Mormons and Older Scouts Split

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has ended its ties with the older Boy Scout program aimed at youth aged 14-18. This is huge news in Mormon circles. I think it will really shock some, disappoint others, and cause some to celebrate. I’ve always been very vocal in my personal views on the matter.

I’m squarely in the celebratory camp.

For my entire life, Scouting has been almost synonymous with the LDS youth program for boys. I was told time and time again that it was an inspired program, and I’ve been pressured (both as a child and as a parent) to participate in Scouting. There are many things I’ve gone along with in the Church, because why not. If I don’t see a particular reason to speak out against something or dig my heels in, my baseline response is, “Sure.”

But Scouting has been something I’ve consistently resisted.

As a boy, I think it was for a variety of reasons. First off, I really don’t like being sent on a guilt trip for silly reasons. We lived about a half hour from the church, and getting over there each week just wasn’t feasible. But each Sunday, I felt self-conscious of that fact. I was active in almost every other way, but I didn’t come to Scouting events, didn’t do much with the Young Men’s program in general. (They were the same thing.)

I don’t think church leaders really thought about what they were doing when they tried to pressure me to go. They thought I’d have fun. They thought that’s what they were supposed to do. Most of the time, it wasn’t out of any ill will. But I hated that. Hated feeling bad about it.

So when it was time for Tomas to possibly start Cub Scouts, Denisa and I gave it a shot. We went once. The pomp and circumstance and ceremonies and oaths really rubbed Denisa the wrong way. Where she grew up in Czechoslovakia, all of that stuff was heavily used by the Communists.

We didn’t go back.

I’ve written about my views on the Church and Scouting two years ago. In my post on the Ordain Women movement, I observed the disparity between the way the Church approached the youth programs for boys and girls. My views on Scouting have always been staunchly against it, from a religious view point. It’s expensive, run by regular people. Having such close ties with a private organization might have made sense in the past, but it made no sense to me in the present.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Scouting as an organization, just as I have nothing against Little League. But if my kid were pressured to join Little League because “it was the Church’s youth program,” I’d balk. (Did you see what I did there?) Kids can do Karate. Sports. Lego League. Scouting. Whatever they want. And the Church can have its own youth program for boys, just as they do for girls.

Anyway. Can you tell I’m pleased with this development? I can’t even feel too bad for the people who have had such strong views in favor of Scouting, because Scouting will still exist. If they feel it’s great for boys, they can continue to participate. Continue to support it.

I just don’t have to be told any more that God wants me and my son to participate in it too. It hasn’t been phrased quite like that. Not so openly. But that’s always been the undercurrent running beneath it all.

I’m happy it’s done.


  • By hillyut, May 11, 2017 @ 12:16 pm

    I think we’ve begun the weaning. Just as my kids are ALMOST DONE. WHY, WHY, WHY…. #somanypatches

  • By Bryce Moore, May 13, 2017 @ 9:00 am

    They were waiting for you to finish.

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