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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. Henry

    So what's next? Do they (the Baptists) also plan to leave the planet!

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

      They do actually. They call this time the Rapture and it's going to happen any day now ;).

      June 2, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  2. Regnad Kcin

    You’ve got to be taught
    To hate and fear,
    You’ve got to be taught
    From year to year,
    It’s got to be drummed
    In your dear little ear
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
    Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
    And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
    Before you are six or seven or eight,
    To hate all the people your relatives hate,
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    From South Pacific, by Rogers and Hammerstein

    June 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  3. JR Ewing

    Good! This is a self-correcting problem. Out with the bigots, in with the former victims of those bigots. I call that justice, and the BSA will be much better off for it. In a few years the BSA will be humming right along, better than ever.
    I congratulate the BSA for their decision!

    June 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Susan

      You can try to spin this as 'hate' all you want to, but if you want to life in any kind of peace in this world, you're going to have to respect other people's beliefs just as they have to deal with yours.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  4. Jim

    The baptist church still hasn't accepted the loss of the War of Northern Aggression.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  5. dcr188

    Whats next then, a badge for check spreading and pole munching ? If I was a scout I would just quit.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • FloydZepp

      Duck Dynasty is on.

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

      "Whats next then, a badge for check spreading and pole munching ? "

      Sociologists and psychologists hold that some of the emotionality in prejudice stems from subconscious attitudes that cause a person to ward off feelings of inadequacy by projecting them onto a target group. That's right folks homophobic people like this are just insecure and immature.

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

      You are right about that. They also have found that those with latent tendencies protest loudest – in order to cover their own fears about themselves. Sad that they are so afraid to be who they are – and turn their fear into hatred of others.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Momma

      You're disgusting, and you just shamed your mother. Because we all know she raised someone with a truly filthy mind.

      Call her and apologize.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • HotAirAce

      dcr188, do you give your girlfriend, wife or sister a merit badge every time they give you a BJ? Why not? No girlfriend, wife or sister? No BJs?

      June 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  6. Mark

    I grew up in scouting and became an Eagle Scout proudly. I also grew up in a Baptist church as a youth. I'm now a proud, out Eagle Scout who is very happy that I left the Baptist church many years ago for a real church. I'm now also a minister who is married to another man in a long term successful marriage. The Baptist church has gone down the toilet and I'm glad to be rid of them in my life at my own choice. they are false prophets.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Daniel

      You are like all the others. You refuse to accept anything that doesn't allow you to live out your grotesque way of life. Very selfish.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Mark, you believe you've won? See what Jesus told us in Revelation 21-8 to see who loses.

      Revelation 21:8

      But the fearful, and un.believing, and the a.bominable, and m.urderers, and w.horemongers, and s.orcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

      Amen.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Momma

      Good for you, Mark! 🙂 It sounds like you have made a nice life for yourself... and it's people like you who are leading the way to a better future. Things are already easier for our children than they were for our generation, and older generations.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  7. Grieving for America

    These religious groups have made the right decision, and I thank God for their wisdom. The leaders of the Boy S courts knew that it was not possible to continue an affiliation with the Scouts, when they made their recent decision. These religious groups can provide 'Scout like' experience for their members, and even come together across religious lines to mingle with each other. The harassment and name calling by the Gays & their liberal supporters should be under scrutiny – not the decision by the Catholics, the Latter-Day Saints and the Southern Baptist to now disassociate their-selves with the Scouts.
    All this squirming, whining, name-calling, and screams of damnation to Hell by the 'Gays' just makes us laugh! Shouldn't they be gayer – now, that they will not have to 'put up with' our religious convictions while they are scouting around?

    June 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • dwsun

      Plan and simple, you're an idiot. Oh by the way, you're whining and I'm stating a fact.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Shawn

      Wow. If you belive that and you follow the Bible, then you are a sinner and are on your way to hell. Have a great time there. Must suck to have to go through life so obviously mentaly challenged to believe such obviousl contradictions and try to live by them.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • BEMHEB

      Perhaps you are having trouble reading things you don't want to believe? The Catholics and the LDS are NOT leaving the scouts - they have clearly said otherwise! Only the Southern Baptists continue to insist that there have been no progress in medicine, sociology, psychiatry, or science in the past 2000 years since a bunch of middle eastern guys wrote a book purporting to report what Jesus "said".

      June 2, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  8. grafixer

    The SOUTHERN Baptist Church has ALWAYS been behind the norm and prejudicial:
    Protests over the inclusion of African Americans arose early in the program. When Boyce departed, he turned the Boy Scout corporation over to the members of the Executive Board with the stipulation that the Boy Scouts would not discriminate on the basis of race or creed.[10] The BSA established the position that African Americans should be included, but that local communities should follow the same policies that they followed in the school systems. Thus, much of the American South as well as many major northern communities had segregated programs with "colored troops" until the late 1940s. Some troops in the South threatened to leave BSA and burn their uniforms if African American Scouts were permitted, but West was key in overcoming those obstacles.

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

      grafixer, when did telling others the truth become bigoted and prejudicial? I think you use these words to stay in denial. The only fairy telling going on is you believing you know better than God.

      Revelation 21:8

      But the fearful, and un.believing, and the a.bominable, and m.urderers, and w.horemongers, and s.orcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

      Amen.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  9. Dan in FL

    This is just the latest manufactured issue the church's leadership is using to keep their flocks in line. They always need someone or some issue to "hate" as a rallying point. Do they feel the same way about the Girl Scouts who already have a more inclusive policy?

    Not too long ago, the Baptist churches in my area told everyone that the Harry Potter stories were evil, and I watched my neighbors forbid their children from reading the books and seeing the movies (they've since changed their minds). It's all about power and control over people and their money, it's not about "God's word."

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

      I have yet to find an extremist religion that is truly about a god. It is ALWAYS about controlling their people, keeping them in line – the donation line, that is.

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

      grafixer, does denial really work for you?

      June 2, 2013 at 9:42 am |
  10. RillyKewl

    What a disgraceful 'man' this preacher/spokesman is.
    Filthy hypocrite. Oh yeah, and he's a liar too. Nice example to set for the 'holy' people in your congregation.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  11. Snw

    I support Baptist church decision. Why they have to invest money and effort in organisation that has now different values?
    Gay supporters can take over now . This is not about hate this is about life values.

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

      You value hate and discrimination more than you value acceptance and understanding.

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

      The Southern Baptists formed as a separate denomination because they disagreed with their brethren over ending slavery. That's right – this group which not only had a problem with blacks in the scouts had a problem before that with dark-skinned human beings having the right to not be ENSLAVED by white men.

      You support them in this now, no DOUBT you would have supported them earlier. Reactionaries fear change and equality amongst people, and hang on to whatever they deem makes them "better" than other human beings. pfft.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Shawn

      "Thier money"? When they start paying taxes it'll be "their money".

      June 2, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Momma, what slavery are you referring to? I hope it's the realization of slavery to sin.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:43 am |
  12. Tkp353

    I know I'm the minority here, but as a former scout, I can tell you the moral code was not open for interpretation.

    I am so tired of the "coexist" theme. However, I know I am outnumbered in opposing anything that conflicts with the Laws of God.

    There will be a time though, that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. All will give an account of their actions on that day, including me.

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

      Threats: the Christian way.

      Maybe that's why you're becoming hated?

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

      Well, there's 7 billion people in the world. That's a long line of confessors. What else does Jesus do in his spare time? LOL!

      June 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • One one

      Is that a threat ?

      Don't worry folks, it's just a myth.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Sorry, there probably won't be a time when everyone bows to Jesus. Maybe the FSM, or Thor, or Odin, or Zeus..........

      June 2, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Tkp353

      Only people can threaten. Not me. God will do and say what He said He is going to do.

      I am no threat. Just a simple man with a moral compass.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • The real Tom

      What is "immoral" about one's orientation? Not one thing. Your god made people gay as well as straight. If being gay is immoral, then your god is at fault.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • One one

      More like a simple man with a holier than thou complex.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Shawn

      ou just sinned (twice – 1 Jundging, 2 threatening) and any sin is a sin. Sucks to be you then huh?

      June 2, 2013 at 9:37 am |
  13. BM

    Looking from another a different perspective, they gays are the bigots and heterophobes. They should be expelled from the country!

    June 2, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • FloydZepp

      In Jesus Name you hate, Amen.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • BM stands for Bowel Movement

      ...and needs Kaopectate.

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

      How christian of you to say so!

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

      "Looking from another a different perspective, they gays are the bigots and heterophobes. They should be expelled from the country!"

      This is the same troll using a different handle, notice the bad grammar.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  14. disanitnodicos

    This is the right move. I've done the same thing with television. Ever since the TV started propagandizing for fudge packers and race-mixing, I just don't watch it. Divest and separate. Too bad the government forces us to do business with people we don't want to do business with. How's that for freedom.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • rebecca

      Bo, is that you?!? Almost a teeny bit better, but real people who are active literates don't use the term "fudge packers." Try again. You are getting better though! Hope for you yet.

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

      Race mixing? How is that a sin?

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

      To bad you are going to hell. You just sinned three times. You passed judgment, you called names and you threatened.

      Must suck to have to try to live a life so mentaly challenged. Sorry.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  15. Jim

    When I was a boy scout in the 1970s, there was never any overt discussion of religion. Maybe an occasional prayer to start some awards ceremony, but otherwise it was about learning life and camping skills.
    Truly, truly sad that the baptist church chooses to punish innocent children to promote its political agenda.

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

    I'm better the church will be the big loser here. If the don't stop spewing ignorance and hate there will no one in the pews.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • Jim

      There's a reason the baptist church is predominately in the south.

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

      No kidding. Land of the worst schools in the country, the fattest people in the nation, and the highest poverty levels in the US.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  17. FloydZepp

    The Baptists should stick to worshiping Mammon and Riches through Prosperity Gospel.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  18. annebeth66

    The Southern Baptist Churches should change their name to Southern Bigot Churches, which reflects their true nature. They were founded on hate & exclusion back in the 1800's and here in 2013 nothing has changed.

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

      sure, sure.....those 'faries' can openly go on marches' and 'proudly, display their weirdness but when a christian voices her or his beliefs they're bigots. no wonder this country is in decline.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Pete

      "those 'faries' can openly go on marches' and 'proudly, display their weirdness but when a christian voices her or his beliefs they're bigots. no wonder this country is in decline."

      I am sure people like you said the same thing when African Americans and women were marching for their civil rights.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Shawn

      Wow, who sins more then those here claiming to be "religious"? Constantly calling Gay people names, making threats..... There really is a God and he gave you a brain and is very upset and you for choosing to not use it.

      Gay people are people. They should not be treated any different PERIOD. Churches don't need to be so paranoid. Instead open your books and try to striaghten out the upteen thousand faults in it.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:43 am |
  19. Mack

    Sayonara and good riddance to these fools. Couldn't be happier.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  20. terilyn

    NO ONE-christian or not HAS to share your beliefs!!! NO ONE has to support gays, gun rights, alcoholism, abortion etc, etc, etc. Man shall not lye with man, nor woman with woman IS what the Holy Bible SAYS!!! Whether you are christian or not THAT is the way it is!!! Christians are supposed to ACT as Christ would and accept ALL sinners. However, in doing so-they are in hopes of converting and saving souls from eternal damnation. BUT-they cannot MAKE a person STRAIGHT, just like they cannot MAKE a person of chinese origin into a person of irish origin!!! THEREFORE some churches view them as a lost cause. If you don't like it tough s**t!!! You are not going to force them (the church) to change just as they cannot force you to change! Maybe the world would be a BETTER place if people with your kinds of beliefs were WIPED off the face of the earth!! There'd be a hell of a lot less SIN in this world wouldn't there?????

    June 2, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • .

      "Man shall not lye with man, nor woman with woman IS what the Holy Bible SAYS!!"

      YeahRight

      June 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • .

      "Man shall not lye with man, nor woman with woman IS what the Holy Bible SAYS!!"

      YeahRight

      Christians don't follow Leviticus anymore, it's part of the Holiness Code, a ritual manual for Israel's priests.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • The real Tom

      Hey, terilyn, how old are you? You sound like a high school dropout.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Ah the consequences of getting morality from the bible.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Shawn

      That's the Old Testiment. So we're back to stoning children who misbehave again? – Christians love to pick an dchoose what part of the Bible they want to make their point, soon as it doesn't they dismiss it and say, "Oh, that's the OT and doesn't apply to us, that was God talking to his choosen few."

      Helps if yu actually KNOW the Bible before trying to quote from it.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:46 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.