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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. tony

    You impressionable people should not be exposed to abnormal corrupting ideas, especially when away from their parents.

    That's why we should abolish churches.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • tony

      Sorry typo. Should be Young people.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • ioutbidu

      sure, nature's course suggests that everything must be gay.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Edweird69

      So, you could be influenced to becoming gay? Maybe this would have been the chance for the gay kids to be exposed to straight kids, so they could turn straight. Sound confusing? Sure does to me!

      June 2, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • JMorcan

      You really should take a few more ESL classes before posting here.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  2. JMorcan

    This is probably the end of the Boy Scouts. It was a huge mistake, caving in to the perverts.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • .

      "This is probably the end of the Boy Scouts. It was a huge mistake, caving in to the perverts."

      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 10:20 am |
    • .

      " It was a huge mistake, caving in to the perverts."

      YeahRight

      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 10:21 am |
  3. michaeledmund

    It's the hate and intolerance on both sides of the issue that is the most deplorable thing. Jesus implored us to love our neighbors, accept sinners, and in fact love our enemies. Patience and tolerance are two of the scarcest commodities in America these days. The strength of the nation was derived from "We the people" not us vs. them.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • JMorcan

      He taught us to love those who sin; He didn't say we should participate.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  4. Leonid Brezhnev

    There is no god, the bible is a collection of fairy tales. Get a freakin' life, you stupid baptists.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • ioutbidu

      Oh please tell everyone the meaning of it all, obviously you know everything!

      June 2, 2013 at 10:19 am |
  5. Harry

    Gays are freaks.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • Shawn

      Judging people is a sin and Jesus said that calling people names will land you in hell. So good luck with that.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • .

      "Gays are freaks."

      YeahRight

      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 10:21 am |
  6. jimmy

    This decision will open up a great recruiting tool for the gay community. I would think this decision will greatly influence their number.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      recruiting? You have much to learn. They don't recruit, that is just your ignorance.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • The real Tom

      jimmy, how many names are you planning to use here today? What's the matter? Do you think anyone is falling for your act?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:26 am |
  7. biggaybobbytheniterapist

    if your mature you'll suck another mans kock and just get it over with.

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

      "if your mature you'll suck another mans kock and just get it over with."

      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 10:16 am |
  8. Holy Man

    You know what? This is a good thing. Let the Baptists leave. It'll make the Boy Scouts a better organization.

    After all, the Baptist boycott of Disney led to the closure of all the Disney theme parks and the cessation of all Disney film production, right? Oh, wait, it had the opposite effect. My bad.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:15 am |
  9. Chuck

    Good Riddance! Let the little bigots leave. They can find other venues to embrace their hate and fear mongering.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • ioutbidu

      Chuck, I am sure that you can help pick up the financial slack. Have a circle jerk benefit.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  10. J. D. Hunter

    Riiiiiiiight, it's not a hate thing.

    It's a fear and loathing thing.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  11. jimmy

    Mom: Johnny, what did you learn last night at the Jamboree?
    Johnny: "Well, Mommy, it was real strange. This guy came over and.........

    June 2, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Mom: Johnny, what did you learn last night at the Confession?
      Johnny: "Well, Mommy, it was real strange. This guy came over and.........

      June 2, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  12. Suur Kurat

    No normal person would put a rattle snake into their baby's crib and say "isn't coexistence beautiful". The same goes for gay being injected into the Boy Scouts.

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

      Gay people are already in the Boy Scouts, just like they were in the military before the repeal of DADT. And just like it is a non-issue with the US military, I'm sure it'll be a non-issue with the BSA.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • jimmy

      I think you no longer have the right to decide who goes in the baby crib.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • Mitt Romney

      You want to inject things in boy scouts? You sick SOB!

      June 2, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      So gays are as dangerous as rattle snakes? That's not even close to being an analogy. Sorry you're so afraid of gays who are NOT out to hurt anyone. You're choosing to be hurt. They're not doing anything to make you think that. Get a clue, dude.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • biggaybobbytheniterapist

      your dads gay and your moms a sloppy whor

      June 2, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • MattskiMatt

      Injected? Gays have been in Scouting all along. It's just a matter of acknowledging the truth.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  13. tony

    Religious belief is a misnomer. Those ideas are implanted by another person, usually from adult to undeveloped child.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:13 am |
  14. Science

    Wow HS is back full of BS again chad too ..................lmao.

    View source chadie.............is to do.

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

      oops easy to do Chad....................clue it is on the blog.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Science

      Forever chadie.................under view source !

      Crickets go splat.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:32 am |
  15. woody

    Some things too many do not know is the bible was in fact written in Greek 300 years after the birth of Jesus . Jesus nor God wrote the bible . Humans and the church put together stories they preferred . Jesus too was not caucasian as he would have been born on the continent of Asia at Asia Minor . Syria comes to mind where all of the people have been dying lately and Russia is sending in Jet fighters . Syria too is Asia, at Asia Minor . Look it up for yourself !

    June 2, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • Reasonable Descent

      Facts?! Who wants facts when you have "faith?"

      June 2, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  16. thinking person

    You call them a hate group and then spew hateful things about them... Maybe a mirror is needed., They are just following what their beliefs tell them. (you know like in the bible where it says that if a man lies with a man like a woman it is an abomination). If you do not go by the bible this is a free country and you can believe that your life is the way to live and that should also be ok for other to see also. I wish to state simply I am glad we live in a free country and for us not to break down to name calling. AND as I said earlier the change they are doing, "IS NOT LEGAL" I know people on both sides of this change, and the 1 thing we all agree on is that allowing boys and not adults is wrong! The BSA should make a choice and Stick to it. They will not make everyone happy, but at least they won't make both sides mad. Adults aren't worse people that children. With their new plan if a boy earns Eagle then turns 18 and is gay he can no longer be anything in the BSA (not a leader, or comittee or anything, since he is no longer "good enough"

    June 2, 2013 at 10:13 am |
  17. Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

    Boy Scouts: Good values. Southern Baptists: Hate all humans who are different from you.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • thinking person

      picking middle of the road and not to allow all is NOT good values!

      June 2, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • billfitt

      Boy Scouts: Formerly good values. Gays: Hate all humans who are different from you

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

      "Boy Scouts: Formerly good values. Gays: Hate all humans who are different from you"

      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 10:18 am |
  18. Makeith

    Not one mention of what the kids want or what's right for them. Just a bunch of adults that think they know what's best. The skills learned from the bsa are way more valuable in life than the memorization of scripture and doing missions! Really, have they even asked the children what they want to do?

    June 2, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • Reasonable Descent

      Unfortunately, a child will look to the parent(s) to provide direction if it has not already been instilled. The test would be to place a group of children together to determine if that population segregated autonomously.

      I believe they would segregate into groups that were based on which wanted to play video games, etc.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:27 am |
  19. jules

    a

    June 2, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  20. NorthVanCan

    It's time to put God back into the schools and government offices . It's time to pray for the gays and make them go aways.

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

      lol make gays go away. We're in your sheets baby.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Which of the thousands of gods that men have created do you mean?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:26 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.