I’m interrupting my series on Women in the Book of Mormon to talk about something that makes no sense – the LDS Church’s reaction to the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) policy changes. I wasn’t going to talk about it, but the reaction makes so little sense, it is hard not to.
To begin, here is the announcement from the BSA’s website:
On Monday, July 27, the National Executive Board ratified a resolution that removes the national restriction on openly gay adult leaders and employees. Of those present and voting, 79 percent voted in favor of the resolution. The resolution was recommended for ratification by the Executive Committee earlier this month. The resolution is effective immediately.
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.
Moving forward, we will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth, helping them grow into good, strong citizens. By focusing on the goals that unite us, we are able to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve.
The key thing to recognize here is the following statement: “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.” Or, in other words, no church will be forced to use homosexuals in their BSA organizations.
This really shouldn’t matter to the LDS Church, as if we can have an openly gay man as a part of a bishopric, why not an openly gay man as a scout leader? So, this merely places a stamp of approval on something we may do anyway. Yet the Church’s reaction was very odd indeed:
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.
I am no fan of the BSA or the LDS Church’s use of the program. I fully agree with the idea that it does not fit the worldwide needs of the Church. It is not inspired by God, and has fascist roots that seem suited for conservative members, leaving everyone else out.
To say that the date of the vote as an issue doesn’t make any sense. It was not on Pioneer Day, but rather came three days later. This was a BSA meeting, not a Church one, so there was no reason to tie the two together, as they are not really connected by anything more than man-made policies of convenience. Also, it wasn’t like the Church was wholly unrepresented. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Twelve Apostles, Stephen Owen, the General Young Men’s President, and Rosemary Wixom, the General Primary President, were all there for the vote and they all voted against the new policy.
The bottom line, however, is that the BSA is requiring nothing of the Church and stating that everything should be business as usual for LDS members. This gross overreaction simply makes no sense.
Yes, it is time to break ties with the BSA. However, the organization should be congratulated for ending it’s polices of bigotry. We should not use this as an excuse to leave, as it will only instill more bigotry from conservative Mormons onto homosexuals. We should be a Church of love, not hate and be practical in our needs rather than making excuses in poor taste that have no real relevancy on what we are doing.
This article was edited on July 29, 2015 with new information regarding the presence of LDS leadership at the BSA meeting.
Image: 2007 World Jamboree – Boy Scouts of America, Public Domain.