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LDS leaving BSA?

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I spoke with an LDS Unit Commissioner recently. He said the LDS is not leaving Scouting. However, he said that the changes have encouraged LDS members who were not pro-scouting to speak out and make it sound like the church as a whole is leaving. 

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@@krikkitbot makes a good point. There are some LDS members (as with in all faiths) who are not fully supportive of the Scouting program (I pity their short-sightedness). So as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in good standing, with first-hand communication from Church leadership, let me be EXPLICITLY CLEAR on one point.

 

You guys ready? 

 

THE CHURCH IS NOT LEAVING SCOUTING.

 

THOSE OF THE LDS FAITH ARE NOT DROPPING THE SCOUTING PROGRAM.

 

THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS HAS NO PLANS TO SEVER ITS TIES WITH THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA.

 

I could go on. But do you see my point? I say this after long conversations with many Church leaders at the highest levels (it's nice to have good connections). But more than that, why should the church leave? Let's clarify a few points for those stubborn people who like to stir things up with false rumors, and quash them before they continue to permeate these lovely forums.

 

1. GIrls in the BSA - as @@swcline pointed out, there are of course instances where groups of girls, who happen to be LDS, have started their own Venturing posts. But this is purely done as individual agents, not endorsed by the Church or incorporated into the official Young Women's programs. The Church has never chartered young women in any of Scouting's programs, and while some individuals or groups, who happen to be LDS, may do so on their on dime, they are NOT affiliated with the Church in any official way, and so they are irrelevant to this topic. 

 

The Church does not endorse Scouting for girls or young women, and never has.

 

2. The pull-out from Varsity and Venturing - this was NOT A POLITICAL MOVE - I don't know how much more I can stress this. The Church pulled out of these programs because, frankly, we weren't running them very well, and it was a drain of resources and leadership that wasn't meeting the objectives of either program. It had nothing to do with politics. Church leaders have explained this to us over and again in the past few weeks, but those outside the Church don't get to hear it as often, so as an LDS leader, let me make it clear the choice was based on operations, not politics. Our Varsity and Venturing programs were largely inert or ineffective. We are GREAT with the Boy Scout program, but once the boys turned 14 they entered a program that their leaders didn't understand and weren't using very well, right at the age when they are starting high school and have their attentions pulled in all different directions. So we cut those two programs because we didn't run them very well! 

 

The Church did not pull out of those programs for any reason other than our own inability to effectively use them! No politics were involved!!!

 

As for the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs, why on Earth should we drop them when clearly we are still running them, and exceptionally well I might add? For proof, look at the 100+ years of close and deep partnership between the Church and the BSA (there's even a whole book about it at the Scout Store, "A Century of Honor"). Or look at the huge number of Eagle Scouts the Church produces, or the MASSIVE contingent of LDS Scouts just at this last Jamboree, where one of our Senior Apostles, Jeffrey R. Holland (an Eagle Scout), addressed more than 2,100 Boy Scouts to talk about how much the Church loves the Scouting program (this was only weeks ago, mind you). I mean, our Church President, Thomas S. Monson, has earned both the Silver Buffalo and the Bronze Wolf - we are dedicated to this program!

 

Our ties to Scouting are full of history and brotherhood. Even with the changes the BSA has been making, we have stuck with them. Now, if the BSA were to do something INCREDIBLY foolish, like change to co-ed programming, then there might be cause to reconsider our close relationship. But for now, DO NOT SPREAD THE MYTH THAT THE LDS CHURCH IS LEAVING SCOUTING. It is exactly that - a myth. Anybody who claims otherwise is a trouble-making meddler looking to stir the pot - don't listen to them! We love Scouting, and will stick with it until they give us a solid reason not to. 

Edited by The Latin Scot
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@@krikkitbot makes a good point. There are some LDS members (as with in all faiths) who are not fully supportive of the Scouting program (I pity their short-sightedness). So as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in good standing, with first-hand communication from Church leadership, let me be EXPLICITLY CLEAR on one point.

 

You guys ready? 

 

THE CHURCH IS NOT LEAVING SCOUTING.

 

THOSE OF THE LDS FAITH ARE NOT DROPPING THE SCOUTING PROGRAM.

 

THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS HAS NO PLANS TO SEVER ITS TIES WITH THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA.

 

 

Thanks for the great response, Latin Scot.  Could you please elaborate on why you believe it would be a crushing blow to the continued BSA-LDS relationship if Cub & Boy scouts went co-ed though?  Specifically regarding HelpfulTracks comment that this doesn't seem to be an issue for LDS and Scouts Canada.  I'm pretty sure a local option will remain that will allow LDS to remain boy-only.

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The problem is the MASSIVE list of ramifications that would come of making a program like the BSA into ... what? The BGSA? Just the "SA?" Even if the Church simply continued to charter all-boy units, there would be all kinds of issues with co-ed troops which the Church could not avoid. As a Church we prioritize the family, and we believe that gender is a divine and eternal part of our natures - as a result, we believe strongly that boys are different from girls. By making the BSA co-ed, it would be making a statement that boys and girls are to some extent the same, and that the needs of one are no different than the needs of the other, as though they were interchangeable. This would be a philosophy that we could not support - and that's only the fundamental, ideological issue. 

 

Mind you, we are deeply entrenched in every aspect of Scouting, from Camporees to Jamborees, from summer camps to local events. The complications at these kind of events would encompass everything from showering arrangements to inter-troop activities to tenting/campsite situations to patrol competitions, ALL of which would suddenly include girls. Which makes it difficult for those of a faith that believes in a sacred difference between the two sexes.

 

Whether or not you agree with our doctrines, you can't deny that such a massive issue would pose huge logistical, ideological, and practical difficulties to a religion that believes so strongly in doing it Duty to God. Rather than try to navigate such potentially rough waters, it would be FAR easier for the Church at such a point to simply let Scouting be and initiate its own activities program. We have the tools and the organizational structure in place to do so with relative ease if absolutely needed - members in the 100+ other countries of the Church already have their own programs, so we would only need to adopt the same structure in place of Scouting. But the hope is the we don't ever have to. If Scouting will simply hold to the values it has always embraced, which align perfectly with the aims and desires of the Church and have for 100 years, then there is no problem. We love Scouting, we WANT Scouting - but we put the development and well-being of our young men even before loyalty to this program. As the Scout Oath itself makes clear, we put our Duty to God first. We can only hope that nothing happens within the BSA 's organization which would pit that Duty against our love for and loyalty to the Boy Scouts of America. As of now, thank goodness, no such thing has transpired, and we happily continue to ensconce our young men in the Scouting program for the time being. 

 

I hope this makes it somewhat clearer to understand; I know that we all see the religions of others "as through a glass, dimly," but I sincerely wish for you all to see where we are coming from with regards to this issue. 

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The problem is the MASSIVE list of ramifications that would come of making a program like the BSA into ... what?...

I hope this makes it somewhat clearer to understand; I know that we all see the religions of others "as through a glass, dimly," but I sincerely wish for you all to see where we are coming from with regards to this issue. 

Uncertainty always breeds doubt, for sure.

 

Question: do LDS scouts attend world jamborees? I mean, obviously, some do. But are they something that the average LDS bishop would promote among his young men? I can see why one would and why one would not incorporate them in their youth program. Just curious if there's specific guidance on such opportunities -- especially since world jambos are now predominately co-ed, albeit with an older minimum age than Boy Scouts.

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And to underscore that LDS folks can have a diversity of beliefs ( one of my favorite phrases to use during training my fellow LDS Church members is "don't confuse tradition with doctrine" - see, for example, the New Testament :-) ), I came to different conclusions than The Latin Scot.  The presence of female youth members at scout camp is already happening, without too much drama.  It may vary by council, but at camps I have attended in the Mid-America Council we had Venture Crews with female members. Ditto Jambo. I actually can not remember if I have seen female non-staff in summer camps in my current council, the Atlanta Area Council, because *it is not remarkable* in areas where the LDS units are not a large majority.

 

All BSA camps are required to offer gender and age segregated showers, and the ones I have dealt with have been very accommodating regarding gender sensitive tenting arrangements. I see this as a non-issue. You have the usual incidences of COWs (Crush Of the Week), but much less so than events like Especially For Youth (a BYU sponsored co-ed week of religious instruction, often held on college campuses in rented dorms in the summer) where the gender ratios are more balanced, or any church summer camp.

 

I do believe that gender segregated programs can offer benefits that co-ed ones do not, and vice versa. I am not convinced that a co-ed scout program would be that hard to implement. That said, I do not see anything that indicates that the LDS Church, as a chartering organization, is moving in that direction. 

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In answer to @@qwazse's question, the Church has historically had a very large presence at World Jamborees, although not as much has been made of them as in decades past - National, yes, World, not so much. Now, @@swcline is correct in that, where there are co-ed Scouting activities happening, the segregation between boys and girls has of course been respected. Yet while that may be true, such camping issues have not been program-wide, and are still relatively isolated situations (and don't get me started on the teen dating frenzy that is EFY, @@swcline. I only recently graduated from BYU and had to put up with those crazy crowds every summer  :rolleyes:). But it is also true that those kinds of issues really are secondary to the real problem, and I should have been clearer on that point. The primary potential for concern is neither logistical nor practical at its core. The primary dilemma with co-ed Scouting would be the ideological conflict, the changing of a program that has been centered on the development of young men into some kind of gender-neutral activity club that would be forced to change its very nature towards an end that would neither serve boys nor girls effectively. Others may not find that to be a problem, and that is of course their privilege, but the Church would not countenance such a massive change lightly. It clashes with too many of our central beliefs, and the with way that we raise and instruct our growing young men and women.

 

MIND YOU, I am not saying that the Church would automatically jump ship if such a change were to be made, and to assume that it would would be most unwise. But that kind of huge alteration to the program would certainly generate serious discussions which could very easily lead to such a move. But again, until or unless it happens, speculation is, as in most cases, unproductive. More often than not it leads to paranoia rather than preparedness.

 

Better to focus on the Now than on the Could Be. The Church is at present deeply entrenched in the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs. So let's focus more on cultivating the fruits of our cooperation, rather than sowing any distressing seeds of doubt.   :cool:

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On 9/6/2017 at 11:15 AM, The Latin Scot said:

THE CHURCH IS NOT LEAVING SCOUTING.

THOSE OF THE LDS FAITH ARE NOT DROPPING THE SCOUTING PROGRAM.

THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS HAS NO PLANS TO SEVER ITS TIES WITH THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA.

The LDS church is looking at a new youth program to be deployed worldwide. This message has been plainly communicated previously and was publicly reaffirmed as recently as October 11, 2017 in response to BSA's decision to admit girls. To say the church has no such plans is simply wrong.

July 2015: "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.”

January 2017: "In recent years the Church has made several changes to its programs for youth, and continues to look for ways to better serve its families and young people worldwide."

October 2017: "We recognize that the desire of the BSA is to expand their programs to serve more young people in the United States. The church, too, continues to look at ways to serve the needs of our youth worldwide."

Details of the new church youth program are as unclear as details of BSA's new Scouting program for girls, but it seems both are inevitable. At present we have no way of knowing if LDS departure plans triggered BSA's decision to admit girls, but time may soon reveal the answer to that question.

The long good-bye continues as the LDS church announced on December 1, 2017 that it will discontinue its annual Philmont conference for high-level church leaders. Is this just a coincidence, or is the LDS church ramping down its Scouting investment as an exit is prepared?

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900004968/lds-church-discontinues-its-annual-leadership-conferences-at-philmont-scout-ranch.html

The reader comments at the end of that article are especially interesting because nobody is stepping forward to defend BSA. I see a bitterness toward BSA from general church membership that is far more extreme than anything coming from church leaders. Not surprisingly, Friends of Scouting donations have plummeted. As Scoutmaster, I cannot in good conscience ask others to give when my own contributions have ceased. FOS is just one data point, but it does not bode well for LDS Scouting moving forward.

Decision-making in the LDS church is very top-down, but program implementation happens from the bottom-up. Front line LDS volunteers were minimally engaged in implementing the Varsity and Venturing programs. Even if they perhaps called it a Varsity Team or a Venturing Crew, in practice it was really just Scouting for older boys who wanted to finish their Eagle. Church leaders eventually stopped resisting that reality and pulled the plug on Varsity and Venturing. If disenchantment with BSA reigns among LDS families because of recent unpopular decisions, Boy Scouts will become an ineffective program and church leaders will replace it as well.

I certainly do not speak for the church, but I will offer my personal observation. I did not walk away from Scouting - I have stayed the same. Rather, Scouting walked away from me. As an Eagle Scout and an avid adult Scouter, I find it all tremendously sad. When (not if) the LDS church officially severs ties with BSA, I will be ready to embrace the decision.

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16 hours ago, gblotter said:

Scouting walked away from me.

How?

All the recent membership decisions have been voluntary. No Troop has been required to accept membership of gays or girls.

Personally, Scouting is so much more to me than just sexual preference or gender.

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7 minutes ago, Hawkwin said:

How?

I am a traditionalist with conservative values.

Lately, Scouting has been all about breaking with tradition and embracing liberal norms on sexuality and gender.

The fact that BSA permits me to retain my own personal values does not change the fact that Scouting has changed in fundamental ways and is no longer the great fit it once was.

That is how Scouting walked away from me.

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4 hours ago, gblotter said:

I am a traditionalist with conservative values.

Lately, Scouting has been all about breaking with tradition and embracing liberal norms on sexuality and gender.

The fact that BSA permits me to retain my own personal values does not change the fact that Scouting has changed in fundamental ways and is no longer the great fit it once was.

That is how Scouting walked away from me.

I get that, and I can sympathize.

That being stated, how do you differentiate between how Scouting has evolved in this capacity with how American society has evolved? You call them liberal norms on sexuality and gender but I think it might be safe these days to call them simply norms without any additional qualifiers of conservative or liberal. SCOTUS has ruled on gay marriage, and next year may rule on sexuality as a protected class (like race and gender) and even the military, including combat arms, is now accepting of gays and coeds. The fact that BSA doesn't make you conform to such should make it a refuge for you.

For those with "traditional conservative values," the non-compulsory environment of BSA seems to suggest that there is still a home for you in it - just like America is still a home for you despite the changing norms.

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You are mistaken in that you interpret the Church's new activity program as a replacement for Scouting, as though the Church was secretly preparing to leave Scouting as soon as the members looked away. That's not how the Church operates. Neither is the Church "looking at a new youth program to be implemented worldwide." It already has such a program - but it does not use it within the U.S. and Canada because it continues to choose Scouting as the activity arm of their youth programs in these nations. The statement of October 11th made absolutely no reference to any kind of "replacement program" for Cub Scouting nor Boy Scouting. To infer that it did is to create false rumors among non-LDS Scouters which does little good for anybody.

Remember, the executive board which made the unanimous decision to include girls also includes two Apostles, a number of Seventies, and members of the Primary General Board of our Church. They voted in favor of including girls, and the Church came out with an official statement acknowledging the benefits Scouting can provide to girls. It also emphasized that the Church's involvement in Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting will remain the same. That not only means it will continue, but that it will continue as it has before - meaning single-gender troops and packs, in our case, for boys only. The nature of the decision to include girls makes it possible for chartered organizations to continue to run Scouting just as they have before; they will not be "forced" to include girls, nor will any units if they don't wish to. 

I want all the members of this board to note that the "bitterness" observed by the estimable @gblotter is not general within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In most of the nation, Scouting continues to be a beloved and honored part of the Church's programs for its young men. The LDS Church remains the largest Chartered Organization in Scouting - and that statistic will not change even once the Church pulls out of the Varsity/Venturing programs at the end of this year to continue operating exclusively through the Boy Scout program in their places. The lack of involvement in those programs was due to a misunderstanding of what they were, and not from ill feelings towards the Scouting program in general. Otherwise, those older boys wouldn't have been involved in Scouting in the first place. 

I see no value in pretending to "see the writing on the walls," nor in trying to predict what has not been expressly stated by Church leaders, whether in the LDS faith or in any other for that matter. We would do far better to simply improve our own local programs as best we can as though they will continue for generations more, than we would in predicting the end is coming and wasting time trying to interpret things that haven't been said or events that haven't taken place. I'm a Webelos leader. Right not I have boys whose progress I need to oversee and whose character I need to help develop. Speculating as to how long I will be responsible for doing so avails me nothing.

Edited by The Latin Scot
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1 hour ago, The Latin Scot said:

Remember, the executive board which made the unanimous decision to include girls also includes two Apostles, a number of Seventies, and members of the Primary General Board of our Church. They voted in favor of including girls, and the Church came out with an official statement acknowledging the benefits Scouting can provide to girls. It also emphasized that the Church's involvement in Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting will remain the same. That not only means it will continue, but that it will continue as it has before - meaning single-gender troops and packs, in our case, for boys only. The nature of the decision to include girls makes it possible for chartered organizations to continue to run Scouting just as they have before; they will not be "forced" to include girls, nor will any units if they don't wish to.

Do you have a link to the official vote, i.e., which members in attendance and voting? We have heard the vote was unanimous but, my understanding, all that means is those in the quorum (whatever percentage that is) of the Executive Board who voted,  approved.  :confused:

Edited by RememberSchiff
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57 minutes ago, Hawkwin said:

You call them liberal norms on sexuality and gender but I think it might be safe these days to call them simply norms without any additional qualifiers of conservative or liberal.

Yes - that is certainly what liberals would like us all to think, i.e. that their values are now America's values and anyone who thinks differently is an outlier. I assure you that large swaths of this country do not subscribe to that line of thought.

 

1 hour ago, Hawkwin said:

SCOTUS has ruled on gay marriage

We have had a number of family discussions to help our children understand that governmental laws do not define the morals of our family. Most recently this lesson was repeated when talking about legalized marijuana. One of the things that makes us special and different is that our values hold steady in the face of crumbling societal morality. We had hoped that BSA would not succumb to the crumbling. We are aware of the strength required to hold these positions nowadays.

 

1 hour ago, Hawkwin said:

The fact that BSA doesn't make you conform to such should make it a refuge for you.

BSA was perhaps a refuge in the past when they could say "our values are your values - let us join together for promoting common good". Now BSA says "our values have changed and are no longer your values, but we will still allow you to persist in your old ways of thinking and remain in the organization". No, that is not what I would call a refuge. Refuge is found where values are mutually supported and promoted - not merely tolerated. That refuge is now within our family and within our church.

 

1 hour ago, Hawkwin said:

For those with "traditional conservative values," the non-compulsory environment of BSA seems to suggest that there is still a home for you in it

I feel less at home with every new decision from BSA National. To be completely honest, this alienation and disillusionment has caught me quite by surprise. I have had to hide it from other Scouting families and even from my own son. He is an amazing Scout with 50+ merit badges and is just now finishing his Eagle Scout Service Project. Out of love for my son and obligation to our troop, I will serve out my tenure as Scoutmaster and then refocus my efforts elsewhere. I say that with tremendous sadness.

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