Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Trouble Brews in a Long-Term Relationship

The Boy Scouts of America has decided to allow openly gay men to serve as leaders within its organization.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is "deeply troubled" and has announced that it needs to take some time apart to clear its head and decide if their relationship has a future or not.  According to President Newsroom:
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.
Sigh...okay, a few jumbled thoughts:

1.  So much for trying to soften your approach to gays, guys.  I thought giving members permission to support gay marriage on social media and holding a press conference condemning housing discrimination based on sexual orientation was supposed to be preparing for the inevitable so that when homosexuality no longer has a social stigma you can say you always loved the gays.  Throwing a tantrum when the BSA allows gay leaders but still gives religious troops the right to choose their own leaders as they see fit is not going to assist you in creating the future illusion that you were always on the right side of history.

2.  Also, way to whine about the timing of the vote.  Sure, there are a lot of LDS Boy Scouts. but the church makes up less than 20% of the BSA rolls.  The vote passed 45-12, so even if the Mormons had been represented according to their numbers, they still wouldn't have gotten their way.  So what's the point in complaining about the timing?  Basically, this is the equivalent of telling your wife that she was never good in bed after she's already explained to you that she doesn't love you anymore.  You're still losing the relationship, only now you look more petulant and the two of you will probably not be able to remain friends.  So good job there.

3.  "The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation."  Is it just me, or does this sound reminiscent of the Church's approach to the priesthood ban?  The church has always welcomed gay scouts but God forbid they should ever want to become leaders!  The church has always welcomed black members but God forbid they should ever want the priesthood!  If a scout grows up and wants to continue with the organization as an adult by providing leadership to the youth, but that leadership is conditional upon the person maintaining a heterosexual persona, can that really count as "welcoming?"  Basically, it means that once the kid hits eighteen, he can no longer participate in scouting because he's gay.  That's not very welcoming.  Although I suppose it is encouraging closeted gay scouts to continue, you know...lying to everybody about who they are.  Which is fantastic, obviously.

4.  I would like to know how, exactly, openly gay Boy Scout leaders are against the church's doctrine.  Because the church's whole deal lately has been "hate the sin, love the sinner" and "it's okay as long as you don't act on it."  So what's the problem with an openly gay leader?  He could be married to a woman with plenty of kids and simply honest with everyone about his struggle with same-sex attraction.  That is completely in accordance with LDS policies and teachings.  So why should this disqualify him from the opportunity to serve in the scouting program?

5.  Once again, guys, as a religious organization, the BSA is still allowing you to choose your leaders according to your own criteria and you can be just as bigoted as you want within your own walls.  So quit yer bitchin'.

6.  I think a few openly gay leaders in the LDS Boy Scout organization would actually be a good thing.  It could give some gay or curious youth a role model.  Maybe having someone openly gay to look up to would help them cope with their confusing, embattled situations.  Maybe this could help prevent a few more suicides.  Not that this is likely to become a reality.  But still, it could do some good.

It looks to me like the church is probably going to attempt to set up its own spiritual version of Boy Scouts, like scouting and the Duty to God program all rolled into one. I think they're hoping their threat is going to change minds, but that also seems unlikely.  Regardless, it will be interesting to watch how the situation plays out.


  1. Great post. I agree with everything you said. Why can't the newsroom ever tell the whole truth and stopping spinning and lying about stuff? They have not always allowed gay boys to participate. That was a recent, reluctant change to policy.

    I'm a big fan of scouting. I've been involved in scouting most of my life and am very proud to be an Eagle scout. Scouting is a big part of many young men's lives in the church, especially in Utah. The fact that the church would even consider ending it is an enormous concern to me. I know that there are many scouting haters in the church that would love to see it go and be replaced by more indoctrination like an expanded Duty to God program.

    The older I get, the more I've come to know that one of the vices of religion is that it gives people the pretext to discriminate, be bigots, and get away with it. This needs to stop in this church and in this country. When will people in the church stop judging and become more loving and accepting? When will they learn that being gay is not a choice? They are born that way, and if they're honest, they are abused and vilified for it. I don't have any gay people in my family, that I know of, but I have friends who are gay, happily married, upstanding citizens. I would have no problem with them being my neighbors and being advisors/leaders to my boys in a scout troop.

    Bishops in the church "call" the scoutmasters and other leadership. They can choose to not call a gay man, so this is truly a non-issue for the church. Because of issues my family has had with church leadership and their teachings and actions, and inaction, in regards to sexual abuse, I have very little respect for any of the leaders of the church as it is. If they choose to dump scouting, that last bit of respect for them will be gone.

    1. Very true. I'd have no problem with gay scoutmasters in any troop, inside or outside of the church. Maybe the more we get, the closer we'll come to accepting different orientations and lifestyles.

      Personally, I hated scouting. But I can see the value in it. I think I'd have easily turned out weirder, more awkward, more socially inept and less well-rounded had I not reluctantly participated in scouts. I think the church is going to produce more weirdos if they drop scouting and try to do their own thing.

    2. Part of the problem with boys hating scouting in the church is because the adults don't run the programs as outlined by BSA. Too often, they mix in religion, Duty to God, combined nights, returned missionary presentations, missionary prep, etc. Too often, campout are used as a way to have the boys in a captive situation to indoctrinate them and force testimony bearing, scripture reading, praying, etc. Too often, boys are stuck going to weekly meetings with kids they normally wouldn't want to hang out with doing activities that aren't fun and have nothing to do with scouting. If boys are involved in the planning, and the BSA program is run properly, the boys may not always get to do everything they want, but they won't hate it. It'll be worth their time to go. In other words, don't make it about church. Make it about having a good time doing really fun activities that the boys plan and want to do. This type of troop could be led well by the right scoutmaster who is a man or a woman, gay or straight.

      If the church does drop scouting, then one positive would be the only boys involved would be those who want to, and the only adults involved would be those who want to and aren't "forced" to do it by accepting a calling from their bishops. On the other hand, then the poor boys will have to do some hokey thing the church makes up to replace it. Which brings to mind the weird little fat kid from the movie UP.

    3. One of the few things I did like about scouting is that it wasn't too churchy. If they come up with their own version, it's bound to be more "spiritual" in nature, less interesting, and less fun.

      You should be a scoutmaster! It sounds like you care a lot about the boys' experiences in the troop, which is way more than I can say about the church.

  2. Great post! If the church does drop the Boy Scouts for their own program, then LDS boys and men who still want to participate in the BSA will probably be discouraged from doing so in the same way Mormon girls are discouraged from being Girl Scouts.

    1. You're probably right. You might not even be able to pass a temple recommend interview if you associate with an organization like BSA that supports things that are apparently not in accordance with church doctrine.