Boy Scouts and Mormon Church Won’t Divorce After All
You might have followed news in recent weeks about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ potentially impending split from its association with Boy Scouts of America, largely over Boy Scouts’ recent decision to allow gay leaders.
The interwebs were abuzz. The Church issued a statement that seemed ominous at best and petty at worst (though we know that no one goes rogue even if Al contends an intern got fired). Even a majority of Utah Mormons wanted to be done with Scouting.
It seemed like a divorce was inevitable, even if Church troops remain under Boy Scouts’ religious charter criteria, thus not requiring Mormon scout troops to allow gay leaders or allow much of anything they don’t want, for that matter. Somehow, this extremely important fact seemed lost in the shuffle.
But it was all for naught, a big tease in a sea of teases, like a YSA dance in Huntington Beach. It turns out the Church will go forward with its courtship of Boy Scouts, though based on some wording in the official statement, the two might still be in counseling, or Boy Scouts is sleeping on the couch, or whatever other relationship metaphor you want to throw at this. (Our love fern! You let it die!)
The statement is the following:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appreciates the positive contributions Scouting has made over the years to thousands of its young men and boys and to thousands of other youth. As leaders of the Church, we want the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances, thereby equipping them for greater success in life and valuable service to their country.
In the resolution adopted on July 27, 2015, and in subsequent verbal assurances to us, BSA has reiterated that it expects those who sponsor Scouting units (such as the Church) to appoint Scout leaders according to their religious and moral values “in word and deed and who will best inculcate the organization’s values through the Scouting program.” At this time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will go forward as a chartering organization of BSA, and as in the past, will appoint Scout leaders and volunteers who uphold and exemplify Church doctrine, values, and standards.
With equal concern for the substantial number of youth who live outside the United States and Canada, the Church will continue to evaluate and refine program options that better meet its global needs.
The crux of it all is the second paragraph. It seems Salt Lake needed lots of reassurances from Irving, TX (BSA HQ) that Mormon troops would be under no obligation to have gay leaders. “This time it’ll be different,” said Scouts. “I want you to be YOU.”
And again, if anyone had just read the very clear second paragraph of Boy Scouts’ July 27th announcement, we might have avoided so much hubbub:
Chartered organizations will continue to select their adult leaders and religious chartered organizations may continue to use religious beliefs as criteria for selecting adult leaders, including matters of sexuality. This change allows Scouting’s members and parents to select local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families. This change also respects the right of religious chartered organizations to choose adult volunteer leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.
What in that statement was unclear to anyone??
It also appears the Church is leaving the door open for an out at some point, with that “continue to evaluate and refine program options” caveat. That’s fair. It does seem pretty weird in an ever-correlated Church that we have two distinct Young Men’s programs. Is the Church really “the same everywhere”™? Not 100 percent, it seems.
Regardless, Mormons will keep being Scouts and Scouts will be happy to maintain ties with its largest charter organization.