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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. Eric Douglas

    We are witness everyday to the fact that religion exposes hatred, ignorance, bigotry, murder, and war. So it has been throughout human history.

    May 31, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
  2. Weasley

    Rev. Reed and the Southern Baptists have chosen to turn their backs on thousands of children to send a message to the Boy Scouts of America. That's vengeful, that's hateful, that's harmful to the children whose well being should be the Southern Baptist's greatest concern.

    The parishioners should abandon these blathering bombastic blowhards, and support the Scouts and their children. Love your neighbor, and judge not.

    May 31, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
  3. Lisa

    It's inevitable and makes sense. The scouts are rejecting bigotry and moving forward toward a more moral stance.

    While the Baptists are, well, Baptists. The Boy Scouts don't need their negative, hateful influence.

    May 31, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
  4. Dirty Harry

    God gave us a brain so the we could recognize the bigots and false prophets among us. There are those that rely blindly on a book written by man as the word of God? Blind faith is the evil of all evils.

    May 31, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Dirty Harry… You stated, "God gave us a brain so that we could recognize the bigots and false prophets among us." Answer: God gave you a brain so you could recognize that you need to serve God…

      You stated, "There are those that rely blindly on a book written by man as the word of God." Answer: You "blindly" follow what you personally believe, so what's the difference? (Proverbs 28:26 – He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool:). Furthermore, the bible was written by God and not by man. Man was nothing more than the writing instrument.…

      2 Peter 1:20 – Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

      May 31, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Liz the First

      Just the facts, you just proved Dirty Harry's point!

      June 1, 2013 at 10:53 am |
  5. Suzybee

    Having the Southern Baptists pull out of the Boy Scouts will probably be good. The Baptists will lose the cover of the scouts to hide their bigotry. Fewer scout bigots - sounds like an improvement to me!

    May 31, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • skarphace

      Well, the problem is the children. By taking them out of the scouts and having them in a group that is taught primarily by bigots, they are more likely to become bigots themselves. It is the children of these "Southern Baptists" that lose here.

      May 31, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  6. Bill in Florida

    Doesn't the Bible also say that eating pork is a sin? And that you can sell your eldest daughter into slavery?

    See ya Baptists. Don't let the door hit your asses on the way out.

    May 31, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  7. Patroy

    Religion was created by mankind for mankind. They are organizations that prey on the weak mind. They fleece the followers of their money, property,and anything else they can get their hands on!!!!!! It is amazing that in the 21st century people still believe in these myths.

    May 31, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Patroy… Some told you that lie and you believed it. Get real. Religion was created by God and started in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve...

      May 31, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  8. Thomas Jefferson

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    (from Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785)

    May 31, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  9. Bribarian

    Time to plan an exodus from Washington all together.....

    May 31, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • skarphace

      Huh? From Washington? I don't follow.

      May 31, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  10. Beloved4ever

    Now is not the time for the Baptist to Withdraw. now is Not the Time for anyone to Withdraw. For I am not Ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the Power of God that brings Salvation unto EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES !!

    May 31, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  11. farside6262

    Think the posts here clearly indicate what the most recent elections have confirmed...the old, white, male, bigoted, hatred machine is on the way out. Thank god (yes, lower case g- for the bible thumpers) they are dying off!
    Although I am a white 54 yr. old female, I am 300% behind their demise!!

    May 31, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Nunya

      Thumbs up!!!

      May 31, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
  12. tired in ATL

    if it is indeed a choice – then why do those who might affect – even possibly CHANGE, that choice send away those that might need guidance to make a different (better?) choice.

    May 31, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • skarphace

      Exactly. Jesus did not avoid sinners. He sought them out.

      May 31, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      skarphace… That is just your worldly concepts talking. If you believe that then you clearly don't know the first thing about Jesus…

      May 31, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
  13. beachgalone

    i've worked for 2 baptist owned insurance agencies. they won't be happy until all white men rule and the women know their place! they preach tolerance, but this is just not true. shame on me for just thinking performance matters.

    May 31, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
  14. skarphace

    “God’s word explicitly says hom ose xuality is a choice, a sin,” said Reed, pastor of First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge in Jacksonville, Arkansas.

    God's word also explicitly says that prost itution is a sin, and yet Jesus not only let a prost itute be allowed to hear his personal scripture, but also was a servant to her. You will not be able to save sinners if you do not let them hear the word of God.

    I am willing to bet that most of these "southern Baptists" also associate with the Tea Party. Both are hypocrites in the strictest sense.

    May 31, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • skarphace

      Man, that filter is hard to pass. Couldn't even use a direct quote from the article without modifying it.

      May 31, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      It is one thing to be in the company of a sinner or unbeliever. It is quite another to lend support to their evil actions and evil deeds. God forbids it. If you support them, then God considers you "partakers of their sins"…

      2 Thessalonians 3:6 – Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

      2 Corinthians 6:14 – Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

      Revelations 18:4 – And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

      May 31, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • skarphace

      JustTheFacts: so how exactly are you going to convert sinners, then, by avoiding them altogether. In addition, are you claiming that none of these "Southern Baptists" are sinners? If so, then you are delusional. All men are sinners.

      May 31, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Nunya

      @Justthefacts: You go on and believe in the magical man in the sky who cons you into giving him money, but yet never reveals himself or any indicators of his existence.......The world is round not flat, the earth revolves around the sun, man evolved over a period of millions of years, these are known verifiable facts, where are yours? Only in your pea sized brain....

      May 31, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Nunya… First, I don't believe in some magical man in the sky. Magic is of the devil. I believe in Jesus Christ, and that is good enough for me. Secondly, you have zero proof the world evolved over millions of years. Someone told you that lie and you believed it. All you have is a theory. A theory which in this case happens to be false…

      May 31, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Pete

      Who would have thought that there is a Southern Baptist out their who doesn't know what a Scientific Theory is? Just The Facts, I'm looking at you.

      June 3, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  15. vinster58

    interestingly enough, 2000 years after the alleged crucifixion and resurrection of "said" Jesus, not a scintilla of evidence has EVER been put forth to disprove it happened, not a bit....In fact, there used to be a movement of some who actually proclaimed that there had never even been a Jesus from Nazareth, let alone be the Son of God......Fast forward a few years and we learn that very same movement has been debunked.....similarly, supposed "scholars" have said there is, nor has there ever been any evidence of a man named Pilate (you know where this is going don't you?). Interestingly enough, a large stone has been found with the inscription of a "Pilate", explaining he was a procurator.....Hmmmm.......???? Interesting indeed....These are just two of the many, many fascinating archeological digs unearthed in just the last 50 years adding significant weight to the substantial evidence already in place, supporting the historicity of the bible, and the life of Jesus......

    May 31, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • readers check this out thoroughly

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Evidence_for_the_historical_existence_of_Jesus_Christ

      May 31, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Greg Ohio

      What does that have to do with whether people choose to follow him and love everyone, or follow the Pharisees and the Klan throwing stones?

      May 31, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • skarphace

      Interestingly enough, 2000 years after the crucifixion of Jesus, there seems to be none of his teachings left in the Church.

      Jesus preached tolerance and love. These Baptists know neither. They are followers of Satan, not Jesus. They just don't know it.

      May 31, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      More importantly, there is and never has been even a single shred of evidence provided by the atheists to prove "God does not exist." Yet their whole belief is based on that fact. Talk about some nut cases. Interesting indeed…

      May 31, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • Andrew

      Just because there isn't evidence to disprove something, you can't assume the opposite, that is a logical fallacy and doesn't prove anything. It just means there is no evidence. The burden of proof is always on someone to prove an event happened rather than on others to disprove that an event occurred.

      May 31, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • skarphace

      JustTheFacts: you have it backwards. If I say that something exists, it is my burden to prove that it does, not your burden to prove that it does not.

      Prove that mermaids and unicorns do not exist. Then we will talk about the existence of God.

      May 31, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      skarphace… I don't have it backwards at all. The "burden of proof" argument is nothing more than an evasive tactic thought up by atheists to avoid dealing with the issue. The issue being that atheist don't have a shred of proof to back up their claim that God does not exist. If that is not the case, then prove me wrong by showing me such proof. Answer: You can't. All you can do is evade the issue…

      May 31, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Just the Facts

      Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Prove to me that Russell's teapot does not exist. Or fairies, jinns, Thor, Zeus or leprechauns for that matter.

      May 31, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Secular Humanist… "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"?… Just one more excuse thought up by atheists to avoid dealing with the issue. The issue being that they have no proof. Prove me wrong by showing me such proof. Answer: You can't. All you can do is evade the issue…

      May 31, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Prove me wrong about Russell's teapot. You can't. I guess Russell's teapot exists.

      May 31, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • auntie pasta

      RE: "Andrew...Just because there isn't evidence to disprove something, you can't assume the opposite, that is a logical fallacy and doesn't prove anything. It just means there is no evidence...."

      Thanks for putting into words what I was thinking... nice writing...

      June 2, 2013 at 1:28 am |
    • Pete

      Just the Facts must also believe in Bigfoot, The Loch Ness Monster, and alien abductions because no one has proven them to be false either. I find it hard to believe that people this dumb make it to adulthood.

      June 3, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  16. Patroy

    Good riddence to bad rubbish!!!!

    May 31, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  17. Lisa

    GOOD! Good for the Baptists and all other religions that see this as WRONG! I won't be supporting the Boy Scouts either.

    May 31, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Patroy

      Your wrong is not everyone else's wrong!!! It is time for all youBi"bull" thumpers to realize your way is NOT the ONLY way!!! Get over it for christ sake!!!!

      May 31, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  18. Shana NaNa HeyHey

    Southern Baptist is a fancy term for "hypocrite". And don't get even me started on the Catholic Church. The Boy Scouts of America still has integrity and does not need the hypocrites telling them what to do or how to run their organization. Sha Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Good Bye! Go throw your snakes some where else.

    May 31, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  19. Robert

    Can stoning be far behind? What happened to "Judge not lest ye be judged"? My daughter is a born again southern Baptist. Some of the things they tell her............The Catholic church is Satanic..................Freddie Mercury was Satanic..................The Beatles were Satanic............Now in our family we can't talk about religion because her church knows everything and anyone who doesn't follow will burn in eternal torment. I can't believe the junk we hear from these people. Certainly not the teachings of Jesus. I'm an atheist but I respect the rights of others to believe what they want. But when has fervent religious belief become so hate filled. Very sad not to mention stupid.

    May 31, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • farside6262

      Hit the nail on the head here!
      Remarkable how they preach the teachings of Jesus, yet are the first to start a hate fest!
      Even though they breed like rabbits, Darwinism will prevail.
      The vast majority are home schooled by morons who have read nothing beyond the bible. Good luck with that when the kiddies have to deal with the real world...reminds me of the poor sea turtles who have soooooo many predators. Think I recall the odds of survival are 1 in 300?

      May 31, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  20. rick

    Jesus was 33 and never married. Funny thing though, he hung out all the time with 12 guys.
    Mmmmmmm I wonder what that was about????

    May 31, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Jim

      Nobody knows for sure whether he was married or not. He may have been married to Mary Magdalene. He probably had similar personality to David Koresh or Warren Jeffs and may have been vey promiscuous. Chances are he got laid a lot.

      May 31, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
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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.