Rethinking Mormon Involvement in the BSA

compassLet me get some of my bias out the way first. Similar to many Mormons, I earned my Eagle Scout award. One summer I worked at a BSA camp and taught my near age contemporaries. This might indicate that I love Scouting, but the truth is that I didn’t and am still ambivalent. My time in Scouts was out of devotion to Mormon tradition where going to camp and working on merit badges came naturally. The Scouting experience also passed the time in a small town where doing something was better than nothing (although books helped fill the gaps). I don’t really like the outdoors, the boys were no better as Scouts than at school, and the merit badges seemed easy and forgettable. Taking the job had more to do with not having any better choices than trying for the usual farm and grocery store positions most likely filled up anyway. I did do some farm related work and the camp was much more fun. I have not been involved with Scouts for over twenty years and don’t wish to re-engage.

My feelings about the decision for the BSA to accept homosexual boys touches on one of my major criticism of LDS Church involvement. It might, as suggested, mirror the Church stance. Considering that I find that stance to be too lenient toward a condition and behavior that I believe is more than a mere temptation, that doesn’t impress me. Be that as it may, the fact that BSA is considered an extension of the Priesthood bothers me greatly. It has for many years. There is no doubt that Joseph Smith would have loved the organization and become involved. I can also speculate he would have gone in long enough to discover its function and then developed a separate church inspired program.

Despite the 100 years of close association with the LDS Church and emphasis on faith, BSA is a secular organization. No single religion has control. Franchises develop by interested parties in local areas that can at times arbitrarily decide membership requirements. This can cause a confusing set of restrictions. For instance, a Mormon family tried to join an evangelical group and was quickly rejected. The reasoning and background story is besides the point. Is the national or the local authorities in charge? At first I felt for the Mormon family, but the truth is they had no business trying to get in that troop. On the other hand, as a secular organization the BSA could have stepped in and forced the issue much like with the homosexual decision. The evangelical troop would then be given two choices; allow the Mormons or drop support.

So far the decisions of the BSA have been nearly aligned with the LDS Church, such as homosexual leaders unaccepted and homosexual boys allowed. Some day and perhaps in the near future that might not be the case. What then?

Other Christian churches recognize the disconnect between values and beliefs they hold and what the Boy Scouts of America represents. There has been for many years alternatives that exist for religious organizations who wish for more spiritual independence. The Salvation Army has Adventure Corps, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has Pathfinders, the Church of the Nazarene has Caravan, the Southern Baptist Church has Royal Ambassador with a high probability they will withdraw completely, and there are more. The internet group onmyhonor.net is hoping to build a new organization structured after BSA, but its impact will probably be negligible.

The truth of the matter is that the Boy Scouts of America is not an extension of the Priesthood no matter if used in that manner. It is under control of a varied group of people who might have similar goals and values, but ultimately no authoritative standing before God. Shared traits can easily be lost and discarded. They can be influenced, as was recently demonstrated, by outside forces hostile to its original mandates and positions. It might be time for the LDS Church to slowly back away and consider developing a true Priesthood program that builds faith and values. From my own experience I didn’t walk away with a better testimony or education. I am not aware of very many boys who became better men from participation. Perhaps its greatest success is keeping boys out of more serious trouble for longer.What I would like to see is a better mixture of gospel principles with other training.

Focus on the outdoors and camping must include survival techniques that can actually be used. Tying knots and putting up tents might be nice, but actual hunting and gathering knowledge is more important. Return to the idea of para-military preparation in case of both urban and hiking disasters. I would love to know kids are learning real survival skills. Then, teach the basics of washing cloths and replacing lightbulbs along with starting a fire with one match.

Spiritual development could include “Bible camps” with a rigorous search of the scriptures, prayer, and testimony mentoring. Lessons about Scripture teachings and prophets can be a true compliment to campfire stories and star-gazing. There would no longer be only the opening and closing prayers of the day spent swimming, hiking, and attending archery. Weekly seminary can be supplemented by summer getaways to the forest and places nearby that need services like soup kitchens. The BSA tradition and requirement of a community service project can translate into yearly implementation of the same kind of activity. The Duty to God award could become more than a side accomplishment. None of this needs to be gender specific and the idea of a “boy” scouts can be replaced with a program for both boys and girls, if need be split into separate organizations with similar goals.

I am loath to speak this way, but the Boy Scouts of America’s relationship to the LDS Church has grown beyond its usefulness. The spiritual needs of young Mormons requires a revision of the vehicles used to help the next generation. To tweak a few concepts from the Scout motto and Mormon scripture, the Priesthood needs to become self sufficient and better prepared to handle the onslaught of modern moral and spiritual decline. Running around in the woods is not the best tool. Relying on an outside organization to buttress religious values is to court trouble and outsource responsibility.

68 thoughts on “Rethinking Mormon Involvement in the BSA

  1. As the father of three boys, I would not shed a tear if the Church created its own program and left the BSA. I can see a lot of upside and very little downside.

  2. I’ve wished for the LDS Church to end its association with the BSA for a long time. But just for the fact that BSA duties/activities seemed to consume my father at the expense of his own family. I’ve also seen too many instances where the rules of the BSA were ignored and disaster followed. That being said, I agree with you, and hope that the church develops its own program for boys along the lines of the Girls’ Camp and Personal Progress program. I’ve been redoing Personal Progress for myself this year, and it’s a very good, and very in depth program that builds good habits and testimony. And while I was not a huge fan of camping, I did enjoy my years in Girls’ Camp. The way the Church has structured Girls’ Camp is a nice balance between outdoor skills and building testimony. I like it.

  3. I do want to say, in relation to the other post linked here, leadership wasn’t the problem. They were great! I just found the actual experience to be less than advertised. Scouts ended up meaning camping and not useful knowledge.

  4. While I can see your viewpoint, I believe that your view is skewed by your poor experience in Scouts as a boy. My husband is an Eagle Scout, and is now a Scoutmaster to over 40 boys in a Methodist troop- who didn’t care if we were LDS. He grew up in Maine, and the skills he learned not only prepared him for life in survival situations and leadership, but for his career in the U.S. Army. He is an Apache pilot, and if he were ever shot down, I know he could survive with minimal supplies. When the apocalypse comes, and everything goes haywire, I know that we as a family would be able to survive based highly off of the skills he learned as a kid (and that I learned growing up), and the skills WE both learned as Scouting leaders and teaching other boys these skills, including our children.

    We haven’t always been in a “community” troop- we have been in an LDS troop before, and it was a terrible experience. Court of Honors weren’t held regularly, boys rarely made Eagle Scout, and those that did- well, it was questionable how they were able to make rank and earn the appropriate merit badges by the required counselors who need to be registered as such. There was hardly any camping trips, and it was difficult for any of the boys to retain any of the skills that they learned. It wasn’t “boy-led” and every facet of the program was not how it was designed to be in the BSA. It wasn’t a full YM program and it wasn’t a real Boy Scout troop- it was a mixture to keep the boys “busy” (yet, they were allowed to run through the church, breaking windows and climbing on the roof). We did not want our sons to learn this behavior, and we wanted them to have a good experience. So we pulled our sons out of the LDS Cub Scout Pack and Boy Scout Troop, and went into the community. What an incredible experience we have had! Not only are the leaders appropriately trained, but the kids are enjoying their experience, and the parental involvement is high! We’ve even been able to be missionaries and dispelling the myths of Mormons that most people have, and have gained the respect of many people in the community- all because of Scouts. These are not the experiences we had in any of the LDS troops/packs we’ve ever been in.

    In our opinion, the church should let go of the BSA and concentrate more on the Duty To God, and wholesome activities for both YM and YW. If you can’t fully engage as a Boy Scout troop like it was meant to be, doing it halfway isn’t going to be good for anyone involved. Let boys go into the community with their parents involved (and volunteering), so they can have a great Scouting experience, learn to be great leaders and learn the survival skills they can use for life- and a relationship with God is an important part of Scouting. Leave the weekly youth night to be more for spiritual uplifting and concentrating on wholesome activities and finishing their Duty to God, to help prepare them for serving a mission and being faithful Priesthood holders. Let it be up to the parents to intertwine the two, and emphasize the correlation between them and how both will give them skills they need for life.

    As far as the whole policy change goes, I believe that ALL children need to be loved and mentored and guided, no matter how many mistakes they make and how they are raised by their families. One person can make such a difference in their lives, and if they can all be involved in a good program like the BSA, maybe it will help make the world a better place and they’ll have a deep-rooted respect for our country, for our flag and for God. If parents are worried their boy might have to share a tent with a homosexual boy, then buy your son a 1-man tent so they don’t have to share, and can get dressed in private (just like they can in the bathrooms). Teach him to be kind to all people, and not to belittle those who are different- after all, when they are missionaries, they’ll need to know how to talk to everyone- even homeless, drunkards, drug users, people who’ve been abused, people who are confused or even set on their sexual orientation, and anyone who has ever sinned! Even better, get involved with Scouting, volunteer as a leader with your son to help shape his experience into something he’ll cherish forever, and do these activities together. Talk to him about everything and help prepare him for the world’s views and what is right and what is wrong. Open dialogue has always been encouraged in the Scouting program, in both Cubs and Scouts.

  5. Good analysis. I’ve wanted the church to get out of scouting since I had my first daughter. There is such a disparity between the girls’ and boy’s programs. It’s just time we had some change.

  6. Great Jettboy! First time I actually agree wholeheartedly with one of your posts.

  7. I think we are seeing the church moving in that direction with programs like “Come Follow Me” and “Preach My Gospel.” With the mantra of “Learn, Act, Share” the boys in our ward (and the girls too) are learning to recognize the spirit and prepare for missions more than focusing on scouting. Maybe this transition is not going as smoothly in other areas, but in my ward we’ve seen the difference in our youth already. For example, the Priests Quorum teach their Sunday lessons themselves and at least monthly they are in the homes of members teaching some gospel principles. I wish this was the case in my day, though I do enjoy sitting in the eagles nest.

  8. Also, I believe the Young Men do have a church program that mirrors the Young Women’s Personal Progress program. I cannot remember the name but a young man was awarded it today and apparently earned it as a deacon, teacher, and priest. It may have been “Duty to God,” but I don’t believe it is the same one they had in scouts when I was a kid. I vaguely remember seeing the booklets they have now for it and they resembled the size and design of the Young Women’s booklets as I recall.

  9. Weird thought:

    The LDS Church today is to BSA as The LDS Church in Nauvoo was to Freemasonry.

    Discuss.

  10. Despite many years of working in Scouting both inside and outside of the Church, I am somewhat ambivalent about the Church’s relationship with BSA. But a couple of comments….

    I don’t think that the Chruch leadership intends scouting to be “an extension of the priesthood.” It is merely a tool for Aaronic priesthood quorums to use. I admit that few quorums use it effectively, resulting in some of the experiences mentioned above. For example, if the spiritual side of summer camp consists solely of morning and evening prayer, the quorum has simply “gone to camp” rather than using camp to fulfill the needs of quorum members (and it is quite possible that those needs may not even be served by summer camp–a point made by my sister-in-law whose son’s severe asthma will prevent him from camping at all during the summer in his area). I have observed YW camp closely enough to question whether it is usually better than a quorum/troop/team/crew camping experience that is chosen, planned, and run by a quorum presidency in the manner that best serves the needs of the quorum members.

    It is that connection–that the scout unit is the quorum’s tool–that makes the choice to leave the ward or branch scout unit and participate instead in a community troop so problematic. I praise the service that the commenter’s famoy provides. But it is hard (though perhaps not impossible) to do without placing the young man in an impossible position: to choose between quorum activities and quorum service and the activities of the non-LDS troop.

    I agree that many (nearly all?) LDS troops fail to meet the BSA design of being “boy-led.” which is really odd, given that the troop, for example, is an activity tool of the Deacons’ quorum, which should be “boy-led.”

    “I’ve also seen too many instances where the rules of the BSA were ignored and disaster followed.” Hear, hear! Too many LDS troop/team/venturing activities ignore aspects of the Guide to Safe Scouting. Sometimes they are deliberately held as quorum activities outside the Scouting umbrella so that they can avoid the BSA restrictions. But shouldn’t the Guide to Safe Scouting restrictions apply to Church activities regardless of whether they are sponsored by the YM, the YW, or some other part of the ward or branch?

  11. My own experience in Scouting was mixed. On the one hand, Scout camping trips played an important role in my conversion. On the other hand, the formal Scouting program had almost nothing to do with the fact that Scout camping trips played an important role in my conversion. Our trips were “roll-your-own” adventures in National Park Service wilderness areas, completed unconnected with any BSA camping facilities and devoid of any kind of merit badge clinics, and nothing about the trips would have distinguished them from a several-day-long Aaronic Priesthood camp except the label.

    I did not make Eagle Scout. Perhaps I didn’t want to badly enough, but I did want to. However, our ward was divided about the time I was 15, and the youth programs in the new ward struggled for a while. (For example, there were three girls my age in the program; one got pregnant, one tried to elope to Mexico, and the third was the girl whom, if we still had marriages arranged by our parents in infancy, I would be married to, which automatically made her unattractive as a date, if you understand me.) It is not possible for even a bright kid with some motivation to make Eagle Scout without at least some adult support.

    (A younger high school friend did make Eagle Scout. His father was a near-fanatical supporter of BSA — still is — which seemed to make a difference how the program was run when he was going through it. Unfortunately, the revival of the program always seemed kick in just about the time I moved to the next level of the program, so I didn’t benefit from my friend’s father’s enthusiasm much.)

    While I did enjoy the camping and hiking, my real interests were computers and electronics and telescopes, and there is precious little in Scouting that appeals to that spectrum of interests. Yes, yes, there are merit badges in these areas — all elective and none substantial. Token, even. So I put my effort into science fair instead, which rewarded me with a couple of free trips to the international fair and some nice college scholarship offers. Scouting simply couldn’t compete.

    I got a fair amount of character building out of our young men’s program, and some of it went under the label of Scouting; but, as with my conversion, the same character building could have taken place through the same activities labeled as Aaronic Priesthood. The formal Scouting program added nothing substantial.

    I am aware of Church leaders who love to tout statistics on how Eagle Scouts are far more likely to go on missions, marry in the temple, &yadayada. I believe this just goes to show that even decent, intelligent men with considerable leadership skill can fail to appreciate the distinction between correlation and causation. I am quite convinced that it’s not that earning an Eagle makes you a better young man; rather, the better young men are more likely to earn an Eagle. At least in most wards.

    I now have two sons. The younger is high-functioning autistic, and does nothing with the troop; he has his own Scoutmaster, which I greatly appreciate, but he’s never going to be an Eagle and he could get the same benefits without the label. The older suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and, while his peers have been good and his leaders have been wonderful about reaching out to him, it’s the AP and not the BSA programs that have had the most impact.

    I have been a Scoutmaster, and I think I have caught some of Baden-Powell’s vision. It’s a wonderful vision, which has surprisingly little to do with the Church and the Aaronic Priesthood. I think both programs would benefit from a little more separation. Well, a lot more, actually. And the latest policy change by BSA makes me wonder what’s become of Baden-Powell’s vision.

    Will continue supporting Scouting as long as the Church does. Will not shed any tears if the Church pulls out.

  12. I was kicked out of scouts for missing too many meetings back in the 1950′s. I missed meetings in part because they didn’t give me the badges and ranks that I had already earned and could not proceed without them. As a father in the Church I took our ward troop to the annual scout camp three years running. During two of those years my son was along. The other men in the ward were too busy to go with me, and one year I had no fellow adult with me which I have since learned was a violation of policy. I later became the scout committee chairman in our ward. No Eagle scouts were produced during those years. I have friends involved in scouting who tell me what a great program it is when it is run properly by adult leaders who have received the training, but they offer no solution to the fact that in the Church many or most adult leaders do not get the training and then wonder why the troop sucks. Apparently, there is little incentive to follow the rules when the troop generally does not lose its franchise by violating those rules. My two daughters did much better in the Young Women’s program. I hope and pray that the Lord will fix this. It needs to be fixed.

  13. When done properly, the Scouting program can be an excellent tool. In our stake, we encourage our leaders to attend Wood Badge – to the extent that the stake will pay half the cost. We have a lot of influence on the council and local district, to where many of the executives are LDS leaders. Our stake presidency have all done Wood Badge, and are active on the district and council levels. It makes a big difference when the leaders are properly trained and supported.
    That said, I understand that not all wards/stakes are so engaged as ours is in Indianapolis. Many programs end up being weekly basketball, with a monthly campout. Scouting is designed to develop leadership in youth, and if the adult leaders are doing the whole program, or no program at all, then the boys do not get out of it what they should learn.
    That said, I do wonder if what we put into the program gives us a big enough return in the long run (Return on Investment, ROI). IOW, if we put 100 hours into a boy or group of boys, how much are we getting back from the effort? Is it better, the same, or less than the YW get from Personal Progress and YW camp? If it isn’t much better, then we need to rethink the effort, because we’re over-burdening adult leaders to do what can be accomplished with less effort.

  14. As a former scout, not an Eagle, a former scoutmaster and YM president, I will just say that I would like to see the BSA connection severed. In my experience, the disparity between most LDS troops and troops run by other organizations make most BSA sponsored activities, such as BSA scout camps or camporees, an exercise in 2nd class citizenship for the LDS troops. Our boy leaders are generally only 14, while the other troops boy leaders are usually 16 and 17. We are lucky to get two adults to camp, while other troops often had three to five times as many in attendance.

    None of that, however, is as bad as the institutionalized bullying and harassment that I have seen boys endure from boy leaders at camps who should actually be trying to help or mentor younger scouts, or arbitrary decisions by youth summer camp staff serving as merit badge counselors or teaching rank advancement skills. And then there is the Order of the Arrow, which is the one organization that I feel most closely resembles the definition of a secret combination from the Book of Mormon that I can think of.

    We had much better activities and camps on our own or with other LDS troops in our stake than we ever had at the organized BSA activities, and were much better able to include scripture reading, priesthood instruction, and good role models with active LDS adult men.

    And yes, it does feel weird to be in agreement with folks on this site, but there it is.

  15. I’ve been in meetings with general authorities where scouting was directly referred to as “the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood”. So I think that’s what jettboy is getting at.

    As far as that label, I agree with the author that it’s a poor one. “Upon you my fellow servants in the name of Messiah I confer the rank of tenderfoot…”

    Aaron wasn’t a scout. Jesus wasn’t a scout. Joseph Smith wasn’t a scout, Pres. Uchtdorf wasn’t a scout.
    However, the Lord’s authorized mouthpiece was and is a scout, so there is certainly something to be said for that. But more broadly, the scouting problem isn’t part of the Priesthood unless we consider vast numbers of youth in Aaronic Priesthood Quorums in Africa, Europe, South America, Asia, etc. to be lacking in their priesthood.

    I actually like a LOT about the scouting program. However, I think the checklist bureaucracy of advancement presently runs counter to the church’s goals. Duty to God has a more holistic approach to progress, while scouting is still stuck in a 100 year old checklist mentality. It does create problems because I still hear a lot of leaders and youth refer to Duty to God as checklist requirements to be passed off as a one time type deal.

    It’s my hope that scouting contributes to much good among youth who are not members, and for that reason I’m glad to see the church support it. To the degree the program becomes co-opted by social-political forces I’m sure we’ll see the church distance itself (somewhat sadly).

  16. “And then there is the Order of the Arrow, which is the one organization that I feel most closely resembles the definition of a secret combination from the Book of Mormon that I can think of.”

    Only to the same extent the temple endowment does. Both are exclusive, both require commitments, both are non-public.

    It is the kinds of commitments one makes that constitutes a secret combination. A non-public commitment to love and honor God, serve your fellow man, remain true to one’s deepest moral commitments, be honest and trustworthy, be a good citizen of whatever nation and community to which one belongs, and to build a brotherhood around these commitments that encourages these norms, hardly qualifies as a secret combination.

    A secret combination is a non-public agreement to overthrow the laws of God and the civic community for personal advantage and gain. I see no comparison whatsoever.

  17. Actually, satanic secret combinations such as the Gadianton Robbers in ancient Zarahemla administered secret oaths in the name of God, not the devil. But they lied.

  18. Thank you ldsphilosopher, you took the words right out of my mouth.

    In the Order of the Arrow, the Scouts aren’t lying about the promises and oaths they make to help others and to honor God, and they frequently gather to do service projects! This doesn’t even remotely compare to secret combinations or the Gadianton Robbers! Why are you people trying to turn something that is good, albeit inconsistent due to the volunteers in different places, into something that is evil? Do you really think that President Monson, and the Prophets before him, would endorse the BSA program AND Order of the Arrow if it was a secret combination? Come on!

  19. “The truth of the matter is that the Boy Scouts of America is not an extension of the Priesthood no matter if used in that manner. It is under control of a varied group of people who might have similar goals and values, but ultimately no authoritative standing before God. ”

    I think this is a bit of an analysis that doesn’t simply acknowledge that those with priesthood keys have made the decision to keep the connection with BSA to this point. Something can be used by priesthood leaders and encouraged by priesthood leaders without being binding with God in and of itself.

    I have long felt that there are reasons for this collaboration that reach beyond our borders, as it were. Our leaders have a stewardship for the whole family of God. Suppose that staying associated with BSA has helped young men who might have had no other good, moral influence in their lives get a good start in their lives. Or maybe it’s kept moral standards in the organization more firm than they might have been otherwise through the years. I don’t know. I just share some ideas to indicate that maybe there is more to this than we can see. And there is more to priesthood responsibilities for those who have keys than just to minister and do work with those within the Church.

    Whatever the reason for the choice to stay with BSA, I’m content to let this all unfold as it will. I think our watchmen on the tower see more than we do. It might be helpful to know that I say that as someone who personally hasn’t loved Scouting (even as when it’s done right I think it can be amazing). I HAVE seen what good leaders can do with Scouting, and I will be forever grateful to my son’s leaders who have had such an impact on his life and have used the outdoorsy stuff, for example, to help them connect with each other and with God and with truth.

    But I support the staying with BSA until our leaders decide otherwise.

  20. Thank you jettboy. A breath of fresh air. I don’t have time to blog and do not have facebook or twitter accounts, but I have been looking for reactions by LDS members to the Church’s announcement. I have a testimony of the restored gospel, but I feel much closer to the American Family Association or the National Organization for Marriage at this point than I do to the Boy Scouts of America. I grew up in France and participated in the Catholic “Scouts de France”. I have one grandson (7) and 4 granddaughters. If he were my son, I would find other worthwhile activities besides primary–and later priesthood–activities at this point. Also, what does that policy change say to Church members outside the United States? What will Deacons, Teachers, Priests, and their families in Thailand, Italy, the Ukraine, Tonga, and Ghana think? I just hope a lot of faithful LDS families vote with their feet and leave the BSA, which does not provide any saving ordinances. All we have to do as men is pass down the moral and physical skills to our young men without the endorsement of an organization with which we do not agree. I have a hard time with the Church’s announcement. This said, in the last post Michelle very eloquently explained her understanding of the Church’s announcement.

  21. Laurent, I feel as you do. I too have a testimony the the Church is true, and by that I mean three things: 1) It is the ONLY church upon the earth that has the priesthood and authority of Jesus Christ. 2) It is the ONLY church that has a real prophet as its mortal head. 3) It is the ONLY church that claims to have and actually does have continuing revelation. But…

    Something is amiss. This is a mistake that the Lord will have to correct by and by. In theory and on paper it does not do so, but in actual practice this change is going to encourage abominations and make them more common. Rather than helping members to avoid sin, it is going to have the effect of making repentance more difficult and less likely. Plus, it is going to make us look like a pack of communists and leftist all over the world. It gives a huge boost to the organized and evil gay rights movement.

    But, because I am so sure the Lord will straighten this out, I am going to remain steadfast in the faith and support the Brethren in every way I can in good conscience do so. This just doesn’t happen to be one of those ways.

  22. I don’t see where the BSA Membership Standards Resolution promotes the allowance of “gay” boys in scouting. http://www.scouting.org/sitecore/content/MembershipStandards/Resolution/Resolution.aspx

    It clearly states the following after confirming the “immutable tenet of Scouting” regarding the Oath and Law:

    AND WHEREAS, Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting; and

    WHEREAS, the Boy Scouts of America does not have an agenda on the matter of sexual orientation, and resolving this complex issue is not the role of the organization, nor may any member use Scouting to promote or advance any social or political position or agenda; and…”

    It is presumptuous that any boy can truly define himself as “gay” or homosexual while still developing an awareness of himself, and what better place for all young men to be than under the adult leadership of men and women who do not live or promote a homosexual life style? We are talking about 8-18 year old youth.

    All who live the BSA standards are welcome, just as they are in Church. If they chose not to, then they are not welcome into fellowship except through repentance.

    I had a knee jerk reaction to the whole issue at first based on media reporting; that is until I read the actual Resolution.

  23. Think about it. It is just common sense. Boys who are OPENLY same sex attracted will now be able to join scouts. There are many gays in the Church including gay activists who are not trying to repent or are trying unsuccessfully. They are still in the closet. They will be much more attracted to scouting now that there are same sex attracted boys in the troop to serve as a lure for them. So they will join in greater numbers than before this policy change. There is no way to enforce a rule that only those living the Law of Chastity will be active in scouting. Scout troops will become a hunting grounds, and the adult leaders will not be able to do a thing about it because they won’t know. The policy and doctrine are wonderful and true. But there is no way to enforce it. The unintended consequences will undermine everything that scouting is trying to do. Scouting will become an unwholesome activity however excellent it may have been in the past. A person trying not to drink does not hang out in bars. A gay person trying to avoid sin does not hang out in gay scout troops. And as parent keep their sons out of scouts or at least do nothing to encourage them and as gays join in search of a hook up, that is what they will become: gay scout troops.

  24. John W. Radcliffe,

    If what you say is true, then it is equally true of Aaronic priesthood quorums and missions. Should those who are same-sex attracted simply not be allowed to participate in Church programs at all?

    Also, you make it sounds like same-sex attracted youth are simply predators on the hunt. That’s a rather false attitude that I see prophets and apostles trying to squelch.

    Here, read and listen to what THEY have to say on the matter: http://www.mormonsandgays.org. Tell me if you think they see the matter the same way you do. And if they don’t, I invite you to align your thoughts with the teachings of modern day prophets and apostles.

  25. John W Redelfs,

    No where in the BSA Resolution, or the Church’s response, does it allow “openly gay” individuals in Scouting. Being “openly gay” means that by openly claiming to be gay is the same as promoting that being gay is a viable and unavoidable way of life. Promoting such behavior by claiming that someone is naturally “gay” is not acceptable for any scout or adult leaders to promote.

    “WHEREAS, the Boy Scouts of America does not have an agenda on the matter of sexual orientation, and resolving this complex issue is not the role of the organization, nor may any member use Scouting to promote or advance any social or political position or agenda; and…”

    There is no way that a boy would identify himself as “openly gay” if he was not engaging in the behavior. To be “openly gay” means that one self identifies himself as such, which would make no sense if he was not engaging in homosexual behavior.

    There is no such thing as a “gay” gene; and until being “gay” can be indicated on a birth certificate at birth, it is entirely a case of dealing with our carnal nature, no matter what form of carnal behavior anyone might claim as being born with.

  26. There is no way that a boy would identify himself as “openly gay” if he was not engaging in the behavior. To be “openly gay” means that one self identifies himself as such, which would make no sense if he was not engaging in homosexual behavior.

    I recommend you to http://www.mormonsandgays.org as well.

    I share some of your sentiments — I personally don’t think that those with same-sex attraction should label themselves as “gay” or “homosexual.” I think it is wise that they don’t. But the statement you make above is simply false. Many people publicly identify themselves as such (wisely or foolishly) and do not engage in homosexual behavior. The Church recognizes this and welcomes them into fully activity and participation in Church programs. So what you say is absolutely false.

    People, we need to seriously read what prophets and apostles are teaching on these matters. They are speaking. Are we listening?

  27. There is no such thing as a “gay” gene; and until being “gay” can be indicated on a birth certificate at birth, it is entirely a case of dealing with our carnal nature, no matter what form of carnal behavior anyone might claim as being born with.

    Even if there were such a thing as a “gay” gene (and I don’t think there is), homosexual behavior can still be considered carnal and sinful, and same-sex attraction can still be considered something to be resisted. Many people have a genetic susceptibility towards addiction to alcohol — this has been demonstrated pretty conclusively. But this doesn’t obviate personal responsibility or accountability. Those who drink still have a choice in what they do.

    The Church doesn’t have a position on the genetics of same-sex attraction (except a call for caution in accepting conclusions too quickly), largely because it does not matter — it does not affect the sinfulness of same-sex sexual behavior in any way.

  28. ldsphilosopher – “But the statement you make above is simply false. Many people publicly identify themselves as such (wisely or foolishly) and do not engage in homosexual behavior.”

    Having lived 76 long years on this earth, including 68 of them as a cub scout, boy scout, Eagle Scout, scout leader and local church leader, I have never had anyone, boy or leader, identify themselves publicly as being “openly gay”. To claim to be “gay” when one is not engaging in the behavior would be the same as admitting that one is a thief because they have the temptation to steal, but do not.

    The BSA Resolution is very specific about those who present themselves as “openly gay”. In regards to the boys, the Resolution states: “WHEREAS, 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; and…”

    The distinction is that boys are still developing their identity and are not in a position to make such a declaration when only 8-18. The Church recognizes that they are still teachable and can be influenced when under worthy adult leadership.

    Regarding the adults, it is much more explicit in the BSA Resolution, with the full concurrence of the Church. “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”

    Neither those who are “open”, “avowed”, or “engaged” in homosexual behavior. Anyone who openly declares they are “gay” are not acceptable as “employees, volunteers, or members.”

  29. “Having lived 76 long years on this earth, including 68 of them as a cub scout, boy scout, Eagle Scout, scout leader and local church leader, I have never had anyone, boy or leader, identify themselves publicly as being “openly gay”. To claim to be “gay” when one is not engaging in the behavior would be the same as admitting that one is a thief because they have the temptation to steal, but do not.”

    In my 26 years, I have met many who identify themselves as “gay” and who have not engaged in any homosexual activity, and who commit not to. I don’t think it’s wise to make it one’s self-identity if one doesn’t intend to act on it. But it’s a brave new world and people are doing just that. The Church recognizes this and welcomes them into activity. Have you visited and read through the website I linked to? Have you watched the Church’s interviews with people who identify as gay, but who are living chastely? Are you searching what the Church has published in regards to these things?

    Your years of experience simply may not apply in the new world we are entering. Good thing we have prophets and apostles with contemporary, up-to-date guidance and instruction for us. Go check it out.

  30. Thank you all for your input. The Church is in no position to condemn the members who are uneasy with the new BSA “policy”. To be aware of and agree with the General Authorities on how we treat our fellowmen is one thing. We should support the Brethren. But even if a political candidate represents the Church’s values more than another, Brother So-and-so can’t be reprimanded for voting for the other candidate, right? “Do you sustain the Boy Scouts of America” is not a Temple Recommend interview question… but “Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?” is. And of course,
    we should in good conscience answer “No” to that question. And I am not saying that the BSA is such an organization. The thought just naturally followed after I wrote ["Do you sustain the Boy Scouts of America" is not a Temple Recommend interview question...]. I understand the Church’s statement better now, but it has me wanting to shout the Church’s principles contained in:
    1. Elder Oaks’s article (2011 Fireside, February 2013 Ensign)
    http://www.lds.org/ensign/2013/02/balancing-truth-and-tolerance?lang=eng
    2. President Kimball Speaks Out on Morality (GC October 1980)
    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1980/10/president-kimball-speaks-out-on-morality?lang=eng
    3. The Family: A Proclamation to the World
    https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation
    Mosiah 4:30 But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.
    No doubt King Benjamin was a kind man, and our leaders have to be kind men too, But the world needs to be called to repentance.
    Doctrine and Covenants 11:9 Say nothing but repentance unto this generation. Keep my commandments, and assist to bring forth my work, according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed.

  31. All the talk is unnecessary. All we have to do is wait and see what happens. This policy change is either going to bring about more illicit sexual behavior or reduce the amount of it. I think it will cause more of it, possibly much more. Why? Because how we think about things affects our behavior, and this is going to change the way we think about same sex attraction and gay behavior. It will no longer seem like the revolting, disgusting, vile abomination that the Lord wants us to think of it. Instead we will think it’s “not so bad.” And that change in attitude will make it much harder for the person trying to avoid sin to do so. It will change the Boy Scout organization into something it never was before, a gay hangout. And it really doesn’t matter what the scout and church leaders intend this policy to do, or how it is worded, that is the way it will be understood and acted out. Most organizations do a very poor job of implementing policies anyway. And this is one that cannot be implemented in fact. All that can be expected is lip service.

  32. BSA Membership Standards Resolution – “WHEREAS, it is the mission of the Boy Scouts of America to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law: (Oath and Law quoted here)

    AND WHEREAS, duty to God, duty to country, duty to others, and duty to oneself are each a core value and immutable tenet of the Boy Scouts of America; and…”

    The Church has acknowledged by its concurrence with the BSA policy statement that there has been no change in the standards of participation in BSA from the past 103 years. “Immutable” means just what it says. Merriam Webster – “….not capable of or susceptible to change…”

    All this hand wringing is allowing others to spin the decision that only confirms a policy that has not changed, but only addresses it in this “brave new world” in a way that clearly defines that homosexual behavior is not now and never has been acceptable behavior and that BSA has never dealt with, nor will it now, “sexual orientation or preference” as the determining criteria only for participation in the program.

    The Church websites do not change that standard nor does it allow for “openly gay” scouts or leaders to promote that life style by becoming more visible or in your face about it. In other words, you may think you are gay, but if you just think it, it is best to keep it to yourself and not promote the life style by excusing your orientation or preference as a morally acceptable position.

  33. The Church websites do not change that standard

    I never argued it did.

    nor does it allow for “openly gay” scouts or leaders to promote that life style by becoming more visible or in your face about it.

    Agreed. But here’s the problem: you seem to think that anyone who publicly talks about having same-sex attraction is doing just that: promoting the lifestyle, being in your face about it, or engaging in homosexual behavior. That is simply not the case. One can be public about their same-sex attractions and do none of those things. One can be public about their same-sex attractions and be living a chaste life.

    One can publicly self-identify as gay, be living a chaste life, and not be promoting the lifestyle. Please acknowledge the preceding sentence, and tell me that you think it is true. If you do not think it is true, then you are at odds with the current Church position on the matter. If you disagree, then you haven’t read the materials the Church has published.

    My suggestion: stop using the term “openly gay” completely. Drop it from your vocabulary. It’s causing you way too much confusion.

  34. “One can publicly self-identify as gay, be living a chaste life, and not be promoting the lifestyle. Please acknowledge the preceding sentence, and tell me that you think it is true. If you do not think it is true, then you are at odds with the current Church position on the matter. If you disagree, then you haven’t read the materials the Church has published.”

    Please reference the specific Church commentary that specifically declaring openly one’s self-identified gayness is not promoting that life style. It is clear that one can self identity as gay and be celibate, which is acceptable at some levels. But where has the Church made a declarative statement that doing so is not promoting being gay? I would like to find what sister would, with knowledge, marry a self declare but celibate homosexual gay.

    Is there any expectation that the Church would call a self-declared gay Bishop who proudly admits to that unnatural attraction, even though he is clearly celibate, except as it relates to his very conflicted wife who found out after the fact. He certainly could not be a BSA leader according to the new Resolution. My guess is that he would be out of the loop to be a Bishop.

    “My suggestion: stop using the term “openly gay” completely. Drop it from your vocabulary. It’s causing you way too much confusion.”

    It is a term that has been used by many bloggers who have claimed that BSA has now approved “openly gay” scouts while denying the same to leaders, which is part of their problem. It is also a term that appears in the BSA Resolution, (“….individuals who are open or avowed….”) so it is entirely appropriate to make the distinction between the publicly self declared celibate homosexual and anyone who does not broadcast it since it “would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA” (from the Resolution).

  35. I feel so old. I remember a day when nobody knew who was gay. The cultural persecution against gays was so intense and had formerly been so intense that no gay person would dream of “coming out of the closet.” All that has changed. Being gay is so fashionable in some quarters that supporters almost seem to compete with each other over who is the most gay friendly.

    Tell me, does the change in cultural attitudes increase, decrease or leave unchanged the incidence of gay behavior in our American culture and Church culture? Now tell me, in which direction does this BSA policy change move the scouts and the Church? Don’t talk to me about the wording of statements or the definition of doctrine. I am neither a lawyer or a theologian. Just tell me what effect this change is going to have on our culture.

    I think it is going to change attitudes and values in such a way that those who are same sex attracted and those who act upon those attractions are more accepted as normal. It will further erode the abhorrence with which this perversion has been regarded in the past. And anything that encourages sexual immorality or even moves a celibate person in that direction encourages sin and weakens the family.

    A reformed alcoholic does not hang out in bars.

  36. William and JWR, please read the statements by Elders Oaks and Holland on the matter. They explain what ldsp is trying to say about a celibate person with same-sex-attraction, SSA, as opposed to a practicing homosexual.

    Another point is that people who openly admit to being SSA are permitted to attend BYU. Of course, they have to be celibate/chaste to attend BYU, but they openly admit to being ‘gay’, meaning they have SSA.

    I don’t have the links handy, but there are several blogs by admitted SSA mormons who are in good standing in the church, have temple recommends, etc. One is an Exec Sec to his ward bishop. One is even married with children.

    The point that church leaders and ldsp are trying to make is a distinction between those who have SSA and are celibate, and those who actually engage in homosexual sexual relations. Up until now, both sets have been labeled “gay” and “homosexual”. At this point, the church seems to be asking people to stop using those two terms to apply to the SSA-but-celibate crowd.

    A Catholic friend has sent me a copy of the Catholic Committee on Scouting’s response to the recent BSA policy change. The Catholics seem to be in parallel with LDS church leaders on the issue. They, the Catholic leadership, is reserving the word “homosexual” to only apply to those who actually engage in homosexual sexual acts. Like the LDS leaders, the Catholic leaders are calling for compassion and full fellowship towards those with SSA who are attempting to live God’s commandments.

  37. Book, I think part of the issue is that there are different definitions for “gay”.

    Take for instance, the gay agenda’s denunciation of Br. Weed, who came out as having SSA. He calls himself gay, the gay community says, “Un Un honey, if you haven’t slept with a man, and you choose to have sex with a woman, you aren’t gay. You’re not one of us.” Google “Weed not gay enough” if you want to see that type of crap.

    So having people hear allowing the “gay community” to define itself makes sense as why some of us have issues with “openly gay.” Just because Elder Oaks is unaware that his definition is different than the “gay communities” doesn’t mean I have to use his definition.

    Here the gays are attempting to profit from the ambiguity in defintions.

  38. Book, there is no disagreement about the distinction the Church makes of a self identified “gay”, SSA if you please, one who is celibate and one who is practicing.

    However, BSA is not the Church; and we are talking about the BSA Resolution, not the LDS Church or the Catholic Church position. The BSA Resolution clearly denies membership certainly to adult leaders who are “open or avowed”, in addition to those who engage in actual homosexual behavior. That is a stronger statement than the Church makes, but one with which the Church concurs for Scouting by its acceptance of the BSA Resolution..

    And it is clear that orientation and preference alone of youth is not a factor in membership, but it is clear that such promotion if that orientation would become a distraction to the mission of BSA, it would not be acceptable.

    You can be sure that the Church would not call an open but non-practicing SSA as a Bishop or other important PH calling, nor would it be reasonable to expect an LDS girl to marry a self declared SSA if known in advance, even if a returned missionary with a temple recommend.

    The only reason that anyone would make a declaration that they are “gay”, be any definition, can only be to make a political and social statement. There is no upside for anyone to declare their innermost sinful temptations. So to do so is to promote the lifestyle by trying to make it seem normal.

  39. Not only should the terms “openly gay”, but “SSA”, “LGBT”, and even “gay” be dropped. Think about it. We have talked about LDS doctrine in this thread. Part of the LDS doctrine is also: 1. Lucifer is real. 2. He is the master of deceit, the father of lies.
    Friendship between people of the same gender, with no unholy attraction or practice whatsoever, has its place in the Gospel and in the Eternities. Lucifer encourages the twisted thoughts that same-gender sexual relationships are an option for those who have not yet had the opportunity to find a healthy heterosexual relationship. There are many circumstances (adolescence, culture, being shy, athleticism in girls and softer manners in boys) that can trigger the thoughts, but our sexualized and materialistic-hedonistic culture and the examples of those who are already brazenly homosexual are fueling evil thoughts. They encourage people to think about it and some will act on the thoughts, just like with any other sins. The word “sodomy” is just not as cute as the word “gay”. Nor is “anal sex”. But “gays” have no problem being associated with the “bisexual” in LGBT. “Bisexual” is not the stable, lovey-dovey same-gender marriage portrayed in the news (“Oh we’ve been waiting for 30 years to get married…”), the nice family next door which happens to have two moms or two dads. Bisexual means that the individual will satisfy any appetite that comes calling, and the so-called LG have no problem being part of the LGBT-rights movement along with the pervert bisexual and the unfortunate transgender people. You can have a friendly-looking neighbor who is a drug dealer or who holds hostage and rapes three young women in his basement for ten years. It’s all about Satan deceiving people. If we don’t believe in the miracles of faith, repentance, and forgiveness, where is our faith?
    Since ldsphilosopher mentioned his age (26) as did other posters, mine is 51, my first 25 years not in the Church and the last 26 as a convert. I won’t let go of what I have found and will defend it to the death. You can’t serve two masters. I know if I post this on yahoo I am called evil myself, or a bigot, but on millennialstar.org?

  40. I realize my comments have to “follow generally accepted standards for good taste and decorum” even though I had to address very real sins. I have said what I have said and won’t need to reiterate in those terms.

  41. William:
    “You can be sure that the Church would not call an open but non-practicing SSA as a Bishop or other important PH calling, nor would it be reasonable to expect an LDS girl to marry a self declared SSA if known in advance, even if a returned missionary with a temple recommend.”

    False. Many women have married self-declared SSA men, and knew it in advance. And at least one non-practicing self-declared SSA has been called into a bishopric.

    Look up Ty Mansfield and Josh Weed. They are both married and self-declared SSA. And you can bet that there are possibly hundreds of others like them, who just aren’t as public about it. It’s happening all the time.

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with a self-declared SSA individual being called as a Bishop or any other priesthood leader, so long as they do not engage in immoral behavior. I don’t think the Church does either. Again, I really, really don’t think you’ve studied the Church’s materials on this. If you have, it isn’t showing through your comments. Again, study what prophets are currently teaching.

    Thr Church MEANS it when they say that those with SSA, and who identify themselves as having SSA, but who do not act on their attractions, are offered the full fellowship of the Church just as as anyone else. FULL fellowship. Not just truncated fellowship, or fellowship minus some potential callings, or fellowship but women should probably steer clear of them. The Church doesn’t urge women to marry these men, but doesn’t discourage it at all either. It simply treats them like anyone else.

    It seems like you are imagining that the Church treats those with self-declared SSA like hot potatoes — with extreme caution and suspicion. Simply not the case at all. In fact, Elder Oaks, Elder Holland, and the Church’s statements at http://www.mormonsandgays.org have explicitly taught that members of the Churhc should not treat those with SSA like pariahs, but as members in full standing and fellowship. There is no “asterisk” on their church records, indicating that they should be kept from high profile priesthood callings.

    Please, read and study the material at that site. Study what the prophets are teaching. You are pretty misinformed on the current doctrines and policies of the Church.

  42. Philosopher,
    You say “Please, read and study the material at that site (http://www.mormonsandgays.org). Study what the prophets are teaching. You are pretty misinformed on the current doctrines and policies of the Church.”
    I haven’t watched the videos or read it all yet, but the site says: “The site offers a place where the people whose lives are impacted by attraction to the same sex can find inspiration to work through difficult challenges while remaining faithful to Church teachings. The Church’s approach to this issue stands apart from society in many ways. And that’s alright. Reasonable people can and do differ. From a public relations perspective it would be easier for the Church to simply accept homosexual behavior. That we cannot do, for God’s law is not ours to change. There is no change in the Church’s position of what is morally right. But what is changing — and what needs to change — is to help Church members respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere.”
    I have no problem with that. There is no “current doctrine” vs. a 1980 talk on morality by President Spencer W. Kimball or the Proclamation on the Family (1995 to forever, I thought). General Conference is where we will continue to hear eternal principles and how to be “in” the modern world but not “OF” the world. On Saturday, April 2, 2011, President Monson stated:
    “We have come to the earth in troubled times. The moral compass of the masses has gradually shifted to an ‘almost anything goes’ position. I’ve lived long enough to have witnessed much of the metamorphosis of society’s morals. Where once the standards of the Church and the standards of society were mostly compatible, now there is a wide chasm between us, and it’s growing ever wider.”
    The Proclamation: “We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
    All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

    We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
    We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.

    The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.

    Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
    We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

  43. ldsphilosopher – I would say that one anecdotal member of a “bishopric” who is SSA in a membership of 14,000,000+ is not a trend. In fact, we do not know what his level of SSA is or what has been discussed privately with PH leaders about his SSA. I am not sure what claiming to be SSA really means. There is no way to confirm it or deny it. It is only a self claimed identification that could have lots of underlining reason for doing so.

    My points have been that this whole thread is about the current BSA standards being misunderstood, not Church standards. The BSA is in fact much stronger than even the Church’s position, and there is no reason for people to get all bent out of shape over the BSA’s new Resolution. And it does not stand for “openly gay” boys to be scouts, only that if they do identify as having same sex attractions, that alone is not a cause for not being a scout.

    Regarding an “asterisk” behind a name, we all have asterisks behind our names related to lots of things that do not have anything to do with getting a temple recommend or holding positions of trust. The asterisk is the inspiration of the Lord when inspiring a PH leader to call someone to the position of Bishop, Stake President, Scoutmaster (which is a big asterisk in the BSA Resolution) or any calling. Members need to treat all with compassion, but that does not mean that God will call anyone to be a Bishop.

  44. ps: ldsphilosopher – It appears that you seem to think that the Church has modified its position on same sex attraction in today’s current world. Maybe that is from your youthful age, which I will not hold against you. You also seem to suggest that I am not aware of Church positions over the years as it relates to today. My long experience is expressly why I am able to make my statements.

    Being 5th generation LDS from pioneer stock in the 1850′s, having a relative who was a Bishop to Presidents/General Authorities of the Church and a world renown LDS author, having being active for my entire life holding every conceivable Church position known to man, except Stake President (although a Stake Executive Secretary for 7 years to a Stake Presidency from which two Area 70′s came), having shook the hands of Prophets from George Albert Smith to Gordon B Hinckley (who knew my grandfather), having spoke in Church 100′s of times, etc., as just a starter, be assured that there has been no change in how the church looks at sin nature and actual sin, of any kind.

  45. I’m impressed with your credentials, but this is the first time in the fifty years I’ve been a member holding a plethora of callings, that I’ve seen the Church favor a policy that is so obviously anti-chastity and anti-family. It might look good doctrinally and on paper, but it is not going to work out that way in the real world. We cannot intelligently preach chastity and then pursue policies that will encourage unchastity. And anything that helps the organized gay rights movement promote gay sex as normal and acceptable is going to have that effect. And this new BSA policy obviously does that.

  46. “It appears that you seem to think that the Church has modified its position on same sex attraction in today’s current world. Maybe that is from your youthful age, which I will not hold against you.”

    Not at all. I’ve just been reading thoroughly everything the Church has written on these issues. I see no change whatsoever. I just think that many members, for a long time, have been misinformed — they believe that same-sex attraction itself is a sin, and that those who have it should be treated with suspicion, and that our children should be protected from exposure to them and their wicked ways. The Church condemns that attitude completely.

  47. Laurent, you have no idea — I completely agree with everyone you said.

    But the Church is pleading with members not to treat those with SSA as pariahs or with suspicion, which Williams seems to be doing. When he says that someone who admits openly to having SSA will never be called to a high profile priesthood leadership position, he is implying that those with SSA should be treated like a hot potato. And that is contrary to Church teachings.

  48. John Radcliffe — I don’t see why prohibiting SSA youth from participating in Church programs will encourage chastity, and I simply don’t see how allowing them to participate encourages unchastity.

  49. Again, this is not an issue of the position of the Church in regards to how SSA individuals are treated. It is the BSA Resolution that is the issue, and the Church supports it 100%. Why people are getting all bent out of shape about the Church supporting the BSA Resolution, makes no sense.

    “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”

    There is no ambiguity about membership in BSA of any adult who is open or avowed, even if not one who engages in such behavior.

    And it is clear that the church agrees with the BSA that for youth a sinful nature does not preclude someone from being in BSA, but sinful acts would.

    That is what I have always understood throughout my life. There is no way that encourages unchastity. If “gays” wish to spin the Resolution by ignoring it, that is their problem. They are not in charge of its implementation.

  50. It would be remarkable irony for the Church to concur with the BSA Resolution, which it does and which specifically denies membership to BSA adult leaders who are open or avowed SSA, meaning no Scoutmasters (APH leaders), while then calling an open or avowed SSA to be a Bishop who is the President of the Priests Quorum and has responsibility for all young men and women in the ward.

    That would be up to God to do so, but the irony would be interesting.

  51. For all those who have been, and are still wringing their hands over the continued association of the Church with BSA, what other youth organization in the world would one want their sons to be involved with than one that is adamant that all youth leaders are neither open or avowed same sex orientation or who would promote such a lifestyle which is damaging to the mission of BSA?

    Any other outside youth sponsoring organization would have less assurance of controls over adult leaders and would not necessarily be sponsored by an organization with such clear cut moral standards of behavior.

    In the Church, all BSA leaders are called to their positions by PH leaders who understand and live the standards, and are under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost when making those calls. That cannot be said of other institutional organizations which sponsor BSA units. Many scout leaders in such units are volunteers and not subject to the kind of screening that comes with an LDS calling.

  52. William wrote:
    Again, this is not an issue of the position of the Church in regards to how SSA individuals are treated. It is the BSA Resolution that is the issue, and the Church supports it 100%. Why people are getting all bent out of shape about the Church supporting the BSA Resolution, makes no sense.

    What makes no sense is for the Church to take a position that will aid and abet the gay rights movement in making gay sex normal and acceptable in our nation and church. That is anti-chastity and anti-family. It is the horror of perversion in our culture that keeps the problem from being much worse than it is. Tell me, can you guarantee that one hundred percent of boys and men who claim to be same sex attracted and living the Law of Chastity actually are? Of course not, only God knows who is and is not living the Law of Chastity. Lying is common among people who have something to hide. And if this policy change means that there will be a higher incidence of same sex attracted individuals on scout campouts, and that is what it means, then it is a policy that moves us away from God not towards him. The doctrine of the Church is perfect. This application of it is self-contradictory. It makes as much sense for the Church to have a gay website as it does to have a special website for those who have sex with animals. It is a perversion, and those engaged in it or about to be engaged in it are a danger to the whole BSA and the Church. On this issue, the Church has made a mistake that the Lord will have to correct. One cannot say he is being consistent and denounce unchastity and then act in ways that will increase unchastity.

    Notice I said “mistake.” I did not say sin. This is a good example that our prophet-leaders are fallible just like the rest of us mortals. That is no problem. We all make mistakes, and we all make corrections when we realize the error.

  53. William wrote:
    For all those who have been, and are still wringing their hands over the continued association of the Church with BSA, what other youth organization in the world would one want their sons to be involved with than one that is adamant that all youth leaders are neither open or avowed same sex orientation or who would promote such a lifestyle which is damaging to the mission of BSA?

    I see. You are suggesting that only the Boy Scouts can do what they have been doing. That simply is not true. The Young Women’s program works well without the Girl Scouts. And the Boy Scout ain’t what it used to be. Not after January 1, 2014.

  54. Sorry, John, but the Young Women’s program has the same Church orientation standards for the young women as the BSA has for the Young Men. Orientation (sinful nature) alone is not a reason for denying participation in it. That is what the Church’s Handbook of Instructions says about all members.

    Also, the BSA standard for scouting leaders is actually more stringent than the compassionate approach to celibate SSA church members in general since the BSA Resolution specifically denies membership for any leader who is open or avows that they are SSA, even if they are not practicing. In other words, BSA standards are even higher than the Church’s for BSA leadership when it comes to orientation.

    As they say, where’s the beef?

    My guess is that parents of other “non-gay” boys will be attracted to LDS Dens, Troops and Posts precisely because of the well administered standards of the Church.

    As an exercise, you might attempt to write your own policy for an alternative youth organization, or the Church, that addresses the issue of sexual orientation. It will likely look like the one BSA and Church Leaders (the entire First Presidency, 12 Apostles, Presiding Bishopric) have declared as totally acceptable.

  55. JWR (and I think William and Laurent made similar points):

    I actually agree with at least parts of your analysis of the new dynamic of the influence that openly SSA scouts will have on the rest.

    I’ll try to reword it into what I’ve already stated elsewhere, and then you can tell me how close to the mark I came.

    In a nutshell, it’s called “slippery slope” and “margin creep”.

    Removing the stigma to something eventually leads to more of it.

    As a society, we removed the stigma to divorce, and got more of it.

    As a society, we removed the stigma to out-of-wedlock births, got more of them.

    We showed so much public compassion to unwed mothers, that more girls got pregnant expecting the same compassion.

    As a society, we removd the stigma to living on the dole, and got more and more people living on welfare, for generations now.

    It has to do with “marginal cases”. Not everyone gets divorced, but the marginal cases of people who would NOT have gotten divorced because of the stigma, no DO get divorced.

    Not every girl gets pregnant out of wedlock, but the marginal cases of those girls who would have said “no, not until marriage” to their boyfriends, now say “ok, why not?” because they know that government programs will take care of them and their baby.

    Take this same analysis and apply it to same-sex-marriage and openly admitting SSA, and the message becomes “gay is okay” and “nothing wrong with homosexual sex”.

    I predict (and I think this is what you are predicting to) is that many teens who have not fully formed their sexuality, ie, the “marginal cases” will be tempted to experiment in ways they would not have prior to the destigmatizing of homosexuality.

    I predict that “late bloomers” and the socially awkward who can’t seem to get a date with the opposite sex will question their own sexual orientation. (sometimes called “gay panic” as in “Oh no! I can’t get a date! What if I’m gay?’)

    I predict that the adventerous, the “boundary pushers” and “experimenters” who like to push the envelope will purposely go exploring with gay sex, whereas before they would not, because now “there’s nothing wrong with gay sex” according to the new way of thinking.

    The extreme danger that all three of the above groups have is this: one’s first sexual encounter has a very strong imprinting effect. And, the younger the age of first sexual encounter, the stronger the imprinting effect is. This is one of the common sense reasons against pre-marital sex. it creates associations and links with someone who you are not committed or bound to.

    Another danger is that if the first time experimenter’s partner is skilled enough, they can push all the right buttons to get all the physical sexual responses (I don’t want to get too graphic). This can lead to further confusion and a false conclusion. The experimenter may (and perhaps is even likely to) falsely conclude that they are gay because they got the physical sexual response, and therefore “liked” it. The older partner may even encourage it “You liked it, so you must be gay.” In fact, that is a common tactic of child molesters (homosexual and heterosexual) to groom their victims and keep them silent. (Documentation is in the Kinsey Institute, at Indiana University, and in books by child victims of Kinsey’s paid “researchers”. Kinsey paid pedophiles to molest children and measure the time it took them to bring the children to orgasm.)

  56. The Church, as well as BSA, has never had a policy, nor do they now, that states that sin nature is a cause for excommunication of youth from the Church, or denial of membership from BSA. However, the Resolution clearly requires that youth members must “subscribe to and abide by the values” of BSA, “subscribe to and abide by the precepts of Duty to God”, “demonstrate behavior…of the highest order of good conduct and respect for others” to qualify for membership.

    The Resolution does not state that a boy can openly admit to a SSA. All that it does is state that “orientation or preference alone” cannot be cause for denial of membership. All that tells boys is that their own personal natures cannot be used to deny them membership, but it does not give them license to broadcast it as part of an agenda.

    Any action, overt or covert by what they say or what they do to undermine the basic BSA standards of morality, is not allowed by the Resolution.

    “WHEREAS, the Boy Scouts of America does not have an agenda on the matter of sexual orientation, and resolving this complex issue is not the role of the organization, nor may any member use Scouting to promote or advance any social or political position or agenda; and…”

    The BSA standards are even stronger than the Church’s for adult leaders in that a self proclaimed SSA would be cause for denial of BSA membership, although not subject to Church excommunication. The BSA still leads all youth organizations to promote normal traditional sexual and moral standards in a world that has gone mad.

    And the BSA has a supreme Court ruling that allows them to deny membership to whomever they want to. The BSA Resolution reflects that ruling as it relates to adult leaders.

    Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000), was a landmark case of the Supreme Court of the United States decided on June 28, 2000, that held that the constitutional right to freedom of association allows a private organization like the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to exclude a person from membership when “the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group’s ability to advocate public or private viewpoints.” In a five to four decision, the Supreme Court ruled that opposition to homosexuality is part of BSA’s “expressive message” and that allowing homosexuals as adult leaders would interfere with that message.

    Nothing has changed.

  57. William:

    However, the Resolution clearly requires that youth members must “subscribe to and abide by the values” of BSA, “subscribe to and abide by the precepts of Duty to God”, “demonstrate behavior…of the highest order of good conduct and respect for others” to qualify for membership.

    Ah, but the thing is that now those “values” “precepts” “behavior” and “conduct” will need to be defined in concrete terms and not relegated to generally accepted assumptions based on Judeo-Christian ethics. Too much went _unsaid_ in the past. And those definitions will need to be equally applicable to both hetero and same-sex-attracted scouts, or else they will be subject to the accusation of discrimination.

    If a 17 year old hetero scout can have a girlfriend, may a 17 year old SSA scout have a boyfriend? If a 17 year old hetero scout can publicly kiss his girlfriend, may a 17 year old SSA scout publicly kiss his boyfriend?

    The Resolution does not state that a boy can openly admit to a SSA.

    Nowhere does BSA say that a boy may not openly admit to SSA either. Nor does BSA say what the consequences would be.

    All that it does is state that “orientation or preference alone” cannot be cause for denial of membership. All that tells boys is that their own personal natures cannot be used to deny them membership, but it does not give them license to broadcast it as part of an agenda.

    Nor does it prohibit them from broadcasting it apart from any agenda.

    I see both sides of the issue reading what they want into the recent BSA resolution. Many more definitions and policy details are needed to handle the questions and situations that are bound to come up.

  58. John Radcliffe:

    I see the problem. You, unlike the Church, believe that experiencing same-sex attraction — even if one does not act on it — is itself sinful. You reject the distinction the Church has made between experiencing same-sex attraction and engaging in same-sex behavior.

    I get this from your comments that “having more people with same-sex attraction on campouts is movement away from God.” What you are failing to comprehend is that the Church rejects the idea that experiencing same-sex attraction itself is a sin, or that it alienates us from God. Only acting on it does.

    This is not even a new distinction. It goes all the way back to the 1980s. The Church has for 3 decades taught this distinction. So you are either uninformed on Church doctrine, or resistant to the teachings of the prophets on this regards.

  59. John Radcliffe:
    I see the problem. You, unlike the Church, believe that experiencing same-sex attraction — even if one does not act on it — is itself sinful. You reject the distinction the Church has made between experiencing same-sex attraction and engaging in same-sex behavior.

    But a same-sex attracted individual is engaging in same-sex behavior if he let’s others know about his perversion because he is “grooming” other boys who may have similar proclivities for future lewd activity. This is why we don’t let normal boys go to girls camp and spend the week hitting on the more attractive females. Anyone who thinks “as long as he isn’t acting on this same sex attraction” is being incredibly naive. Such perverts constantly try to seduce other boys with their tone of voice, facial expressions, body language and topics of conversation. When I was a teenager and in my early twenties I had to repulse dozens of gays who would hit on me in various ways. Why should any normal guy have to go through that? I can remember telling one person who was making unwelcome advances, “How can I get the girls to come on to me the way you guys are?” I never got that kind of aggressive attention from the girls that I was attracted to.

    Anyone who thinks “same sex attracted but not acting on it” boys in a scout troop is not going to ruin the troop by increasing the opportunities for gay sex and changing the proper group dynamic of the group is just naive or even ignorant. Besides, how do any of the leaders know the boy is telling the truth when he says he is not acting on it? People with ulterior motives lie. Have they expelled from the troop all the hetero boys who have committed fornication? No. They don’t even know who they are unless they decide to come clean and tell the Bishop. Do one hundred percent of those confess? Of course not.

    Scouting has always been the best of all possible organizations for boys. But scouting is different now and that is no longer true.

  60. But a same-sex attracted individual is engaging in same-sex behavior if he let’s others know about his perversion because he is “grooming” other boys who may have similar proclivities for future lewd activity.

    So simply talking about same-sex attraction is “grooming” others to engage in same-sex activity? Really?

    Anyone who thinks “same sex attracted but not acting on it” boys in a scout troop is not going to ruin the troop by increasing the opportunities for gay sex

    Really — we are going to assume that a boy with same-sex attraction is seeking sex, merely because he’s same-sex attracted?

    Be gone. Go read the Church’s site. Read it. Learn from it. Your opinions contradict the explicit teachings of modern day prophets and apostles, who teach us that those with same-sex attraction should not be treated as pariahs. That is what you are doing. Do not pretend that you have revealed truth on your side.

  61. Thank you Book. The Brethren should not ignore (y)our concerns. You address the issues very well. The has not been a General Conference since the BSA policy change. I can’t wait until October Conference.

  62. I support the Church’s continued affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America. It is good for our youth to have some mechanism of interacting with other youth, and our ward to have some way of interacting with other community social institutions. It is good for our young men to go to Eagle Boards of Review with non-members. We want to be good neighbors in our communities, and the BSA relationship helps us in that effort.

    Do we have individual troops that can improve? Yes. Do we have individual adult leaders who are called to serve within the relationship but then actually subvert the relationship in the eyes of the young men (wolves in Scout — oops! sheep clothing?)? Yes. But I still think the relationship is sound and beneficial.

  63. ldsp: In addition to the church’s official web sites (lds.org and mormonsandgays.org) it might behoove the various commenters to check out BYU’s policies concerning self-proclaimed SSA students. i don’t have links handy, but I assume they could be found under “honor code” if someone wants to do asearch at BYU’s web site.

    If I may attempt to synthesize both sizes here, the issues that JWR and others have raised are legitimate questions, but perhaps they don’t realize that the church has already dealt with these issues at BYU, and therefore it has experience with these things.

    I foresee the church transferring the policies related to SSA and behavior (and speech that would be construed as advocacy) from BYU to the LDS-sponsored scout troups. (BYU does ban “advocacy” of any pro-homosexual matter, as I understand it.)

    In other words, the church will give voice and actual detailed expectations and consequences to things that BSA has left unsaid so far.

    The problem I foresee is that BSA will end up leaving too much unsaid, and therefore the “values, precepts and behaviors” will be left undefined, or left up to the sponsoring organization.

    If the lack of definitions continues, those who are pushing the ‘gay agenda’ will use the opportunity to drive further wedges to further their agenda and bring down BSA.

    In other words, yes, I think church leaders have it well covered, and all these issues being raised in this comment thread will be handled just fine in LDS-sponsored troups/packs. But BSA doesn’t have all their ducks in a row yet.

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