May 31st, 2013
04:19 PM ET

Baptists plan exodus from Boy Scouts

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(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. jimkon

    No one kills in the name of atheism. Stalin starved 3 million plus Ukrainians to death for a political agenda. Hitler murdered 6 million Jews for an agenda. The problem with religion is that a) it is based on a largely fabricated myth and b) that if 'god' actually had any sort of power to transform a person on conversion they would not continue doing bad things... unless of course your will is more powerful than gods. The excuse of 'god gives us free will' or 'just because I'm christian doesn't mean I stop being human" is shining proof of the lie fo christianity. Atheism teaches only this: there is no god. Your lifes meaning and value are entirely up to you.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • billfitt

      Atheism teaches only this: there is no god. Your life's meaning and value are entirely nothing.

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

      Sounds like taking personal responsibility for ones actions, and beliefs. You would think Conservatives, would be all over personal responsibility, since they talk about it non stop. Well now you all get to take personal responsibility for your anti-american views on freedom.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • teri

      BillFitt, I disagree. One's life has meaning if you want it to...even if it's only to yourself, your family and friends. You don't need a deity to having meaning....

      June 2, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio


      There is unlikely to be purpose to existence. If you don't like the answer that is your problem. The universe does not care so asking about purpose is meaningless. I make my own meaning in the brief time I am alive.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • Lol

      Wow Bill. Think much?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:51 am |
  2. Excellent

    The BSA does not need to stand for Baptist Scouts of America. Frankly, I'm perfectly happy to see them go.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Scott

      So are you actively involved in Scouting (like I am) or are you just another lib that is faking it?


      June 2, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Sane Person

      lol, as if a "lib" couldnt or wouldnt be in scouting. I was in scouting for years and got my Eagle, spent 14 years after that in the active duty army. Went to camp more times than I can remember, and have invaded more than my share of countries on your behalf. I fully support gays in scouting. I do not condone religious brainwashing or blackmailing in an attempt to decalre the BSA thiers and thiers alone. There have ALWAYS been gays in scouting. You need to understand that. The only thing that has changed is they will no longer be required to LIE. (Trustworthy being a quality you might recognize being touted by scouting)

      June 2, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • Daryl

      Clean is too there Insane. therefore I consider gays as unclean

      June 2, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • sqeptiq

      @Daryl: Is incoherence one of those values you espouse?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • Sane Person

      Daryl still struggles with basic communication skills. Luckily, next year in the 3rd grade, he'll learn new techniques to help him along.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:14 am |
  3. BrownHoleSon

    I am not sure what some of you don't understand.

    You browbeat your way into an organization that didn't agree with your lifestyle.

    As such, many of them leave. That's their right. Did you expect them to stick around for the gay Boy Scout parade? The rainbow badge?

    June 2, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Obvious


      June 2, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • John

      Nope, just stating the obvious. The left is no different than the right. Both decry the intolerance of the other side, then become intolerant of those that disagree with their thoughts. Plenty of closed minds to go around.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • mjbrin

      I think many of these posters are actually sighing a sigh of big relief because their straight and gay children will not have to listen to hate messages while they are learning about being a responsible citizen, good character, and self-reliance

      June 2, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • Chuck

      I'm not sure what YOU don't understand. There was a vote – a majority in the Boy Scouts obviously don't agree with your views so don't act as though you're a part of some larger collective that disapproves. What you don't like is Liberty and Justice for ALL – find the door! You might like the middle east for example. Bye!

      June 2, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • Kathy

      Rainbow badge...awesome

      June 2, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • sqeptiq

      You shouldn't advertise that you were born out of a "brown hole." Sounds disgusting.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Sane Person

      The BSA voted to disagree with you. YOU are the one attempting to browbeat people. Its unfortunate that you've chosen the side of hate and bigotry, but luckily the people that disagree far outnumber you.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  4. mama k

    Hewood replied: "It's their decision (and mine) because it directly goes against our beliefs." Religions that agree with the his statement claim such a notion as an absolute moral truth. We know such notions are founded in ancient writings from millennia past. For many things we have learned about through science, beliefs have had to adapt to keep from looking silly and being out of date with current knowledge. This is simply another time where fundamental religions are struggling to keep up with current knowledge and throwing a hissy fit about the discomforting situation they find themselves in.

    We know that homosexuality has always been a naturally occurring feature across many species including mankind, and science is now getting closer and closer to answers on how it survives across generations. Now that the scientific research shows that homosexuality is not a choice, but formed very early via epigenetic factors (resistant to change), religions that abhor homosexuality look sillier than ever on the issue. For Christians in particular, I would also say their wildly conflicting Biblical interpretations regarding a wide array of topics including this one is just another indicator that their objective truths are anything but objective.

    For issues such as this, with the knowledge we have today, Christians need to come to the table without "scripture", and ready to discuss such issues rationally. Otherwise they will continue to face an ever increasing tide of distrust and an ultimate indictment of irrelevancy.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:29 am |

    • =================================================


      The American Psychological Association states "there are probably many reasons for a person's sexual orientation and the reasons may be different for different people", and says most people's sexual orientation is determined at an early age. Research into how sexual orientation in males may be determined by genetic or other prenatal factors plays a role in political and social debates about homosexuality, and also raises concerns about genetic profiling and prenatal testing."

      Professor Michael King states: "The conclusion reached by scientists who have investigated the origins and stability of sexual orientation is that it is a human characteristic that is formed early in life, and is resistant to change. Scientific evidence on the origins of homosexuality is considered relevant to theological and social debate because it undermines suggestions that sexual orientation is a choice."

      The Royal College of Psychiatrists stated in 2007:

      "Despite almost a century of psychoanalytic and psychological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person's fundamental heterosexual or homosexual orientation. It would appear that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Sexual orientation is therefore not a choice."


      The following is from the article:

      Homosexuality ultimately a result of gene regulation, researchers find (12/11/2012 – LiveScience)

      [ The search for a "gay gene" may be off-target, new research finds. Another process called epigenetics that switches genes on and off may explain why homosexuality runs in families.

      Epigenetics are heritable changes caused by factors other than DNA. Instead of traits getting passed down through the genes, epigenetic change happens because of the way genes are regulated, or turned on and off.

      These genetic regulators may be the reason homosexuality persists in nature despite the fact that gay people are less likely to reproduce, suggests the new study published in the journal The Quarterly Review of Biology.

      "These things have evolved because they're good for the parents, but they sometimes, not [with] high frequency, but sometimes carry over" into offspring, study researcher William Rice, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told LiveScience. In a male fetus, Rice and his colleagues write, an epigenetic change that benefited the mother may lead to "feminization" of sexual preference — homo- or bisexuality. The same may be true for epigenetic changes passed down by dad to a female fetus. (The terms feminization and masculinization of sexual preference refer to sexual orientation only — not to physical or personality traits of the offspring.)

      The findings add to past research suggesting gay men haven't died out, because female relatives of gay men tend to have more children on average than other females. The study researchers specifically found that two genes passed on through the maternal line could produce this effect.

      Hormones, epigenetics and orientation

      Rice and his colleagues focused on epi-marks, which are molecular changes that act like temporary "switches" to turn genes on and off. If a gene is a blueprint, the epi-mark is the construction foreman who makes sure the product gets built. An epi-mark also determines when, where and how much a gene is expressed, according to the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis.

      These molecular switches are usually erased very early in the developmental process, but they can be passed down from generation to generation, too, Rice said.

      Some epi-marks are particularly important during fetal development, when they promote normal physical development in the sexes despite natural variations in testosterone during pregnancy. Researchers know that fetal exposure to too much testosterone can masculinize the genitals, brain or behavior of a genetically female fetus. Likewise, too little testosterone can make a genetically male fetus more feminized.

      But here's the catch: There's lots of overlap between the levels of testosterone male and female fetuses get exposed to. That means there must be another side to the story, Rice and his colleagues wrote.

      That side appears to be epigenetics, Rice said.

      "Early in development, we think these epi-marks are laid down so that girl fetuses will be relatively insensitive to testosterone and male fetuses will be relatively sensitive to testosterone," Rice said.

      Biological behavior

      Thus, if an epi-mark that kept a mother from getting exposed to high testosterone in development gets passed on to her son — the opposite sex — it could desensitize him to testosterone, contributing to his sexual preference for men. Similarly, if a male-specific epi-mark from dad gets passed to a daughter, it could "masculinize" her sexual preference, making her more interested in women.

      These findings could explain why twin studies show that homosexuality runs in families, but no "gay gene" can be found, Rice said. In identical twins, there's about a 20 percent chance that if one twin is gay, the other will be too. If genetic change were responsible for homosexuality, you'd expect a much higher match, Rice said. Epigenetics, however, can explain the heritability without the need for a specific genetic change.

      The hypothesis could be tested by examining epigenetic marks in parents of kids with gay versus straight offspring, Rice said. There are, of course, concerns that this knowledge could be used by parents who want to avoid gay offspring, Rice said, but that concern already exists around certain hormonal conditions in utero, which are known to contribute to an increased chance of offspring being lesbians.

      "That cat's already out of the bag," Rice said. He added that an understanding of the biological underpinnings of homosexuality could help emphasize that same-sex behavior is not "unnatural."

      "In fact, it's a major part of the natural world," Rice said. Fourteen percent of Western gulls raise chicks in female-female pairs, he pointed out. And 8 percent of male sheep show zero interest in fertile ewes, but get sexually excited by other rams. ]

      June 2, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • kathy2515

      Well Said Mama K. Religion never lets science get in the way of beliefs or myths. Evil was created by man, and that's one thing that religions don't believe in, but rather prefer to believe that evil is some form of invisible thing that makes humans evil in the same way they believe something zapped the world into existence in seven days and the world is only 2013 years old.

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

    Do the Boy Scouts now have an official buttplug?

    June 2, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • midwest rail

      They'd rather not emulate you.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Scott

      Ah, yet another new "merit badge" to add to my list. 🙂


      June 2, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • .

      "Do the Boy Scouts now have an official buttplug?"

      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 10:38 am |
    • HotAirAce

      The same buttplu that heteros engaging in anal se.x use should work fine. Azzhole!

      June 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  6. I like GS cookie

    You have no business in this manner. It is not your money and you are free to give your money to BSA if you choose to. I do agree that no organization should be tax free.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  7. MennoKnight

    And just as a note as to how much society has changed, when was in high school 20 years ago I was a jock. I played high school hockey for four years and I was the only guy that did not have a girl friend (and therefore the only one who was not having se.x).
    The guys wanted to set me up with an "easy" girl so that I too could get some action.
    I chose against this idea.
    I was also the only guy who was a jock who did not beat up the "g.ay" guy but I was friendly to him.

    A generation ago I protected the g.a.y guy from abuse and was called me a "g.a.y lover." They questioned my se.x.uality because I did not take the "easy" girl.

    Why was I like this? Because I was and still am a born again Christian.
    I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and his disciples for my life.
    It gives me a fuller richer life with less problems and more fulfillment.
    It is the best choice for me.
    And there is that word again, choice.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  8. Kenny

    Gays are freaks

    June 2, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • MennoKnight

      As are all of us. Romans 2:1

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

      "Gays are freaks"

      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 10:30 am |
    • MennoKnight

      For all have sinned (freaked out in your words) and fallen short of the glory of God.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:30 am |
  9. Jim C

    The Boy Scouts made a huge mistake. Now, they will pay the price when other religious organizations follow suite.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      In Canada, UK, Sweden, Germany, Australia gay people are welcomed into scouting, and they are doing just fine.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  10. jimkon

    It's a shame that so many Bible verses sprinkled throughout the Old and New Testament are ignored while others are followed so vehemetetly(sp?). The number of verses regarding slaves, the subserviance of wives, the offerings that are supposed to be given, etc. FAR outnumber any that deal with a man laying with a man or woman laying with a woman, yet you don't see Christians following those verses. It all just comes down to what gives people an illusion of power. Most verses tell what Christians should do so it becomes work and labor...so they ignore those. But when it comes to things you shouldn't do, Christians follow those easy because they take no work and it does not inconvenience them.
    Then they come up with the excuse that "Oh, those rules are in the Old Testament and Christians follow the New Testament"...yet one of the first things Christians teach in church is to follow the Ten Commandments...an Old Testament proposition. All religion is just a form of crowd control when introduce to masses. Each person needs to find their own faith.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      According to Jesus, the OT is valid...every word.
      John 10:35 (refering to the OT) "If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside"

      He continues in Matthew 5:18-19 "“For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven"
      Also confirmed in many other areas where Jesus tells people that the OT is valid, every letter and every word...they love to gloss over those passages.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:39 am |
  11. Danny

    If people are so concerned with how their children are raised, why target BSA? They are known for teaching children valuable life lessons and encourage responsible citizenship. It's not like they are going to throw all that out the window and start handing out badges for how gay you can be. Why not be more active about other things that corrupt children, like unfit parents?

    June 2, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Valuable life lessons like let someone else take your just punishment. (like jesus for example). As long as you thank him, you don't have to be responsible for your own actions.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:33 am |
  12. Tom

    The year? 2680
    The teacher? A democrat
    The subject? History
    Class, in the year 2013 we only had LGBT. Today we have LGBTFIWMFHVUSOWQNUXUDJTOSHZLV. Today everyone is free....cat lovers, dog lovers, little boy lovers, earth worm lovers, ground hog day, little old ladies, space creatures, ...

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

      the domino theory died decades ago, get a grip

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

    Some "christian" doesn't want you to read my posts. Doesn't like me mentioning the purpose the churches use the collection money for.

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

      Let's see collections at my church were used to pay the preacher's living expenses but also to build new buildings, help families in need, fill food bank, keep church up make repairs and such.

      June 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  14. flecka

    Really Tim Reed, is this what Jesus would do?

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

      Of course he would. PHFFT

      June 2, 2013 at 10:27 am |
  15. Harry

    Boy these threads are moving at the speed of sound. The more hate there is from both sides of the discussion, the quicker these comments will roll in. Keep up the hate everyone

    June 2, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Though there is some name calling by ignorant folk, why does everyone associate dis-agreement for hate?
      People love to throw that term around, but it rarely is accurate.

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

    The bottom line is that unless you shout it from the rooftops that being Gay is great and you support and encourage it 100% then you will be branded a hater. You cannot voice your disagreement even if you are respectful. You are told you should be quiet about your views, that they are wrong, sick, or worse. Irony.

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

      "You are told you should be quiet about your views, that they are wrong, sick, or worse. Irony."

      For the same reason that we ask people who are racist to be quiet, because it's discriminatory and immoral.

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

      @ever, you may have your views and you can be responsible for their repercussions. that's freedom.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:32 am |
  17. Boy Scouts are better off

    The Boy Scouts are better off apart from the Baptist bigots who teach nothing but hate and fear about gay people.
    As a gay man, I know from personal experience, growing up with a Baptist family and going to Baylor that they are narrow minded and bigots and that is not what young boy scouts should be learning.

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

      But you learned how to be gay at Baylor, so what are you complaining about? Bet you had a ball in Brooks Hall.

      June 2, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  18. Victor Pappa

    Well the Gays have made their sin statement. Now how many gays really want to be scouts. Now how many of gays want to be rediculed for their sin nature by straight scouts. Now how any gays will prance around trying to influence straight scouts to convert. A sin is a sin, but all fall short of being sin free. Just keep your sins between you and GOD, don't flaunt something sinfilled nature just to make a statement.

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

      "Now how any gays will prance around trying to influence straight scouts to convert. "


      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 10:28 am |
    • .

      "A sin is a sin, but all fall short of being sin free. Just keep your sins between you and GOD, don't flaunt something sinfilled nature just to make a statement."


      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 10:29 am |
  19. jrsyjorg

    CNN, you should be ashamed for censoring out all but liberal church bashing posts
    You have blocked most of my posts even though they were not offensive
    I intend to make light of this in other venues...

    June 2, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  20. Daryl

    I was a scout and up until recently gave donations to my local troop. Not anymore! let the gay community do it. I have better things to donate my money to. I know, i can donate it to the tea party!

    June 2, 2013 at 10:24 am |
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About this blog

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.