home
RSS
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. bob

    Sad to see the decline in our society. I suppose the Girl Scouts will follow suit and admit lesbians next. It seems anyone the stands up for what is right is berated as a bigot / hater / whatever the liberals what to label you.

    While I have nothing against Gay people themselves, their lifestyle IS in fact immorale...sorry...its true. It does not matter how much you call me a hater, the reality is Gay people will go to hell.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • .

      "their lifestyle IS in fact immorale...sorry...its true. It does not matter how much you call me a hater, the reality is Gay people will go to hell."

      James

      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 9:20 am |
    • The real Tom

      boob, you are so damn dumb that you don't even know how to SPELL "immoral", much less understand what it means. You're the immoral one here-you're doing precisely what you were told by Jesus NOT to do: judge others.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • dwsun

      Sorry to tell you "bob", Girl Scouts already have a non-discrimination clause that allows gays in. Guess your whole world of hate is turned upside down....

      June 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Really?

      WHO CARES WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS. It's a book written in the bronze age. It's FICTION. That's a FACT. Tell people there is a wizard in the sky who grants wishes and they believe you. Tell them the paint is wet they have to touch it to believe it. Christians account for roughly 24% of the entire world's population, not everybody believes in your fantasy.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • hyphenite

      I wouldn't call you a hater, horribly ignorant, sure. But not a hater.

      Beleive in whatever faith you want, but always remember that that faith does not give you the right to decide what is "moral" for anyone but yourself.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • gman5541

      Hate is hate, no matter the reason and moreover there's little basis even in the bible for your behavior.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Tim

      NEWSFLASH: God created gay people

      June 2, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Tamara Love

      The bible also says the God does not judge us for our sins, and that we are not above God, so for you to judge a category of people would be you placing yourself on a platform above God. Judge not, lest ye be judged.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • ksb

      If, by 'immoral', you mean it goes against what some religious leaders have cherry picked from the words in the bible, then I suppose, yes, immoral.

      If I cherry pick other words, it seems that being rich or striving to be rich is also immoral. Funny, Babtists don't seem to have a problem with that iparticular immorality. (Or tattoos, or garments which mix linin with cotton, or a hundred other sins you could alternately cherry pick.

      When you point to a reference for morality, and then choose only SOME of what it says as important, we all know that it is YOU, not the bible, that wants to be the authority. Sorry, we don't put any stock in YOU or your (or your pastor's) opinions on morality.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      How do you know gay people are going to hell?

      June 2, 2013 at 9:34 am |
  2. Jerry

    Just sick!

    June 2, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • Tim

      Cool story

      June 2, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  3. CurtisG

    Anyone who thinks BSA is about their church and their beliefs has lost all understanding of Scouting. BSA is strictly nonsectarian, and welcomes all faiths and beliefs equally. If Baptists don't want to play with other good people of faith, and take their toys and go home, that is their loss. BSA will be stronger when the people who don't understand Scouting leave.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Jerry

      Written by a Gay person obviously!

      June 2, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • dwsun

      As a BSA member/Webelos leader, I say so sorry to see you leave. Please watch the door knob on the way out.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  4. Jim

    I am pleased that the Baptist Church is leaving.
    People like this shouldn't be allowed to spread their hate and bigotry to children

    June 2, 2013 at 9:18 am |
  5. achepotle

    haha...so funny seeing these freaks chew thier own legs off, trying to get out of the traps they built for themselves.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • Shawn

      lol

      June 2, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  6. TM

    I support the SBC resolution mentioned in this article. I realize that no SBC church is bound to abide by it, but it is an important statement of displeasure at this sad turn of events. As an Eagle Scout myself, I must say I am very disappointed in the BSA for this step. The Scout Oath ends in the words [A scout] "wiill keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morallly straight." Interesting, huh?

    June 2, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • grafixer

      In the list, "trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly..." I guess it doesn't say, "I won't be a narrow bigot."

      June 2, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  7. opinion8it

    "The Boy Scouts of America voted to lift its ban on openly gay youths..."

    someone please tell me what "openly gay" means..

    June 2, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • billfitt

      Blowing and banging each other publicly I would guess.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Austin

      yes in means wide open

      June 2, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • fyre

      It means that you mention your relationship with your significant other in passing conversation like any normal human being when the topic comes up. It also means that you don't have to pretend to have an interest in the opposite gender for fear of being automatically kicked out.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • whostheboss

      It means boys that have 'come out of the closet', NOTHING MORE!! Gay kids have been in the Boy Scouts almost from the very beginning, now they are just welcomed for who they are, not who we want them to be!! ALL kids can benefit from Scouting, NOT just straight kids!!!

      June 2, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • Kevin Smith

      The same as openly hetero, but opposite. Duh.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • Dale

      Keep the gay agenda away from kids. If you allready have you kid programmed as a kid to be gay the scenario is freaky enough to where kids don't need to spend their time on this issue.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Shawn

      Admitting it openly. Not hiding it.

      What scares me is not gay people; it's the amount of ignorance shown here. This guy is probably a leader of something too. *sheesh*

      June 2, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • billfitt

      So why don't they just let them in the Girl Scouts? Sure seems like they would feel more at home.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  8. DocHollywood

    ".....and to get the boys in a program where they’re going to be protected...." Well, the church has pretty much proven over the years that they are the LAST place boys are protected, I'd say. The best thing that could happen to the Scouts is to remove it's association with religion.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Austin

      God out anal in

      June 2, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • Larry

      We should ask the Baptist churches to leave these states. It's not a hate thing. It's that Jesus died for everyone, gays, and those who judge sit most in sin. There's more gays than Baptists, (Thank Jesus)

      June 2, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  9. Gus

    The world is going in the wrong direction,what is going on!,gay people keep it to yourself and make your own gay scouts.Its 2013and if you haven't figure it out integration doesn't work,"we",the strait people don't think is a good example to have our kids at a young age to see "gay" as a normal thing because it is not.So you gays feel different from the normal people?,you are different,keep gay to and for gays,it is not normal,not the way nature intend us to be.Good luck princesses.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • .

      ""gay" as a normal thing because it is not."

      YeahRight

      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 9:17 am |
    • The real Tom

      Gus is just Bob, using another name. He's so stupid he can't figure out how to use the space bar on his 1992 model.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • grafixer

      Simply an ignorant post. Get an education.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • Shawn

      Science has found that animals are gay at almost the exact same rate as people, so it is "natural" and it is "normal", but asking someone of religion to use the brain God gave them is just so hard when all they have to do is follow the senseless ramblings of the Bible.
      Try cracking open a real book and getting an actual clue. You Know, a book that doesn't contradict itself about a zillion times.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • Tom

      Nature doesn't care what you do, moron...

      June 2, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • RobPGH

      Hey Gus! I just kissed my gay husband goodbye and wished him a great day at work. After we slept together all night in the same bed, cuddling, and talking about how much we love our life and everything we've worked hard to accomplish. Oh, and our little baby dog was snuggled up next to us. He's kind of like our 'child'. We own our home, without a mortgage, as well as both of our vehicles. We have no debt. And guess what? A different version of us probably lives right down the street from YOU. Ohhh, doesn't that just get under your skin? And here's an added bonus: we're not going anywhere. EVER. You and your religion don't get to make the rules, Gus. Call us anything you like. We're used to it, and we're seriously SO beyond caring about it that we rarely pay attention to people like you anymore. YOU are the one that needs an education. YOU are the one that needs to learn acceptance and fairness. And YOU are the one that chooses to live a lifestyle that's hideous and ridiculous – yet you don't hear US yelling about how much we hate you. All I do is love another man. I don't abuse children or animals or belong to a cult. I give of myself, my time, and my resources to those less-fortunate. I call my Mother. I pay my taxes. I keep my home and possessions intact and clean. I do community service. You should be happy about that. If all gay people were as your religion would have you believe, this world would be a MUCH, MUCH, MUCH more hideous place to live. Think about that. If you're able.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:32 am |
  10. One one

    Actually, it is a hate thing. They are lying. That makes two "sins".

    June 2, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  11. Bob

    Not a hate thing? Taking away rights from people, to the benefit of no one? Yeah, that's a hate thing....

    June 2, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  12. Shawn

    Gay people are allowed in the military, so next the Baptist Churh will ban them. "If you are a veteran, you can not attend a Baptist Church." Sounds like Westborough Baptist Church.....Oh Wait, they are Baptists.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Maria

      Very good point. Pretty soon, they're going to lead Amish-type lifestyles, rejecting the outside world as they are.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • whostheboss

      EVERY TIME it benefits the church they are screaming bloody murder about discrimination, now when THEY do it is okay?!!! Gosh darn HYPOCRITES!!!

      June 2, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  13. Nothing But The Truth

    No where in the bible does it say being gay is a sin and that gay marriage shouldn't be allowed. These people are ridiculous.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • kev

      Yes it has in the bible you need to be carefully read.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Bruce

      um... http://www.openbible.info/topics/gay_marriage

      June 2, 2013 at 9:18 am |
  14. jrsyjorg

    i just realized msnbc is filtering out all but church bashers and libtards

    June 2, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • OOO

      How did you figure that one out?

      June 2, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • grafixer

      You are on CNN – not MSNBC. And no, they are not filtering. The majority of Americans are not in favor of extremist churches taking over our children groups- muchless our political arenas. The posts simply reflect the majority view... for now.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • TrueBlue42

      Shocking! Next thing you know, Fox "News" will filter out everyone but right-wingnuts and Bible-bashers. Oh, wait a moment...

      June 2, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • billfitt

      Yes, it's clearly run by queens.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • Kevin Smith

      Let's see how much longer it takes you to realize this isn't MSNBC. You right-wingers are a broken record. Fox good, MSNBC bad.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  15. BO

    It is halarious to watch the church haters spin like tops trying to figure what to believe. Church or NAMBLA. LMAO

    June 2, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • BO is a troll

      ...who failed spelling.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Shawn

      The only one's hating are teh Churchs

      June 2, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Tom

      Your condition can be treated...

      June 2, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  16. tjwdj

    "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." ......What's does that say about the Southern Baptist & Catholics; not very inclusive are they???

    Royal Ambassadors??? ! ....how about the high and mightys we are better than thou! :>{

    June 2, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  17. Mitt Romney

    Baptists are kid diddlers.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • ironage

      I think Catholics wear that crown

      June 2, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  18. grafixer

    Good. Extremist religious groups are not good for the Scouts.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  19. Nietodarwin

    SO FUNNY "It's not a hate thing" ???? Eagle Scouts will continue to end up in power, (or be the 1st man on the moon), but now NONE of them will be Baptist. !!!! "It's not a hate thing" HA HA "Fishing is not a water sport!!!

    "You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out God hates all the same people you do" -Anne Lamott

    June 2, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • billfitt

      "man on the moon". Now THAT is certainly about to become an everyday scout term.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  20. Mopery

    The Baptist Church doth protest too much, methinks.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:13 am |
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.