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LDS religious emblems program

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The CoJCoLDS chose to cut its ties with the BSA in an absolute and very public manner.  I certainly disappointed me, but every faith has its right to offer programs if it choosing, and we are no longer an approved part of their church program offerings.  Church members played an outsized role at all levels of the BSA and they will be missed.  I wished them well with their effort to establish a substitute program for Scouting. 

I think it is fine that some Church members have chosen to individually continue with the BSA in units whose chartered partners are not related to their church.  It is natural for them to form a group and I wish them the finest.  I looked at the nice web site and did notice the group is using the discontinued term "Boy Scouts" rather than "Scouts BSA" for our 11-17 year old program.  Any explanation for this obsolete usage?   

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Posted (edited)

The old religious emblems program was created by the church, distributed by the church, and directed by the church. Because the church no longer sponsors scouting, it no longer offers those old awards, nor any other awards of that kind - it has its own program now with its own forms of recognition, entirely apart from the awards it used to offer its boys of scouting age. The old awards have been officially retired and their production discontinued. So there was a need to create a new religious awards program for members of the church who opted to continue in scouting, awards that can be worn on the uniform or with business attire just like most other religious awards.

The Vanguard International Scouting Association is a body of volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have united to fill the void left by the church when it ended its religious emblems program, creating these new awards for LDS Scouts so that they can continue to earn a religious emblem particular to their faith if they continue in scouting. This body is not in any way endorsed by the church, but it does apprise Church leadership of all its doings, and it because it directly replaces the LDS-BSA Relations committee, which WAS fully sanctioned and operated by the church, it has been a natural and relatively painless transition. And the awards are, if I may say so myself, lovely. But again - VISA is IN NO WAY operated by, endorsed, or sanctioned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, which will no longer endorse ANY youth or scouting program of any kind, as it now has its own youth development program. 

This group is not a new Scouting organization like 4H or Campfire or any of those groups, it is specifically a body formed by volunteers to create a religious awards program for LDS Scouts and provide a resource for LDS scouters at Jamboree, national committees, and other like events. Just like there are organizations which serve Jewish or Catholic or Protestant scouts and provide awards and fellowship within their religious, this group will provide the same for LDS scouts. Again, this body will oversee a new religious awards program and provide resources and fellowship for LDS scouting - it is not a new scouting program in and of itself. It's the same kind of organization as P.R.A.Y., the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, or the National Jewish Committee on Scouting. But it is not a part or nor will it be directed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church is working very hard to make a clean break from scouting to support its own program; this group is merely run by the many hundreds of LDS scouting volunteers who want to perpetuate a relationship with the BSA and provide awards and resources for those of own own faith.

And finally, as for the continued use of the term Boy Scouts instead of Scouts BSA, well, after 106 years of calling it Boy Scouts, it's understandable for us to be a bit set in our ways, is it not? And is the organization not still called The Boy Scouts of America? Thank goodness. Furthermore, many new LDS units remain exclusively male, since we value the differences between men and women and don't always perceive them as interchangeable, as some modern lines of thought would have us believe. So you'll have to forgive us if some of us are still reluctant to switch to the new, politically correct terminology. I myself still don't approve of girls in the boy scout program, and while I am careful to use the appropriate term Scouts BSA in my role as a unit and district-level commissioner, within our own unit I use the term Boy Scouts freely. I find no problem with this.

Again, I just finished a wonderful two day conference about this organization yesterday, so I am happy to share anything with those of you who have any questions, and if you would like, I can direct you to the recordings from the conference so you can watch for yourself and get a crystal clear understanding of the organization moving forward. It's always fun to share with others!

Edited by The Latin Scot
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Posted (edited)

By the way, VISA was officially recognized by the World Organization of the Scout Movement this month, which is why they are licensed to use the international scouting emblem on their own emblem, and its awards were also recognized by the BSA Religious Relationships Committee this month. So this is legit, folks. 😉

Edited by The Latin Scot

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Thanks, I get that VISA is parallel to groups like the International Catholic Committee on Scouting or the International FOrum of Jewish Scouts, which regulate the religious emblems for Scouts of their faith. It just seemed like LDS would allow the new organization, more in keeping with how other churches handle it, to continue the same awards. After all, they are awards for scouts of that faith, and it would not seem appropriate to change if their faith hasn't changed. But if that isn't the way it's worked out, i will say this: I like the look of the new ones better! (purely aesthetic). 

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So will there be "LDS" troops and packs registered through the local councils?   They would have to be to earnBSA  ranks etc .  We have some scouts who were in LDS sponsored units who have joined us.  If this is just a way for scouts of the LDS church to earn religious awards where will these scouts find counselors trained in the requirements of these?  Their Bishop?   

i don't think the other religious organization would ever have an organization like what you are setting up but good luck to you. 

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12 hours ago, The Latin Scot said:

The Vanguard International Scouting Association is a body of volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have united to fill the void left by the church when it ended its religious emblems program,

Okay, I am still confused by this...  

I had the impression that the Vanguard Scouts was to be "THE"  official LDS Youth scouting type program. No?   Is it only the Religious Award Oversight Committee?   The LDS  Youth Program is something different ?   As a Scout Chaplain, a member of my faith Scouting Committee,  Assistant District Commish and RoundTabler, who fields questions like this,   I am just trying to understand the new world order here.... 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, SSScout said:

Okay, I am still confused by this...  

I had the impression that the Vanguard Scouts was to be "THE"  official LDS Youth scouting type program. No?   Is it only the Religious Award Oversight Committee?   The LDS  Youth Program is something different ?   As a Scout Chaplain, a member of my faith Scouting Committee,  Assistant District Commish and RoundTabler, who fields questions like this,   I am just trying to understand the new world order here.... 

No, VISA is NOT the new official LDS program. The new LDS program was instituted at the end of last year, and is entirely apart from Scouting of any kind - there will be no intersection between the official LDS program and Scouting. The church proper has nothing to do with VISA nor its new religious awards program.

That said, VISA has been created entirely by volunteers who are both members of the church and continuing members of scouting, and while it is in no was directed by nor affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is designed exclusively to serve LDS scouting families. I strongly recommend reading the following pages from VISA's website:

About VISA: https://www.vanguardscouting.org/about-vanguard/

Mission: https://www.vanguardscouting.org/mission/

Purposes and Objectives: https://www.vanguardscouting.org/purposes-objectives/

Supporting Activities: https://www.vanguardscouting.org/activities-to-support-its-purposes-and-objectives/

If you read these pages carefully you will understand the need for this new organization as well as its role in the future of scouting for LDS units, and of course, I am always happy to help everybody understand as best I can. 

3 hours ago, PACAN said:

So will there be "LDS" troops and packs registered through the local councils?   They would have to be to earnBSA  ranks etc .  We have some scouts who were in LDS sponsored units who have joined us.  If this is just a way for scouts of the LDS church to earn religious awards where will these scouts find counselors trained in the requirements of these?  Their Bishop?   

Yes, LDS Scouts will continue to earn normal BSA ranks and fulfill standard BSA requirements just as they have always done for the past 107 years. Only the requirements for the their new religious emblems awards, along with the awards themselves, will change. All requirements and applications for the awards are online, and should be made available to your unit religious emblems coordinator. Have them follow the link here: https://www.vanguardscouting.org/the-new-religious-emblems-program/

Edited by The Latin Scot
Added more relevant content to respond to further inquiry

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I'm amused that folks find it puzzling that LDS is doing what most of our other leaders of faith traditions do ... empowering its parishioners to do what they do best according to their passions. I'm not heavily invested in my church's youth program (teaching Sunday school doesn't count, that's an investment in The Church -- different concept) because other congregants are better cut-out for the Jr. High youth group dog-and-pony-show. (Yes, folks, there are consequences to having that attitude, and Mrs. Q. and I have had to work hard to rebuild slightly burnt bridges.) The fact of the matter is that most parents find the concept of sending their kids on forced marches into bear country to be slightly unnerving.

So, I do my scouting thing and make it work for the scouts in my congregation. They are all in different troops. Others lean into the church's youth program as they see fit. Telling everyone to get on board with the church's program or go home is the last thing we elders in the congregation would ever do. A lot of folks on this forum were perplexed with LDS scouters because that's precisely what many of their bishops were trying to do in calling them to lead a program they didn't quite know how to invest in.

I'm looking forward to VISA because, going forward, when we put LDS scouts and scouters beside scouters from other faiths, we'll respect them for the balance they are making between scouting and their church's youth program (just like many of us religious types do). And we will be able to have more fun with them at our campfires, in our service projects, and at our MB pow-wows ... just like I did when I was a scout.

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Dear Latin Scot: 

Will a female in a all-girl Scouts BSA Troop or all-girl Den be able to earn its awards?   

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Posted (edited)

Yes, girls in Scouting will be able to earn the new awards. The wording is specifically written to include young women activities as options for completing the requirements. 

Edited by The Latin Scot

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Great.  We have that circumstance in some of our local all-girl Scouts BSA Troops.  The new web site apparently carries-over some "legacy" language from the old relationships web site which implies that all Packs and Troop are all-male.  Ambiguity that will surely get ironed-out.

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On 5/17/2020 at 1:06 PM, Protoclete said:

Maybe I missed something, but why would there be a new religious emblem program? The LDS has an established emblems program, that should really just continue, no? Even if the internal organization responsible for scouting has changed. 

It's a reasonable question, and I'm inclined to argue that an LDS Scout who completes the prior requirements as written is still eligible to obtain and wear a religious knot and count it toward rank where applicable (that is, for Cub Scouts, not Scouts BSA). But the LDS emblems program was a footnote/annotation in the larger LDS youth progression programs, such as Faith in God for Boys, starting with:

Quote

If you are a Cub Scout, you can also earn the Scouting Religious Square Knot patch. To do this, complete all the activities with the

knot icon

next to them.

So there are some potential problems with keeping it as the only way for LDS youth to earn a Religious Emblem:

  1. The old program was gender-specific. There was no corresponding footnote in the Faith in God for Girls booklet.
  2. I gave a link to the requirements above, and my family has a paper copy of the booklet somewhere, but eventually those requirements will be harder to find.
  3. The new youth programs are a complete overhaul, with a lot less emphasis on specific "requirements", so there's no obvious direct correspondence between the old square-knot-tagged requirements and anything in the new program.
  • Upvote 2

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