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May 31st, 2013
04:19 PM ET

Baptists plan exodus from Boy Scouts

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(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. Fruitcakes for Vasoline

    BOOM..........go get your broom and lube fruitcakes.......your crap finally shot down.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • Sammy

      OMG!! Well done son.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • I drive a vasoline truck in the West Indies

      OK who needs a lube?

      June 1, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • Seek Freedom

      Will you squeeze my tube and make Ben Gay?

      June 1, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • BIG MAC

      I'll have a double cheese burger and hold the lube please.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • No back door here

      Do you take Mastercard?

      June 1, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Cindy Towers

      Please don't drop the soap.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • M

      Onward my Christian soldiers....

      June 1, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  2. DL

    It is amazing how so many of these so called educated hypocritical Christians continue to spew out that being gay is a choice. It is NOT a choice. Do people question straight people for being born straight???? Get off your soapbox! You speak out on things you know nothing about AND think you do it in the name of love and the Bible. That is disgusting and you should be ashamed of yourselves. God loves people.......the gays and the straights! Enough said! If you Baptists want to leave the BSA, go right ahead! Hatemongers! If you truly loved the children the way you claim to, you would love ALL OF GOD'S CHILDREN!

    June 1, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • lol??

      How much choice does a person have when God gives them up??

      Psa 81:12 So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: [and] they walked in their own counsels.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  3. Name*penguin

    Scouting is better off without the influence of the Babtists

    June 1, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  4. patty

    Such ignorance.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
  5. glorydays

    Christians have become ungodly. The Baptists are among the most hypocritical.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • I say the whole shootin match

      You'd really have to stand on at least the fringe, I think, to really see how Christian hypocrisy gleams. As a Christian Deist, for example:

      Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

      (Thomas Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785)

      June 1, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  6. Mac

    As a "reformed" former Southern Baptist, I've got to say that I am so glad I escaped that cult. While I still have relationships with many members of my former congregation, I sometimes wonder how they could be so brainwashed that they accept the ignorance that's put out there. Intelligence is the best cure for Southern Baptistism.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • M

      Good for you.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • JiminNM

      Knowledge is the beginning of evil.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • none thanks

      Bumper sticker: "Science too hard? Try religion."

      June 1, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Jimin – if that's the case then you have to be the goodest guy going, Jimmy. Jimin and Knowledge: water and oil. Never the twain shall meet.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • Mac

      JiminNM–knowledge is the beginning of evil? Tell that to your doctor when he's trying to cure you of a disease, or the meteorologist who warns you of severe weather approaching.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • cindy

      Sad to hear however no matter what religion. Its against the law of nature.an the law of God.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • M

      Cindy – you may want to read what Thomas Paine had to say about this (a founder of our country) – read the first six pages of "The Age of Reason."

      June 1, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Jimin – ever wonder where the computer you're typing your moronic comments came from? Ever wonder how your idiotic drivel magically travels from your computer to countless computers all over the world? Wonder if "knowledge" had anything to do with that? Clearly, by using tools of evil (because they're based on knowledge) you have condemned yourself to the fires of Hell forever.

      Smooth move, Exlax.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • Athy

      I don't think Cindy can read all that well, judging by the way she writes.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      So JiminNM – you would prefer people to die of treatable disease. Also, you should not be on the computer. All that quantum mechanics and stuff involved. You'd better return your computer right now.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • jazz guitar man

      Knowledge is the beginning of evil.

      Wow, I was hoping this was sarcasm but I guess it isn't. People proud to be stupid. Yea, give me some of the good old time religion!

      June 1, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  7. Justice

    Gotta love the way all the gays send messages to each other informing them there is another article out there and get over there and defend it. A sick culture with no morals trying to destroy everything they touch. A plague that will not change my mind EVER!!

    June 1, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • JiminNM

      Agree!

      June 1, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • Surthurfurd

      Are you getting the eMails? Is that how you come to have this information?

      June 1, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Mac

      The gays send messages to each other? What a fantasy world you live in. Maybe they have gay ESP and send gay signals through the airwaves. This is the type of ignorance that we all–straight and gay– laugh at.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Justice – that is seriously one of the most retarded comments ever posted on these boards. Your stupidity and head-up-your-own-butt-ishness is truly astounding.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • extra medium

      Nah ... Justice wouldn't stick his head up his own. He is too good for that. He rather stick his head up someone else's

      June 1, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • jazz guitar man

      You sound angry. Gays (a group you hate I assume) didn't make this change, the BSA did. Others are free to form their own group. That is called freedom.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • Gertrude

      Does CNN have some kind of internal messaging system for bloggers??? I did not know about that – how do you get to it??

      June 1, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Oh really, Justice? Then what are you doing here?

      June 1, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Send messages to each other? Paranoid much? Oh and "sick culture with no morals" = christianity. Glad you've finally seen the light.

      June 3, 2013 at 2:32 am |
    • Joey

      Yes, obviously everyone who disagrees with Justice is gay.

      June 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  8. Andrew

    Baptists: the edge of hate. Check out Klan history and the "baptist" "denomination. If you're looking for Whie, racist hatred, there's your bedrock, it's a cult using an ancient, dead Jewish guy and Jewish History as a crutch for immigrants' historical insecurity.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • extra medium

      The only baptist you can trust is one that held his/her breath for over 30 minutes under water.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • a little history lesson

      Yew just don't understand that the 'trooth'. People think the blabtist cult supported slavery just to get money from the rich plantation owners and to attract new members in racist communities. There's a lot more to it than that. We wuz ackshully fightin' fer states rights cuz Patriotic Christians founded this country (even though they called themselves diests). And when Ronald Reagan rallied our confederate-Christian-warriors back in the civil war... we wuz fighting to keep Uhmurika free of rag-heads too.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • cindy

      To the M poster who refuses to allow a reply at least I know where I live in terms of morals Hows yours? if my spelling annoys you don't respond to my post However ,since I remmber this is still the land of liberty I can say what ever pleases me even if its conctrary to your belief. Its called America darlin and if it does not suit you leave me be. LOL!

      June 1, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  9. Steve

    It's a good day for the BSA when the Baptists want to cut ties.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • jazz guitar man

      Well it will hurt the BSA in the short term since they will have to find new places to hold meetings and they will lose membership and that mean losing dollars. I support the BSA's decision 100% but there will be some negative ramifications in the short term. In cases cities will ofter schools as a place to hold meetings now that the BSA has mad this change so this should reduce any negative economic impact.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  10. use your brain

    Kids lose but, hey, adult racism and prejudice wins so all is well.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • JiminNM

      Actually, good kids win the the biggest possible prize, eternal life.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      So, Jimin, you say the criterion for eternal life is to be good? Excellent! So as long as you're good, you don't have to believe a bunch of religious mumbo jumbo!

      Good to hear.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      SssSssSTtTTTT stutter RRRrrrRrRRr much J?/?/?

      June 1, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • One one

      @jim, The hope of "eternal life", that's pretty much what your belief is about, isn't it ? Good luck.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • jazz guitar man

      Maybe you need to use your brain. The BSA policy changes was done to reduce prejudice. Anyhow it wasn't the people you hate so much that made this change it was the BSA and their leadership. Complain to them. Oh, wait, it is too late for that.

      Oh well I guess you will have to find some other bigoted cause to champion. Join the KKK, I'm sure they have some tips.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
  11. Truth

    Truth, in the end, is what truly Counts! Truth Wins Out – Exodus International - http://www.truthwinsout.org/ministry-exodus-international/

    June 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • The Count

      No! I'm the only vun who counts! Vun! Mwa ha ha! Two!! Mwa ha ha ha!

      June 1, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  12. lol??

    lol??
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    lol??
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    The wrong side has 2 sides. Evil is a triunity of madness.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Moderating your own posts to appear persecuted is pathetic and repet/itive.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  13. chris cox

    I do believe that the "bible" says men should only marry virgin's and if they are not virgins they shall be stoned to death. So we should do that to.....oh wait its Christians were talking about here they pick and choose what's ok.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
  14. extra medium

    For God so loved the world, he sent them gays and lesbian and trans to stick it to the hypocrite straights who had been ignoring all 10 commandments

    June 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • M

      Funny.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • Silly

      Yes, it's a lesson lost on the ignorant blind faithful

      June 2, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  15. M

    All of this makes me think of Ted Haggard – poor soul. What self-loathing. Makes me wonder how many other pastors might be doing the same thing – self loathing.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • cindy

      not many you'd be surprised the lomgevity of their marriages.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • Miss Demeanor

      How do you know what is behind someones marriage? Does gawwwwd gossip with you? The longevity of their marriage that is in no way related to the big sacks of money these shysters stash away or the gold-diggers they attract. That is why of all the Christian denominations, the ones that nearly always appear in the paper when some pastor runs off with a sack of money are the FUND-amentalist ones. (translation for fundamentalists: here, fund refers to money)

      June 1, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  16. CarrotCakeMan

    Sure, they're going to force all their sons to quit the Scouts.

    This same backward Baptist political action committee proclaimed it would boycott Disney when Disney started treating their LGBT employees fairly. Disney bought ABC for CASH at the same time. Anti-gays have never staged a successful boycott–there just aren't enough of them.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • M

      and they might form their own group, the CCC, Camping Crusaders for Christ.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • jazz guitar man

      While I support the BSA change I also support any church group breaking ties with the BSA. i.e. This is how it should be. Groups change policy as time marches on. If one doesn't like the changes they should move on. What I find folly is people that belong to a specific religious organization that disagree with the core values of said organization. Don't complain. Just find another religious organization (or the best option IMO don't join any).

      June 1, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • one hunnert and ten

      So, let me get this straight (ooops... sorry) ... now, kids who join the scouts won't be surrounded by sanctimonious, bigoted, racist, cult-members? Well, golly, I support the Blabtists one-hunnerd-an-ten-percent coach. Never thought that would happen.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  17. Jacob

    Good riddance.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  18. Jim

    ....and these people call themselves CHRISTIANS???????

    pure simple...they're BIGOTS

    June 1, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      No they are not hindu secular s, filthy self centered.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  19. lol??

    How did Jodie Foster end up with children, anyway?? Trick some poor man?? Or bought em from a mad scientist??

    June 1, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • CarrotCakeMan

      That's NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Do you want to HURT those children?

      June 1, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • lol??

      But Cakester my gubmint claims to be in charge of all things sacred. I have no say??

      June 1, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • jazz guitar man

      learn biology. Lesbians can get pregnant. Foster can support any children she brings into this world. Many bible thumpers cannot and thus they should have an abortion instead of expecting taxpayers to support their child.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • lol??

      I see. Ye ol' reeducation camps in Siberia are always in style.

      June 1, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  20. Andy

    Pathetic.

    June 1, 2013 at 7:31 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.