Boy Scouts and the LDS Church

In case you missed it yesterday, Boy Scouts voted to end its ban on having openly gay scout leaders. In response to this, the LDS church released a statement, saying that it was troubled by the decision and that

“As a global organization with members in 170 countries, the Church has long been evaluating the limitations that fully one-half of its youth face where Scouting is not available. Those worldwide needs combined with this vote by the BSA National Executive Board will be carefully reviewed by the leaders of the Church in the weeks ahead.”

This is interesting for a number of reasons. First of all, I have a hard time matching the current position of the church (“The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”) with this statement. If being gay isn’t a sin, then why should it matter if a gay person is leading a scout group? Better yet, even if being gay is a sin, why should it matter?

Is it fear that gay people supervising youth will promote those youth to be gay themselves? But can’t that same logic be applied to anything people want to call a sin? What if someone drinks coffee? Should we allow coffee drinkers to lead LDS scout troops? What if someone is a recovered alcoholic? I guess what I’m saying is that I think the test for “could this person be a good scout leader” should be based on the individual, not on some cookie cutter requirements.

Is it fear that being around openly gay people will make youth more accepting of gay people in general? How is that something to be afraid of, if we’re supposed to be reaching out to all God’s children, as the church’s statement says?

Or maybe it’s fear of the “openly gay” wording. Concern that someone who is actively gay is going to make scouts . . . actively gay? Sorry–I’m just not seeing it again. People who are “openly straight” have been leading troops for decades, and it’s not like those troops have been one big heterosexual orgy night after night. (I’m assuming here. I was never a Scout. More on that in a moment.)

Bottom line for me on this point: the two statements by the Church don’t match up.

However, if the result of all of this is that the Church gets out of Scouting? I’ll be tickled pink. Pleased as punch. Happier than a kitten following a leaky cow. Again, I was never a Scout, so perhaps it’s easier for me to view a world where the Church and Scouting aren’t BFFs, but I’ve never understood the perceived need for Scouting in the Church. It’s portrayed as a divinely-inspired program for our young men, and I don’t see it. Scouting is used by the American wing of the Church, but get outside of the country, and it has nothing to do with it in many many places.

Scouting is expensive. There are a slew of hoops and requirements to jump through to make sure leaders get the stamp of approval, and I see no need for all those trappings. The Young Women’s program has been getting along just dandy without any of it. They have Girl’s Camp, they have weekly activities. They’re just missing the silly handkerchiefs and the strange salutes. (Honestly. Not a fan of all the pomp and circumstance of Scouting. Denisa had plenty of that growing up behind the Iron Curtain, but I’ll bite my tongue and keep that argument out of this for now.)

Don’t get me wrong. I can see how Scouting really helps some youth today, and how it’s helped a lot of church members over the years, but I sincerely believe the Church/Scouting association is a relic of an earlier time. Today’s youth could certain use some “be prepared” action, but it’s not just the boys who need it. The girls need it too. I would love to see the youth program of the Church do much more together, boys with girls. Boys need to know how to cook, clean, sew, etc. just as much as girls need to know how to tie knots, work on cars, light fires, etc. Why do the programs have to be separate, or at least so separate?

But now I’m getting revolutionary, and this isn’t the post for that. I know there are quite a few people up in arms on both sides of this issue. And what it boils down to for me is that I don’t think this ever should have been an issue in the first place.

Then again, I’m still wishing that Mormons had gone all in on Kung Fu instead of Boy Scouts . . .

It’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here, but I’ll be viewing it all as a bystander. I don’t have a dog in this fight, other than a personal preference that the formal Church/Scouting ties be done away with. (So maybe that means I have a dog in this fight after all. Oh well.)

1 Comment

  • By louyc, July 28, 2015 @ 10:24 pm

    I dare. But then I’ve been known to speak out (rageously). I’ve worked with scouts. I can tell you that the program is about having youth learn things, like planning, like being rewarded for achievements, so wanting to do more. I was in Girl Scouts. Same thing. Get a badge, want more badges. Learn stuff along the way. Still remember listening to classical music, first time, on an old record player, and listening for flute, violin, drums, etc. Scouts also teaches co-operation, working together, supporting each other, cheering each other on.. Oh, and having fun along the way. Campouts are bonding experiences. There’s a program that guides everyone along. It’s a carefully sculpted syllabus that self-actuates individuals. Enoug said.

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