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. theoldfool1950

    The average IQ of the average Boy Scout will immediately go up. And in time it will grow. I expect they will "go rogue" and start a whole new kind of Boy Scout. This will be gun-centric and will be demonstrative of what good and kind Christians they are. The NRA marries Christianity, and you get the new Boy Scout. This scout will be brave, clean, reverent and armed. Watch for them at a Baptist Church near you.

    June 1, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • lol??

      Don't worry, the Big O is arming every fed employee he can. Martial law must be on its way. Rights won't matter then.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • The Other Bob

      @lol??: Keep drinking the tea.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • KMDAB

      I think LOL's tinfoil hat is on too tight.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
  2. jrumor

    the headline on the CNN home page said 'baptists plan exodus'. i thought they were all going to leave the country.
    i was disappointed that they were just going to deny their children the experience of boy scouts.

    if they are against the gays because Leviticus says so, i expect them to not eat shrimp or pork, cut their hair, etc. otherwise, they just pick and choose their bible versus so it means what they want it to mean.... which means nothing

    June 1, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • lol??

      Too crowded in the pup tents.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  3. ChristianKoolaidFree

    This is exactly why I do not believe nor ever will in religion or christians... You are the absolutely most EVIL people on the face of this planet. Even if religion where to somehow be real (which I know it isn't) you would all be children of SATAN. Your nothing more than a cult of whack jobs and freaks! THATS IS WHAT "I" BELIEVE AND YOU WILL NEVER CHANGE MY MIND!!!!!!! i Can't wait until your all gone and find out there is NOTHING waiting for you fools! *** LONG LIVE SCIENCE!!!! ***

    June 1, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • sup

      Go take your medication son

      June 1, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • IndependentMind

      Hate speech goes both ways.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • KMDAB

      Not agreeing with a religion isn't hate speech.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      While I agree with what you're saying, well, the way you're saying it makes you sound exactly like the xtian fundie whack-job freaks you're criticizing. Those of us with the modic-um of intelligence it takes to see through these nut-bars need to at least try and sound more intelligent than they do if we expect to be taken seriously.

      June 3, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
  4. Dana R

    Good riddance to self-righteous haters.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • bj

      Dana do you really not see what's wrong with YOUR post? LOL wow

      June 1, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Athy

      Nothing wrong with Dana's post. How about yours, bj?

      June 1, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Dana R

      If you are gay you can't qualify as a hater, you get to call everyone else a hater because we aren't as smart as normal people.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    Penalize the kids of you must.........but your religious oppression is showing.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • bj

      It's not the SBC's job to support the kids. They likely never should have....supported them. The job of the Church is to preach Christ and repentance. It was a nice but foolish thing to do. Better they get out now.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  6. jimkon

    Religions at work (far from being the full list):
    Palestine (Jews vs. Muslims), the Balkans (Orthodox Serbians vs. Catholic Croatians; Orthodox Serbians vs. Bosnian and Albanian Muslims), Northern Ireland (Protestants vs. Catholics), Kashmir (Muslims vs. Hindus), Sudan (Muslims vs. Christians and animists), Nigeria (Muslims vs. Christians), Ethiopia and Eritrea (Muslims vs. Christians), Sri Lanka (Sinhalese Buddhists vs. Tamil Hindus), Indonesia (Muslims vs. Timorese Christians), Iran and Iraq (Shiite vs. Sunni Muslims), and the Caucasus (Orthodox Russians vs. Chechen Muslims; Muslim Azerbaijanis vs. Catholic and Orthodox Armenians).

    June 1, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Colin

      u can add Myanmar as Buddhists are currently beating up on Muslims in the eastern provinces.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • bj

      It's called 'sin'. Man doing evil continually. God tells you all about that, in the bible.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • lol??

      Active little spirits. Global warming, err sweating.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
  7. Rollick

    I think if you have millions of members and can threaten your financial power over anything, you should not have a tax exempt status.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • apstar

      Good point. One of the best ways to reduce the national debt would be to start taxing religious groups.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • sup

      Should this rule apply to every organization especially gay rights and atheist, since both groups are against christianity?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • bj

      YOU are the one who want to make the BSA a 'secular' organization. Why should the SBC (A Christian/religious) organization HAVE to support something they know is wrong? You are the inconsistent ones.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  8. DropD

    Man, for people who claim that Christians are hate filled bigots, you sure are hate filled with your comments about them.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Troy

      Oh believe me, they know it. They Christian bashers know they are vile and seething haters, and they are just fine with it

      June 1, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • Edweird69

      A twisted cult deserves all the ridicule thrown at them. The SB's are SOB's.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I take it you would have listened quietly to Hitler's early speeches asking critics to express more tolerance and openness to his ideas.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • Alias

      So, DropD
      If you were to comment on the Westboro Baptist Church (or whatever they're called) would you offer kind words?

      June 1, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  9. jimkon

    There are 1.2 billion people in India at this moment, most of them are Hindus, most of them therefore are polytheists. In Christian universe, no matter how good these people are, they are doomed. If you are praying to the monkey god, Hanuman, you are doomed. You'll be tortured in hell for eternity. Now is there the slightest evidence for this? No, it just says so in Mark 9, Matthew 13 and Revelations 14. Perhaps you'll remember from The Lord of the Rings, it says that when the elves die, they go to Valinor, but they can be reborn in Middle Earth. I say that just as a point of comparison.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Troy

      You failed miserably to make a good point

      June 1, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
  10. Steve

    If they ban the gays they should ban Obama as well

    June 1, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • deb

      and Obama has just what to do with this? Don't be ignorant.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Steve

      Obama is also gay. What, you didn't know?

      June 1, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Don't look now, but your stupidity is showing.

      June 3, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
  11. jimkon

    Most of the conflicts between people of different religions start simply because they disagree about "facts" that are every bit as meaningful as the names of Santa's reindeer.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • apstar

      No kidding. What pharisees had the abomination to introduce Rudolf as one of Santa's reindeer?

      June 1, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
  12. Jon

    Lets just say two words – COACH SANDUSKY!!!!!!!

    June 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • Sandusky Scouts

      I'm only qu eer for the rear let me out and bring on them slobber drool scouts

      June 1, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Travis

      No...not even remotely close. Jerry Sandusky molested a bunch of children without consequence for a decade, and now he's going to spend the rest of his life in prison and the rest of eternity in Hell. This pastor has an opinion that both you happen to disagree with, but unless you have reason to believe that he is guilty of the same heinous crime, then STOP MAKING THE COMPARISON. I don't agree with him either, but you don't see me calling him Hitler. These kind of comments just make you look like an extremist.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  13. bj

    Mac I did that too (to Saraswait). I am so very sorry...it truly was an accident

    June 1, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • Saraswati

      lol...I assume you're talking about hitting "report abuse" by accident? We've all done it...I'm pretty sure it takes more than one person to make kill a comment. I wouldn't worry about it.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
  14. deb

    If the catholic church is going to ban gay scouts... they ought to ban gay priest first.... see how many priests they have left

    June 1, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • .

      the overwhelming majority of priests are honest God fearing men those few ho mose xuals that lied their way into the priesthood to indulge their sin on the innocent are as few as the low number of perverts anywhere else

      June 1, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
  15. Carl

    No one is going to miss the Phags.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • Hairy walrus

      Really? that's all you've got.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Integration!

      Carlie boy, where have you been? Didn't you read the story? They are now Integrating with the Boy Scouts and good for them! But you're right on one thing, they will certainly not be missed in the BS from now on 'cause they'll be right there in their face from now on to Stay! And that's gotta be a Great thing like it or not!

      June 1, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      What an intelligent post. For a rabbit-brained moron.

      June 3, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
  16. Colin

    To any gay kids out there – Southern Baptist or otherwise. Don't let these Christians upset you. There is nothing wrong with you. You are just in a minority, that's all. You can't see it now, but the awful things they say about you nowwill, one day when you're older, be as irrelevant to your lives as the children who called you "fat, fat the water rat" at kindergarten.

    Some people, like these Southern Baptists, aren't particularly morally or intellectually gifted. Please bear this in mind and don't judge them too harshly. They likely know no better.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • .

      they know the difference between right and wrong and have the right to protect their children from the vileness known as ho mose xuality

      June 1, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Tim

      No, they gays should let it bother them. There is plenty wrong with them. They are a disgusting sinful abomination and they should see themselves as such. Kudos to the Baptist church for exposing the gays for what they are

      June 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • .

      gay is a word stolen by ho mose xuals to try to make their diseased sin seem acceptable they are not gay they are sick and perverted

      June 1, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Colin

      As you will see from Tim's diction, it tends to be the lower echelons ofthe intellectual spectrum that hold such views, to the extent that is relevant. As you move onward and upwards in life, people like Tim will go from being your classmate to your mechanic, to the prisoner you try and help through charity work, to the red neck who died in his trailer at age 45 from alcohol abuse.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Edweird69

      Colin – great post. These azzzholes on here could care less about some children. They don't care if gay teens commit suicide, it actually pleases them. They are repulsive, hateful, self-loathing pigs, who will stop at nothing to keep their false sense of superiority over a minority. They are active participants in encouraging some teens, and even other people, in their suicidal thoughts and actions. If they're going to heaven, I'm glad I'm not.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • .

      better that a ho mose xual off itself rather than abuse an innocent child

      June 1, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Mike 828

      Well said, Colin. Those of us who are adults can carve these bigots out of our lives. However, the teenage girl or boy figuring out they're gay, and being brought up in this denomination, is told, week after week, they are less of a human being for something that just is. It breaks my heart. Sometimes I see an obituary for a young person, and no cause of death is mentioned, and the service is at a Southern Baptist Church. It's just an awful way to treat a confused young person, telling them they're going to hell.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Jan

      If more people thought like Colin the world will be a better place. God does not judge and no one l else should. God loves everyone no matter what.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Tim

      Nice try Colin, but I know I hold a better job than you ever will. Your pathetic "Redneck" rhetoric sounds the same as any other gay loving loser. Do you all steal the same lame material from one another? My life will show more success than yours ever will, or your gay friends

      June 1, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Casting the First Stone

      Well of course they say what they say because they have absolutely no sin at all in their lives. Not one. They are immaculate and can therefore stand to be in contempt and judgment of others whom they despise. This highly reminds me of a great saying by a great man.

      "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." - Mahatma Ghandi
      That's really hitting the nail right on the head with these intolerable people. Enough said!

      June 1, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Colin

      @Tim – of course you will, big guy. I know, you'll go back and finish college one day, you've just been too busy lately, right?

      June 1, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Kudos Colin!

      Kudos to you, Colin, for telling it like it is! Adults, Children, and fair-minded people should no more listen to bigots disguised as helpers than to feel inferior because of how God made them and how they are. Know that God loves you just as much as the rest of the people He created, which is everyone in general and No, He makes No Mistakes! And only He judges appropriate sin. Man cannot and should not. And only by the blood of Jesus Christ are you saved and He, incidentally, said not one thing about gay people. Neither did God in the Ten Commandments. There you have it. Know that God Loves You and wants for you to Live and not listen to bigots.

      June 1, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Yeah, they emerged from the shallow end of the gene pool.

      June 3, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
  17. apstar

    I could see this coming: either troops segregating themselves from national BSA policies of troops splintering so those who are unwilling to support the BSA's decisions will form their own troop.
    What a great message Southern Baptists send to the boys of BSA, their parents/guardians and the public in general:
    1) It's fine to disobey authority
    2) If you don't like what you're told to do and what is decried to be the law, leave.
    3) Your brand of religion is holier than others.
    3) Unlike Christ, you choose to not love every human being on this planet, but only on certain contingencies.
    4) You accept that 30 percent or so of the gospel was purged by Constantine and his followers to suit his purposes.
    5) Matthew 19:3-7 talks about men and women and about marriage, but not that marriage is specifically between a man and a woman. Furthermore, the bible contains passages condoning polygamy. Regardless, times have changes and some of these points are open to interpretation. Again, you choose to ignore the parts of the bible that don't suit your own purposes.
    6) Even Christ drank wine, yet you consider it inappropriate for yourselves. Again, making your own rules that have nothing to do with what is stated in the bible nor practiced by Jesus.
    In summary, if you split off, most people will have no problem with that. You can continue to foster your narrow-minded outdated concepts and the BSA will be better as a whole without members who choose to not live by rules. Recall Peter 2:17, who states, "Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor." If you collectively leave the BSA, I will not shed any tears. If that doesn't happen, I'd like to see an openly gay youth come to one of your troops, have you refuse to let him in, and see him sue your sorry asses (and by that, I do not mean donkeys, just to make sure there is no misinterpretation).

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

      I must repeat myself:
      Jesus loves all people, including gays.
      Baptists hate gays, but think they are close to god.
      HAHAHAHAHA!

      June 1, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • In Agreement

      "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." - Mahatma Ghandi

      June 1, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    June 1, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Wang bone

      You're better off masturbating than praying. Achieving orgasm releases endorphins, which make you happy. Nothing like wasting time by praying. What a load of rubbish.

      June 1, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
  19. Tim

    The old adage, "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out" couldn't be more appropriate. Is there anything that isn't better without southern baptists?

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

      Nope. Everything is better without Southern Baptists - EVERYTHING!

      June 1, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • The Other Bob

      I think they might relate better to this version: "Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya."

      June 1, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      No, there isn't.

      June 3, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
  20. donco6

    Best news I've heard all week.

    June 1, 2013 at 8:45 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.