Rev. Ernest Easley, chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee. Photo courtesy Roswell Street Baptist Church

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(RNS) For the Rev. Ernest Easley, the decision to cut ties with the Boy Scouts was simple.

The Bible says homosexuality is a sin. The Boy Scouts do not.

“We are not willing to compromise God’s word,” said Easley, pastor of the 2,300-member Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., which has sponsored Boy Scout Troop 204 since 1945.

Easley, chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee, said his church will shut down its troop at end of the year because of a recently adopted policy to allow openly gay scouts. He’s urging other Baptists to do the same.

Roswell Street is one of the first churches to cut ties with the Scouts over the new policy. Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, a 23,000-member megachurch, has also announced plans to shut down its troop. Other critics of the new policy, which doesn’t take effect until January 2014, are taking a wait-and-see approach.

The Southern Baptist Convention, whose 3,981 Scout troops make it the BSA’s sixth-largest religious sponsor, plans to address the issue at its annual meeting in Houston, June 11-12. About 70 percent of Scout troops are chartered by a faith-based group.

Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts, said the organization will help troops that have lost their church sponsors to find new homes. He said the new policy fits the beliefs of most religious groups that sponsor troops.

“This policy reaffirms that doing one’s ‘duty to God’ is absolutely explicit and one of the fundamental principles of Scouting and states that sexual conduct by any Scout, heterosexual or homosexual, is contrary to the virtues of Scouting,” he said in an e-mail.

The Scouts’ two largest religious sponsors, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the United Methodist Church, both said they intend to remain involved in sponsoring Scout troops.

Kent Barnett, executive director of the Abilene, Texas-based Members of the Churches of Christ for Scouting, says he wishes the Boy Scouts hadn’t changed their policy, but said churches should “not take their ball and go home.”

He said his troop, which is sponsored by Abilene Christian School, will continue its programs. “These Boy Scouts still need godly men and women,” he said.

boy scouts

Boy Scouts of America uniform and flag image courtesy Shutterstock (http://shutr.bz/14p1Ppg)

At least one denomination hopes the new policy will lead to more Boy Scouts in its churches. The Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer is executive for health and wholeness advocacy for the United Church of Christ, which sponsors 1,191 scout troops. He said the church has downplayed that relationship in the past because of the BSA’s previous ban on gay Scouts but now wants to expand.

Cutting ties with the Boy Scouts makes no sense, he said, because it tells gay Scouts they should be shunned. “It sends a terrible message to youth of any sexual orientation,” Schuenemeyer said.

Roman Catholic leaders have had a mixed response to the new Boy Scout policy.

Bishop David Choby of the Catholic Diocese of Nashville said there’s no conflict between the Boy Scout policy and Catholic teaching. He said that although gay Scouts are allowed, sexual behavior of any kind is not allowed.

“The policy in its form is not inconsistent with church teaching, which upholds the dignity of each and every human being, regardless of sexual orientation,” he said. “It does not communicate in any way an approval or support for sexual activity between scouts.”

Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Va., was more critical.

“I deeply regret that the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America, after years of principled and steadfast resolve, has now wavered in their commitment to the values that the Scouting movement has traditionally embraced and taught,” he said in a statement to the Catholic Herald, the diocese’s newspaper.

(Bob Smietana writes for USA Today and The Tennesseean in Nashville.)



  1. I am a pastor in the LCMS, of a church in Winsted, MN, that is pulling the charter it had with the local Cub Scout pack. The Church Council, as myself, agreed that that we cannot compromise God’s Word.

    • Barbara Long

      With all due respect, Pastor Loder, (of which I am having trouble finding any of) you are shunning souls that were designed by God to become the people they were meant to be…..These boys and girls(for that matter) do not have a choice when it comes to their sexual orientation. If they do try to become someone they are not, only heartache and sorrow are to follow both for them and the people in their lives that they are in relationships with. How could you have lived so long as to become a pastor and not understand a little more about the human existence. God creates us……we straight parents are the people that produce gay children…..they do not get here by any other method. You can not be taught to be gay and you can not become gay by living with gay parents….And you can not pray the gay away……It is the straight parents that produce gay children, in case you haven’t noticed…….Who are you or anyone else to go against God and try to make a child into someone they are not…..That is not being true to God or yourself for that matter. Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world,,,,,these children grow up and it is our duty as adults to help guide their way….Why do you think so many adult gay children move away from their parents? it’s because they feel like they are not accepted deep down by society or their families…….You and your church council need some mentoring…..you need to expose yourself to some gay kids and gay adults to understand them…..Your righteous hypocrisy is appauling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Get educated on this matter or find another profession, (one that doesn’t involve children)

    • We stopped scouting in our church after a 100% vote from the committee. Point is to love the sinner – not the sin. This vote by BSA National is saying “You must support the homosexual agenda” – NOT even close to being in the bible! Again – LOVE the Sinner – not the SIN!

  2. These churches are acting contrary to Jesus’s example and the gospel he preached. Can you imagine if Jesus were on earth in his ministry now instead of 2000 years ago and a religious leader came to him with the question “Rabbi, should our church stop sponsoring a scout troop because we would have to let homosexuals in”, that Jesus would answer yes? Based on what he did in the gospels, I’d have to say he’d be the one inviting the homosexuals to come to him and he’d be going into their homes to eat with them.

    • And right after he finished eating with them, he would have said, “Hey, why don’t you take this group of eleven-year-old boys from the synagog and supervise them on a camping trip in the wilderness this weekend!”

      C’mon! Grow up before you make comments like this.

      • Thanks for the dialog, Tom. You do realize that the present policy change concerns gay kids as members, not adults as leaders, right?

        If (or perhaps when) they change the policy as to leaders, then your comment might have a point. But I still don’t think churches should be telling gay kids to stay out of church sponsored activities.


        • Tim, you do know how Scouting works, right? Older boys lead younger. The danger from predatory older boys is significant. Not only that, but the current compromise is legally untenable, and BSA knows it. Gay leaders are coming in – at most – two years.

          The question here isn’t whether we are welcoming to sinners, but whether we put unrepentant sinners in responsible positions in which they can do tremendous harm.

          • Mike Caudill

            No no.We do need to love them to Jesus. We should accept any agenda that is forced on us and not speak up so that we can win people to Christ! Much like what Jesus did with the money changers at the temple, the Pharisees, and Herod. Jesus never said anything to them, he just loved them and was accepting so as to not send the offensive message that there is right and wrong. In order to be like Christ, last year our church stopped giving money to local outreach and missions (people were getting the crazy idea that their sin was unacceptable) and decided to sponsor a marijuana smoking bar so that joint smokers could hear a clear gospel message without being turned off. We are considering just growing the stuff ourselves and giving it away as a new benevolence ministry!

            *shaking my head* :[.

  3. To those churches/leaders who will stop sponsoring troops because the BSA has allowed gay children to participate: If you are unwilling to deal with sinners, who will be left in your congregations?

    So what that the sin of homosexuality is always front and center in the press lately. Every person in your congregation, including you, is a sinner in some way. Will you kick them out or shut your doors so that they cannot come in or participate in the feast of the Bridegroom? No, you will go out and gather them in, sins and all, and do everything in your power to help them change their nature, and bring it in line with the teachings of the Master. That is the charge of a Christian church and its leaders. Do not send them away, or you may find yourself sent away from the table as well.

    Just a thought.

  4. Tim,

    As I remember, there is more context than a cherry picked new testament quote of Jesus regarding casting the first stone. Implicit in the recounting of that story is that the adulterous women was not the only adulterer in the crowd and that likely many in His presence also should have been put to death for their sins. Consider the fact that Jesus allowed himself to be executed with two other people and did not contradict the one who said that he was judged rightly. Jesus has no problem with secular punishments for moral crimes, otherwise He would have spoken out. But He did not and all three were crucified.

    In regards to the BSA leadership, Jesus offers a millstone around the necks for those who HIS little one’s astray.

    Lastly, while you might think boys don’t engage in sex until their 18th birthday, think about the opportunity for boys to explore their “feelings” laying side by side in the privacy of their shared tent. How about an older boy threatening a younger boy, or blackmailing to “get some.” Because that is the reality.

  5. It’s about preserving The Truth of Christians beliefs, not excluding people. Jesus died and was resuurrected for all of us, but each of us must accept that we are sinners, and ask for forgiveness, and strive to be better, not discount our beliefs. Biblical texts are clear about homosexuality: it’s a sin. Recognizing homosexuality, condones it.

  6. The Bible says we must be in the world to preach the Gospel to every creature……..but it also warns us to be careful not to get entangled with the “world” and it’s sins in the process. In other words we may think we are bringing in new converts ,but instead subjecting the children to the enemy’s worldly influence unaware.
    If the openly gay sinner is not immediately helped by contact witwh the church ,then they could easily begin to have a negative eeffect of their own on the other young straight children.y

  7. Proverbs 25:21-22 NLT
    If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink. You will heap burning coals of shame on their heads, and The Lord will reward you.

    Matthew 5:43-48 KJV
    [43] Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. [44] But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; [45] That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. [46] For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? [47] And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others ? do not even the publicans so? [48] Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. …

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