June 12th, 2013
02:32 PM ET

Big Baptist group urges ouster of Boy Scout execs

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - The Southern Baptist Convention, the country's second largest church, said Boy Scout executives who pushed to allow openly gay Scouts without properly consulting members should be ousted from office.

In a resolution approved Wednesday at their annual meeting, Southern Baptist leaders stopped short of urging churches to cut ties with local troops in protest of the Scouting change, but didn't encourage them to stay, either.

Either way, the historic decision to allow gay Scouts could "complicate basic understandings of male friendships, needlessly politicize human sexuality, and heighten sexual tensions within the Boy Scouts,” the Baptist resolution says.

The Boy Scouts of America initially planned to lift its longtime ban on openly gay youth without canvassing members, Southern Baptists charged in a resolution that passed overwhelmingly.

The executives behind that plan should be removed, the Baptists said.

With 16 million members in some 45,000 congregations, the Southern Baptist Convention is the country’s largest Protestant denomination.

Baptists as a whole, including several smaller denominations, sponsor about 4,000 Scouting units representing 100,000 youths.

“We have a deep respect for the Southern Baptist Convention and its churches that use Scouting in their youth ministries,” said Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America.

“Scouting’s youth member policy is not about the BSA condoning homosexuality, or forcing its chartered organizations to do the same.”

After BSA leaders floated the idea of allowing gay youths in January, more than 60% of the BSA's 1,400-member national council approved the change in May. It takes effect Jan. 1.

The BSA will continue to prohibit any sexual conduct - heterosexual or homosexual - among its youth. The ban on openly gay leaders continues as well.

Membership in Boy Scouts has declined nearly 20% since 1999. About 2.7 million young people now participate nationwide.

Boy Scouts to allow gay youths to join

Smith said opening membership to gay youth “allows Scouting to be more compassionate in its response to a young person who expresses a same-sex attraction.”

Faith-based organizations charter more than 70% of Scout chapters, providing meeting space and leadership, according to the BSA.

Several of the largest religious sponsors, including the Mormon church, the United Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church, have indicated that they do not plan to disaffiliate from the BSA.

Still, many conservative congregations, particularly Southern Baptists, have pledged to cut ties with local troops, and some pastors on Wednesday called on the entire denomination to do likewise.

“We should stand firmly and keep ourselves from having to revisit this issue in future years,” Pastor Mike Janz of First Baptist Church of Rosamond, California, said Wednesday at the Baptist meeting.

Janz’s proposal to urge all Southern Baptists to disaffiliate from the Scouts was handily defeated Wednesday.

Still,  some top Southern Baptist leaders predict that congregations will leave the Scouts "en masse."

Baptists plan exodus from Boy Scouts

Pastor Charlie Dale of Indian Springs First Baptist Church in Alabama said churches and Scouts should help, not bar, boys who believe they are gay.

“Such a boy needs love,” Dale said. “So let’s bring him in and show him what biblical manhood and real love is about.”

Affiliating with Scout troops  also provides an avenue for evangelism, said Pastor David Uth of Orlando.

“We are very happy to partner (with Scouts) because it gives us access to more families and more boys to share the life-saving gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Russell Moore, the new head of the SBC’s powerful Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, called Uth’s approach “wise and gospel-focused.”

“This isn’t Disney redux, as some media predicted,” Moore tweeted.

The Southern Baptists' resolution encourages churches to consider the denomination's homegrown Scouting alternative, the Royal Ambassadors, a Christian group dedicated to developing "godly young men."

Meanwhile, liberal churches pledged to sponsor troops disowned by conservative congregations.

For every host organization that has decided to sever ties with their troop, eight to 10 new ones have invited the Boy Scouts into their community, according to Jeff Fulcher, spokesman for the Atlanta Area Council of the BSA.

"This membership issue is a sensitive issue with a lot of people in our community,” Fulcher said. “Some can't continue supporting the scouting programs. But the vast majority of the Scouts in our organization still want to continue scouting, and we've had a wide variety of churches, places of worship and civic organizations reaching out to us because they want scouting programs in their neighborhoods.”

One such church is the One World Spiritual Center in Marietta, Georgia, where the community extended an invitation to Boys Scout troops soon to lose their meeting place.

The Rev. Stephanie Seigh, head of the One World, said the church decided invite the Scouts after learning that Southern Baptists nearby refused to continue hosting their troops.

“We teach our children that God is in everyone and everything. We don't discriminate," Seigh told CNN.

CNN's Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report. 

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Christianity • Church • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Politics • United States

soundoff (1,409 Responses)
  1. JayneQP

    To "turn the other cheek" is to challenge him who believes himself to be superior, to treat you as an equal. The Judeo-Christian texts are full of scriptures that guide the faithful along the path of peace, compassion and, humility, yet so many either skew them or actively forage for scriptures that, when viewed from a particular perspective, allow them to subjugate others and even justify cruelty. Are we the ones who choose to strike the right cheek of our brothers and sisters to assert our superiority or, are we the ones who turn the other cheek?

    June 12, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      "...so many either skew them or actively forage for scriptures that, when viewed from a particular perspective, allow them to subjugate others and even justify cruelty."

      Have you actually read your scriptures lately? It isn't necessary to view them "from a particular perspective" in order to justify cruelty and/or subjugate others. It's all RIGHT THERE, in black and white. Your scriptures are filled with hate and cruelty. Read them again.

      June 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  2. MizFrizz

    Since when did the Boy Scouts become a Christian-only group? That's right... never.

    June 12, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • rinsac

      Right on!

      June 12, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • SeeThruIt2

      No one ever said that BSA is Christian only.

      Boy Scouts requires only that they be "reverent" with respect to some religion. There are BSA religious awards for Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic religions as well.

      June 12, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • JayneQP

      It is the most apt commentary on the hypocrisy of some of the "faithful". As they march away condemning the BSA - and by extension, the children - they don't even see that no has said Baptists can't be Baptists or that the BSA doesn't want Baptists or that Baptists are cruel. In fact, the only compassion and acceptance I see is coming from everyone but the Baptists.

      If they want to attract people to their faith, this is probably not helping.

      June 12, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  3. cpc65

    Religion: Forcing it's beliefs and "values" on you since before recorded history.

    June 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  4. YBP

    More science and reason.
    Less hocus and pocus.

    Let's oust Jesus instead.

    June 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Rodents for Romney

      Well, they do want to tell you what you can pocus.

      June 12, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Sid Stewart

      Let's oust Jesus?? you must be in jest; becareful what you wish for; and by the way: Hell is a place for those who want to be separated from Jesus forever

      June 12, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "Hell is a place for those who want to be separated from Jesus forever"

      Hell only pertains to those who are weak minded enough to believe it exists. It's a vicious scare tactic used by the church, no evidence outside the bible to support it.

      June 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Matt

      I agree let's oust Jesus and his fanatical cult members.

      June 12, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • sam

      Careful, Sid. God can see you making him out to be some kind of boogeyman under the bed, and I bet he doesn't appreciate it.

      June 12, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  5. suesark

    Let me see.....the Lutheran's just elected their first openly gay Bishop and this garbage from the Southern Baptists? They will dry up and go away sooner or later. So 1950's of them!

    June 12, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  6. Vladimir Putin

    Who'd of thunk you'd see the day when Russia has more morals than American leadership?

    June 12, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • God

      Nice try "StupidAtheists" a/k/a "Losers". a/k/a "LoserAtheists".

      June 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Wow

      "Who'd of thunk you'd see the day when Russia has more morals than American leadership?"

      Denying rights to gays and lesbians is immoral.

      June 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  7. johnny

    " The Southern Baptist Convention, the country's second largest church, called for the ouster on Wednesday of Boy Scout executives who pushed to allow openly gay youth without consulting members."

    Who are these guys to think they have the right to tell Boy Scout what to do and what not to do? They should mind their "God" business, period!

    June 12, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  8. Mrc

    I feel any religious group that discriminates against a a group of people just because they do not agree with their morals or beliefs should lose their tax exemption. As a matter of fact, any religious group that gets involved in politics should lose their tax exempt status.

    June 12, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Tell your civics teacher

      June 12, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Rodents for Romney

      Jebus taught them to accept the "other", (the Samaritans). These hypocrites don't even know what their preacher said to do.

      June 12, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
  9. Mary

    A lot of Southern Baptists are going to be surprised when (and if) they go to heaven. God is LOVE.

    June 12, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Sid Stewart

      God is love but don't forget that God has requirements for morality; I love my kids enough to forbid them to do certain things while they were growing up; God is no different; He is love and He is a judge;

      June 12, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • sam

      Sid, shame on you for claiming to know what god really thinks or wants.

      June 12, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'I love my kids enough to forbid them to do certain things while they were growing'

      Did you threaten them with eternal damnation in a fiery pit.....in your love?

      June 12, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  10. Cherie Lang

    Once again the Baptists lead in bigotry.

    June 12, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  11. Nathan

    Ahhh, baptists...proudly keeping discrimination relevant all the way into the 21st century...

    June 12, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  12. EndPoliticalParties

    Baptist = Bigot = Non-Christian

    June 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  13. pygmymetal

    Just because they're offended doesn't make them right.

    June 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  14. stateschool

    '“Such a boy needs love,” Dale said. “So let’s bring him in and show him what biblical manhood and real love is about.”'
    Oh, the irony...

    June 12, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  15. Hey! You!

    A church that turns away "sinners". What next, a soup kitchen that turns away the hungry?

    June 12, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • boxer

      I have always heard that churches were SUPPOSE to be a hospital for sinners not a haven for saints. Not saying that being gay is a sin though.

      June 12, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  16. Torii

    The churches are way too involved in Boy Scouts affairs. It's nice that they give the scouts free places to meet but that doesn't give them any right to interfere with the running of the scout organization. Boy Scouts is not a religious group, it's to teach boys how to survive in the outdoors. Maybe it would be better if the scouts severed ties with churches altogether.

    June 12, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • SeeThruIt2

      As you said, it's good that churches give them a place to meet. And that's all those churches are taking away if they disagree with the principles of the church.

      June 12, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • @@

      As a chartering organization, churches do more than provide free meeting spaces. They essentially own all of the equipment used by the scouts (tents, etc). so it is a little more difficult than what it seems on the surface. A vengeful church could force the scouts to acquire all new equipment. Trailers in particular are very expensive.

      June 12, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  17. KrjMc

    So typical these guys think they have a direct link to god and for some reason they are above everyone else and can guarantee without any doubt what god wants. Stop judging and let god decide.

    June 12, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Dan

      Maybe it is time that you read the Bible! You can not be Christian and pro-gay, it is impossible.

      It is time for the Baptists to leave the boy scouts completely and start their own and the first gay person that wants to bother them needs tarred and feathered.

      June 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Al

      tarred and feathered

      They don't do that anymore. Today they put them behind electric fences.

      June 12, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • sam

      Dan, we don't need to know all your kinky fantasies.

      June 12, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'You can not be Christian and pro-gay, it is impossible.'

      There are 10s of millions that disagree with you.

      June 12, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  18. Next article

    BSA urges "Big Baptist" group to take a hike

    Get it?

    June 12, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  19. NBW

    Bless the things we think are dead.

    Bless that which we have already begun to carry out of town to bury.

    Bless our rocky marriages and our college age kids who smoke too much pot.

    Bless the person at work who we love to hate.

    Bless the young adult who wonders if they are too young to really be an alcoholic and the 6o year old woman who’s had too much work done.

    Bless public schools lunch ladies and the guy who stole my kid’s bike.

    Bless the one who has no one. Bless what we call insignificant and which you call magnificent.

    Bless it all Lord of Compassion and love what only you can love: the ugly, and abandoned and unsanitary in the wash of humanity upon which you have nothing but a gleaming compassion.

    June 12, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Filthy and disgusting though I am, I'm really pleased that your Lord loves me. I'll keep and use a little whip to keep me mindful of that.

      June 12, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Sarcasm aside, we are good or bad according to our standards and those of our family, culture and society. There is nothing perfect that we have to somehow be perfect to relate to. Just thought you might want to know.

      June 12, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Nice prayer NBW Amen.

      June 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • NBW

      @Tom, Tom

      Unless there is a God. Then God judges as God judges.

      Your standards based on your family, culture and society may be like dirty rags to the Creator.

      Peace be with you all.

      June 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  20. Erlo

    I can't wait for religion to go away! Maybe in my lifetime ... it would be so satisfying! I am growing tired of the hate that religion brings towards everything that does not follow their archaic laws of 'God'

    June 12, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • DustyOnes

      Look, you aren't hunted down and persecuted so just leave religion alone. You keep kicking a big dog, one day it will bite your leg off.

      June 12, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Hey! You!

      Dusty, I'm assuming you mean the day the religious right gets their hands on the NSA info?

      June 12, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • ECassious2

      You will never see that, nor will your children or their children. You will just have to manage.

      June 12, 2013 at 5:47 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.