The Boy Scouts of America recently announced that it will no longer bar homosexuals from leadership roles in scouting, although it will also allow local troops to select leaders on their own criteria, effectively allowing religious troops to ban homosexuals as they choose.
In response, the church announced yesterday:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled by today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board. In spite of a request to delay the vote, it was scheduled at a time in July when members of the Church’s governing councils are out of their offices and do not meet. When the leadership of the Church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined. The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation. However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.
As a global organization with members in 170 countries, the Church has long been evaluating the limitations that fully one-half of its youth face where Scouting is not available. Those worldwide needs combined with this vote by the BSA National Executive Board will be carefully reviewed by the leaders of the Church in the weeks ahead.”
This news was interesting for several reasons. First, I was not aware that the church gets an entire month long vacation every July. What is this? Europe?? Several gay church members noted that the statement that gay scouts have always been welcomed is somewhere between wishful thinking and a bald-faced lie.
June 25, 1991: “[A]n official of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Elder Jack H. Goaslind, of the First Quorum of Seventy, president of the church’s Young Men program and a member of the Boy Scouts’ National Executive Board] said Tuesday he would recommend that the church withdraw from the Boy Scouts of America if the church is forced to **register homosexual Scouts** or to register those who will not adhere to “Duty to God” provisions of the Scout Oath and Law.”
Mormon Newsroom, July 27, 2015: “The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation.”
Lastly, it’s rather shocking to hear that women simply don’t count, yet again. BSA has never allowed young women to participate and earn merit badges and awards, and yet they don’t count in this statement’s claim that fully one-half of our youth live where scouting is not available. It’s not available to girls in the places it is available, so given that it’s not available in half the geographical locations where the church is, it’s unavailable to all but about a fourth of the youth–zero of the girls and half of the boys. Claiming it’s not available to half the youth is misogy-math.
Lastly, it seems to be a shift in the church’s decision-making. The church got what it wanted, and is now putting out a statement that sounds like they didn’t get what they wanted. Huh.
Hey, Teacher, Leave Those Kids Alone
Setting all that aside, from all I’ve seen, the responses of church members follows mostly political lines since this is another example of culture wars, not even bothering to mingle with scripture. Conservative friends seem prone to confuse gay men with pedophiles, ignoring the fact that most pedophiles are straight men, often married to women as was Jerry Sandusky in the recent Penn State scandal. Even without this conflation, many church members are still under the impression that being gay is contagious and if the youth are around gay people they will suddenly decide they also want to be gay. Being gay is like parachute pants or bolo ties or mononucleosis, which sounds like a recipe for either the worst church dance ever or the best one. I’m not sure.
One irony is that the church has never had a prohibition on gay leaders before now, provided they are otherwise worthy to hold a calling. And in further irony, it is generally agreed upon that the founder of Boy Scouts, Baden-Powell, was a repressed homosexual.
Enemies of Scouting
Others have been longing for the day the church would split with the BSA for a variety of reasons. It’s expensive, and the incessant fund drives, including at church, have been an irritant for detractors. Some feel that the church should do its own less expensive, more religiously focused version. Those living abroad have sometimes disliked the BSA as a baffling Ameri-centric requirement shoehorned into their local culture while being entirely incongruous.
Let’s see what you think.