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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. Bill

    Wonderful.

    The fewer kids in churches the better for our society in the long run.

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

      Actually Bill, crime (sin) skyrocketed since the atheists threw Jesus' teachings from public schools/buildings.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  2. Todor

    And then you wonder why many good people are deciding to leave the church for unfortunately deciding to stand for hate instead of love.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  3. hooah

    Don't worry BSA, the Catholics will take the boys for you.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  4. Damon

    I am currently a BSA leader, I also happen to be a supporter of gay rights. (Ah yeah and I am 100% straight). When I was younger I used to be a Royal Ambassador. In no way does RA compare to a Scout. RA set around and basically do nothing but attend meetings where you pretty much do bible study. Not that I am saying anything is wrong with Bible study because that's not what I am saying. I am just saying that is like comparing apples and oranges.

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

      Jesus warned,

      Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

      Matthew 7:13

      Amen.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:42 am |
  5. Dorene

    I do not understand. How do we help sinners (if that is what they are) by ignoring them...?

    June 2, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • Edweird69

      Dorene – EXACTLY !! Maybe it's Satan's way to ensure a certain group of people NEVER get the chance to get saved?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • cookie

      move on.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • hogarth

      Yes – how DO we help these poor, ignorant bigots to carry on? Poor, poor church people – they don't have the brains to find their own nether orifice, but they're busy telling everyone else how to live. Hopefully the lake of fire prepared for satan and his angels will have enough room for them.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  6. Pat

    ITs a hate thing, power thing, and control thing for a church! They have to have the sin to have power to control people!

    June 2, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • ioutbidu

      If is their money, why can't they spend it how they want?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  7. jimkon

    Religions at work (far from being the full list):
    Palestine (Jews vs. Muslims), the Balkans (Orthodox Serbians vs. Catholic Croatians; Orthodox Serbians vs. Bosnian and Albanian Muslims), Northern Ireland (Protestants vs. Catholics), Kashmir (Muslims vs. Hindus), Sudan (Muslims vs. Christians and animists), Nigeria (Muslims vs. Christians), Ethiopia and Eritrea (Muslims vs. Christians), Sri Lanka (Sinhalese Buddhists vs. Tamil Hindus), Indonesia (Muslims vs. Timorese Christians), Iran and Iraq (Shiite vs. Sunni Muslims), and the Caucasus (Orthodox Russians vs. Chechen Muslims; Muslim Azerbaijanis vs. Catholic and Orthodox Armenians)

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

      It's so sad that most of the hate movements are initiated and maintained by religious organizations historically. Intolerance and bigotry are being teamed with jingoism these days in religious and political groups. Of course the Baptists have been moving toward full support of theocracy in the US for the past 50 years. Their insistence on only one interpretation of belief started with the takeover of their ouster of any "deviant" beliefs in their seminaries. What a great bunch to add to our social ills.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:16 am |
  8. hogarth

    The bible is merely a book, constructed of paper and ink, written by guys who counted wealth by the number of wives you could afford, and is no more the "word of god" than Tom Sawyer or Green Eggs and Ham.

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

      Perfectly spoken. I agree.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • ioutbidu

      Have you read this book?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:10 am |
  9. steve c

    It is not a HATE thing; it's about standing up for what you believe to be right or wrong. If you believe allowing openly gay children (minors) as members was a wrong decision for the BSA to make, then leave. The BSA has (had) a strong moral code as it's foundation, as it's guiding principles, but is getting changed as time goes by. If you really want to have fun, read a Scout manual from the late 1940's then compare that to what is printed today. The differences are remarkable.
    The only reason the churches are under fire for pulling their support is because so many of them have sponsored Scouting in the past because the Scout values and the Christian values were much the same. Now, they are not. How many troops does the ACLU support? Does CNN provide space for Scout meetings in it's buildings? Will Gay organizations now flock to the BSA and fill the financial and material voids? Will all of you complaining about the churches' actions now pledge your support? Your time, money, resources, leadership, and your values? Come on people – stand up for YOUR beliefs and contribute to the "New" Scouting. (I dare you) Or will you just sit back, complain, and do nothing of substance?
    So sad to see Scouting cave in to pressure instead of standing up for what it (used to) believe in. It was neither brave nor loyal. THAT is what will eventually destroy the organization. At least the church has the strength to stand up for theirs.

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

      The Baptists are leaving, showing how full of hate and darkness they truly are. They are so full of hate they don't grasp that associating with gay people does not make you gay; that what gay people do between themselves is of no concern to them OR their children – a good number of whom ARE gay themselves.
      These people are picking and choosing which "sins" are acceptable and which are not – for example, I imagine there are plenty of Baptists who eat shellfish, wear clothes made of blended fabrics, and are [shudder] divorced. This is pure bigotry – and hate – wrapped in the cloak of religion. Typical.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • just human

      You know what, it's churches who are falling apart because now they realize that people are starting to stand up for their rights as human beings (like Jesus did, standing up for rights of EVERYONE around him). Gays have always been part of the Scouts Organization; they just didn't say so. And, they did a brilliant job raising and educating "children" (not just the straight ones). Now, that the church realized that gays were part of the community all along, they panic because they realize that their discriminatory teachings don't hold up against great, law (and church law) abiding citizens (who happen to be gay and mind you, didn't choose to be gay). Grow up and start dealing with this "coming out' in a civil and mature manner as Jesus taught us to. The military opened its doors to blacks, women, gays. Do you mean to imply that that was a weak thing to do? So, blacks/women/gays are allowed to defend our country, but they are not welcome as leaders/teachers/and so on? Where do you put the line? Do you want them to wear "rainbow color shirts" so you can distinguish them and set them apart? What you do behind the doors in your house, is your business. And, what happens behind the doors in a black/woman/gay's house is their business.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  10. biggaybobbytheniterapist

    I can't wait for the boys to come over to earn some merit badge time with old uncle handy hank

    June 2, 2013 at 10:02 am |
  11. Bay O. Net

    Southern Baptists do not need to maintain affiliations with the BSA. There are plenty of other organizations, such as the KKK and the Tea Party, that would welcome affiliations with hateful Southern Baptists.

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

      Sounds like you work for IRS.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  12. Daryl

    I got another cool new merit badge for the new boy scouts – interior decorating. thats a good one

    June 2, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • Jay Mac

      You're a very lonely man aren't you

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

      "I got another cool new merit badge for the new boy scouts – interior decorating. thats a good one"

      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 10:04 am |
    • ioutbidu

      you are being attacked for your thoughts and beliefs......shoes on the other foot today.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • Daryl

      Jay mac. Not lonely at all here. Great wife, 2 children in college. High paying job, 2nd home at the beach. It's all good here. I was a scout and up until recently donated to my local troop. Not anymore. Let the gay community do it

      June 2, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  13. harry101

    It never falls to amaze me how intolerant those who demand tolerance can be on both sides of this. If LGB have the right to demand tolerance so does any other group. But in truth PC can only go one way right.

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

      Correct Harry. This is why I refer to the libs a "Libocrites". Liberal + Hypocrite.

      Scott

      June 2, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • hogarth

      Nobody is demanding anything, except the religious bigots, who are demanding that freedom be limited to just them, because their imaginary floaty thing in the told them so.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:10 am |
  14. CaesarXIII

    When gays can make a baby and bring a new life into the world without the intervention of a scientist to do it then I'll be impressed and more open towards the gay community. Until then, I'm still for the advancement of mankind, not the digression of it.

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

      Perfectly said...

      June 2, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • Kenoscope

      Hey dumb dumb... and lesbian can chose to lay with a man to have a baby and any gay man can choose to do the same with a woman. And you know what? This has been true since humans existed.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • Edweird69

      Do you feel the same way about sterile heteros?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • Pete

      "When gays can make a baby and bring a new life into the world without the intervention of a scientist to do it then I'll be impressed and more open towards the gay community."

      You're an idiot there are straight couples that can't have children without "help."

      June 2, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • Daryl

      I agree 100%

      June 2, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • snowboarder

      sure, because that is relevant. not.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • hogarth

      What does making a baby – which any pig or dog in the street can do – have to do with civil rights?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • The real Tom

      When you grow a brain and get an education and become an adult, you ass, maybe others will give a ripe fvck what you think.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • ioutbidu

      man can choose to do the same with a woman. CHOOSE..thats the key word, its about a lifestyle choice!

      June 2, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • cookie

      Actually, I don't mind people born or chose to be gay. It is all part of the natural selection in evolution. Good that there is a natural law that gay naturally cannot bear children.

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

      I bet you've made like 50 kids with 5 different momas. Impressive stuff, CaesarXIII, impressive stuff.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • just human

      I'll be impressed when there are no more ignorant babies being born because that's the only problem in this world! For the rest, I have no problem with black/female/gay/handicapped babies being born. And, I also don't discriminate against ANY couple who cannot procreate of their own; it's about creating loving/accepting/understanding/intelligent families to move the world forward and make it a happy place for EVERYONE!

      June 2, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  15. Kenoscope

    No, its NEVER a hate thing. Yeah, sure, like I will ever believe that bald faced lie from a pedophile organization.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:01 am |
  16. Larry Moniz

    Here's a name suggestion for the Southern Baptist scoutlike group: Keeping Khristians Klean.

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

      Perfect.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • Edweird69

      How about "Keeping Christards Hateful"?

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

      Here's another one "Future Tea Partier's of America"

      June 2, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  17. Jeff

    Good! The Scouts don't need the help of a hate group anyways.

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

      Yes, the millions of Black Southern Baptists likely do hate your kind.

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

      Oh yes they do. Those dirty little pan handlers need all the money they can scrounge up

      June 2, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • cookie

      I will still buy boy or girl scout cookies.

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

      What are you talking about Billfit? It is Blacks people's very religion to hate ALL White people anyway. Always has been, always will

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

      This is the right decision by the Southern Baptist Community. In an age where so many people say one thing and do another, they are living out their faith and showing the priority of Scripture in their lives. Sadly, there are tons of intolerant naysayers who spurn the Baptists for doing this. The beauty of America is that the Boy Scouts are free to make poor moral decisions and people like the Baptists making their exit are free to leave the organization, if they like.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  18. Ken

    "It's not a hate thing here," Pastor Reed, but good riddance to you and those like you.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  19. Vic

    Not to change the subject matter but I have seen a lot of references to ancient writings predating the Bible on this blog. What's fascinating to me is that the people who refer to those writings have no problem approve of them as authentic and not the Bible!

    For the benefit of the everyone, look up the Dead Sea Scrolls which have also been authenticated by state of the art technology!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Sea_scrolls

    Regarding the subject matter:
    https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/11/my-take-gay-christian-is-not-an-oxymoron/comment-page-5/#comment-2337710

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

      All written by MORTAL MEN. Show me one written only by a GOD! They don't exist.

      "But God came to me in a dream and said to say this."

      "Prove it."

      If a God or Goddess wants their word spread they inform more than one wacko sitting under a tree, they give the image to thousands at the same instant.

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

      So, you're saying that because things are old, that they are true, is that it? So, if I tell a lie, write it down, and wait 2,000 years, it will become true! Thank you for this insight.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:27 am |
  20. saggyroy

    Can't wait til my son earns his "Interior Decorating" badge....

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

      "Can't wait til my son earns his "Interior Decorating" badge...."

      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 10:02 am |
    • saggyroy

      My comment is best viewed with 'Sarcasm Detection' turned on. I agree with your post.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Reasonable Descent

      Instead he'll probably just live his life in total inadequacy, intolerance, and irrelevance; as do his parents.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:07 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.