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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. Scott

    Seems that komrade . (period) is suffering from acute copy-n-paste.

    Scott

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

    All human religions do have one main thing in common, fiction.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  3. marco

    It's pretty funny how the Boy Scouts were formed by men who thought modern life was turning boys into effete little sissies, and nowadays the very idea that you would have an organization devoted to teaching boys traditional male values causes people to go into hissy fits. Well, the BSA has outlived its usefulness with this decision.

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

    Great. They can feel free to exclude themselves from other areas of the public as well. There is a reason the people from Westboro are Baptists.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • billfitt

      Did you get your first banging at Westboro or what?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  5. tony

    You don't need money to practice religion, just to spread it.

    So what is the "good" purpose in giving money to church?

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

      The average church feeds dozens of families, clothes the poor, etc.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • tony

      So do good charities, regardless of faith. But the churches take more money.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Edweird69

      @Marco – Those donations come from many many people, myself included. Church's just take the credit. They also get the chance to advertise their goat-herder beliefs. They also don't have to pay taxes, like most organizations have to do.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:30 am |
  6. Tom

    Is it just me? Or is anyone else getting sick and tired of all these "in your face" LGBTer's ??

    Open the newspaper: LGBT
    Take you son to a Boy Scouts meeting: LGBT
    Turn on the TV: LGBT
    CNN.com: LGBT

    June 2, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Edweird69

      Click on gay articles, so you can read the very thing you are complaining about having to read about. That's like buying pork, and complaining about people raising pigs. MORON.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Martin

      Yeah, wasn't the world a better place when only the bigots were allowed to be in everybody's face?

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

      Oh, you poor thing. I don't notice any such thing. Must be your skewed world view.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • Scott

      Actually Tom, the LGBTers are your typical "Libocrite". They demand that everyone accept their point of view, BUT they won't tolerate people that have a point of view counter to theirs. Hence the sobriquet of "Libocrite", Liberal + Hypocrite.

      Scott

      June 2, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • Shawn

      I never really noticed it. Could be Paranoia. You should have that checked out.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Fortune holds more for the bold

      Curious to me, 'they' want to be considered ' normal' but when they achieve normal they will no longer be special awwwww

      June 2, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • The real Tom

      Bullshit, Scott. You think it's ok to discriminate. I don't. That doesn't mean I'm a hypocrite. If you and your ilk stopped lying about gays, blacks, women, and gods, you might have a point.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • TXLady

      How are they "in your face"??? Certain issues have come up lately because for a long time people like you just refuse to address it, as if by doing that the issue would go away or cease to exist! The world doesn't revolve around you, other people have the same rights, and that includes participation in society. Whether you approve or not.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • TXLady

      @Martin: Well said!!

      June 2, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • TXLady

      @Scott: Being gay is not a "point of view", any more than being brunette is. And assuming that they are all liberal is just as ignorant as the first part of your comment. Gays don't "force" you to accept them, because they already ARE who they are, any more than a brunette would need your acceptance to exist. It is an issue of respect, not acceptance. Nobody disrespect or takes away YOUR rights by being gay, they just want people to stop being ignorant and allow them their civic rights!

      June 2, 2013 at 10:50 am |
  7. DS

    And in other news: Baptists now flocking to the new Little Klansman programs offered by the KKK.

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

      Be careful – your prejudice is showing

      June 2, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  8. Mike

    People who hate gays are Freaks. Harry, are you a Freak? Good that the baptist are kicking them out, have you heard some of the Freaky crap the Baptist are teaching our kids? wow. Not even kidding. Glad the Boy Scouts are making this move

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

      Gays are freaks

      June 2, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  9. jimmy

    It's so cold. Come get in my sleeping bag and get warm.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Edweird69

      Yes, little kids want their buddies in the sleeping bag, so they can pork them. You fvvktard!

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

      your paranoia only shows your insecurity. If you are strong in who you are, it doesn't matter what every body else is doing. Gay people existed since the beginning of time, and some where in the Boy Scouts too, and you didn't see any issues. So take your valium and go sit down!

      June 2, 2013 at 10:55 am |
  10. chilliepepper

    I think alot of these posters that are anti Christian are Hypocrites. They are so pro Gay as in being a fair tolerant person.. But seem to hate Christians. They're acting just as bad as the gay bashers but on the flip side. Big Hypocrites.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • TrueBlue42

      Nope, not really. We're just rightfully calling out the Christians who, through their hatred, are putting their beliefs over what's best for ALL American youth. No hypocrisy involved, at least not from us.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • TXLady

      you seem to want to put everyone in a box. Nobody is being pro-gay. It is about being pro-civil rights for EVERYONE. And nobody hates Christians! People who discriminate against anybody, including gays, are not good Christians, and that is why they are getting backlash. Don't be so arrogant to think you got being a Christian right, your ways don't represent the way Jesus told us to live, especially if you discriminate against ANYBODY! He didn't do it, who are you to do it??

      June 2, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • chilliepepper

      TXlady, Try reading a few pages of this thread. Plenty of posters are writing horrible comments about Christians/Christianity. Just a fact.

      June 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  11. visitor

    The decision is much more about not wanting friends and neighbors knowing someone has a gay kid. Dads will be humiliated. Moms will be shunned or worse, preached to about the sin in the house. Those communities are very very cruel to gays.

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

      How does teaching your child that is ok to play and be friends with a gay friend would humiliate anybody? Parents of gay children are more often than not very proud of them, because they know that this is something the children didn't choose. The parents know the every day life and successes and pains of those children. These parents will probably care less about who discriminate on them, they'll just go pray with REAL Christians!

      June 2, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  12. ohmygod50

    Awesome comment! Abolish religion.

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

      and pigs fly too....what does respecting gays has to do with abolishing religion?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  13. disanitnodicos

    Fudge packers.

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

      "Fudge packers."

      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 10:22 am |
    • Shawn

      Sinner (judging is a sin)

      June 2, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • disanitnodicos

      Those fudgepack.. hold on, mama dropped her pipe again in the next trailer. Be right back.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • TXLady

      at least try to have some class...dude responding to you above is 100% right. This type of phobia shows insecurity on your part!

      June 2, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  14. Tom

    Conservative Scientist: The light bulb is designed to screw into the socket.

    Liberal Scientist: The light bulb is designed to either screw into the socket, or two light bulbs can be screwed toghther.

    No matter how functionally obvious, the liberals will never accept science.

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

      So human beings are basically just like light bulbs. Genius.

      Only a conservative would be so stupid as to try to argue the naturalistic fallacy by using an *artificial* example.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • The real Tom

      You seem to think that orientation is all about what goes where. You must not get much.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • spk

      Think that up all by yourself?

      Oxymoron: Politically conservative scientist

      June 2, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • TXLady

      Tom: I can't believe how much stupidity coming out of one brain...

      June 2, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  15. Shawn

    Gays are allowed in the military. So if you are a Veteran, or active duty, you are no longer allowed into a Baptist church.

    Why only picking on the BSA?

    June 2, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • TrueBlue42

      Excellent point.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • Hewood

      Because they directly support and fund the BSA. It's their decision (and mine) because it directly goes against our beliefs.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • Shawn

      Hewood. So the Military people bring money into the church, so they are allowed. The BSA cost money so they are not. Everyone knew religion was about money, you just proved it. Pay taxes and then call it "your money", but a unpopular decision like this will have people leaving the church faster then they already have been. Not really smart no matter how you want to twist it.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:31 am |
  16. Disciple

    The decline of moral values in this country has occurred because the majority of the population has allowed a small percentage of individuals to influence the whole of society to the point that our Country has now become an amoral society. That is a society that no longer understands what is right or wrong and only accepts what it is told by the media as the truth. Christianity understands clearly what is right a wrong and for that reason it is being persecuted. Christianity is a pain in the side of those individuals who have chosen not to follow the light of God but to follow the leader of this fallen world.

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

      Funny, you call yourself a Deciple" When Jesus walked the earth, did he reject the sinners or invite them to tag along?

      Why don't Christians try to be more like Jesus and less like Hitler?

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

      Excellent comment.

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

      lol. the christian persecution complex.

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

      "Christianity understands clearly what is right a wrong and for that reason it is being persecuted."

      That's why when Christians came here they slaughtered so many Native Americans and stole their land, then they burned women at the stake because they thought they were witches. Then they kidnapped and enslaved African Americans and treated them like crap. They also treated women like crap too and second class citizens so if anything this country has gotten more moral because of our laws and civil rights, not your religion.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • chilliepepper

      Great point Disciple. That is exactly whats going on. Weak minds that follow whats popular at the moment. Brainwashed IMO.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Christianity is false and immoral. There is no evidence for the divinity of jesus and avoiding personal responsibility because a human was tortured to death shows no integrity.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • visitor

      Christianity is not being persecuted. There are churches on every corner. No one is attacking them.

      You are so desperate for persecution you lie to pretend you are persecuted, like some br-atty teenager.

      That behavior is sickening. It really dishonors those that are truly persecuted.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • TXLady

      wake up call: Gays existed way way way before Jesus was born, all over creation. Where in the Bible says that we should cast out gays? or any sinners, from our churches? Point out that please. Worry about your own walk with the Lord and do good, give a good example. Being nasty to people that are different than you and casting them out of church is not one.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  17. Colin

    A quick question to those who regard ho.mo$exuality as a choice. Did you choose to be straight over competing gay urges? If not, why is it that only gays have gay urges?

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

      we all are confronted by deviant choices in our lives. some imbalances makes rational choices difficult or even impossible. most of us JUST DO what WE WANT TOO!

      June 2, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • ioutbidu

      all are confronted by deviant choices in our lives. some imbalances makes rational choices difficult or even impossible. most of us JUST DO what WE WANT TOO!

      June 2, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  18. Edweird69

    There is, in fact, no worldview more reprehensible in its arrogance than that of a religious
    believer: the creator of the universe takes an interest in me, approves of me, loves me, and will reward me after
    death; my current beliefs, drawn from scripture, will remain the best statement of truth until the end of the world;
    everyone who disagrees with me will spend eternity in hell… An average Christian, in an average church, listening to
    an average Sunday sermon has achieved a level of arrogance simply unimaginable in scientific discourse — and there have
    been some extraordinarily arrogant scientists.

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

      true! and I can't find where people are supposed to cast out of the church those with whom they disagree, or find them to be sinners! we are all sinners and Jesus accepted us all!

      June 2, 2013 at 10:39 am |
  19. Grahame Rhodes

    Who needs them. Idiots controlled by a novel written over thousands of years ago to control the populous and con them into giving the church money so that they could molest small children

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

      wow you sound like a real smart cookie

      June 2, 2013 at 10:36 am |
  20. herchato

    The religions will be the big losers in this not the boy scouts.

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

      bsa contributes how much money to itself? no money = no scouts!

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

      no money = no scouts!

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

      Agreed. In the end, values taught through BSA will live on while churches continue to die off.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:25 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.