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.

Any church that plans to give up sponsorship of the Boy Scouts because of the new anti-discrimination policy should be stripped of tax-exempt status. In fact, they should be required to tithe 10% to an organization promoting tolerance and education.

I’m not going to mention that these churches are being hypocritical and judgmental and anti-Christian–and that they are setting a horrible example for all children. I’m not going to talk about how these bullies point to a select few Bible verses as the “proof” that “God” doesn’t approve of gays, yet the church is full of adulterers and women who have had sex before marriage who, according to the Bible, should be stoned.

I’m not going to say that these churches who threaten to drop Scout sponsorship miss the whole point of the Bible, of religion, of what it means to be Christian.

All I’m going to say is, as a taxpayer and citizen, I do not want to support discrimination.

Let’s take away the special tax privileges we’re giving to these churches and invest in education and green energy instead.


61 responses to “Exodus

  1. I wonder if this mentality will eventually cause the boy scouts to allow non-believers into their organization. At least the boy scouts are moving forward. What’s sad too is that the church is basically discriminating against the children who are gay since the boy scouts still aren’t allowing openly gay adults. I think this church’s stance is going to do more damage the church in general. I agree that they should pay taxes too. Why not? I thought churches welcomed everyone who wanted to find God. Hm, I guess not!

  2. Spot on. It frosts me the way people cherry-pick the Bible to lift out the parts that support their biases, and scrap the rest… like basically everything else in Leviticus.

  3. I’ve thought for years that churches should lose their tax exempt status. It seems none of them stick to religion and public service anymore. One way or another they’re all politically active. That’s one of the things that turned me against them back in the late ’50s and early ’60s. My parents made me go to church, but instead of hearing about religion and the Bible, I’d hear about politics and current events. That’s not what churches are for, IMHO.

  4. Seriously? If Jesus wasn’t about loving the ‘sinner’ – did I miss an important part in the Bible. Did I read a different Bible than these people. And, people wonder why I don’t believe – why I don’t go to church anymore. Specifically for this. I don’t believe I remember reading the passage in the Bible that says, “Teach you kids intolerance”

    Way to go, guys. Let’s take support from an organization who is helping grow our young boys into honorable and brave men. An organization that is teaching our young boys how to treat people with respect and teaching them how to do great things with themselves instead of slumming in the streets making trouble.

    • I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the skeptic in me, but I don’t see the Boy Scouts delivering as advertised on the whole making men out of boys thing. My son was in it long enough for me to get a good picture and it seems like a lot of what they do is just teaching boys how to give the appearance of being good and doing the right thing. My son decided to quit going because he got tired of all the boys making crude jokes and being cruel to one another all the time; in other words, not being any better (or worse) than any other boys that age. Sure, it’s preferable to “slumming in the streets”, and the intentions of the organization are mostly honorable, but I can personally teach my son all the values that Scouts is supposed to instill.

      • You make a good point, MichaelB – in fact, I have heard stories of some molestation and whatnot – which I haven’t really gone into researching on my own, but I have heard that said by family members who used to be involved in scouts. I have a one year old daughter, so I don’t have the same insight you might have. I was in girl scouts for a moment but I don’t know much about it. The intention seems to be there, I just guess I don’t see why anyone could frown on finally bringing tolerance to any organization which had openly discriminated before.

      • MichaelB – that is a drastically different experience than we have had in boy scouts. Maybe it’s the fact that most of our leaders at this age (Cub Scouts) are moms, but these little friends have wholesome fun every time they are together whether they are camping, shooting off rockets, learning to whittle and earn their pocket knife, ice skating, going to star parties, collecting canned food, selling popcorn, or picking up trash at parks. Maybe it’s not the organization though, maybe it is just our great parents and great kids who are paving this through the framework of the organization. I guess I don’t know much about the rest of the organization but I’m sad that you had such a negative experience with cruelty and crude jokes.

        • crystalintexas – I’m glad your experience has been positive. My son was in Scouts from Tiger Cub all the way up through a year or so of Boy Scouts. I enjoyed participating in Cub Scouts with him and was even a Den Leader for over a year. Boy Scouts is different in that they are trying to teach the boys to be independent and take care of themselves. I laud that part of it. My point was that many boys that age (middle and high school) make dirty jokes, talk about girls and do mean things to one another. Teaching them camping, leadership, community service, etc. doesn’t automatically make them better people any more than sending them to church does. My son simply got tired of the facade and I wasn’t going to force him to keep going. Standing up and telling me why he was uncomfortable makes him more of a man in my eyes than any badge ever would.

    • @Rachael All the Bible teaches is fear, fear, fear. Oh, and everyone should be the same.

  5. As much as I’d like to see that, I don’t know if pulling from the BSA is enough to eliminate their tax exempt status. I think they have to make a deliberate effort to endorse political candidates for it to happen, and even then, it doesn’t seem likely.

    I totally agree that, as with most religions these days, they tend to overlook those sins that much of their congregation (and, not so coincidentally, their more generous donors) sommits like adultery, premarital sex, and divorce while focusing on something they can all agree on: hating gay people.

    I wrote about a similar topic today as well, focusing on two families who made the “tough decision” to pull their kids out of the BSA because they felt it was abandoning their principles. My thoughts about them are the same for the Southern Baptist Convention, and it forces me to wonder what their children will think of their fathers when they’re old enough to see the situation with a somewhat more independent mind.

  6. I’m really interested in watching the long-term fallout of the Boy Scout’s decision. I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or just shake my head at the ignorance and bigotry of groups like the SBC.

    • MichaelB Been wondering what happened to you guys & why you haven’t been posting, and yes, I wonder, too, at the fall-out. I’m curious to see if they lose members and also how many churches give up their sponsorships…

      • Sorry. Been busier lately with family, work and school (finally pursuing my bachelors!). That, and I realized I was spending more time on blogs related to non-belief than on discovering myself and my own life and thoughts. Sometimes you just need to quiet all the voices for a bit so you can hear your own, ya know?

  7. carol hetrick


  8. I was in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in the mid-90s and I never encountered the religious pressure, even though my pack and troop were sponsored by a Baptist Church. I recall only going to one service on Veteran’s Day and the preacher basically yelled the whole time about all humanity being evil hypocrites and no one really listened to him anyway. The church decided to revoke their sponsorship as they wanted their $100 a year to the pack and troop be spent elsewhere. The preacher then tried to have our Scout master let the congregation have all our stuff even though we paid for most of it with our personal funds and fundraising. Our Scout master told the preacher he could “go to Hell” and he let us pick out what we wanted. The funny/sad part was that the preacher’s own son with in our troop. Go figure.

    Tl;dr, the church congregation basically ignored my pack and troop and saw us as a business expenditure. At least, that’s how it felt to me.

    I feel that Fundamentalist Christians have co-opted the Scouts. It saddens me to see churches with “Join the Scouts here” on their billboards as if they’ve claimed them like early explorers seizing lands for their respective countries. My experience with Scouts was about outdoormanship, camping, citizenship, skills learning, and… you know… having fun. I know I signed and took the Scout Oath, but I honestly didn’t (and still don’t) care about a person’s sexual orientation and religious/non-religious affiliation. There was no point of any of those subjects coming up. The Fundamentalists complain about the “Homosexuals” taking over the Scouts, but it was the Fundamentalists who already took them over. It’s a good thing that this divorce between these churches and the Scouts is happening. Apologies for the long rant.

  9. So, the BSA finally succumbs to the relentless pressure that has been placed upon them for the past several years and changes their policy and you’re upset that some churches may now disassociate with the organization? Did you not see this coming? This was going to be the inevitable result of the policy change with some churches. Seems like you would be glad to see some churches doing this. Good riddance to bad rubbish, right?

    And your ignorance shows through every time you and others make reference to Old Testament laws that you think apply to Christians and that are just conveniently and selectively ignored today. You’ve always been pretty measured in your critiques, but your statement regarding tax status perhaps showed your true colors. We are seeing right now how the IRS can be used against organizations that “they” disagree with and it seems if it was up to you, you would use the tax code in a punitive manner towards churches simply because you disagree with them.

    • No, this was not who I expected to stop supporting Scouts because these churches, among others, preach acceptance. Now they are merely hypocrites. I don’t see them shunning any other groups of ‘sinners’, they definitely want their money coming in the door whether they are tax evaders, adulterers, or wife beaters. The only reason these churches are abandoning this good-will organization is fear, because they think that homosexuality is contagious. It’s sad and they will be ashamed of it someday. They remind me of the last people who didn’t want Rosa Parks to ride at the front of the bus.

    • @Brandon.

      No, we would tax the churches, because many of them accumulate wealth…preach hate…and use their resources to try to impose their dogmatic, outdated and spiteful beliefs on the rest of us. There is nothing moral, good or “god-like” about their attitude or behavior towards people who were born with a different sexual orientation. I truly pity gay kids born into many families who consider themselves so righteous.

      • Yes, so like I said, folks like you would choose to use the tax code in a punitive fashion towards churches who don’t hold the “correct” view. I don’t like your beliefs, therefore you need to pay. Free speech be damned. So, I guess you’d give a pass to the churches, Episcopal, etc. that support your viewpoint? Sheesh, and those of us on the right are the ones always accused of being fascists and totalitarians.

        It’s not like we don’t see tendencies to punish the wrong thoughts elsewhere, just look at speech codes on college campuses that are nothing more than ways to punish those who have the “wrong” opinions.

    • And your ignorance shows through every time you and others make reference to Old Testament laws that you think apply to Christians and that are just conveniently and selectively ignored today.

      Most Christians who speak out against homosexuality reference the Old Testament to justify their position, so people like us will point out the other parts of the same books they conveniently ignore. They can’t have it both ways.

      These churches won’t lose their tax exempt status, since religions of all kinds in this nation are allowed to discriminate as they please as long as they can point to a reason for it in their holy books. Modern secular society sees this as wrong in every other context, but since we have to cherish and respect people’s faith, we still give it a pass.

      • Then I guess you’d have no issue with their justifications if they went ahead and mentioned New Testament verses on homosexuality? 🙂

        • That’s a really big “if”. At least in the context of my own personal experience, the cited arguments against same-sex marriage and homosexuality during the last 10 years come exclusively from the Old Testament. Hell, some even come from Leviticus 20:13, which calls for their death. Thankfully, there’s not many people who take the second part of that passage as seriously as the first.

          But sure … if arguments came only from the Letters of Paul, I could at least give them a pass on asking why they don’t live by Levitical law … but it still doesn’t fix the problem of internal consistency. The New Testament still condemns sins like adultery and divorce yet they’ve largely been given a pass nowadays. If people want to argue against issues like same sex marriage, then they need to do the same with divorce. If they want to take their kids out of the BSA for allowing homosexual children into the group (who likely haven’t committed any acts supposedly condemned in the bible), then they might want to kick out the parents who have been divorced, remarried, or who have had children out of wedlock.

  10. @Brandon Jason, Crystal & Peter have already expressed my sentiments, too, but I’d like to comment on what you said here: “Yes, so like I said, folks like you would choose to use the tax code in a punitive fashion towards churches who don’t hold the “correct” view.”

    I’m not suggesting we use the tax code in a “punitive fashion,” I’m merely suggesting we treat churches like any other business. It’s a fact that ALL taxpayers are helping your church. You don’t pay into the pot that provides for the building and maintenance of our infrastructures, our public facilities, our government employees…Hell, you don’t even pay property taxes in most states. Why should we subsidize you so that you can worship an invisible man, force your selective morals on everyone and preach intolerance? I don’t think any of us have a problem with people going to church and keeping their business IN their church.

    • You as a taxpayer are not helping my church, or any other church in any financial way. The moment you pony up and send in a check, then you can claim financial support. When my new church needed to buy a building, the members contributed the funds for that purchase. You had nothing to do with that.

      I suppose consistency would dictate that you would be for the elimination of all non-profit 501 (c)(3) organizations, because after all, I guess they are really just businesses and aren’t paying into the pot. Does it bother you that you subsidize the Red Cross and the Susan G Komen Foundation? Oh wait, I imagine it is only for those whose speech you disagree with. Well, that’s not how it works.

      • @Brandon I absolutely do–along with my fellow taxpayers–subsidize your church. My taxes go towards helping your church build, keep and maintain an existence. If you need me to explain specifically how, let me know.

        There is nothing inconsistent about supporting those groups that help society (Red Cross, Susan Komen Foundation). Their work goes toward helping people/finding cures without strings attached. They don’t say, “We’re going to offer help, but only if you are straight.” I hear the counter now: well, churches do good. Sure, they do good. But they also do good in exchange for something–to please their god, to recruit more members, to earn a seat on the train to heaven–but only for those that they deem worthy.

        • Since churches don’t receive taxpayer money, you aren’t supporting or otherwise subsidizing any church. Feel free to explain further as I’m curious how you square that circle. It seems that you assume that since a church is receiving a break on taxes that that somehow means “you” are helping support them.

          Your last paragraph continues to prove my point. You don’t like the beliefs of churches, so you think they should have to pay taxes. You would selectively use the tax system to make those who espouse views that you disagree with pay up, while giving other non-profits that you approve of a pass.

          I don’t agree with the views/goals of The American Humanist Association or Americans United, for example, but I would never say that they should lose their non-profit status because of that.

          • Brandon–Does your church have utilities? Yes? Who do you think runs those to your church? Maintains them? Subsides the cost of delivery for your water, power, waste? That would be taxpayers. Roads? Yep. Same. Does your church use fire or police? Yep. Taxpayer’s employees. Food safety? That’s provided by taxpayers. The cost of the foodstuff you buy for your church? Taxpayers, again.

            I must pay taxes on income and so should your church. Look at how the church’s income has provided Joel Osteen with a lifestyle few will ever experience. If businesses and corporations didn’t pay taxes-and many thru loopholes don’t, then the burden falls on us as citizens and the benefits fall on those of us who are shareholders or beneficiaries, which in the case of churches is the pastor and its members. Yes. Your church does not have to pay for the services it uses. We pay for you.

            This is just the tip of the iceberg, and I’m typing on my tiny phone, but hopefully you do understand now.

            • Apparently individuals who comprise the church do not exist in your world, all of whom pay taxes that support all of the things you list. You’re really stretching it to imply that churches are freeloading off of society, and that you are therefore paying for them, by the fact that they are tax exempt organizations. A standard which you do not hold other tax exempt organizations whose messages you agree with to.

              Many of your examples are just silly – churches pay for own electricity, water, waste, etc. just like you and I do each month. Every time a church van or car is filled up, they are paying taxes on each gallon of gas that goes to pay for roads. Costs for foodstuffs are paid by the church to whatever business they purchase them from.

              It makes we wonder where you think the money from the collection plate goes each week, because apparently all church expenses are paid out of your pocket and not by members who voluntarily contribute their own money to supporting the operation of the church.

              • Brandon. I’m not trying to make you feel stupid here. Your understanding of economics is not very complex. You claim my examples are silly and “ignorant,” but you do not understand.

                Have you not been listening to your peers that businesses are people, too?

                Yes YOU do pay for your house and your family’s food. But, NO, NO, NO YOU and YOUR church friends are not the only ones paying for your church.

                Just as one example–the utilities your church uses–not including the cost of running and maintaining the hardware to get them to your building ARE SUBSIDIZED BY OUR TAXES! The cost of water would be WAAAAAY higher if not for our taxes, our subsidies. The cost of food that your church buys? How the hell do you think that food is so cheap? We (taxpayers) subsidize it. There is no end to the benefits your church is receiving from taxpayers. Receiving gratis (for free).

                Go do some reading first and come back. Then try to prove your point.

                • It’s almost as if Brandon thinks because the church doesn’t receive a physical check from taxpayers in the offering basket that they do not receive money from us.

                  • Until y’all propose that there should be no tax exempt organizations, I’ll continue to lend zero credibility to your “concerns.” being motivated by anything other than your selective disdain for religion and not particularity driven over any real concern that some organization somewhere isn’t paying into the collective pot.

                • No worries, Deborah, you are not making me feel stupid. My understanding of economics is just fine and I’ve proven my point just fine, especially concerning your selective umbrage over which tax exempt organizations you think should and should not have to pay. I fully get what you are saying, but you are making too big of an extrapolation by claiming that churches are getting a free ride.

                  You, personally, are no more supporting my church than I am personally supporting The American Humanist Association or the Freedom From Religion Foundation. You don’t seem to grasp the concept of a non-profit tax exempt organization.

                  I have more grounds to complain that I am supporting Planned Parenthood against my wishes since they actually receive federal tax dollars than you do in complaining that your tax dollars, that my church does not direclty receive, somehow help pay for my church.

                  Feel free to send in a check and then I’ll fully grant that you are providing support, but hey, that would be voluntary on your part, which is the beauty of it all.

                  • Brandon, why don’t you ask your church to give up their tax exempt status and see if they go for that? We can help our government out by funneling years of unpaid property and income taxes back to our taxpayers from the profits of the church. You are absurdly and completely missing the point. The church could not exist if they had to pay taxes like other businesses, so therefore our government has given them a free pass since they are supposed to spread good unto the world. What Deb is saying that if a church is going to preach hate and discrimination, why let them have their free ride on taxes?

                    • Well that would be silly, no reason to do that, especially considering what “good stewards” the federal government is with taxpayer money. Oh, and by all means I am not completely missing the point, but thank you for going ahead and revealing what your motivation really is in all of this. It’s what I always suspected, but I was refraining from making the accusation.

                  • @Brandon Back so soon? I grasp non-profits. I’ve filed for 501(3)(c) status on behalf of several organizations, and I know that the IRS is very picky when it comes to non-profits. The filing for churches, however, is MUCH easier, FYI.

                    I agree with what someone quoted here anonymously: “Churches do not deserve tax-exempt status any more than a book club deserves it (And really, isn’t religion just one big book club?).”

                    I’d say so. Wouldn’t you?

                    Many churches–not all–promote hate and intolerance, all the while claiming NOT to judge. Their goals as an organization are not to help their community, but to help their own–their believers– find their way to God and the afterlife. That’s self-serving. Planned Parenthood, as you mentioned, offers CHOICES for women. They don’t judge. They don’t try to force their beliefs on anyone women who believe abortion or family planning is wrong. They are simply offering help to women who want to make certain choices and don’t have the means–whether it’s an abortion or birth control. It’s not for me to judge. Nor you.

                    And, I agree with what Crystal says here, “Brandon, what do you think a tax break is other than support from the government?? Most churches would be out of business if they had to pay the taxes that other businesses do.”

                    Oh, and we haven’t even started in on the clergy and the free ride they get.

                    • “It’s not for me to judge. Nor you.” That sounds like a judgement to me. You seemed to have missed the irony, because all you’ve been doing this whole time is leveling your judgements in determining who is worthy to be tax exempt, based on your erroneous views of what churches offer. It doesn’t matter whether think a particular church promotes “hate” and “intolerance.” That’s not the criteria. Tax exempt status isn’t only reserved for those whose speech you approve of.

                    • Brandon,

                      Carl Popper wrote, “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them…We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”

                      You can discriminate all day long in your places of worship, but many of us will exercise our right to be intolerant–and part of exercising that right means that we don’t subsidize your hate.

                      Thanks for the discussion.

                    • Thanks for the discussion as well, Deborah. I’ll look forward to future conversations. Perhaps one day you and others will realize that disagreement does not equal hate.

                    • @Brandon. I do understand. And I think the most important thing we can do is not further animosity for our fellow man. Or, at least, it’s important to me. At least we live in a country where we can debate these things.

          • Brandon, what do you think a tax break is other than support from the government?? Most churches would be out of business if they had to pay the taxes that other businesses do. Get a clue! I’m not saying that to be mean, I really mean you need to get educated on matters you’re passionate about.

  11. lordshipmayhem

    I myself do not think houses of worship should have a tax-exempt status any more than counting houses or houses of residence. But this is to my mind a side issue of the BSA controversy.

    As for the BSA, the exodus of religious bigots can only be a good thing, helping it to turn from being an organization for exclusivity and fundamentalist Christian indoctrination and into one of inclusiveness and socialization. All in all, it will be closer to what Robert Baden-Powell envisaged and to its stated aim, of creating good citizens.

    • @lordshipmayhem Good point: “As for the BSA, the exodus of religious bigots can only be a good thing, helping it to turn from being an organization for exclusivity and fundamentalist Christian indoctrination and into one of inclusiveness and socialization. “

  12. Green energy? But global warming is a myth created by left-wing, gay-loving, Jesus-hating, devil-worshiping atheists!

  13. AGREED. Churches do not deserve tax-exempt status any more than a book club deserves it (And really, isn’t religion just one big book club?). I’ve personally witnessed this privilege being abused … For decades my own cousin self-proclaimed himself a pastor and would hold services in his basement to claim tax-free status on his house. He is one of the most corrupt men I’ve ever known … and all under the guise of being a gentle man of god. No surprise that he recently left his wife of 40 years to run off a young follower of his … what a hypocrite.

  14. When I was younger, I was in the Boy Scouts. I nearly achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, but was unable to because I turned 18 before I could complete my last merit badge. While I was in the organization, I became an honorary member of the Order of the Arrow and accomplished many other things. Out of all the memories that I have, my fondest are from Boy Scouts. During my time there, not once did I concern myself with homosexual scouts or leaders. Had they been in the Boy Scouts, I would have remained a member and still acheived everything I had acheived. They wouldn’t have affected my progress in the least bit. I would have still been kind to them and befriended them.

  15. I really would like to se a millionaire preacher explain how it is okay or even moral to have a tax-exempt status. I would also like to know the rationale behind religious organisations having such status – as Deb said, it is not as if they did community service per se or at least without reservations.

    • @saab93f Texas has the most mega-churches. It’s clear that they are a business more than anything–some of the have bowling alleys, coffee shops and restaurants inside. And the clergy–they live like celebrities. Check out Osteen’s $10.5M home: http://houston.culturemap.com/news/realestate/07-04-10-after-move-to-river-o aks-joel-osteen-wants-to-sell-tanglewood-land-for-11-million/

      • @Deb: Precisely so. I wonder how a low-income person justifies him/herself giving money to these “joelosteens”? Does God really want the preacher to have the latest jet-aircraft or could he be happy with a 2nd-hand plane?

        • He makes people feel good about themselves and gives them hope. Apparently, some people can’t find that anywhere else, and they think it’s valuable. Why do you think people would give to someone who clearly is not in want of anything (except more money)?

  16. Former President Carter, a longtime Sunday school teacher, is walking away from the Southern Baptists because of the church’s stance on equality for women.

  17. LanceThruster

    One thing I wanted to add that hasn’t been mentioned concerning discrimination and tax free status. The BSA got special treatment by the US govt despite policies against atheists and gays. They would get usage of state, national, and govt/military facilities at little or no cost. This was basically subsidizing them through tax dollars.

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