An Open Letter to Southern Baptists from the BSA Religious Relationships Task Force

TurnerResults of the much-publicized vote at the 2013 national meeting of the Boy Scouts of America were announced on Thursday evening, May 23. Understandably, this was not what many Baptist denominations and others wanted to see transpire. (Read related story from the Associated Press).

Now what? Before deciding, I urge you to prayerfully consider the following:

*Are the evangelism and family ministry opportunities now lessened in the church's Scout unit(s)?  Are the lost and un-enlisted any less our responsibility now? I respectfully remind us that the Great Commission remains unchanged and no vote can alter this reality. The local church still owns its Scout units and is responsible for selecting the leadership. As fishers of men, are we not to go where the fish are located?  In the case of church-based Scout units, there are unreached people already in your buildings! (In the average Scout unit, as much as 60% of the youth and their families are not currently involved in anyones church. What an opportunity!)

*Are our churches being compelled to accept homosexual leaders or the homosexual lifestyle? No. (In) fact, it remains the responsibility of our churches to hold high a standard. The resolution clearly states that youth are still developing, learning about themselves and who they are, developing their sense of right and wrong, and understanding their duty to God to live a moral life. Shouldnt Baptists be at the forefront in helping youth find answers which are biblically-based? 

Keep in mind.Too, that there are a number of membership requirements which must still be met, including affirming the declaration of religious principle, doing ones duty to God, and adhering to the principles of the Scout Oath and Law. In addition, a behavior standard is being set forth which disallows sexual behavior of any kind in Scouting. 

Do our churches routinely exclude persons from our other evangelism and outreach efforts or do we seek to reach them where they are with the Good News and help them discover The Way?

*Do we surrender the opportunity of involving children, youth, and families in the Religious Emblems Program which is an effective tool for reaching Scouts (and entire families) for Christ, discipling them, and helping many clarify their call to vocational Christian service? I pray not!  

*Does it really matter whether or not Baptists are involved in Scouting? First, the obvious answer is "yes" for every Scout, family, and leader in Baptist units. Second, there are tens of thousands of Baptist Scouts and thousands of Baptist Scout leaders involved in Scouting who are not in Baptist units and we should be serving them, too. (The third largest group of Scouts and leaders at the 2013 National Jamboree will be Baptist). 

*Why not invest our outreach ministry and energies elsewhere? Obviously, you can. But why does it have to be an either or situation? There are many fine children and youth programs in our churches which primarily address those already in the church family. However, what about the unchurched and unreached? Plus, consider the people in your church family who are better members, parents, leaders, and citizens because they had the Scouting experience delivered by godly men and women. Dare we deprive our children and grandchildren of this same life-changing experience? Do we surrender this precious opportunity to others who may not share our values. Shall we abandon an organization which needs our influence now more than ever?  Future generations hang in the balance.

The Lord of the Harvest stands ready to help us, guide us, encourage us, empower us, and equip us to reap an abundant ingathering.

R. Chip Turner
Chairman of the BSA Religious Relationships Task Force
Past President, Association of Baptists for Scouting


Gun control

I’m curious about some statistics. The ones I have in mind would be the number of people killed last year by guns and the number killed as a result of alcohol. The reason for my curiosity is in response to the heated rhetoric over gun control.

If there happens to be any, I say any, closeness in numbers, wouldn’t it seem logical that those same individuals who are adamant about gun control in order to save lives should also be as active in alcohol control?

Maybe we are just selective in what we want to legalize as killing tools. What do you think?

According to my research, in 2010 there were 10,228 killed in alcohol-related automobile deaths where blood alcohol content level of .08 or higher was registered, according to the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis. This does not include domestic violence deaths where alcohol was present.

Glen Ennes
Republic, Mo.
(Retired ABSC employee)


‘Defining time’ in America

I hope everyone is praying for our statesmen and our judges in this defining time of America. We need not confuse morality with religion – many world religions and cultures retain morals, and many atheists and agnostics use common sense and logic in their ethics. Religious freedom is not freedom from morality and ethics in our laws. John Adams said in a speech to the military in 1798 that there is “no government armed with power of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. ... Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” When we do not speak out common sense on morals, we risk not only losing the nation we all love and cherish, but we are a terrible example to the world. For America to embrace sexual perversions is all the excuse a legalistic cult religion, that controls many peoples and nations, needs to reject instantly both American democracy and the prominent faith associated with it, Christianity, as being unfit to survive. America does not have to embrace degeneracy. That will kill us.  

Stephan Allsup
Little Rock


Same-sex marriage

Having finished my copy of the Arkansas Baptist News, I found I had to write my opinion on same-sex marriage.

I know when another country such as Great Britain adds an OK to “gay” marriage, it’s just another nail in our coffin (ABN Digest, Feb. 21, 2013, “Great Britain set to legalize gay marriage”). But my King James Bible, of which I have several, that I have read over and over for 79 years, says in 1 Corinthians 6:9 that (in a nutshell) God didn’t say marriage is between man and man or woman and woman. When someone can show me where God says He condones same-sex marriage, I will apologize, but not until I find where God says it’s OK.

Peggy Wolfe


Guns and Scripture

Reading “Churches left to decide rules for concealed guns” (ABN Feb. 21, 2013), I was greatly concerned, not because of what the article contained, but because of what was missing from the printed record. Positions of three Arkansas pastors concerning Act 67 were reported, along with the rationale leading to those conclusions. Reasoning included political theory, cultural concerns and security logistics, but unfortunately, nowhere did we hear how the Word of God should inform our opinion.

“And he said to them, ‘When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?’ They said, ‘Nothing.’ He said to them, ‘But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one’” (Luke 22:35-36, ESV).

Upon His departure, our Lord directed His disciples what provisions they would need, and while not an exhaustive list, contained therein is a sword. Before we allow sound exegesis to flee in the support of our opinions, I would point out that Jesus is speaking of an actual sword, not the Sword of the Spirit, for the Spirit cannot be purchased for the price of one’s cloak. Now, if Christ commands us to take a moneybag, we would do well to take its modern equivalent, the wallet, and if a knapsack, a suitcase. Likewise, when Christ commands His own to take a sword, it would not be the first century weapon we reach for, but its 21st century functional equivalent, the firearm.

Gentlemen, we must cease to rely on worldly wisdom, whether or not it springs from a “Christian worldview,” and return to the authority of Scripture! Doing so will yield stronger individuals, families, churches and indeed a stronger convention.

Brian C. Williams

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