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. Cambridge Ray

    There are TWO kinds of Conservatives:

    • One group is busy spreading hatred

    • The other group is busy denying that the first group exists

    Don't believe me? Check by yourself: Just scroll up & down. Go to ANY Internet forum.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  2. Ice queen

    What ever happend to the Campfire Boys and Campfire Girls ? They were youth orginizations back in the 50s and 60s { that I remember }

    June 2, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  3. mama k

    A recent poster wrote that God hates the sin of homosexuality.

    Religions that agree with the poster's 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 11:18 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 11:19 am |
    • science

      Think outside the BOX chadie !!!

      By the way faith evolution gave you the brain............OK and se-x was needed back then .

      Hey all creationists ...........chadie too....the truth below !

      The fairy in the sky DID NOT create US !

      Ancient life...............3.5 billion years ago.............NO god(s) or horn-y red devil (666 the beast) never has been

      Disappearance of Stromatolites, Earliest Visible Manifestation of Life: Ancient Enigma Solved?

      May 28, 2013 — The widespread disappearance of stromatolites, the earliest visible manifestation of life on Earth, may have been driven by single-celled organisms called foraminifera.



      The University of Sydney.........................geology..............the dirt guys.

      Precious opal veinlets in a sandstone from central Australia.


      Answer to opal mystery shows Red Centre's links to Red Planet

      31 May 2013

      The dramatic geological events that created opal, Australia's national gemstone, have been described for the first time by a University of Sydney researcher.


      + the damn fossils ..............works better than the BIBLE !

      Scientists Recover Wooly Mammoth Blood ..................cloning could happen maybe

      Posted by Soulskill on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @01:52PM
      from the wooly-mammoth-vampires-very-excited dept.


      New study restores famed fossil to "bird" branch

      Wednesday May 29, 2013 | Alicia Chang for The Associated Press


      AND chadie has a link on Bing

      Quarterback's next play: Going long with the Bible – CNN Belief ...


      Feb 01, 2013 · Since we've got Chad buybull ... Jurassic Park came out. Now that it has been found, ... You have nothing but a 2000 year old stone age book written ...


      All creationists...............a turtle.............but is it to old to have come from the ark ?

      Or chad crawled into his shell on the ark and finally found his way out .............you know chad ?

      The mystery of how the turtle got its shell has finally been solved by scientists studying a 260-million-year-old fossil.

      Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/scientists-have-figured-out-how-the-turtle-got-its-unique-hard-shell-2013-5#ixzz2UspYoTOm

      Prehistoric Park : T-Rex Returns – Episode 1


      Remember chad........... the talking donkey you like so much might of chewed on that BONE.............that created eve.

      Stony Irons

      Ancient Egyptians Accessorized With Meteorites

      May 30, 2013 — Researchers at The Open University (OU) and The University of Manchester have found conclusive proof that Ancient Egyptians used meteorites to make symbolic accessories for their dead.


      Chomp Chomp.............make sure to look up creationists for the next big chondrite and

      Crickets at the swamp............. are gone this time of year ............but the ticks are out.


      June 2, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  4. visitor

    I want to ask the anti-open-gay people in here, if a child comes out as gay in your son's troop, what would you do?

    June 2, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  5. disanitnodicos

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIdBuK7_g3M&version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0%5D

    June 2, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  6. Evolutionist

    Try Fixing the ministers that love lying with their flocks (male and female). Try preaching against your members that have children outside of marriage and get divorces. The baptist churches turned me off years ago. Haven't been in a church since I was 12. I don't miss it at all.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  7. Reality

    Please read the referenced article before commenting:

    From the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said review addresses the following “How do genes associated with ho-mose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”

    "Most scientists who study human se-xuality agree that gay people are born that way. But that consensus raises an evolutionary puzzle: How do genes associated with h-omose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?"


    June 2, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  8. disanitnodicos

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIdBuK7_g3M?rel=0&w=420&h=315%5D

    June 2, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  9. disanitnodicos

    All this gay propaganda. Where does it come from? It comes from the propaganda masters.


    June 2, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • .

      "All this gay propaganda. Where does it come from? It comes from the propaganda masters."

      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 11:17 am |
  10. faith



    contact rush
    mark levine

    June 2, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  11. Craige

    The headline should read Southern Baptists as there are may Baptists not rejecting the new Scout policy. In fact even though they have Baptist name, Southern "Baptists" aren't really Baptists any more.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  12. Science

    Come on chad out with IT................what name(s) you flying under today ?

    June 2, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  13. Jeezy Creezy

    They already have an alternative youth group. They have uniforms, a leadership structure, donors, membership drives, organized events and activities, and campfires.

    It's called the Ku Klux Klan.

    Thank you, goodnight!

    June 2, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  14. votarus4

    How dare this "preacher" lie about the Word of God. It never "explicitly" says ANY such thing.
    So nice that a church is teaching young male children to be afraid of an entire group of people. Meanwhile, Jesus pukes.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • AphaMaryYankee

      Leviticus 18:22
      I'm an atheist and I even know where to look it up.

      June 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  15. scientificpoetry

    Another reason for religion to just go away. The scouts would be better off affiliating themselves with a local school. While they're at it, they should remove the references to God/religion in their oath... Instead of "Do my duty to God and my Country", how about just "Do my duty to my Country". Leave the imaginary friend (God) out of it.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • FSM

      How 'do my duty to my fellow human being'?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • FSM

      Sorry, how bout...'do my duty to my fellow human being'.?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  16. blf83

    Southern Baptists don't have "values," jut biases.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  17. BM

    IGays? t's called conditioning approach. Also the "Boiled Frog" approach. If you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant, and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • .

      "IGays? t's called conditioning approach. Also the "Boiled Frog" approach. If you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant, and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late."

      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 11:12 am |
    • Huebert

      What is the threat I should be aware of?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Ralph_in_FL

      Actually, the frog in boiling water story is a myth.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  18. Tom B

    The Scouts are now free of all that Baptist baloney. Wonderful!

    June 2, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  19. Believer

    Since when do we get to pick and choose what parts of the Bible to believe? The Baptist Convention is not hating on gays by leaving, they are living out their beliefs (or "walking the walk" as Christian lingo would have it). They are simply disagreeing. Why is it that Christians are not allowed to disagree w/ anything other than what the majority likes?

    June 2, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Pete

      "Why is it that Christians are not allowed to disagree w/ anything other than what the majority likes?"

      It's called civil rights moron.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Huebert

      Do you stone disobedient children? Because unless you do you are picking and choosing which parts of the bible you believe. Deuteronomy 21:18-21

      June 2, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • muri

      Some of us will never buy the argument of faith from a group that is selective in the versus they choose to live by. Kind of, by pretty base logic, kills your own argument by virtue of your own behavior.

      queue the "if you don't play, you can't win" circle....3,2,1...

      June 2, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • AJR

      You can "disagree" (even though its actually just hatred)......but don't cry when others disagree with you. The typical whining goes "there's a war on Christianity.....we're being oppressed!" Relax....people are just disagreeing with you.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Since when do we get to pick and choose what parts of the Bible to believe?"
      For almost 2000 years. How do you think 38,000 different christian denominations, sects and cults formed? All claiming to have the one-and-only correct interpretation of the rag you call the bible.

      You said, "The Baptist Convention is not hating on gays by leaving, they are living out their beliefs (or "walking the walk" as Christian lingo would have it)."
      Their beliefs are outdated and only used to justify their hatred.

      You said, "They are simply disagreeing."
      They are disagreeing with scientific facts based on fairy tales. It's the same as disagreeing with water being wet, or the Earth moving around the sun, or gravity.

      You said, "Why is it that Christians are not allowed to disagree w/ anything other than what the majority likes?"
      You are free to disagree. Everyone else is free to point out how moronically stupid you are for doing so. Just because reasonable people tell you that you are full of shit, doesn't mean you have to take their advice. Stupidity is, and will likely remain, legal.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  20. BM

    The gays took their lead from Hitler himself, ironically. In Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" (My Struggle) he originates the idea of "das Grosse Luge" (The Big Lie): "But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and most important requirement for success."

    June 2, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Saraswati

      What is this great lie? Looks to me like it is your own words that qualify.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Pete

      Hey idiot, Hitler was a Christian.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Khloe

      Your initials says what this post is full of. And Pete is right. Hitler was a Christian.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Woody HILLIARD

      You dare suggest that gays would emulate anything Hitler espoused? Hitler was targeting gays, blacks, and are wish people for extinction.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • metallironi

      BM stands for Bowel Movement...right?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:21 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.