LDS Church Response: BSA Voting Members Approve Proposal Amidst Controversy

Within minutes of The Boy Scouts of America releasing the victorious news that voting members have made history with the passing of their controversial proposal, which will allow openly gay youth to participate in the scouting program, effective Jan 1, 2014, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the Mormon Newsroom, promptly released an official statement of support for the the policy vote; clarifying how the moral standards of the Church will be maintained. 










(excerpt) 
The Church’s long-established policy for participation in activities is stated in the basic instructional handbook used by lay leaders of the Church: “young men … who agree to abide by Church standards” are “welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 8.17.3). This policy applies to Church-sponsored Scout units. Sexual orientation has not previously been—and is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest. 
These standards are outlined in the booklet For the Strength of Youth and include abstinence from sexual relationships. We remain firmly committed to upholding these standards and to protecting and strengthening boys and young men. 
See complete Newsroom release

This statement should not only make it clear to any media who are interested in knowing how the LDS Church will address the new BSA policy, but also be comforting to many members who have been concerned about how the Church would uphold standards of morality while at the same time allow openly gay youth to participate in the scouting program; which to my surprise, after writing this post: Boy Scouts of America Propose Brilliant Plan: Upset Pretty Much Everyone -- were more than a few. In fact, my referring to the proposal as brilliant went so far as to elicit a friend to message me and ask if I was smoking crack? And yes, that actually happened. 


Not to minimize, but I realize that such a response was likely of the knee- jerk type, as were many of the first responses, and of those, many I'm sure have since had the time to reconsider the overall issue and perhaps, by now, or in the near future, will come to feel differently. I think that the Church news release (brilliant), that promptly followed, giving BSA the thumbs-up, so to speak, definitely helped turn the tide toward helping members, and others, to see the positives of the proposal. From what we've witnessed today, I think it's probably fair to say, that the little tip of the hat helped pave the way for the many positive responses that I've seen in today's announcement when the proposal passed; a much different response. I suppose we'll never know for sure, but I don't suppose it hurt any.

In discussing this issue with some, critical of the proposal, there seems to be a single, major frustration in the BSA proposal process: a seeming refusal to acknowledge the overall homosexual agenda involved, by both the LDS Church and BSA. I bring this up because it has been brought up in conversations I've had a few times, and frankly I think it's both an important and positive point; and one that I feel is intentional on the part of both parties. And, because I think it is answered easily in today's BSA statement:

(excerpt)
"The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue. As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter. 
"While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting. Going forward, our Scouting family will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth in order to help them grow into good, strong citizens. America's youth need Scouting, and by focusing on the goals that unite us, we can continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve."

Read entire BSA statement

And in the case of the LDS Church on this matter: this is a BSA decision on how they will decide policy on homosexuality within their organization.  Also, it is my opinion that it was never necessary for the Church to make any statement about its policy on homosexuality, as it is already clearly defined, and anyone who is interested in knowing the position of the Church can easily visit the Mormon Newsroom, or the new website mormonsandgays.org for updated information. And in fact, the same standards found online are also the same emphasized in the sources cited in the LDS Church BSA official response.


Speaking to the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America, at a breakfast prior to the controversial vote later in the day, Gary E. Stevenson, presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a powerful address to a crowd of around 1,500, wherein he emphasized the foundation upon which BSA began and solidified the necessity that duty to God is where it must remain.

"We live at a time when there is great need for youth to look outward, focusing less on themselves and more on others. This is a time to reinforce and defend duty to God. That is the message of Scouting. It always has been, and ever should it be."

As I continue to hear the various responses to the BSA vote, this time around there are no surprises. Pretty much the lines were drawn when BSA presented the proposal initially and passionate folks drew swords in defense of what they felt they needed to defend, and still do, and are; even feeling that those who support the vote have been deceived and have bought into a lie all in the name of  'the children'.

It’s an odd feeling to be a Christian and find yourself standing as you feel Jesus Christ would if He were here, even knowing solidly that He would no way turn away a young gay boy from participating in the scouting program; especially if he said he would keep your commandments. It’s that simple. 

And that is how truth cuts through all the agendas so easily. It’s that clean. It’s that quiet. It’s that… yes, simple.


tDMg
Kathryn Skaggs

Bishop Gary E. Stevenson Boy Scouts of America National Annual Meeting Keynote Speech


Photo: Wikipedia Norman Rockwell

29 comments:

  1. Well, they got it 100% correct. No sense in denying a boy admission for being anything as long as there's no acting on it. Same goes for the straight scouts. You can be attracted to women all you want, but you're violating your oath if you take the plunge before marriage.

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  2. Given that logic, then why don't we allow YM / YW camp outs. How about we let them sleep in the same tents as long as they swear to the Bishop they won't do anything? I am sure nothing will happen honest!

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    1. Clearly you were the type of youth NOT to be trusted.

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    2. That's a pretty dismissive response to a serious concern Mikey has. I don't see this as anything but a move forward in the homo agenda. I just read an article on HuffPo that outlined the three G's in the homo agenda for the Scouts. Girls, Gays and the Godless. One down...

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    3. Really, Kathryn? That response made you loose credibility to me.

      Mikey's concern is my own. Where do we have gay scouts sleep? With other boys? With other gay scouts? Do they go to girls camp? Is it fair to make them sleep in their own tent? Things were much simpler before this big change. My son isn't going to sleep in a tent with an openly gay boy, not because I am a homophobe, but because I simply don't think it is appropriate. If scouting didn't involve overnight campouts, I wouldn't hesitate to support this change.

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    4. Tamsyn,

      I appreciate you concern, but scouts in our troop choose to either share a tent or sleep alone. There is nothing special, expected or otherwise. As leaders, we try to monitor and intervene with behavior that is "inappropriate" whether it is trash-talk, potty-talk, sexual talk or blowing-up-something talk. The best way to accomplish this is for meaningful activities to fill up the time. Leaders and parents need to spend our time setting examples and teaching all the good things we can be doing to become more like Christ rather than itemizing everything that boys shouldn't be doing. It is hard to not look at the elephant in the corner when that is all everyone is talking about.

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  3. If a boy is "openly gay," what makes you believe there will be no "acting upon it?" When a man is a leader of the pack, he is still NOT permitted to lead if he is "openly gay." I submit that the "don't ask, don't tell" notion will be the norm. The principle of empathy & true brotherly love should reign supreme.

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    1. Yes, that is what will be. Love speaks louder than ugliness.

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    2. What's is the difference if one is openly 'gay' or openly 'hetero' and who wants to "act upon it" other than potential opportunity to act being somewhat more opportune being your concern in a BSA environment? For instance, what is the percentage of "openly gay scouts" who want to "act upon it" going to be in the average ward scout troop for the potential other "openly gay scout" who wants to "act upon it" to then prey on... pray tell?

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  4. I was watching this with intrest today. I love what the church newsroom said. I support what the church has said.

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    1. Yes, I'm pleased with today's outcome as well.

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  5. reading this I support the Churches Position, My one concern is with openly gay scout LEADERS, can the BSA force the Church to have openly gay scout leaders now that its their national policy to cave to political and financial pressure? (the bsa, not the Church) the GLBT groups tend to harass and sue in increments. now the camels nose is under the tent, will they try to dictate and withhold troop charters because the Church issues callings to be Scout leaders and you have to be morally straight, no pun intended. if your lving the Homosexual Lifestyle you aren't living the law of Chastity. you won't get a calling to be a scout leader or scout master.

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    1. No, Terry. The BSA can't force the LDS Church to do anything it doesn't want to do. However, I think it's important to read the Church statement and understand that the BSA policy that they just passed is clearly in line with where the Church has already been... meaning, this is already Church policy in how they uphold moral standards whether individuals are homosexual or heterosexual.

      The Church does not withhold any blessing or calling from its members, gay or straight, right? For instance, if BSA did, which they won't because they've already won in court, decide to allow openly gay scout leaders, they would still maintain their moral standards, just like they do for the youth, right? Perfect! That works for us, too, just like it does for our youth! Problem is, that's not going to happen in BSA because outside of the Church gay adults generally don't remain chaste.

      I do hope that in the future our faithful, gay members can be scout leaders. Remember, that within the Church there are many faithful, gay and lesbian Mormons who do not engage in a homosexual 'lifestyle' but who are 'openly gay' and need to be distinguished from adults outside of the Church who are "opening gay" and do engage in homosexual behavior. I realize that this is somewhat confusing.

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    2. Terry,

      If the BSA, or the legal environment gets abusive, the Church has an alternative program that they debuted a few years ago.

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  6. I agree with the church's stand on it and in fact, this afternoon before I'd been online to see any of this, I'd been texting with my best friend about this and told her my feeling was that I wouldn't want to turn a way a child when being in scouts could benefit him greatly. I was also thinking about how Jesus wouldn't do that to a child either. Then later I came online and saw the decision and the church's support, and it felt wonderful that my own thoughts ended up matching perfectly.

    That said, I also happen to be FB friends with a couple of gay men who I went to high school with and have seen theirs & their friends' reactions to this, and of course, they aren't satisfied. I'll share a couple of things they are thinking, just to help get into their heads a bit how they view this:

    "I'm still ranting about this Boy Scouts travesty. Even some of our own organizations are calling this a "major victory for gay youth." HOW???? What kind of positive message is it to say to a 16 or 17 year old scout, "We'll tolerate you now but don't get any ideas. The instant you're 18, you're out." That's a horrible message. Are we so sick from our own oppression that we'll take crumbs and can't even see the forest for the trees on this? Discrimination is discrimination! If an abuser loves his child today but beats him tomorrow, is that acceptable? No!"

    and

    "It is a ridiculous message for gay youth, it is a pathetic one for lgbt parents. "Sorry guys, I can't participate with you because the organization doesn't trust me around other kids." "Mind what I say even though the Boy Scout Troup you belong to thinks I am morally deficient."

    I don't personally know the people who said those things, they're just friends of my old friends. But I thought it was interesting to share where their thoughts are on this.

    I was just grateful to see how my own thoughts ended up being in the same realm as the church's. :)

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  7. Beautifully written, Kathryn. I am with the Church which means, in reality, I am with the Lord through His Prophets, Seers and Revelators on this issue. I know they will continue to find a way forward with compassion and maintaining our Heavenly Father's moral standards and commandments--which are unchanging.

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  8. I think it is possible for the church to keep things as they were in the scout troops. I have often thought that the temple recommend interview process has kept the church safe from the gay lobby and will continue to do so for some time. It would be hard to accuse a group of "sexual discrimination" when that group denies all people, who do not meet a certain set of high standards, unworthy for full participation. The church sets high standards for everyone, including paying 10% of their income. There are a lot of reasons,"sexual orientation" not being one of them, that keep everyone from participating fully in the LDS church and LDS scout troops.

    I do not think the Boy Scouts will have the same ease in keeping their avowed standard of "morally straight". I am not at all sure they have been honorable in that for many years. It seems very possible that divorced parents with live-in sexual partners have been leaders. I know sexually active boys have become Eagle Scouts.Once an organization opens themselves to allowing a lesser standard of morality, it is only a matter of time before the whole idea of "morally straight" loses.

    GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro has avowed: "Today's vote is a significant victory for gay youth across the nation and a clear indication that the Boy Scouts' ban on gay adult leaders will also inevitably end. We’ll continue urging corporate donors and public officials to withhold their support until the leadership issue is resolved.” I do not think that GLAAD's intention is that openly gay boys and men will remain celibate in order to meet the Boy Scout standards of "Morally Straight".

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  9. It looks too much like the Scouts caved in to political correctness, which merely encourages more political correctness. If you think the gay rights lobby will stop here, you're sadly mistaken.

    I'm also disappointed that the LDS leadership is breaking ranks with our Baptist and Assemblies of God brethren and sisters. However, this is where the test of faith comes into play. I intend to exercise faith that the LDS leadership is acting in accordance with the wishes of the Lord, not because they are inerrant, but because they have been ordained and set apart for their positions. Sustaining the brethren means allowing them room to exercise the Lord's will on behalf of the entire church and exercising faith that they are indeed enjoying the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Remember, Abraham had an even more severe test of faith -- he was asked to offer his son Isaac up as a sacrifice. Abraham obeyed, and the decision actually turned out rather well for him and Isaac. We have enough anklebiters and naysayers in the Bloggernacle -- I don't intend to become another naysayer.

    Thanks for continuing to be such an articulate and positive spokeswoman for our Church and for traditional cultural values.

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    1. I had a similar thought process when I saw the general catholic/baptist response to the initial church statement. With faith in the leaders, I have settled into the idea and look forward to seeing where this will take us.

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  10. Will troops outside the LDS faith enforce the chastity portion of the BSA statement? If some of them don't, will that pose a problem?

    It seems to me like the policy will work better for LDS troops than other troops.

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    1. That's a very good question, Jason. I honestly don't have the answer.

      I can only imagine though, that where people care and take the policy serious, like the LDS Church will,it will be enforced. In the same vein, there will likely be troops that don't take it serious, and sadly youth will not benefit from BSA intended standards of morality that are part of the total program. However, I'm sure enforcing BSA's moral code has always been a problem, as it is impossible to micro-manage something like this and must be motivated on a local level.

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    2. I suspect troops that don't enforce the moral code for neither heterosexual or homosexual activity will lead the push for openly gay adults in a few years.

      Which is sad because the policy now is so so in line with the LDS Church, but outside the church may ultimately be a slippery slope to the loss of action/attraction distinction and the LDS Church's withdrawal because of that.

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    3. Because if one accepts homosexual actions, the adult/youth distinction is much harder to justify.

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    4. I suspect you're right, only in the case of the same that don't support the new policy would likely be the same ones to push for openly gay leaders to be allowed into the BSA program. However, BSA has already been that round in the Supreme courts and won their right to determine who would be eligible to participate in BSA in 2000. So, they have a pretty strong foundation to maintain their position going forward.

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    5. Definitely, unless a conservative justice retires at a bad moment. I'm more worried about internal erosion.

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  11. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/05/30/2526514/california-senate-votes-to-revoke.html#storylink=cpy

    I wonder if this will not be helpful and hasten the BSA reconsidering.

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    1. Dastardly. I don't imagine BSA allow to be the final word.

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