May 31st, 2013
04:19 PM ET

Baptists plan exodus from Boy Scouts

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(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. J. Lurton

    Great news!! Now if they will just leave the country too.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:03 am |
  2. Science

    Hey Chadie where are you ? Billion year old water. chadie where was the damn bible ?

    Billion-Year-Old Water Could Hold Clues to Life On Earth and Mars

    May 15, 2013 — A UK-Canadian team of scientists has discovered ancient pockets of water, which have been isolated
    deep underground for billions of years and contain abundant chemicals known to support life.


    June 2, 2013 at 9:03 am |
  3. JC

    Being a Scout myself and Leader in the past, I truly feel sorry for the Boy Scouts of America.
    In this day and age, they really had no choice in the matter and did what they did. I don't hold
    that against BSA and certainly have nothing against any Scouts that are gay,
    For the Boy Scouts of America, it was the old "damned if you do, damned if you don't".
    They did the best they could. JC

    June 2, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • GetReal

      No they didn't, They could have grown a pair and said..."This far and no further"

      June 2, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Maria

      As a private organization, they already won the court cases that said they could do whatever they liked. Clearly, they didn't like the idea of being considered exclusionary and losing membership over something that never really becomes an issue in a young man's lifestyle until puberty... by which time, these young men are among those in the highest ranks in the Boy Scouts.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • No one is damned

      HeII is an invention of the human mind.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  4. BO

    NAMBLA -The new sponsors for the boy scouts.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • rebecca

      Yes giant troll, we saw it the first time. Ha ha ha you are so funny. Why do you want to troll a CNN page? Most people here are a bit too educated to give you the response you are looking for. Try Yahoo Answers. Or Facebook maybe.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • Spike

      Grow up dude

      June 2, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • BO

      So you all approve of Man-Boy love?

      June 2, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Pete

      "So you all approve of Man-Boy love?"

      So now you don't know the definition of a pedophile, what an idiot.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • Patricia

      Nah, NAMBLA has their hands full sponsoring the church.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • BO is a troll

      ...who is posing here. Ignore the git. He's stupid.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • JT

      LOL @ your assertion that gays are pedophiles. Ignorant much?

      June 2, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  5. jonat

    Liberalism has consequences

    June 2, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Clay R

      It's not about 'liberalism'. It's about supporting our kids. Your issue is hate and being close-minded. resolve your issue before coming back to scouting

      June 2, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • RichardWad

      Yeah... Like education, rational thought, compassion, empathy...

      June 2, 2013 at 9:09 am |
  6. Teresa

    It is horrible the message they are sending those gay youths, that the are not welcome. They are encouraging
    bigotry and intolerance in our children, and for that they should be ashamed. There Is no Christ in
    their brand of Christianity.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • John

      you are brainwashed

      June 2, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  7. rplat

    Only the hedonistic left would call the rejection of human behavioral anomaly, "hate".

    June 2, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  8. anon

    Yup, it's a choice to be despised and bullied by your peers. Gay is so "in". Anyone who thinks it's a choice must secretly have gay tendencies. It sure wasn't a choice for me to be straight. I'd rather shoot myself in the foot than choose to be gay. But apparently these people had to make that difficult choice to be straight.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  9. Gary P

    NO one needs the Baptist Church anyway. Bunch of hypocrites ....................

    June 2, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • ed dugan

      You're right. Good riddance to a group of people who never had an original thought in their entire lives. They govern their behavior by that book of christian fiction called the bible and despise every one who is not like them. The Scouts are much better off without their evil influence.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:04 am |
  10. theoppressed

    They had better not think too much harder on this one. In about two minutes, they would conclude they have to leave the world because those that have chosen to be gay are everywhere.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:00 am |
  11. DeeBee

    Quoting the bible.... ok..
    St. Matthew

    Judging Others
    Lk. 6.3738, 4142
    1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
    2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. Mk. 4.24
    3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
    4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
    5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
    6 ¶ Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend yo

    June 2, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • ed dugan

      Such unmitigated CRAP!

      June 2, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  12. 1984

    Tax the Churches, Tax the Business's own by the Churches... These are dangerous people, enough is enough. They pray on the weak and dis=informed and then steal all their money.
    Morals. I think Jesus Christ would have allowed gay scouts into his group. From what I have read he allowed everyone into his group, they were all his children.
    Religion is out of control, there seems to be know separation of Church and State anymore. They have really blurred it. They are so powerful they control politics just like Big Corporations. We are going backwards.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:00 am |
  13. K Jay

    There is ONLY ONE JUDGE. And it's not the Baptists or any other human. Those who continue to judge, take away God's job and therefore are being sinful. It's ironic.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Only ONE Judge??? You must mean ...Judge Judy!

      June 2, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Grams

      And what would our god Buddha say to that? Millions of Buddhists can't all be wrong. And did GOD give you the right to boast that YOU are right?

      June 2, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  14. disanitnodicos

    Now that it's just going to be the fudge packers left in the Boy Scouts, they should change their name to the Prancing Gaylords.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Yawn. Kind of early for an 8 year old to be up on the weekend, isn't it?

      June 2, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • J. Nebbe

      Probably just another Christian skipping Church, again.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  15. BO

    When Jesus wrote the Bible, he made it clear that gays were not welcome, like the moneychnagers in the Temple.

    June 2, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • .

      "When Jesus wrote the Bible, he made it clear that gays were not welcome"


      The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Jesus did not write the Bible.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • WASP

      jesus didn't write the bible, other men did. most historians aren't even certain "jesus" was a real man seeing little evidence outside the bible to corraberate his "story".

      June 2, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Bo

      WASP – Secular humanist. Bullsh.it. Jesus wrote it. That's why we have it in HEbrew and English. Duh...

      June 2, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Clay R

      Jesus didn't write the Bible.

      so the haters are now where they should be - on the outside of mainstream looking in

      June 2, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • stone

      Jesus didn't write anything, you brainwashed illogical idiot. For a religion that's all about peace and love you a**holes sure do a lot of hating and vilifying anyone who doesn't conform to your asinine beliefs. You religious nimrods need to do the world a huge favor and just leave this planet. What a peaceful place this world would be be without you banes of human existence.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • Michael

      Jesus did not write the bible. Maybe you are trying to be snarky.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • RichardWad

      Jesus never mentioned gay people. And the "moneychangers in the temple" is the most similar thing in the bible to the modern Christian church.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:08 am |
  16. JanetMermaid

    Yes it is EXACTLY a "hate thing" - their excuses are just that... excuses. Their god will judge them for their hatred.

    June 2, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  17. BO

    Being gay is just WRONG. I understand that we guys do like each other sometimes. I've had a lot of weak moments where I wanted a man more than a woman but Jesus helped me through it. If I had been in Boy Scouts when I was a kid and one of the other members was gay, he could have easily turned me 100% gay and that's just not right!

    June 2, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • .

      "Being gay is just WRONG"


      The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      Like their heterosexual counterparts, many gay and lesbian people want to form stable, long-lasting, committed relationships. Indeed, many of them do and that large proportions are currently involved in such a relationship and that a substantial number of those couples have been together 10 or more years.

      Research demonstrates that the psychological and social aspects of committed relationships between same-sex partners closely resemble those of heterosexual partnerships. Like heterosexual couples, same-sex couples form deep emotional attachments and commitments. Heterosexual and same-sex couples alike face similar issues concerning intimacy, love, equity, loyalty, and stability, and they go through similar processes to address those issues. Research examining the quality of intimate relationships also shows that gay and lesbian couples have levels of relationship satisfaction similar to or higher than those of heterosexual couples.

      A large number of gay and lesbian couples raise children. Children and teenagers whose parents provide loving guidance in the context of secure home environments are more likely to flourish – and this is just as true for children of same-sex parents as it is for children of opposite-sex parents. Based on research findings, mental health professionals have also reached a consensus that the quality of relationships among significant adults in a child’s or adolescent’s life is associated with adjustment. When relationships between parents are characterized by love, warmth, cooperation, security, and mutual support, children and adolescents are more likely to show positive adjustment. In contrast, when relationships between parents are conflict-ridden and acrimonious, the adjustment of children and adolescents is likely to be less favorable. These correlations are just as true for children of same-sex parents as for children of opposite-sex parents.

      Assertions that heterosexual couples are inherently better parents than same sex couples, or that the children of lesbian or gay parents fare worse than children of heterosexual parents, have no support in the scientific research literature. On the contrary, the scientific research that has directly compared outcomes for children with gay and lesbian parents with outcomes for children with heterosexual parents has consistently shown that the former are as fit and capable as the latter and that their children are as psychologically healthy and well adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Compassion

      It's OK BO. I know how you feel. Just drop the hard core anti-gay stuff though. IT is pretty clear you are still really conflicted. Don't worry – there is nothing wrong with it.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Pete

      "If I had been in Boy Scouts when I was a kid and one of the other members was gay, he could have easily turned me 100% gay and that's just not right!"

      Your an idiot, a troll and not gay at all. The fact you don't know the difference between a bisexual and homosexual is hysterical.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • BM

      Well, I guess if you are born screwed up there will be a consequence of some kind.

      I f you have no legs, you won't be able to jump like the other kids. Why pretend that you can?

      June 2, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Chris

      Bo, you are deluding yourself. You are gay or you are not. No one can "turn" you into a gay person in a weak moment. Where in the Bible did Christ ever try to convert a gay person into a straight person? Did he once lay hands on a gay person in an effort to turn him hetero? No.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:09 am |
  18. dick conley

    So the Southern Baptists instead of reaching out to these boys as Christ would have done, instead shuns them. What an ugly stain this puts on Christianity.

    June 2, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • RMinIL

      Goes back to the Gandhi quote "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

      June 2, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  19. Tom

    It's an hypocrite , holier than thou, intolerance thing.... People should leave the baptists in mass...

    June 2, 2013 at 8:58 am |
  20. Jon

    The Baptists and Catholics and other non-accepting dominations are free to practice their bigotry, uh pardon me...beliefs.

    Such moves will only further the decline in their memberships and that is truly the real loss to Christianity.

    June 2, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • John

      Churches are non-profit. What other reason do they have in wanting membership other than to save people. Rejecting God and the church hurts no one but that person.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • TeeJ

      Listen to the bigot calling others bigots. What a hypocrite!

      June 2, 2013 at 9:11 am |
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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.