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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. Wannetta

    What a joke organized religion has turned out to be. Jesus would certainly recognize them, he has seen them before. Sad, truly sad.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • lol??

      You might be laughing with the crowd, but for the wrong reason.

      "Mat 13:33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened."

      June 1, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  2. Rickapolis

    There is nothing more pathetic than people using religion to excuse their hatred, bigotry and ignorance.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Barrel staves. Arc lamp. Rain gear. You know the story.

      Seems to be one of the primary uses for it. That and dodging personal responsibility.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Ray

      Rickapolis is that what you use for your bigotry and ignorance? After all, it was Thomas Jefferson that wrote: "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship." The members of this church appear to be fools for Jesus. Who's fool are you?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • lol??

      Bibliophobics sure are proud, and I don't mean all that trash you read. But don't bother.

      1Cr 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Evil Church

      Christianity much like islam is the religion of hatred.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Doobs

      "Fools for Jesus" Too funny, and oh so true.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Edweird69

      @Ray – it's not "who's fool are you"... it's "whose fool are you". Am I the only one who went to class that day?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • sup

      Nice comment Ray.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
  3. Edweird69

    Let's just exclude a certain group of people we don't approve of, because that's what love truly is about. Treating adults that way is disgusting, treating children that way is down right repulsive.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Mark

      Approve of? Approval has nothing to do with it. Do the ten commandments require my approval or my obedience?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • sup

      And treating christians and calling them names is the right thing to do right? Hypocrite

      June 1, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • The Other Bob

      @sup: Whether these people are truly Christians is questionable.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
  4. jimkon

    120 million of us place the big bang 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • JR

      What?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • jim

      I think some people are just destined to be dumb.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Makes sense to me.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Evil Church

      Lots of these religious nuts believe the earth is 6000 years old because some fool added all the ages of the people in ....ready?...the Bible! The same idiots think that Jesus (god to them) hates gays and he never said a word about it. But that is being used as a basis for hatred and bigotry by these religious idiots. Go figure...

      June 1, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  5. bj

    What's really irrational LinCa is thinking that all of the universe, the good, the bad, the amazing creations of wine, and poetry and vision and music and mountains came from nothing...just appeared. That's really wacky!

    June 1, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Colin

      I have never, in three years of reading LinCA's posts, ever heard her espouse such a view. In fact, I would consider her the most intelligent, lucid and articulate poster on this site.

      If you are referring to the Big Bang, please get your facts straight first.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  6. Colin

    I guess I will consider gays on the same moral level as the Southern Baptists the day I hear of a group of gays quitting an organization because it allowed Southern Baptists to join, trying to deny Southern Baptists the right to serve their country or telling a goup of Southern Baptist children that they are degenrates or sinners.

    Until then, the gays have the moral high ground in this debate.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • bj

      Why? they don't have to support the BSA...They don't agree with them. Gays have a self-serving interest not a moral high ground. It's very simple

      June 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Saraswati

      bj, We all support the boy scouts since out tax dollars are used for goods an facilities provided by the military and parks services and federal legislation has required that public schools be available, even in towns than explicitly voted to not offer the tax payer funded facilities to discriminatory groups.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • mac101

      So very sorry, meant to click "reply" but hit "report abuse" in error.

      Southern Baptist children don't have to worry about others telling them they are degenerates and sinners – the adults in their lives tell them that all the time. Fundamentalism, in all it's incarnations, is both shame-based and fear-based. It's all about sin, going to h$ll, sin, the devil, thinking 'bad' thoughts, sin, being 'unclean,' needing redemption, sin, etc, etc.

      Not only do the gays and those of us who support them have the high moral ground, they also have strength and grace, instead of fear and shame.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Alias

      Please tell me how that is any different than me not supporting the Baptists because they let non-whites in?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  7. mac101

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

    June 1, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  8. David DeForge

    Dear Baptists,

    Try acting like Christ for a change.

    David.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • Mark

      We do. That is why we follow His commandments. He said if we love Him, we are to follow those commandments.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • bj

      Yes, Jesus is God. Meaning he wrote those words in Leviticus and He created Paul (who wrote those words in Romans and 1 Corinthians). God says NO and so did the SBC.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • John

      Santa says "ho-ho-ho", so what's your point? Both Santa and "god" are fairy tales. Oh, and nice nickname, BJ. Trying to tell us something?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  9. OMG

    Christians found a way to tell a Pagan story BETTER than the Pagans; the rest is a painful and bigoted history for everyone in their wake. One needs only a brain and an ounce of logic to realize there is no heaven/hell, and since FOR REAL no one has EVER come back from the dead to tell anyone anything different, I choose to live as if there is nothing beyond this life on earth. Live life to its fullest sincere Christians and refrain from judging because if you truly believe in "God", then you purportedly KNOW damn well that's his/her job. The SBs have every right to take their toys and play with them elsewhere and the BSA will be better off without them.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  10. jimkon

    Faith: unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • bj

      It takes an inordinate amount of 'faith' to think the UNIVERSE came into existence by chance, from nothing...absolutely no 'creator'...no designer and no engineer (so to speak)...Just poof or bang...goo and electricity and then life and love and liberty and libel suits.... LOL..As a very strong Christian I don't think I have enough of that kind of magickal faith. Can you atheists spare some????

      June 1, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • John

      Yes, and Jesus rode on the backs of dinosaurs, right? I think I saw a fossil of a t-rex with a saddle on it.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Saraswati

      bj, I think you'll find that most atheist don't claim to know the details of how the universe came into being. That's the difference...most of us are comfortable not knowing all the answers.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Athy

      bj, you need a lot more than just faith. But they don't sell brains, so you're out of luck.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
  11. Liam

    Baptists are so predictable. Weren't they vocal against blacks marrying whites? Weren't they vocal in their opposition of integration? They are a really scared group of people, especially considering their supposed "everlasting life".

    June 1, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • Saraswati

      150 years after founding their religion to protect slavery they now have a black president. Give them another 150 and, if they survive that long, we will likely see a gay president of the SBC. Hey...maybe even a woman one day...

      June 1, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • John

      A woman? Never! To Baptists, women are just baby-incubators and kitchen help.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  12. Su

    Don't worry Troop 542. There are plenty of other churches that will welcome you. Bet that Minister has an issue with bi-racial marriages too.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  13. Mark

    Should we depend upon the innate goodness of humans and human intellect to guide us, to insure kindness and compassion.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • mickey1313

      Ya, that and the rule of law. Useing thiesm to guid humanity has never worker for the majority, just the elite

      June 1, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • charles bowen

      So who will be the next victim of the Southern Baptist Minister ? Will their next target be The Girl Scouts ? Where Dose it stop? Your Doctrine is Flawed and you can't fix that by Discrimination and Prejudice ..... Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

      June 1, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  14. tom vance

    Why would one be surprised that we would line up with what we consider our Authority; the Bible. One would be considered without anchor to have no absolutes in life. If my or public opinion is my strategy, then I am without an anchor. At least respect that we are consistent. Tom

    June 1, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • san in diego

      it is becoming easier and easier to support the removal of tax exempt status for organized religion.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Alias

      Then how about keeping witheverything your bible says?
      Don't just scream about gays, protedt everyone who mixes fabrics, marries a non-virgin, divorces, eats shell fish ...

      June 1, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Consistent? Cherry-picking the Old Testament is being consistent? The ten commandments are fine, but we'll eat shellfish because Jesus said it was ok. Oh, wait....no he didn't. You people don't have a beam in your eye, you've got a whole friggin' tree!

      June 3, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  15. jimkon

    Religious faith is the one species of human ignorance that will not admit of even the possibility of correction.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Colin

      that's a good quote

      June 1, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • Barrel staves. Arc lamp. Rain gear. You know the story.

      I nth that.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Love it! Hitchens?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • lol??

      "Rom 10:17 So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

      June 1, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Sam Harris.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      *Applause*

      June 3, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  16. charles bowen

    Pastor Tim Reed has taken southern Baptist Prejudice to a new all time low ...We should thank him for exposing his churches misguided doctrine, by leaveing his church ,maybe the loss of his ministry will open his mind to the lies that the bible has perpetrated upon the masses......Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    June 1, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • Mark

      It is prejudice to follow one's beliefs?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • charles bowen

      Hitler Had Beliefs he followed them, need i say more ....Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

      June 1, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Geez, Mark – are you serious? If your beliefs are based on prejudicial thinking, then YES.

      Seriously, how are some of you still alive? Do you have handlers who remind you to breathe, because you're too dim to remember to breathe on your own?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  17. jimkon

    Let us all follow God’s teachings on morality: if a man discovers on his wedding night that his bride is not a virgin, he must stone her to death on her father’s doorstep (Deuteronomy 22:13-21).
    New book or the old one – that were His words, weren't they?

    June 1, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
  18. DavidinVancouverWA

    No surprise here. Baptists were among the first to rebel against integration and civil rights, as well as interracial marriage. History does indeed repeat itself. Very sad that Baptists do not seem to learn from past mistakes; rather they continue forward and gloat in their hypocrisy.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      And are no doubt the first to write so many hate-filled bigoted comments in response to the new cheerios add featuring a biracial family that they had to kill the comments section on you-tube.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  19. Old Scout

    YES!!! Now I don't have to worry about my children hiking in the woods and sleeping in tents with baptists!!

    June 1, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • Doobs

      LOL!

      June 1, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • mac101

      Truth!

      June 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
  20. jimkon

    It is merely an accident of history that it is considered normal in our society to believe that the Creator of the universe can hear your thoughts while it is demonstrative of mental illness to believe that he is communicating with you by having the rain tap in Morse code on your bedroom window.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • NoName

      If your going to cut and paste your hate-mongering against Christians instead of coming up with your own original arguments, at least cite your sources so I don't have to keep google-ing them, or is plagiarism ok in your little hate-filled world?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Noname – there was no mention of Christianity in the original post. How was that hate-mongering?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • charles bowen

      Apparently No Name thinks his religion is the only Christian Religion ...Is that true no name are baptists the only christians....Most Christians are'nt as in your face as the Sothern Baptists and Yes this is an original post....Noname needs to think outside the box a little more ... I'm with The 50 Foot Underware on this one.....Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

      June 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
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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.