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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. Austin

    Christians are no more innocent than other people on merit. However, they appear to approach sin before God, while the ho-mo se.xual issue people want to approach sin for themselves and not unto God. I think this is the only reason I would bother talking about se.xual immorality, because the responsibility toward God is being circu.mvented, and this agenda is being pushed.

    This is Satanic.

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

      Good thing your wacko religion is nothing but ancient mythology mixed with modern day gullibility or we might be in trouble.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:58 am |
    • .

      "ho-mo se.xual issue people want to approach sin for themselves"

      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 9:58 am |
    • Huebert

      Those of us who do not believe have zero responsibility to your god.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • Austin

      in my opinion it does, it talkes about God being upset with the man who spilled his seed on the ground and God killed him . The righteous and useful man of God produces Godly (filled with the Word) children to war in light.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • Science

      No Austin viewing the source is fun !

      June 2, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Austin

      Huebert, if Christians didn't care about others, they would simply let you erode into the stupidity as mentally hybrid, metro se-xual, mentally synthesized into sin and corruption, mentally degenerate and perverted mentally, living in error, on the wrong track, ungodly, usless for God's purpose and reason, .... ect.

      if you are off, it is sad to see.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • EdwardTr

      The problem is your believe that your gods word trumps what is just and fair and the right thing to do. Why would you want any part of such an unjust unfair god.

      God before anything else is a repugnant idea particularly to a fair and just god.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Austin

      you SHOULD keep it a secret for the sake of other children. kids?

      this is really where the attack on Children is for the god of this world , Satan.

      This isn't about anything other than that.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:07 am |
  2. Jeebusss

    And the Boy Scouts will be better off for it. Learning hiking and camping skills, as well as how to be a productive citizen has nothing to do with fairy tales for adults.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  3. RillyKewl

    Most southerners are Tealiban anyway.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  4. Raine

    It's called freedom of speech and freedom to associate and freedom to assemble. What is all the fuss about?

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

      Only freedoms encouraged are those of the ones claiming oppression. They can have parades, rallies, months dedicated to them etc but not others.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • EdwardTr

      No fuss, we simply are expressing our opinion and our right to free speech. We also refute their statement it is not about hate. It is about hate and S Baptists are a hate group just like KuKxK who are also free to speak, assemble and associate.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:11 am |
  5. disanitnodicos

    The TV and movies sure are full of a lot of gay propaganda these days.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • .

      "The TV and movies sure are full of a lot of gay propaganda these days."

      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 9:59 am |
    • sparky

      did it turn you gay?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • disanitnodicos

      Sociology and psychology still have a long way to go to be taken seriously as science. At best they are just philosophy. But usually they are just political dogma.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:01 am |
  6. Patrick

    What a bunch of bigots. Christ wasn't a bigot. They're supposed to try to be like Christ. Are they really this ignorant?

    June 2, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • Kilgore Trout

      Yes.

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

      Christ would have led NOT followed (or allowed) a group embracing gay choice out of their spiritual conjecture and into light.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • MennoKnight

      You are correct about Christ loving everyone, and out of his love for everyone he tells them to stop sinning.
      After saving the woman from being stoned Jesus tell her to go and sin no more.
      So she does and ends up becoming a follower of Jesus.
      A good definition of sin is what ever hurts you and others is a sin.
      This is why ho.ose.uality is considered a sin by the church in the New Testament.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  7. Nietodarwin

    There is probably a merit badge for "animal husbandry" that includes activities like castrating cattle or sheep. I don't ever remember a merit badge for castrating YOURSELF. However, Jesus, unlike the Boy Scouts, advises people to do just that.
    I'm straight, but I would RATHER TURN GAY THAN TURN CHRISTIAN. Open those bibles boys !!!!!!!!
    . (Matthew 19:11-12) "But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs from the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." (Matthew 19:11-12) The Scholar's Version has: "There are castrated men who castrated themselves because of Heaven's imperial rule. If you are able to accept this (advice), do so."

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

      (Typical "thumper" responses here.)

      That is NOT what Jesus meant. You are "taking scripture OUT OF CONTEXT, OUT OF CONTEXT, OUT OF CONTEXT"
      Jesus teaches us to be GOOD, not sick and perverted.!!!!
      " The bible ALSO says" (etc. etc etc.)

      June 2, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  8. Kevin

    Ooh, so sad the poor Baptists,what a bunch of losers,there is no more a man in the sky than a man in the ground.You keep praying and the world will keep passing you buy,I have no tolerance for ignorance should I stop talking to every baptist I know or see,oh wait I don't know who the baptists are,maybe we should round them all up and put them in one place,a cloud in the sky would be nice. So you peeps keep claiming the moral high ground and ill just live my life on my terms,not really concerned with anyone else's.I think I just took some ground!

    June 2, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  9. Ex Baptist

    I left the Baptist church many years ago. I got fed up with their constant preaching against the Jews, the Catholics, the gays, the nonbelievers and pretty much against anyone who did not following along with their beliefs. They could always see the splinter in the eyes of others but not the blank in their own.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  10. kd

    Sorry, Baptists – it IS a hate thing.

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

      Sorry, Dolt.. it isn't a hate thing.. its a freedom thing.. These closed minded liberals always bend the truth and the law to fit their communist agenda

      June 2, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  11. MennoKnight

    I believe in freedom to choose.
    Hom.ose.xuality is a choice.
    I choose who I will have s.ex with.
    I choose who I will focus my se.xual attraction towards.
    In my case this is my wife.
    I choose this way because it is the best choice for me and my family.

    We have free will; so don't believe anybody who says that you cannot choose your actions.

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

      Lies. The only people holding on to these lies are bigots trying to mask their hatred and hide behind their so-called religion. Religions that teach hate are just clubs for bigots.

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

      "Hom.ose.xuality is a choice."

      Erik

      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 9:56 am |
    • Patrick

      Get help. http://www.gayhusbands.Com

      June 2, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • John

      So you are saying that you are neither, naturally attracted to women, nor did you marry your wife because you both fell in love? It was just a process you chose because it was productive for you? Now THAT'S sad.

      June 2, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • Sonny

      It sounds ike you choose to be ignorant and arrogant. And you've arned your first class badge in the act. Nice. Not.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • tom

      Please tell me exactly when you've made the active choice of being straight. You think people choose to have to deal with ignorant people like you all their lives?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • MennoKnight

      John,
      Of course I fell in love and am attracted to my wife, the issue is the reason why I stay in love with my wife after 15 years and only look to her for s.ex is a choice.
      In this day and culture we teach people to look everywhere for gratification. The way that you don't do that is by choosing not dwell on anybody, male or female, that is not my wife for se.xual gratification.
      Life is about free will and choice. We choose our actions and our desires. We can let them take over us very easily if we are not careful. The New Testament teaches us how this is possible.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  12. works for me

    Maybe they should let the individual Scouts decide. Not these "churches"

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

      The Church's are the ones putting up the funding and providing a location for these organizations to function. That is why they get a say in how things are run. While I don't agree with their decision, each individual church as a right to decide what activities they support and which ones they don't.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  13. Canadian Jack

    Baptists should study science. If they did, they would understand that 10% of all mammals and birds are gay. Otherwise, the world would be awash in fur and feathers. If there is a Creator, this was part of her plan. Any scripture that disagrees with the Creator's plan, is the diabolical creation of bigoted men. Baptists who believe in scripture rather rather than scientific fact have made an evil choice.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Kilgore Trout

      They should also study statistics. This quote made me laugh out loud:

      “There’s a 100% chance that there will be a resolution about disaffiliation at the convention,” said Richard Land, the longtime head of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, “and a 100% chance that 99% of people will vote for it.”

      June 2, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  14. Faith-Isn't-a-Preacher

    Parents will independently organize their own Scout Troops. Scouting shouldn't be tied at the hip to any organization.

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

      Your right in theory, but a Boy Scout Troop must by virtue of the bylaws that form that troop itself, have a sponsor. It can be a small business, or a corporation, or a church. Unfortunately corporations and businesses are in the minority and churches have come to be the mainstay sponsor of a Boy Scout Troop. To further clarify, a sponsor is not there to donate money as each troop raises their own and pays for itself, it is there as an overseer and ultimate decision maker if and when needed.

      I understand both sides, but what a mess this has made. For the benefits of what must be a very small number of adolescent gay youths, thousands of non gay youths will suffer.

      The needs of the many, outweigh the few?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  15. 111Dave111

    I did not see a single comment from a scout or scout leader.
    I hope this hate soon fades in the mind of the baptist religious zealots around Houston and Atlanta.
    They must see they are the minority, even in the south.

    Scouting is about the preparing children to be good citizens, not a 2000 year old book.
    – Michigan Youth Mentor

    June 2, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • Faith-Isn't-a-Preacher

      I agree. Scouting will be stronger without the influence of Supremacist.

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

      How do you know they are the minority?

      June 2, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  16. afnmvet

    I guess the Baptist Churches can choose to be involved with whatever group (youth group or others) that they choose to. What is annoying to me is that these churches get and accept al kinds of special treatment from the very federal government that they seem to want out of their business. When are these religious groups going to start paying federal taxes? It is amazing to me that a convicted murderer or rapist that served their time in prison would be welcome in these churches but a person who is gay would not be.

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

      You know nothing that you speak. Everyone is invited into a church but a church does not have to approve of a sinful behavior. If gays are so against what some church's believe go to one that lets sin slide. If your a christian you can not be for gay marriage. That s what we called in the 90's keeping it real and not being a sell out .. I can be friends with a gay person no problem but I do not support that they are gay . It is their choice .

      June 2, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  17. Dani

    Bye, bye Baptists! Have fun living by your antiquated ideals. I'm very proud of the Boy Scouts organization for making this change.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:53 am |
  18. disanitnodicos

    Bigot: someone who knows right from wrong.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:53 am |
  19. RillyKewl

    Remove their tax-exempt status, please!!

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

      I agree

      June 2, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  20. Need better story

    Do you know in San Marino, some of the filthy rich parents have form their own community boy and girl scout organization? Even have their professional looking uniforms.

    June 2, 2013 at 9:52 am |
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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.