On the EDge: Scouting will survive

Photo by Darrin Kilmek/DigitalVision/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

OPINION — The bully pulpit flexed its muscles again, this time lashing out at the Boy Scouts of America when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced last week that it was ending its partnership with Scouting and would be completely divorced from the organization by 2020.

It is a severe blow to Scout membership. Until now, young Mormon boys were automatically enrolled in the BSA. They made up nearly 20 percent of the group’s 2.3 million youth members.

Read more: LDS church scraps Boy Scouts for its own gospel-focused youth program

Although they will still be eligible to sign up for Scouting on their own, young Mormons will soon, according to a church announcement, have an LDS youth organization designed to help “all girls and boys, young women and young men, discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills and fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God.”

While this may be satisfying to church officials, I see nothing here about camping, hiking, fishing or any of the other endeavors that appealed to so many young men who were involved with Scouting over the years.

I was, as a child, interested in becoming a Boy Scout. It wasn’t the paramilitary uniforms or regimentation that appealed to me. I liked the idea of going out into the woods, hiking to the perfect spot, pitching a tent, fishing in the nearby stream for dinner and sleeping under the stars, which is what I thought Scouting would be all about.

That never happened, at least in my entry level Cub Scout world, where I questioned how a merit badge in stamp collecting or coin collecting or chess would help me survive in the wilderness or find my way out of the forest after roughing it for a few nights. I was working toward a Bear rank and was fairly disgusted when all I had to show for it was some silver arrows on my shirt for learning some stuff in the Scout book and one-day camp experience that was far too short and much too local.

The Scouting experience is more worldly now, which is why the LDS church has decided to separate itself from the BSA after a series of somewhat progressive decisions from the youth organization.

The split began three years ago when Scouting announced that it would accept gay troop leaders. LDS church officials were “deeply troubled” by the decision, but were soothed when the Boy Scouts assured them that they could appoint troop leaders who satisfied church requirements.

Then, last year, the Boy Scouts announced that they would allow girls to join and, by 2019, become Eagle Scouts.

This was all, of course, too progressive and liberal for the conservative-minded church officials who will now have their own program to administer and support.

I’m not quite sure what, other than religion and a fealty to conservative principles, will be on the agenda for the new church group, but I will guarantee that it will not embrace most of the 12 elements of the Scout Oath, which calls for a young member to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. If you are going to snub a person simply because of sexual orientation or gender identification, I fail to see how you can uphold all of these ideals.

You cannot be trustworthy if you are forced into the shadows and deny who you are because the organization doesn’t like or approve of “your kind.”

You have no loyalty if you choose to deny family members who are part of the LGBTQ culture, as some children are being forced to do.

You are not helpful if you make life more difficult for those who do not fit into some preconceived notion of the so-called mainstream.

It is neither friendly, courteous nor kind to discriminate period.

You are not being obedient if you flaunt the laws of state and nation and deny basic human rights to all.

You cannot have a cheerful countenance if you are harassing another because they have different beliefs.

Bravery and heroism? That means stepping up for all humanity regardless of race, religion or sexual identification or orientation.

Cleanliness has many manifestations, including healthy attitudes and interactions with all people.

And then there is this business about reverence, perhaps the most important aspect of all of this.

Reverence is not simply hauling yourself into your place of worship every Sunday and playing video games or checking text messages or Facebook while the person at the pulpit preaches their particular message of salvation.

Reverence is not a matter of how loudly you sing your hymns, proclaim “Amen!” or how much you tithe. It is about how you treat one another, it’s about what is in your heart and mind, how selfless you are, how willing you are to sacrifice for others. Reverence isn’t the selfish, silly notion that only certain members of a particular club are entitled to the blessings of God, Allah or whichever deity you believe in. It is the understanding that we are all in this together so we should probably do our best to comfort, encourage and support one another and not look for any little reason to hammer somebody psychologically, emotionally or physically for some ill-perceived offense or difference.

Reverence does not allow for noninclusive behavior.

Scouting will do just fine without the LDS memberships.

It may find it a little tough to replace the economic support and to make up for the decline in membership, but it is to be applauded for actually employing some of those basic tenets of Scouting by allowing gay troop leaders and embracing the fact that, well, perhaps there are young ladies who identify as young boys or, believe it or not, that there are some young ladies who would like to go beyond the limits of being a Girl Scout.

I’m not quite sure how the LDS church will deal with all of this as it becomes more and more reluctant to find its place in a greater world where ideals are broader and much more universal.

Perhaps there will be a revelation?

Or, perhaps the church will remain in the grip of a pathological ideology that is alienating it from many members trying to reconcile church values with what they feel in their hearts.

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: edkociela.mx@gmail.com

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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24 Comments

  • Real Life May 15, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    Oh boy, comments ought to be good on this one.

  • Lastdays May 15, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    First of all, the photo is a complete failure of camping or spending time in the woods. Who sets up a tent in the rocks ?
    And I don’t believe the church was “deeply troubled” at all by the gay scout leader announcement. I think they were re-thinking why they were even involved with a 3rd party organization at all. I’ve often wondered that myself. Why give members callings to an organization that has it’s own set of rules, regulations and policies separate from the LDS church ? Many scout leaders hated being involved in this but did it anyway.
    Outside the USA, scouting is just not a big deal. So, the church probably pulled out so that members around the world won’t feel awkward reading about scouting for the young men in manuals and think they should be involved somehow.
    Don’t overthink this decision by the LDS Church, it was probably a very easy one to make (and planned for years) and has nothing to do with the current political atmosphere.

    • PatriotLiberal May 15, 2018 at 11:21 pm

      “Many scout leaders hated being involved in this but did it anyway.”

      If they hated being involved, why did they do it? Doing something you hate is pretty stupid if you ask me.

      • comments May 16, 2018 at 10:54 am

        you must not understand how church “callings” work.

  • No Filter May 15, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    Best article in several weeks, I was beginning to worry you lost your touch. I have nothing else to say except I agree 100% with everything in your article.

  • Snarkles May 15, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    It is ridiculous that everyone has to intrude on everyone else and thinks they have a right to interfere with a gender specific program. It is okay for boys to have boy programs and girls to have girl programs. And if girls want more opportunities, make their own programs better. A guy can’t be a guy anymore. Girls doesn’t want to be a girls anymore. Those few that would like to have no where to go. What a screwy world.

    • PatriotLiberal May 15, 2018 at 11:30 pm

      “A guy can’t be a guy anymore. Girls doesn’t want to be a girls anymore. ”

      You know something Snarkles, you’re absolutely right.

      They want to be people. They want to be able to express themselves and become the people they want to be, not the shell of a person you think they should become.

      • Snarkles May 16, 2018 at 11:54 am

        The world of “it” people instead of male and female. Sigh.

        • RadRabbit May 16, 2018 at 2:05 pm

          lipstick on a pig, its still a pig. Personally can care less what people wanna do with their own lives but don’t expect me to play make believe with you.

  • johncmiller May 15, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Ed looks like a transgender person. Cheer up Ed… or nEdra.

  • ladybugavenger May 15, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    What would the world do without girl scout cookies?

    • Snarkles May 15, 2018 at 7:14 pm

      I guess they will eventually become kid scout cookies.

    • comments May 15, 2018 at 7:16 pm

      The world would be just a little healthier 😉

  • NickDanger May 15, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    “If you are going to snub a person simply because of sexual orientation or gender identification, I fail to see how you can uphold all of these ideals.”

    Pro Tip: It’s not a “snub” if the person does not fit into the category that overrides all other membership requirements – being a boy.

    Scouting will not survive this. Here’s a valid question: If girls are allowed into Boy Scouts, what’s the point of even having a scouting organization in the first place? The activities for which scouting is known – outdoor, team-building, character-building activities – can be much more easily organized by a school. And if membership is open to boys, girls, gays, Satan worshipers, or anyone else whose parents want to pony up $33 a year, there’s no need at all for an organization outside of schools. Schools…are inclusive.

    But I get it. Boys, men, MALES (the heterosexual ones anyway)…are evil. We are all low-down, mouth-breathing, dishonest, thieving, backstabbing, belly-crawling rapists – the lowest of the low. We are to be shunned at all costs, and I mean really, how DARE we try to have our own little organization so we can go camping together and talk about the evil things boys only talk about when there are no homosexuals or girls around!

    Good for society! It’s about time we started teaching our boys that they suck.

    • Redbud May 16, 2018 at 8:48 am

      NickDanger, I agree with you completely! I went through the cub scout and boy scout program, got my Eagle scout award, the whole thing. My parents were deeply involved in scouting. Throughout my entire participation, I would not have wanted the boy scouts to also include girls, transgender, blah, blah, blah. I wanted to go camping, hiking, fishing, shooting, all the fun stuff with the guys. It just would not have been the same if it was any different. I am heterosexual, and while I don’t have a problem with other men who aren’t, I do not want it shoved down my throat, or anyone make me feel guilty or ashamed for my personal beliefs that homosexuality is wrong. I don’t just believe that from a religious standpoint, just mentally and physically, it does not make sense to me. Only a man and a woman can have a child, and the human body was made male and female so that certain parts could “fit together” as designed. A man and a man, and a woman and a woman can’t make a baby together. That being said, that does not mean I have a hatred for homosexuals. They can do what they want in my opinion, and I will always give them as much respect as they give me. Shoving their agenda down my throat is NOT respectful, and at that point, yes I DO have a problem with you. Not because of your orientation, because you are being disrespectful. While I hold my OWN views, I don’t try to shove them down anyone’s throat, and I expect the same as a human being.

  • Who May 15, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    So, what should they change the name to?
    After all, it’s not pc to use the word boy apparently.
    Gotta change the girl scouts name too. Right?

    Now don’t send a bunch of hate mail just because I said girl.

  • Kace45 May 15, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    I think the political decisions by the BSA over the past few years have been a factor in the LDS church’s decision to withdraw from scouting. But honestly, as the parent of three boys — none of whom have had any interest in this dated program — scouting had grown stale. Boys are tired of it, leaders are tired of it, parents are tired of it. The BSA is a bureaucratic juggernaut full of too many meetings and trainings, too many expensive patches, and too many programs and camps that limited the church’s ability to manage and direct its own affairs. Soccer is a great sport and I love when my kids get outside and play, but I don’t need my religion to manage my children’s recreation. I can do that nicely based on their personal abilities and interests. Scouting isn’t for everyone, and I’m happy to see it go. For those who still want to be involved, they can do so on a community level, just like soccer or any other sport or activity. I feel bad we have to wait until 2020 to finally move on. A more well-rounded, spiritually focused program directed by the church is a welcome change.

  • comments May 15, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Just can’t find anything to get upset about with this one. I dislike LDS inc. and I also dislike BSA. Probably will not be supporting either corporations anytime soon (ever). Both just two money grubbing opportunistic corporations. If they want to let in “LGBTQ+” whatever and girls it means nothing to me. I have no stake in it. I wish BSA wasn’t so greedy, corrupt, and mismanaged, but oh well I guess.

  • commonsense May 15, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    Scouting may survive but not as young men knew it. The unisex world of liberals denies the most fundamental and natural facts about the sexual differences necessary to sustain the species. Pandering to aberrant behavior for political reasons helps no one. It’s really okay to have gender specific programs.

    When basic truths are berated in the name of identity politics, they are still true. Boys need to be trained to be men. When the world you live in sees truth as heresy, you need to look closely at your tribe.

    • comments May 15, 2018 at 9:49 pm

      it’ll be interesting to see what happens with this scouting stuff

      • Striker4 May 16, 2018 at 6:09 am

        doesn’t matter what happens you will find something to cry about it any way

  • Jmfixitman May 16, 2018 at 7:34 am

    Good article and spot on. The LDS church injects itself into way too many things that it shouldn’t. This is a prime example of that, and why our boys were pulled from the pack when it became more about church, and little about scouting.

  • dodgers May 16, 2018 at 7:50 am

    Let them stand on their own two feet, without the large membership from the LDS community. That’s the way it should be. If there’s an adequate demand for the scouts under their new structure, they’ll survive. If not, they slowly disappear.

  • Utahguns May 17, 2018 at 7:16 am

    To the BSA leaders:

    MAN UP !!

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