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The LDS Church split from Boy Scouts of America years ago

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On Tuesday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the LDS Church or the Mormon Church) announced that it will officially part ways with its scouting affiliates at the end of next year, replacing all scouting programs with an all-new youth initiative. This comes after years of speculation and growing controversy over the integrity of the Boy Scouts of America organization.

As a lifelong Mormon and an Eagle Scout of ten years (one of five Eagles in my family), I’m thrilled by this decision.

That said, since there has been no shortage of editorials arguing one way or another concerning recent BSA policy amendments, I feel no need to rehash those here. Instead, I’d like to focus on the autonomy of the LDS Church and the advantage of customizing its youth programs to align more neatly with its own developmental goals.

In fact, the LDS Church has been tailoring BSA policies to fit Church standards for many years. One might even say that the Church split from the Boy Scouts of America years ago.

When BSA announced the possible inclusion of girls last fall, the LDS Church insisted that it would not allow girls into its scout troops (the LDS Church already offers multiple youth programs exclusively designed for young women and girls).

When BSA decided that gay leaders would be fully accepted and permitted to chaperone campouts with young Boy Scouts, the LDS Church responded that it would continue its practice of requiring moral worthiness in determining service assignments and that no accommodations would be made in compliance with this new policy.

I’ve heard many parents express concern over the political indoctrination of the Boy Scouts with dubious global warming fear mongering. However, I received my Environmental Science merit badge just two years after Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth won the Oscar for Best Documentary, and there was no inkling of climate alarmism whatsoever in my tutelage.

Instead, I was taught valuable skills and spiritual lessons by the same youth leaders who taught me in Sunday School. Our campouts included prayers, hymns, and gospel discussions, in addition to the more typical and adventurous hiking, snorkeling, cycling, first aid, spearfishing, playacting, cooking, auto repairs, and, of course, knot tying. Every life skill had a life lesson applied to it. Every exercise fostered growth, both physical and spiritual.

This sounds like a totally separate unit from the Boy Scouts of even ten years ago, and that’s precisely the point. How much longer would the BSA-LDS partnership have lasted anyway with as many policy rejections and customized teaching methods as the LDS Church presented? If not for the official secession, the two groups would’ve become foreign entities de facto in probably the same amount of time. This move simply provides closure.

There’s nothing wrong with secular groups designed to build the best in our youth — I learned plenty of vital lessons playing high school football, for instance. But for a church, any youth program it sponsors is most logically and thoroughly maximized if the church remains in total control of its curriculum. Churches have the benefit of foundational constancy that BSA, an organization prone to any wind of political correctness, does not.

For this reason, the LDS Church — and other religious youth groups — will continue to prosper, independent of private affiliates. The only ones who stand to suffer are the Boy Scouts of America, who are about to lose almost 20% of their current membership and one of their biggest national sponsors. And if I know anything about the Left, it’s that no amount of concessions is good enough for them — if you falter once you’ve started down that road, they will not hesitate to eat one of their own.

So good luck, Boy Scouts. I hope you’re prepared for what comes next.


Richie Angel is a Co-Editor in Chief of The New Guards. Follow him and The New Guards on Twitter, and check out The New Guards on Facebook.

Richie Angel is a Co-Editor in Chief of The New Guards, Co-Host of The New Guards Podcast, lifelong fan of the Anaheim Ducks, and proud Hufflepuff. He graduated Magna Cum Laude in English from Brigham Young University in 2017. One day later, his wife gave birth to a beautiful daughter. Richie is a constitutional conservative and doesn't see any compassion in violating other people's rights.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. John Pack Lambert

    May 14, 2018 at 12:52 am

    I have to wonder how much the writer knows of non-LDS scouting. I went to a boy scout camp where they prayed before meals but told us not to close in the name of Jesus Christ, evidently because we had to bow to Jewish Christophobia.

    Boy Scouts not only requires all members to affirm belief in God but emphasizes that one cannot fully develop without recognizing a higher power. This is true of many non-religious organizations including AA and many simular ones. However it is why the FFRF and fellow Athiest travelers are attacking boy scouts. Evidently private organizations no longer have a right to their own standards.

    Most boy scout troops are sponsored by a Church. I don’t know enough to gage the level of religious expression involed. Plus the Southern Baptists, Assemblies og God and Seventh Day Adventists have all already left BSA and formed their own scout like organizations. None of these Churches were ever as involved as the LDS in scouting so their departures were less noticed. Southern Baptists at l east are also organized such that some congregations may have rem ained despite the departure. There is also Trail Life USA run by Evangelical Christians. Evangelical Christianity is a poorly defined term for thousands of Churches, many of which are fully independent congregations, so the move away from scouting there is even more complex.

    I tried for years after the 2015 or maybe even 2013 changes ro use google news track troops leaving scouting. What I have l earned is that even though many troops number over 50 boys and Mormon troops are far smaller than normal troops, the ending of most troops does not make even local headlines.

    My general indication is that most non-LDS troops will camp on Sundays, even when sponsored by a Church.

    The holding all leaders to Church moeal standpoints was something that the BSA said each chartering organization could do. I doubt Catholic parishes will allow openly practicing homosexual leaders, while on the other hand an LDS bishop calling a scout master who has told him he deals with sane-gender attraction, but either has never acted on it or has fully repented of past sins that involved breaking the law of chastity with makes would not violate any rule I know of. If the sins had involved sex with minors after the man was an adult than he would be excluded, but a categorical exclusion of all with sane gender attraction no.

    One problem with discussions of homosexuality is too often peiple talk arounx each other. LGBT activists often do not really seem to accept the B exists, acting as if they really are L and G in denial. There is some percentage of the population for example who are people with their primary attraction to thd same sex who are married to the opposite sex in a loving functional relationship.

    Mormon, Catholic and some other Churches have policies clearly focused on actions. Mormon leaders do not exclude based solely on identity. True, I am pretty sure a man who dates other men, even if he does not break the kaw of chastity would be given a scout calling, but if he dated women as an unmarried m an and did the same acts it would be acceptable. So the rules on allowed beh avior are not the same, and I think we should be bold in saying this. If a married scout 11-year old scout leader had a,lunch with the married to someone else first counselor in the primary presidency and they kissed on the lups as they left the restaurant I think a bishop on kearning such would release them and more deeply probe their marital fidelity. If both were unmarried the bishop might suggest they make sure dating and church callings be a bit seperated, or maybe encourage them to step up their relationship even more. The law of chastity requires some things that nean that rules of action are not always uniform.

  2. John Pack Lambert

    May 14, 2018 at 1:26 am

    As I think even mord on this I begin to think LDS/non-LDS scouting may be a false diachotomy.

    BSA runs a program that openly admits and works with lots of sponsors who run things there own way.

    About 8 years ago I read about a Mormon family in the southern US who for unclear reasons decided to enroll his boys in the local Evangelical Christian (I want to say nega-Church) troop instead of the local ward one. The Dad was an eagle and volunteered as an assistant scoutmaster. In thd process he had to write on his belief in Christ as Savior. I believe he was also a returned missionary and from what I gathered an active member of his ward and wrote a very eloquent answer to this question. The Church leaders realized he was a Mormon though and so turned him down as a scout. Not all Church sponsored troops would do the same though.

    There are many unique issues that seperate LDS troops from a large portion of non-LDS troops. I can only vouch that these are sepwrating features from many but not neccesarily all.

    1. Mormon troops the dues are paid by the Church, for every baptized boy, even those who last came to Church when they were baptized and now are 17. My understanding is that in non-LDS troops the damilues pay these dues. They are $33 to the national organization. Or at least going above troop level. They were $24 until very recently. There may be some troops/sponsoring orgs that offer scholarships to needy families, but I have no idea how this works. The Church has paid dues for boys since 1991, although some of these fees were included in ward budgets at one point.

    2. The LDS Church covers almost all scout costs through the ward budget. Most non-DS troops the troop foots the bill. This means that triops in more affluent areas in gen eral go to Jamborees etc more. This is a circa 1990 outgrowth in the move to centrally allotted budgets by th e Church. I remember in the early 1990s the scout leaders from the affluent ward in my stake being disgruntled at their boys not going to the national Hamboree. In my ward we never had such a hope so thived on the new budget. This may nean the roots of the LDS/BSA break were sown in the Zion moving centralized budget that made the Church more equal.

    3. The Church had major restrictions on fundraising, BSA had none. How much this reflects that Fred Karger is just the last in a long line of people who seek to catch the Church in not abiding by every law and make it pay huge taces, and how much this is driven by not being of this world I cant say. Almost everyone associates Girl Scouts with selling cookies. Boy Scouts are in some minds almost as connected with selling popcorn. The Church allows one annual fundraiser for scouting but it cannot involve the sale of commercial products. So popcorn sales are out. Even at that when I was in the ward where the bishopsand wife was the district scout commissioner I found their spaghetti dinner scouting fundraiser highly offensive. The only deserts were auctioned off an d us poor peons who work for schools or lived in the third of the ward south of eight mile got none.

    4. 11-year old scouts. In most other organizations all scouts starting at 11 are in one troop. Also the Church limits 11-year-old scouts to 3 campouts a year, which means the Church constantky pushes for a revision of 1st class requirements. They always win an exception, but it is a perpetual fight.

    5. The Churches methods of transitioning all out of scouting to varsity on their 14th birthday as far as I can tell was not the nornal BSA way. Most BSA troops had some boys who stayed through 17, some who went to Varsity or Explorers, and most boys just quit scouting totally after age 14 or so.

    6. Mormon refusal to allow scouts before age 8. Although how common Tiger cubs actually were I ca nt say.

    7. No camping for cubs.

    8. No activities on Monday night.

    9. No candles in church buildings. This unlikethe some other policies was fully driven by the Church being self insured. I cant say if other charter org anizations had this policy.

    10. The Mormon methods of calling and rotating callings is different thaf how most other organizations got scout leaders. In most other xases they volunteered, and often served for decades. On the other hand this in some cases means when a scout master does step down th e troop folds.

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