May 31st, 2013
04:19 PM ET

Baptists plan exodus from Boy Scouts

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(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. Rickapolis

    Nothing is so pathetic as using religion to justify bigotry. Remember, the Baptists' used the Bible as an excuse to justify slavery. They boldly apologized 130 or so years later, but here they are repeating themselves. I would hope that all decent men and women that are now Baptists leave the church in droves. The denomination has disgraced itself.

    June 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • TiredODaCrap

      One thing is more pathetic....The group that uses its own bigotry and hate to rail against that religious group about its bigotry and hatred. Cute

      June 2, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • angus

      bigotry? wow, how clueless can you be?

      June 2, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Pete

      "bigotry? wow, how clueless can you be?"

      It's the same uneducated troll using another handle.

      June 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      There are still American communities where christianity is used to enslave women. The bible dictates that theyare lesser creatures, and even old Saint Peter said that he felt they didn't deserve life.

      June 2, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  2. tim k

    Real sheep should not get too worried. We have been praying for theese times since our shepard taught us to pray. His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. He loves all of his creation. The salt and light was spared too much. The optomotrists that we were warned about will always have vision issues. The truth is, was, and always will be.
    The good news is for the weary and labor laden.
    Many will not accept the crutch the the weak are offered.
    I have never seen a pig wear pearls.
    Lighten up! The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords already has the plan and His Kingdom is coming.

    June 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      god loves all of his creation, but did the men who created your god love him? They blamed some pretty nasty things on him in their collection of myths.

      June 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • David

      What ARE you talking about? It is the unyielding (and imprecise ) interpretation of Bible Babble like this that has led us to the situation where the religions can create any meaning they want for the words in their particular "book".

      June 2, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Doobs

      Real sheep should not get too worried.


      June 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  3. ronjayaz

    Anything that helps end this elite group of "Americans" is okay with me. Never liked the BSA even before it went partially gay, still discriminating against gay counselors.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  4. person man

    good riddance

    June 2, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • ThinkAgain

      Hear, hear! My boys aren't in Scouts because they seem intolerant on so many levels and way to narrow-mindedly "Christian" in others. My God is bigger, more tolerant and less petty than that.

      June 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • David


      June 2, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  5. Wildernessyes

    "and this is not a hate thing here", yeh right. The Scouts will be better off without the Baptists.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • June

      Why can`t people understand that disagreeing with something/someone in a nice, peaceful way is anything but hate, bigotry or discrimination? If the baptists want to withdraw their support I think it`s a right they have because it goes against the very thing they believe in. Why do people tend to see something like this as hate?
      In a world where there are so-called equal opportunities and equal rights, we are are supposed to be allowed to disagree, challenge, question and ultimately choose what we want to believe in even if it may upset some people.

      June 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • Shawn

      June – Of course they have a "right" I have not read one person who said what the Baptist are doing is illegal. They have said what they are doing is wrong. They cliam to follow Jesus, but Jesus walked with the sinners adn ate with them. He didn't turn away from them, witdraw support or whatever.
      If Jesus exists, he has to be very dissappointed in the Baptists for such acts as judging others. I am not saying beinggay is a sin, but they believe that. If that is the case, then are they condemed? Or can they be saved? As a Christian organization, what should they do, support or withdraw? What would Jesus do?
      Isn't one sin the same as any other sin? Then why is it okay for the church to support other sinners? How much do the Baptists spend to go overseas and preach to those sinners? Why not just withdraw from them too?
      Why single out gay?
      And why the BSA? The US Armed Forces allow gays now, should the Baptist withdraw any support from them too?

      June 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  6. snowboarder

    i do not understand the religious irrational fear of ho mose xuality.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Huebert

      You can't understand it because it's irrational. 🙂

      June 2, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  7. Yep

    Most of you people are whack jobs, all there saying is: we are not giving you any money anymore! So maybe the rest of you hate filled people can make up the difference and donate to the Boy Scouts?

    June 2, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Huebert

      Baptist churches make up about 4% of scouting venues, and they tend to be the smaller rural venues. Your contributions will not be missed, I'm not sure they will be noticed.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Shawn

      No, not at all. They are saying that you allow gays in your ranks so we will no longer support you. They are saying that being gay is a sin. Yet they have no problem allowing people who cheat on their wives and/or their taxes to take part in the church. They will go to prisons and preach to the "sinners" there. They will allow military families into their churches even though gays are allowed into the military.
      Instead of "WWJD" and support the BSA with their tax free money, they turn their backs on them and shun them and say "Nope. If you allow gays, then we will not support you."
      Basically they don't support the US Military then either. Financially or morally is no different, support is support just as sin is a sin and Baptist always think they should "cast the first stone".

      June 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Yep

      Huey Huebert, I do not donate to any group because only pennies make it to the cause!

      June 2, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  8. Mark

    The real question now is what are the scouts going to do about locker rooms, restrooms, sharing a tent, etc... ? Personally I think we should move from gender based restrooms. Separate but Equal? Yea, I've heard that before. We should stop the discrimination and only have common restrooms and locker rooms that everyone can enjoy..

    June 2, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • boycott schools now

      Do about what? Are you blabtists going to boycott high school too? Ohhh mahhhh gawwwwd... they's quaaaaars in the showers in mah sons geeee-yum claaaas? Actually, that would instantly raise average IQ's and test scores. Do it. Do it. Do it.

      June 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  9. Dave

    Joshua 24:15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, .... But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

    June 2, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • snowboarder

      with a quote like that it is difficult to know on which side of the issue you stand.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Seyedibar

      The book of Joshua was simple Deuteronomic history for most of Jewish history. The bits about god were added in the 5th century to make it a religious text.
      Also, it's not actually about the Jews. The Israel it speaks of, the City of God, is Memphis, Egypt. It'sa tale of Egyptian conquest over the Canaanite lands.

      June 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  10. abnguy

    I hope the Baptists will start a youth group of their own that reflects their views that follows the old scout values.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Pete

      "views that follows the old scout values.'

      Would you say the same thing if the group was the K K K or the Taliban because the core of their values is hate and bigotry toward minority groups.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • LinCA


      You said, "I hope the Baptists will start a youth group of their own that reflects their views that follows the old scout values."
      Like not allowing blacks, right?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Perish the thought. We don't need another generation of narrow minded people.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  11. Rick Srinivasan

    Let them go. Scouts are probably better off without those ancient neanderthals anyway.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  12. Disanitnodicos

    In this video, blacks make a Jew cry by telling him that blacks are the real Jews.


    June 2, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Dave

      What does this have to do with this article?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Huebert

      What does this have to do with anything?

      June 2, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Disanitnodicos

      In this video, it is explained how the gay agenda is actually a front for communists.


      June 2, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Pete

      "In this video, it is explained how the gay agenda is actually a front for communists."

      Hey troll the more you post the more you prove you're an idiot.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Huebert

      No it doesn't, I watched the video.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Disanitnodicos

      Thank you for your input Comrade Pete. I will forward it to the Comintern for consideration.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Pete

      "I will forward it to the Comintern for consideration."

      Thanks for proving you're an idiot since the Comintern dissolved in 1943.

      June 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • mama k


      Whoa, my goodness your head has some hurt on it; lol.

      June 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
  13. sarah

    It's a terrible shame that the Baptists are hung up on this issue. Why on earth must this be such a deal breaker? Scouting does so much good for so many children. They can't just see the larger picture here.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Pete

      "They can't just see the larger picture here."

      They have been blinded by their hate and bigotry.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Dave

      No, in reality the Baptists ARE seeing the bigger picture and not just following the latest politically correct trend.

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

    Hey chadie time to come in old of the cold..............or stay stuck in the green slime that created US

    NASA: Mars could have supported life

    Water-Rock Reaction May Provide Enough Hydrogen 'Food' to Sustain Life in Ocean's Crust or On Mars

    May 30, 2013 — A chemical reaction between iron-containing minerals and water may produce enough hydrogen "food" to sustain microbial communities living in pores and cracks within the enormous volume of rock below the ocean floor and parts of the continents, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder.


    Star Dust we are


    Pebbly Rocks Testify to Old Streambed On Mars

    May 30, 2013 — Detailed analysis and review have borne out researchers' initial interpretation of pebble-containing slabs that NASA's Mars rover Curiosity investigated last year: They are part of an ancient streambed.



    June 2, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  15. Monte

    The way to bring people to the word of God is not to throw them out of his house.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • LinCA


      You said, "The way to bring people to the word of God is not to throw them out of his house."
      I sincerely doubt that the Southern Baptists are in "his house".

      June 2, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  16. MagicPanties

    Tim Reed is so gay.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Tim Reed is so gay."

      There is a strong correlation between homophobia and arousal by homosexual imagery. Could it be that Tim Reed and most, if not all, of these homophobes are actually gay and just trying to hide that fact?

      Smart money says they are. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8772014

      June 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  17. Suur Kurat

    The American people are to dull to learn from the painful less of Jeffery Dahmer and Jerry Sandusky who salivated after young boys.

    The Baptists care for their children and will protect them. The others, who are cheering and cheering the admission of gay into the American Boy Scouts have yet to learn a painful lesson when they discard common sense for political correctness.

    So go ahead and mock the Baptists. At least their children will be safe from the predators lurking in the BSA.

    I would be interested to know if the parents who refuse to let their young sons spend a night at a pervert's home (ala J. Sandusky) will face any pc inspired charges. How would a parent even know what perverts lurk in the home of a gay boy scout inviting a fellow scout over to spend the night?

    June 2, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Pete

      "At least their children will be safe from the predators lurking in the BSA.

      I would be interested to know if the parents who refuse to let their young sons spend a night at a pervert's home (ala J. Sandusky) will face any pc inspired charges. How would a parent even know what perverts lurk in the home of a gay boy scout inviting a fellow scout over to spend the night?"

      Hey idiot learn the difference between a gay and a pedophile. It's scary knowing someone this stupid is raising children.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Huebert

      Gays and pedophiles are not the same thing. Gays are attracted to people of their own gender. Pedophiles are attracted to children, irrespective of gender. These two expressions of se.xuality have nothing to do with each other.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • .

      "The Baptists care for their children and will protect them. "


      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 11:48 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Learn the differance between gay and pedophila.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Khloe

      Dahmer was gay. Sandusky was a pedophile. Learn the difference, and then come back to have an adult conversation. And open a book. You are woefully ignorant.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • JW

      You are truly a disgusting excuse for a human being. Your progeny (If you ever have any) will be as embarrassed by your legacy of hatred as those who have ancestors in the KKK are now.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • fsmgroupie

      the Baptists are the predators. they love their imaginary god more than their own children. in fact they will kill their own children if their god tells them to do so. just ask them . they won't deny it. a very sick cult,

      June 2, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Rick

      Yeah you guys keep telling yourselves that pedos only want young children, that it does not matter if they are boys are girls. You are blinded by your own logic. Just ask any NAMBLA member, which you are probably a member of. You know the North American Man Boy Love Assoc. They don't want little girls, they are only interested in little boys. You dumb idiot pedos need to keep coming out of the closet.

      June 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  18. joey

    Id rather have my kid around someone gay
    than a psycho Baptist any day.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Momma

      Yeah, I agree. I'm sure not all Baptists are psycho, but they have a history of discrimination. And worse.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  19. Trent

    The Baptists could learn a thing or two from Jesus. Luke 15:1-2

    June 2, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Seyedibar

      Why take Luke's word for it? He never met the man.

      June 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
  20. Chrashtopher

    It pleases me to no end that the churches are further alienating themselves from youth. In another generation the stench of religion will be left behind.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Randy

      Yes, so true.

      June 2, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Rick

      LMAO you pedos all stick together, you should form your own group. Oh wait you have. It's called NAMBLA

      June 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
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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.