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. EdR

    In fact.. they don't hate gays so much, that regardless if you are gay or not, if you so much as affiliate yourself with an organization that permits gays to participate, you are not welcome in their church. How about if you work at the same place that gays are aloud to work? I guess all employees of that business should be excluded from the church too. Or how about if you shop at a store that permits gays to shop there? Oopps.. guess your not welcome at the church either. Whats that? You knowingly live in a town where gays live! Guess your out too. Bunch of hypocritical idiots.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:52 am |
  2. Patrick

    "It's not a hate thing". We just don't like them. What a joke.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • Twist

      I hate Christian bigots!

      June 2, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  3. NonGayScouter

    Silly Baptists. I suppose this means they left Girl Scouts "en masse" years ago when they stopped barring gays and atheists. I notice that their anger didn't bother the girls, in the long run. Come to think of it, the Baptists didn't much bother Disneyland over gays, either.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:52 am |
  4. Cjeddie8

    99% of the USA could care less Southern Babtists! Don't let the door hit ya where the "good lord" split ya!

    June 2, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • Scott

      Yeah your wrong. Issue is CNN blocks christian comments...It is sad you all believe gay is right.. If gay was right their would be no people on this earth.. It is a choice ...Not the way you were born...

      June 2, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • visitor

      Christian comments are all over this. My last comment was blocked too. I have no idea why, but it wasn't a "Christian" comment.

      Get over yourself.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • .

      "It is sad you all believe gay is right.. If gay was right their would be no people on this earth.. It is a choice "


      Being gay is not a choice science, in fact, is actually not in dispute on this matter.

      All major medical professional organizations concur that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise. The American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and European Psychological, Psychiatric, and Medical Associations all agree with this, as does the World Health Organization and the medical organizations of Japan, China, and most recently, Thailand. Furthermore, attempts to change one's sexual orientation can be psychologically damaging, and cause great inner turmoil and depression, especially for Christian gays and lesbians.

      Reparative therapy, also called conversion therapy or reorientation therapy, "counsels" LGBT persons to pray fervently and study Bible verses, often utilizing 12-step techniques that are used to treat sexual addictions or trauma. Such Christian councilors are pathologizing homosexuality, which is not a pathology but is a sexual orientation. Psychologically, that's very dangerous territory to tread on. All of the above-mentioned medical professional organizations, in addition to the American and European Counseling Associations, stand strongly opposed to any form of reparative therapy.

      In my home country, Norway, reparative therapy is officially considered to be ethical malpractice. But there are many countries that do not regulate the practice, and many others that remain largely silent and even passively supportive of it (such as the Philippines). Groups that operate such "therapy" in the Philippines are the Evangelical Bagong Pag-asa, and the Catholic Courage Philippines.

      The scientific evidence of the innateness of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded sexual orientation – and that's all sexual orientations, including heterosexuality – as a phenotype. Simply put, a phenotype is an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For the scientific community, the role of genetics in sexuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology.

      On the second point, that there is no conclusion that there is a "gay gene," they are right. No so-called gay gene has been found, and it's highly unlikely that one ever will. This is where conservative Christians and Muslims quickly say "See, I told you so! There's no gay gene, so being gay is a choice!"

      Take this interesting paragraph I found on an Evangelical website: "The attempt to prove that homosexuality is determined biologically has been dealt a knockout punch. An American Psychological Association publication includes an admission that there's no homosexual "gene" – meaning it's not likely that homosexuals are 'born that way.'"

      But that's not at all what it means, and it seems Evangelicals are plucking out stand-alone phrases from scientific reports and removing them from their context. This is known in academia as the fallacy of suppressed evidence. Interestingly, this is also what they have a habit of doing with verses from the Bible.

      This idea of sexuality being a choice is such a bizarre notion to me as a man of science. Many of these reparative "therapists" are basing this concept on a random Bible verse or two. When you hold those up against the mountain of scientific research that has been conducted, peer-reviewed, and then peer-reviewed again, it absolutely holds no water. A person's sexuality – whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual – is a very deep biological piece of who that person is as an individual.

      The fact that a so-called "gay gene" has not been discovered does not mean that homosexuality is not genetic in its causation. This is understandably something that can seem a bit strange to those who have not been educated in fields of science and advanced biology, and it is also why people who are not scientists ought not try to explain the processes in simple black-and-white terms. There is no gay gene, but there is also no "height gene" or "skin tone gene" or "left-handed gene." These, like sexuality, have a heritable aspect, but no one dominant gene is responsible for them.

      Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore do have a role in sexual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in sexual partner selection have been identified, and their neuro-biochemical pathways have been worked out in great detail. A great number of these mechanisms have been preserved evolutionarily in humans, just as they are for every other behavioral trait we know (including heterosexuality).

      Furthermore, there are many biologic traits which are not specifically genetic but are biologic nonetheless. These traits are rooted in hormonal influences, contributed especially during the early stages of fetal development. This too is indisputable and based on extensive peer-reviewed research the world over. Such prenatal hormonal influences are not genetic per se, but are inborn, natural, and biologic nevertheless.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  5. disanitnodicos

    Lol, the gaylords are finding out that they are not all powerful, so they are going for the name-calling.

    What's wrong with being a bigot anyway? It just means you prefer things that are good over things that are bad. "Bigot" is just another word for "sane." People who can't tell the difference between good and bad are just insane.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • Pete

      "Lol, the gaylords are finding out that they are not all powerful, so they are going for the name-calling."

      That's why you're posting under multiple handles writing discriminatory and derogatory things about gays. What a hypocrite.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • NDLily

      Because bigotry is as un-Christlike as you can get. Too bad there are more non-Christians in this world that are Christlike than there are Christians that are Christlike.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Pete

      "Lol, the gaylords are finding out that they are not all powerful, so they are going for the name-calling."

      That's why you're posting under multiple handles writing discriminatory and derogatory things about gays. What a hypocrite.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Ron

      Bet you got those tendencies...

      June 2, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • George T Hibs

      The name calling, particularly bigot, is central to the gay response to anyone who says they disagree with a gay lifestyle. There is no honest disagreement on this topic for gays, you either support gay lifestyle and gay marriage OR you are a bigot, period. There is no in-between. Therein lies the problem. Most of us, simply disagree with a gay life style, but that does not mean we hate gays or are bigots. It all comes down to a gay person's rationalizing why they are gay; If they can change society so that being gay is "normal", then they are normal as is EVERYONE who agrees with a gay lifestyle. This is the plain and simple reason why gay people call anyone who disagrees with their lifestyle, a bigot. And you can believe it too, BECAUSE if they did not believe it, then when they looked in the mirror, they would be asking themselves constantly WHY AM I DIFFERENT THAN EVERYONE ELSE? It is how they rationalize that they are normal, otherwise the only logical conclusion they could come to is what is wrong with me?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:09 am |
  6. Chad

    @contraryjim "Belief systems by definition are not rational."

    =>you believe that God doesnt exist..

    June 2, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • mama k

      Chad like to try to think for people to further his own agenda. Chad, Christianity's stance on homosexuality is irrational with our understanding from science. The question is, what is Christianity going to do about it?

      June 2, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • Chad

      @Mama K "Christianity's stance on homosexuality is irrational with our understanding from science."
      @Chad "that is 100% incorrect.

      God makes all kinds of men Not all are lumberjacks.
      The thing you misunderstand is that it's nature AND nurture. Homosexuality is a temperament(nature) and relationship (nurture) issue. A combination.

      Also, you need to understand that the issue isnt "Christianity's stance on homosexuality"
      The bible is absolutely unequivocal about it, like all sin. There is no need to single it out for special treatment, but like divorce, hatred, murder, etc, etc, it is a sin, and we are ALL guilty of some form of sinful behavior.

      June 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  7. thinking person

    I am glad that are standing up for their beliefs! Also even if you are for allowing Gay people in the BSA, you should see that just allowing the boys and not adults is Discrimination.(age discrimination) and is accusing Adults as not being as good as the boys and of being pedofiles. So either way this current change in policy is WRONG for both sides of argument and NOT legal !

    June 2, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • mama k

      Those beliefs are not rational with regard to homosexuality. Try reading the recent Quarterly Review of Biology if you can.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:53 am |
  8. Katie

    It is totally ok that the Baptists pull away from the Boy Scouts, that is a rite they have.

    On the other hand there is a lot of species that are extinct because they could not adapt to changing conditions. Organized religion without a doubt slowly becoming extinct.


    June 2, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  9. Mark H

    Do you turn all sinners away from your church? Are the liars, the adulterers, those who covet hey neighbors property, the thieves.. Are they all turned away? Or, like Christ, do you accept them all and love them equally? Are you Christians, or hypocrites?

    June 2, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  10. brian

    Wow, way to practice what you preach! I guess love and compassion are only for those we agree with, huh? Well, I guess one day they'll have to explain why they discriminated against children, to a much higher authority.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  11. TewksburyBob

    Freedom always comes with a price.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  12. Jared Springer

    I can put my kids in Boy Scouts now BECAUSE they don't maintain such a hateful anti-gay policy. Who cares about the Baptists? The world is changing and they are being left behind. The Boy Scouts see the writing on the wall and the organization will rebound from this decline as people, such as myself, return to the Boy Scouts. This issue goes back quite a ways. I remember sitting in church as a child and being prodded to help support and donate to the Boy Scouts BECAUSE they were proudly sticking to their anti-gay policy. That has always bothered me and stuck with me and now, two decades later, the hate is over. Let the small minded people crawl back beneath their rocks.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • Suur Kurat

      This is just what the perverts have been waiting for: turning the US Boy Scouts into a ready reserve of young boys for their fun. Let the Baptists protect their kids, the perverts will have plenty of fun with yours.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:57 am |
  13. Daryl

    New Boy Scout merit badges – Baking, Accessorizing, color coordination, fashion, needlepoint, shopping, hair stylist.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • Jared Springer


      June 2, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • .

      "New Boy Scout merit badges – Baking, Accessorizing, color coordination, fashion, needlepoint, shopping, hair stylist."

      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 9:51 am |
    • Mark H

      All much more applicable skills in today's society when compared with snare making or skinning.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Daryl

      I was in the boy scouts and there was no snare making and skinning you idiot. Get your facts!

      June 2, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Daryl

      I got another good merit badge – interior decorator. thats a good one

      June 2, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  14. Faith-Isn't-a-Preacher

    This is just another consequence of President Obama's Statist assault by imposing his Statist Ideology. If he can do it then the Baptist believe that they can also.

    A Caliphate by any other name is still a Caliphate.
    Which is why the U.S.A was founded as a Republic; to have 'Equal Representation and Justice Under the Rule of Law' no matter how large a group.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • wake up

      This has nothing to do with Obama. Obama had no say in the situation. You can't just blame him for everything you have to have an actual logical connection.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:58 am |
  15. Argyle

    I think this move is truly pathetic, and is an attempt for publicity to try to stay relevant. As someone who believes in the divine, I'm personally ashamed of the Baptist church. If they try to say this isn't for hate they are kidding themselves or trying to lie to the public to save face. It's funny how they want to punish children, even their own, for an offense that would include less than one percent of an organization, for doing something that isn't even mentioned in the 10 commandments. Do you know what is in those commandments? Honor thy father and mother.... now you know they talk back to their parents and go without talking to them. No adultery and with the recent splashing about this in the news you know they view it as well men wander... when they allow this kind of deviation from the main principles of their faith foundations you see them for who they are. It is also known that a vast majority of serial killers are devout Christians. It's in the very profile that police use to find these guys. I hate to be a generalist of a whole religion because of such things, but when there are more people doing wrong on their side then the other... what choice is there?

    June 2, 2013 at 9:49 am |
  16. Dan

    I wonder if the Baptists also plan a mass exodus of people who work on Sundays.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:49 am |
  17. snowboarder

    it is ironic that a child could be a member of the scouts in good standing for years prior to becoming se xually mature enough to realize he were hom ose xual and suddenly become a pariah.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  18. NorthVanCan

    Nothing makes me happier than Religion sticking it's ugly head out for all to see.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  19. Jon L.

    It may not be a "hate" thing, but it sure as hell is an "abandonment" thing. I have a question for those who may be religious on here, would God abandon his children for sinning? If he does exist, I would like to think he wouldn't, and these so called "leaders" are not doing a great representation of what true morals are. There is a saying from my family, always and forever through thick and thin, we stick together. My hear goes out to the scouts (being one myself), you chose to follow a brotherhood, but you can't chose your leaders/parents are.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • JOSE--USMC-0311


      June 2, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • Jon L.

      Wow Jose, you're definitely part of the problem in this country. "MANY GAY COUPLES WOULD NOT SEND THEIR KIDS TO A 75 % BLACK SCHOOL -–75 % HISPANIC SCHOOL–IS ABOUT FREEDOM OF SPEECH TO CHOOSE... SEMPER FI." Completely irrelevant to this scenario, this has nothing to do with gay couples and their children, and why does race even matter? This was about a Church that was supporting a group of kids (not parents pulling their children from this establishment, they do have the right to do so); this isn't a freedom of speech issue, churches have vocally expressed their disinterest in the gay community, to which I understand their "reasoning". I was merely referring to abandonment, something I would like to believe God (If He/She [correction] does exist) would not do. I laugh sometimes and the ignorant/less educated military personnel that continue to proudly spew garbage on the web. I guess that's freedom of speech, to display your less than stellar brain power. I have nothing against military, but I'm guessing this "Jose" went to one of these 75% Hispanic school and didn't receive proper education as per his example of a bad school (Apparently in Jose's eyes, Hispanic/Black schools are bad). Sorry to jab at the military....I have family and friends who proudly serve and I support, but people like Jose get my blood boiling.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • .


      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 10:36 am |
  20. RillyKewl

    These 'christian' types are mostly pedophiles anyway.
    Best for the kids to stay away from them.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • JOSE--USMC-0311



      June 2, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • JOSE--USMC-0311



      June 2, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • Athy

      Jose. please turn off your caps lock. It makes you seem even stupider than you probably are.

      June 2, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
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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.