Mormon 100 Year Partnership with BSA that Almost Wasn't


I could not have been convinced, even a year ago, under any circumstances imaginable, that I would have an interest in reporting on anything having to do with Mormons and BSA. But alas, here I am, finally converted to the value and dignity of this program adopted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 100 years ago - the first to do so!

That conversion, if you will, began only months ago, when I felt compelled, on principle alone, to take on what I feel is the biggest controversy having to do with the Church, this year, and that many thought would threaten the relationship with BSA. I felt completely different and decided to say so, and why, in this post.

'A Century of Honor', presented in the LDS Conference Center, was a gala event to celebrate the 100-year-old, strong, partnership between the Boy Scouts of America and the LDS Church - made perhaps even more significant (from my perspective), after the decision of BSA to allow openly gay boys to fully participate in the scouting program.  Prior to that vote, the LDS Church made a public statement that rocked the Christian world - and left many of its own members confused.

Right beside BSA, in full support, and in the face of tremendous backlash, the LDS Church stood boldly, and issued a statement following that decision. Not surprising, a good amount of that opposition came from those of Christian faith, including Mormons on all sides of the aisle - some threatening to withdraw their boys from BSA, feeling that the wrong decision had been decided by leaders of the Church. And perhaps even more surprising, was the positive feedback from many within, and who support, the LGBT community who although they would like to see more inclusion of gays, willingly gave the thumbs-up to both organizations.


What ensued during and since the initial controversy has been a strengthening of this partnership by taking important opportunities to make clarifications as to the purpose of the BSA program, in relation to the purpose of the LDS Church.

Throughout this journey, although I have personally never seen the program fully activated, as described, it became crystal clear why it is of great value to the work of the Lord, when implemented by the Spirit. The bottom line for me, personally, was the underlying message that both testify of, in word and deed: the love of Jesus Christ, who's arms stand ready to receive all of His children, willing to respect His commandments, and is the foundation that drives both programs.

Though I am now a convert to the 'purpose' of the scouting arm of the Church, I am still in favor of leaving the 'woodsy' operations to the many good parents and enthusiastic leaders of Boy Scouts! ( I wonder if my bishop will read this post?)

A Century of Honor, was a production the quality of which you might expect to see in a PBS special. It was well produced and directed, made obvious throughout the presentation and from the moment it began, as two Boy Scouts actually zip-lined from the back of the Conference Center onto the stage - one holding the American flag, the other, the Boy Scouts of America flag. Upon landing, all in attendance were standing, and together recited the Pledge of Allegiance that witnessed their unity in God.

That was a powerful moment, that I felt while I watched the broadcast, online. I can only imagine what it felt like to stand unified with that powerful army of Christ, who were gathered to stand for truth and righteousness.




Those thoughts, moved me to know that BSA and the LDS Church have a friendship worth forging for the next 100 years!

Watch this short video for a brief overview of the celebration:

Mormon Newsroom Video:

Boy Scouts and Church Celebrate a Century of Scouting



The Mormon Newsroom has an excellent article covering the celebration, A Century of Honor, including beautiful photographs and helpful links posted on it

 LDS.org: Watch A Century of Honor broadcast, online.

tDMg

Kathryn Skaggs

Hashtag when sharing this story:  #scouts100

LDS Church News and Events: “A Century of Honor” Chronicles Scouting in the Church

Deseret News:  LDS Church, Boy Scouts celebrate 'A Century of Honor'

Photos: Mormon Newsroom © 2013 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

"Thomas S. Monson received the Boy Scouts of America award the Honor Medal by BSA's national leaders (left to right) Tico Perez, national commissioner; Wayne Perry, BSA president; and Wayne Brock, national chief Scout executive. Also pictured are President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, counselors in the Church's First Presidency. The Honor Medal is awarded to a youth member or adult leader who has demonstrated unusual heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save life at considerable risk to self. President Monson performed that act of bravery as a young Scout."

"Two Boy Scouts rappelled from the Conference Center rafters with the American and Scout flags in a unique flag ceremony as the 100-plus Cub Scout choir sang the national anthem and the audience repeated the Pledge of Allegiance"

4 comments:

  1. The decision by church leaders took me aback for a moment or two, but then, being the obedient sister saint that I am, I decided that since I trust the Prophet in everything else I can trust him in this too. He is the "SEER" and the watchman on the tower so his view is wider than mine. We have four boys and have always supported scouting; two of our boys are Eagles and the younger two are almost there. Scouting done correctly is fabulous! Boys need challenges and competition and exploration of the natural world. They also need guidance to feel the spirit and learn truth. I'm so thankful for a prophet to lead and guide us in the latter-days.

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    1. I know it did for a lot of members. But like you, after careful consideration, many have been able to get behind the decision, fully. It's been a wonderful thing to see so many brought to a unity on this matter. And isn't that ultimately what a prophet should do? I think so. :)

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  2. The decision makes sense, considering the Church's distinction between experiencing same-sex attraction and acting on them. Being familiar with that distinction and its nuances, I was fully able to grasp how the Church could make the decision and still be true to its values. Most of the challenge existed in the muddy term "openly gay," which to many people connoted practices rather than just attractions. I think the Church interpreted it to mean that those who were same-sex attracted — and perhaps even publicly open about that — could still participate so long as they lived by the rules and did not engage in any same-sex behavior (including harassment of other boys). That makes sense.

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    1. From what I've experienced in having many conversations, with members, about their concerns, you've hit the nail on the head, Jeffrey. And which is the same basis, upon which I, too, felt confident in how this would ultimately play out.

      The description "openly gay", in the context of Mormon culture, is generally considered to be one who engages in homosexual activity, and disregards the law of chastity. In fact, we are only now beginning to embrace the idea of a 'faithful', "openly gay" Mormon among us - as one who is equally worthy of all the blessings of the gospel (all of them), by submitting to the same qualifications/standards as any other member. This is a huge shift for many members of the Church to understand and reconcile.

      However, there is still an underlying tone, which is, that some members are still quite apprehensive about how the inevitable dynamics this presents, will be managed in the implementation of the new policy, within the LDS Church.

      In other words, there is still much reservation on the part of some members, which will likely require time before they see the wisdom in this continued partnership. And perhaps the necessary 'time' that is required, will be based on the ability to embrace a deeper understanding of the gospel plan, and how we as members must rise in order to enable its message to be heard more broadly.

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