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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. BK

    We really need to start euthanizing religious people.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Andrew

      Aren't atheists such a peaceful bunch... thanks for continually giving us a bad name...

      June 12, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • BK

      Your girlfriend said you had a pretty small bunch yourself, Andrew

      June 12, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
  2. Bill Graham

    As a former student of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, I have to it a shame what has become of the Southern Baptist Convention since the fundamentalist resurgence. What really troubles me is that the people who are now in control of that body and its seminaries know about exegesis and hermeneutics, but they have roundly rejected these skills in favor of cherry picking verses out of the Bible, ripping them out of context and using them to beat people over the head with them like a sledge hammer.

    They have dismissed their best leaders out of a desire to purge the ranks of any hint of liberalism, though those who were purged were middle-of-the-road moderates. They were not liberal in any sense of the word, but they were more accepting of differences and tolerant to those who did not maintain their lifestyles. They were critical thinkers, and for that reason, they were viewed as a threat by those who take a brittle view of biblical inerrancy in an attempt to create division and purge.

    Is it any wonder that the second largest denomination peaked in its growth several years ago and began a slow decline in its membership roles? Is it any surprise when people joining churches merely transfer letters from other Southern Baptist churches? Is it any shock that baptisms and real conversions are down year after year? Not at all. It's an axiomatic outcome that follows the current back to the headwaters of corruption within the highest tiers of leadership within that rotting corpus.

    The SBC had its chance. Now it will suffer greater decline. Sure, they'll hurt the BSA, but the BSA will eventually bounce back. The SBC is on its way down. They will lose members first. Then, they'll lose their political clout. After that, they'll begin selling off their massive centers and real estate as their membership dwindles. I can see this trend taking its toll in another 20 or 30 years as the SBC continues to chase people out who might have been the next generation of leaders.

    In 40 or 50 years, the SBC will be significantly smaller. Perhaps then it will realize that the greatest threat to their way of life did not come from without but from within. Only then, it will be too late. They will have lost their influence and squandered their fortunes. They will be a distant memory of bigotry and hatred against everyone who didn't tow their line.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Colin

      Let's hope you're right and that every other superst.ition follows it lockstep into oblivion.

      June 12, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • popseal

      It's the Scouts that have left the Baptist and not the Baptist leaving the Scouts. One of my own loved ones has opted for secular based living and is now participating in secularism's emptiness. She left me and not I her. Scouts left the Baptist.

      June 12, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
  3. acedynamo

    Oust the baptists in the Boy Scouts.. forbid them to join. Bloody bible thumpers, getting their filthy hate filled claws into everything.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  4. Bible

    Ever think about destroying a mosque or temple. Yep, we have a verse for that.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  5. Danram

    Here's a better idea:

    Let's have the Boy Scouts ... as well as everyone else ... tell the sanctimonious, hateful, hypocritical Southern Baptists to go screw themselves.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Trevor

      That sounds kind of hateful

      June 12, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
  6. Rick

    I think the Boy Scouts will be better off without the so called 'Christian' Southern Baptists. Let's teach our youth how to understand the differences in all of God's people instead of hating and discriminating against everyone who is different or worse, has a different religious belief than someone. I for one have had more than enough of these "my way or the highway" christians.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
  7. popseal

    It's important to understand that the Scouts have left the Baptists and not the other way around.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
  8. SkepticalOne

    The scouts will be a better organization without these southern baptist bigots.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  9. Hawk in Texas

    The southern babtist sure don't sound very christian to me. what about love thy neighbor as thy self. or do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • popseal

      Since you insist upon misapplying Bible verses, here are a couple in perfect context, "He that doeth unrighteousness, the wrath of God abides upon him!" "The wrath of God is reveal from Heaven against all unrighteousness!" My secular acquaintances are still trying to tell the difference between tough love and unconditional love. They're so confused............

      June 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • evolvedDNA

      LL they would be private concerns if the likes of you and your ilk would understand that religion does not have any bearing or ownership of anothers' se-xu-allity. I feel the same way about the insipid signs on church bill boards wailing and crying in the puplic domain.. keep you religion private please. .

      June 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
  10. fine by me

    Sounds to me like an ideal way to keep young boys away from the idiotic beliefs the SBC spouts. I say good riddance! There are plenty of places for the scouts to meet!

    June 12, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
  11. Vladimir Putin

    Just wait until God uses Russia as one of His instruments of judgment on your wicked nation. Do you think I make "dry runs" on your AFB's in California and Alaska for the fun of it? We're going to take your sorry asses out! Can you Amerikans say EMP?

    June 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Akira

      Tighten that foil cap, dear. And say hello to your dear wife.

      Oops. Forgot about your split. Sorry.

      June 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  12. Rickapolis

    Didn't the Baptists learn from their openly racist agenda in the past that bigotry is wrong? Clearly, they have not. Lord, why do you tolerate such hatred in your ranks? The Baptists are just another example of the lack of honor and integrity in America. They shame us.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
  13. E.J.

    I remember taking a government course once where I learned we live in a democracy where individuals have the freedom to make choices and if I remember correctly we also have the freedom to choose our own religious beliefs. That said, I have to wonder what gives any church the right to choose for us and I also have to wonder why any church believes they have the power to force a specific religion on us for the rest of our life? Is it perhaps because a church wants to be the biggest, or richest for bragging rights? In fact, I recall someone once saying Christianity is larger than any one specific church, but I have yet to find a church that believes they are not the only church.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  14. Dyslexic doG

    The King James version of the new testament was completed in 1611 by 8 members of the church of England. There were (and still are) NO original texts to translate. The oldest manuscripts we have were written down 100's of years after the last apostle died. There are over 8,000 of these old manuscripts with no two alike. The king james translators used none of these anyway. Instead they edited previous translations to create a version their king and parliament would approve. So.... 21st century christians believe the "word of god" is a book edited in the 17th century from the 16th century translations of 8,000 contradictory copies of 4th century scrolls that claim to be copies of lost letters written in the 1st century.

    So you're basing your hatred of gay people on a story book written by men.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • Splishkid

      I could not of said it better
      Excellent my friend

      June 12, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • Bob Smith

      You are full of cr@p. The king James version of the Bible, like the Catholic Holy Bible were created using the canonization. Try again

      June 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Joseph

      There is also the New Internation Version (NIV) of the Bible. It is a completely original translation of the Bible developed by more than one hundred scholars working from the best available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts.

      June 12, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • George

      Joseph, what's that expression again. Oh yeah, "putting lipstick on a pig". Fits what you describe to a "t".

      How do ya like them porkies...

      June 12, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
  15. JustWho

    do these 'thumpers' think they rule? yuk

    June 12, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  16. HenryMiller

    Apparently bigotry is alive and well at the Southern Baptist Convention.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  17. cosmic warriorz

    God will deal with Sodomites. Look at Jude 1:7.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • Tranlation

      The wicked witch of the west melted to the ground when hit with water.... The Wizard of Oz.

      June 12, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • Splishkid

      And who wrote that ? A biggot I presume
      Look inside yourself to form your own moral compass- why do u need a book
      I use a simple rule: treat others how u would like to be treated
      That really covers a lot of stuff

      June 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

      Yep, sounds like those Southern Baptists to me.

      June 13, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
  18. Ima Mused

    Really SBC? This is absolutely none of your business.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  19. Liz the First

    It's disgusting to see a church fighting to protect hate. I hope they pull out of scouting. they're a far worse influence on our youth than gay people.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
  20. Flooby

    Religion is so useless. I am sure 'Jesus' would exclude people who are different. Baptist and all organized religion are a festering boil on society.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:08 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.