open a book besides the bible and educate yourself.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Justice

      Can't keep a conversation without calling people names and using vulgar comments.......figures. You are all the same.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Justice

      Gays are a poison that is destroy not only family values but life as a whole. Murder been around longer but it's not right is it. Morals my friend morals.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • Tia

      @Justice, gays can only threaten marriage and family values if those marriages and family values are weak. If you good "Christians" spent a quarter of the time worrying about your own marriages, families and values that you spend trying to infringe on other peoples rights, you wouldn't have anything to worry about.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  15. Hilda

    Bye, Baptists! Don't let the door hit'cha on the way out, y'all hear!!!!

    June 1, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Justice

      A fine greeting from a gay.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  16. Mike in SA

    Interesting comment here from haters on both sides.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Justice

      No hate but morals on the side of God.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  17. Juan in El Paso

    Good for them! I love the liberals and their shame, shame, on you tone. This is freedom of choice and what makes American great. If you want a gay troop, then have a gay troop. If you don't, then don't. Liberals love to demand people do this or that for a cause. Freedom of choice is not in the liberal agenda.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • M

      You are right, this does make America great. And their choice will further isolate them unto themselves. They would find life so much easier, though, if they just dropped their hate and practice love.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Being gay isn't a choice, bigotry is and that is what is being condemned. If you use your belief to try to dictate how others should live and to try to take away equal rights for all, then your belief is not moral. Without the bible most christians would NEVER find reason to speak out against gays people.
      It doesn't matter anyways, christians who are speaking out against anything like this are on the wrong side of history.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Tia

      I agree. Who would want the Baptists, or any religious order, sponsoring a non-church youth activity? Surely there are enough church youth groups where kids can be brainwashed with the religious agenda of their parents choice.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • Justice

      Liberals are PRO gay from what I've read. So why bring politics into it. It is all about morals.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  18. Kurt

    Who cares? They're all just a bunch of dumb goobers anyway.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • M

      Well, if you read just a bit of Aristotle, you'll understand why you need to care.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  19. Oregon Man

    Shame, shame on the Baptist church. Is this their idea of the meaning of Christianity? What a poor example they are setting for their young parishioners. It's disgusting.

    June 1, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Juan in El Paso

      It is freedom of choice! One of the things the liberal agenda only wants when if fits their concept of the world.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
  20. Mediquette

    Why is it the only time religion seems to make it into the top headlines on CNN... is when it's being cast in a negative/demeaning light!? I've asked it before, and I'll ask it again... where are all the uplifting/positive religious stories, and when are they going to make it into the top headlines!? *facepalm*

    Btw, for anybody wondering, as a Christian, I have absolutely nothing against gay people, or their preference. Have been long-time friends with people that are gay. I also truly believe that it's WRONG of any religious outfit to threaten sponsorship/funding because they didn't get their way... not all Christians see things that way... the ones depicted in this article are no better than bottom-of-the-rung terrorists! The Bible says that judgement is God's alone, for He states, "Vengeance is mine".

    Romans 12:10-21 [KJV]: "10Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."

    It's sad when discriminating, ignorant, and close-minded sort such as the ones listed in this article and The Westboro Baptist church have to be the most spotlighted groups for people to suit up and compare all Christians by. Many that have true faith and believe, are not at all like that... just be nice if the others got some spotlight too, so everybody could see that. :/

    June 1, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      A religion that abdicates personal responsibility is not uplifting.

      June 1, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • M

      faith – That is true ... not all Christians are like that... another step in the right direction.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:02 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
Advertisement
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.