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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. Dan

    Conservative Southern baptists are the least Christian of all the Christians in America.The Southern baptist Convention is a pack of hypocrites and liars.

    May 31, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  2. Kevin

    These kids would be so much better of with the church right! I mean the Catholics are doing a great job with our kids.bye bye baptist good riddance!

    May 31, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  3. Me

    Now if we could just get all religion and bigots out of the country..er..the world.

    May 31, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • WhiskeySipper

      Start with yourself. You are clearly an anti-religious bigot.

      May 31, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • WhiskeySipper

      I'm just kidding. I'm drunk.

      May 31, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  4. Margaret

    How sad for the boys. What are they afraid of, that gay scouts will converge on their sons and force them to be gay? Try it you will like it? Very sad.

    May 31, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      The irony is they've probably have had gay scout leaders and boy scouts that have turned out to be gay.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • Sue Clark

      At last, a voice of reason. It is sad for the boys.

      June 1, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  5. jonp

    The sad fact of the matter is, by excluding themselves from the Boy Scouts, their children will miss out on a lot of great things that this outstanding organization has to offer.

    May 31, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Gort1

      Buh Bye...dont let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • boo

      True. Expect to see fark.com's number of oddity posts stamped "Florida" to double soon.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  6. Tigrr

    Good. Fewer bigot the better. Scouting was never to be about religions either. Zip it. Lip it.

    May 31, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
  7. MagicPanties

    "...Southern Baptists said they are preparing for a [santorum] surge of interest in the Royal Ambassadors..."

    May 31, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
  8. Colin

    Another Biblical prophecy has just been fulfilled. Gay marriage and marijuana use are both being legalized. Leviticus clearly states that if a man lies with another, they should both be stoned, we just weren't interpreting it correctly until now !!

    May 31, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      "Leviticus clearly states that if a man lies with another, they should both be stoned"

      Does the same rule apply to women that lie with another?

      May 31, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      LOL

      June 2, 2013 at 1:29 am |
    • Lirpa

      @Colin WT? Really? LOL!

      June 2, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Huebert

      LOL. Well done Colin.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  9. Sane Person

    Good. We need to seperate religious fundies and thier extreme delusions from our kids.

    May 31, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  10. Gary

    Typical conservative Baptist solution. Cater to the twisted whims of the invisible man that lives in the sky and deprive thousands of kids of the joy of scouting. Good riddance! You knuckle draggers crawl back into your cave and let those of us that really care about kids contribute to scouting. Oh, and I do hope you don't mind if the collection plates are a little lighter from now on.

    May 31, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Money rules. No matter the situation the books gotta balance. Someone will have to answer if the goals aren't met.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • SCOTTA

      hey gary tell me HE is invisible and HE doesnt exist when youre standing right in front of HIM at the judgment! wow just wait youll see!

      June 1, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  11. John Duke

    I am a Baptist minister, and I continue to be embarrassed by Southern Baptists. The SBC has always been conservative, but years ago they went even further by becoming a fundamentalist denomination. They do not represent the views of all Christians, or even of all Baptists. Unfortunately, the SBC often gives Christianity a bad name.

    May 31, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Katie

      I'm a Presbyterian and we welcome gay people as leaders and pastors with open arms. Sadly, this has caused great consternation from several of our Southern churches, some have even left. I think it's a SOUTHERN thing.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      I agree. I was born and raised Southern Baptist, and remained very active in my church until I turned 25, at which time I began to realize just how judgmental, close-minded and self-righteous the Baptist Church really is. I was ostracized for having long hair. The last time I checked Jesus had long hair, and yet they worship him. The hypocrisy was more than I could continue tolerating, so I left and never looked back. In fact, I completely abandoned god and all religion because of those experiences.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  12. Ken Margo

    Hooray. Now the church can't influence people at a young age. The less that believe in their youth, the less that will believe as adults. The best news I've heard all day.

    May 31, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
  13. Katie

    So when did Pastor Reed CHOOSE to be straight?

    May 31, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      When you get that application in the mail. Everybody fills out that form. Don't you remember?

      May 31, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Katie

      Thanks Ken! I forgot. Silly me.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • SCOTTA

      WHEN DID YOU CHOOSE TO BE AN IDIOT?!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      June 1, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • ollienkd

      @Scotta...according to the timestamp on your comment you chose June 1, 2013 at 2:10 pm...but I'm guessing it's not the first time.

      June 3, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  14. Colin

    It's a choice and a disgusting liefstyle. I don't care what anybody says. But enough about the Southern Baptists, let's discuss gays......

    May 31, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • mama k

      <button>Like</button>

      May 31, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      LOL

      May 31, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Yep

      Yep

      May 31, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • jack

      I Don.t care what anybody says

      May 31, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Ahahah, and you win CNN for the day!

      May 31, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Poohsmom

      LMAO. nice.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • sam

      Haha!

      May 31, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      Why are you so anxious to talk about yourself?

      May 31, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Steve

      You are right about that and I've said that for years!

      May 31, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      LOL

      June 2, 2013 at 1:39 am |
  15. Elisabeth L

    Good! I don't want my children exposed to Southern Baptists... they give Christians a bad name! I am happy the Boy Scouts are moving in the right direction.

    May 31, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  16. SixDegrees

    Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    Good riddance.

    And in case you're thinking of changing your mind: the Boy Scouts believe in evolution, too.

    May 31, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • [!]

      Yeah, bye SBs. Don't let the door hit ya where evolution split ya.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  17. Colin

    Dear Tim Reed:

    Thank you fand the Southern Baptists for your brave Christian stand against the Boy Scouts You are clearly a man of God and an authority on the Bible. As such, I wonder if you could please help me with some other deep moral issues with which I am struggling.

    1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you please clarify? Why can't I own a Canadian?

    2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her? Should I mark her down, given that the Dow is back below 13,000?

    3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women just slap me.

    4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

    6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10) it is a lesser abomination than ho.mos.exuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

    7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear
    reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

    8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

    9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

    10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them?
    Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14).

    Thanking you in anticipation of your learned response.

    May 31, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • GetReal

      Still haven't figured out the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament..

      May 31, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Colin

      GetReal- elaborate.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Interesting

      Oh, come on. Are you really asking or are you being deliberately obtuse? Those laws were given under the Old Testament. Anyone who actually has studied the Bible knows that following Christ's death, and resurrection, those laws were no longer in effect. They are not the standards today's believers are asked to live by.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • boo

      The NT was more messed with than a San Diego hooker when the fleet is in.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • jack

      the Lord told Moses to come fourth Moases came with and the Lord lost a bundle

      May 31, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Colin

      Really "Interesting?" Perhaps you can point me to somewhere in the Bible where Jesus said that.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • jack

      The Lord told Moses To come fourth, Moses came fifth and the Lord lost a bundle

      May 31, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Colin

      In the Old Testament once you died and the ground covered you that was it.
      In the New Testament, once you die, you are either sent to a celestial North Korea, where you get to worship god for all eternity or you are condemned to hell for all eternity, there is no escape.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • Gary

      Very well said!

      May 31, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • jack

      interesting What about the Ten Commandments HUH no longer in affect

      May 31, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • GetReal

      Colin

      Jesus fulfilled the requirement of the Old Testament laws by the perfect he life he lived, and by doing so removed teh responsibility for mankind to do so. He replaced it with the New Testament.

      Heb_8:8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

      His fulfillment means that we as weak and sinful humans, have been redeemed from the curse of the laws by his blood. All those old rules "went out the window" so to speak.

      Instead of being tasked to "do all the right things" to get to heaven, the new task is simply:

      Joh_13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Colin

      I know what later Christians wrote, but can you point to anywhere where JC said that?

      May 31, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • Scott

      I love it when God haters try to use the Bible to ridicule Christianity. Most of them look just as foolish as this Colin guy, because they don't realize that Old Testament law died with Jesus Christ. It makes me laugh thinking about all of the research and time he spent writing all of that stuff that is 100% irrelevant.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • sam

      @interesting – Jesus says very plainly in the NT that the old laws are not abolished.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • GetReal

      Open up a Bible and study the words in RED.....

      May 31, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Colin

      Interesting Scott, now can you point me to where Jesus, the person who supposedly achieved all this, actually said that? One would think he would mention it.

      PS: It is not possible to hate something you do not believe exists.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • sam

      “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished"
      -Matthew 5:17-18

      Scott, interesting, both of you need to learn to read your own book.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Curious

      Hmm... Does that mean The 10 Commandments are out too since that was Old Testament?

      May 31, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • Colin

      @Get Real. Yep, thought so. You didn't even know he never said that did, you? One would think he would have mentioned it.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • .

      Nice try, 'Get Real'.

      You can make it say anything, right?

      If the old laws are replaced because of Jeuss, then feel free to tell the baptists to stop following archaic laws, and stop pretending being gay is a sin.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Colin

      It constantly amazes me how little most Christians know about their own book.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      The Book of Leviticus was written specifically for the Tribe of Levi – the Rabbis – not for every other person. Unless you are a Levite you are probably okay, and none of those old Jewish laws apply to you.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • sam

      Then except for gay jews, I guess the rest of us are solid.

      No, no, keep disagreeing amongst your religious selves about what the books say, what they mean, who they're for...that's really fun to watch you all prove you have no idea what the hell your god really wants from you.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Kudos for trying Colin.

      May 31, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • GetReal

      Colin...I already have, you just refuse to read the words.....

      May 31, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • Scott

      Nice try Colin and Sam, but just because you can't comprehend something doesn't affect it's meaning. Enjoy eternal punishment. Wish I could see the looks on your faces when you kneel before God and beg for forgiveness...when it's too late!

      May 31, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Colin

      Scott, out of all the silly superst.itious beliefs of the Christians, I think the myth of hell is my favorite. Think it through. I don't have to kill, I don't have to steal, hell, I don't even have to litter. All I have to do is have a reasonable, honest and rational disbelief in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty upon me an infinite times worse than the death penalty. And he loves me.

      May 31, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Scott – "Wish I could see the looks on your faces when you kneel before God and beg for forgiveness...when it's too late!"

      Mighty Christian of you, Scott.

      May 31, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Michael

      Colin, you post is hysterical! LOVED it. Clearly points out the sheer stupidity and hypocrisy of those who just carve out the passages that support their bigoted views. You made a poignant point with great humor. Write more!

      May 31, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • clever writing

      hilarious... especially "most women just slap me..."
      How about translating the entire bible some time...

      June 2, 2013 at 12:58 am |
  18. john

    I suppose the Southern Baptists would consider it a sin to not be a Christian. Yet, BSA is a non-Christian organization. What, allow sinners into the Boy Scouts? Apparently only sinful Christians are allow in BSA.

    May 31, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  19. motorfirebox

    They're right, really. Look at the example of Jesus: when he was confronted with sinners, he told them to get away because they were gross and sinful. He didn't hang out with them, and he didn't help them when they needed it.

    Oh wait, that's actually completely false.

    May 31, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah. Whoops.

      You'd think they would realize that gay scouts have always been around...and you'd think they'd take this opportunity to try and steer THESE SINNERS away from the evil GAYNESS!

      But I'm glad they're not. Now kids won't have to listen to their craziness.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • GetReal

      Why is convenient to forget the part where Jesus told them...."Go and sin no more"

      May 31, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • sam

      Because sin gets defined all kinds of ways by each different sect – the concept of 'sin' is a bullshit ploy from the period's ruling class to keep the unwashed masses in line.

      Grow up.

      May 31, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  20. farside6262

    I grew up in the "Bible Belt" and some of us had a saying...
    The only problem with Southern Baptists is that when they baptize them, they don't hold them down long enough!!

    May 31, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      10-4, Eleanor! ROTFLMAO!

      May 31, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • farside6262

      Actually, I am not Eleanor, but thanks anyway

      May 31, 2013 at 8:02 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.