My Theory of the Church’s Statement on the Change in BSA Policy

Yesterday my Facebook feed erupted with posts by LDS friends expressing dismay over the Church’s announcement that it would reconsider its relationship with the BSA in light of the BSA’s announcement that it would now allow gay scoutmasters. After all, the BSA policy allows local troops to set their own guidelines regarding gay scoutmasters, and in any case the Church has no objection to gay scoutmasters, so long as they are living the law of chastity. Why the sharp response from the Church?

I have a theory about, this, but it is only a theory. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case called Boy Scouts v. Dale. Dale sued the BSA under a New Jersey anti-discrimination law, arguing that the BSA’s policy excluding him from being a scout leader because he was gay violated the law. The BSA argued that the application of the New Jersey law violated its rights of expressive association under the First Amendment. The BSA taught that boys should be “morally straight” and believed that this was inconsistent with homosexuality. For New Jersey to require the BSA to have a gay leader would therefore interfere with its message. The Supreme Court agreed and held the application of the New Jersey unconstitutional.

Now consider the new BSA policy, which is (1) the BSA no longer has any objection to gay scoutmasters; and (2) local BSA units are free not to have gay scoutmasters if they choose. A number of gay rights groups plan on challenging the new policy in court. I suspect that they will win in states such as New Jersey and California that have broad anti-discrimiantion laws. By dropping its objections to gay scoutmasters, the BSA can no longer claim that the application of anti-dsicrimination laws would interfere with its message regarding what counts as “morally straight.” The BSA would argue that it wants to allow local troops to make their own decision, but this in effect means that the BSA is licensing discrimination in violation of the law and without any reason protected by the First Amendment. For example, “attracting troop registration fees from religious groups that object to gay scoutmasters” is likely not constitutionally protected activity. I suspect that what Church leaders find dismaying about the BSA decision is that it is abandoning the position upon which its constitutional protection in Dale rested.

So now imagine that there is a LDS scout troop in California or New Jersey. The troop refuses to appoint sexually active gay scoutmasters. The LDS troops, along with the BSA, are sued. They first could argue that they are acting in accordance with BSA policies. This, however, would not be a legal defense. Indeed, gay rights groups would argue (quite plausibly) that the BSA policy is unlawful in California and New Jersey. Next, the LDS troop could argue that they don’t discriminate against homosexuals, only against sexual activity. The problem is that while the Church treats the distinction between orientation and activity as important, many (perhaps most) jurisdictions will reject this as a meaningless distinction. Finally, the LDS troop would argue that while the BSA has no opinion about homosexuality, the Church does. It regards gay sex as wrong, and requiring it to have sexually active gay leaders would interfere with it’s associational speech rights. “So what?” the gay rights plaintiffs could respond. “We aren’t suing the LDS Church for its practices, we are suing the BSA. You chose to associate with a group that doesn’t share your beliefs or teachings about homosexuality. That group must comply with anti-discrimination laws. If you don’t like it, then withdraw from the BSA. If you are going to be part of the BSA, however, your BSA group must — like all other BSA groups — comply with anti-discrimination laws.”

I don’t purport to know how this will play out legally, but the scenario laid out above doesn’t strike me as implausible. I have no insider information on the thinking at Church headquarters, but I think that it’s quite possible that something like this scenario is behind their testy and otherwise puzzling response to the BSA’s announcement. I think it very, very unlikely that the Church will change its moral stance on gay sex. Given that fact and the likelihood that the BSA policy will end up in court, I think that fighting this out in litigation simply isn’t worth it, especially if there is the possibility of having to pay damages and attorneys fees if you lose. I haven’t looked at the law on this closely, but I would be unsurprised if the gay-rights plaintiffs would win. Given that scouting is an awkward fit at best with the Church’s youth programs and at worst a needlessly complicated drain on the limited resources of wards and branches, getting out before the lawsuits are filed makes good sense to me.

Or at least that’s my theory.

122 comments for “My Theory of the Church’s Statement on the Change in BSA Policy

  1. Maybe, but I would be shocked if there are not memos written by lawyers in SLC playing out these scenarios and if Church leaders haven’t been reading and thinking about them.

  2. Also, if my theory is right, then I suspect that BSA leaders also have memos from lawyers playing out this scenario, and that they decided that rather than booting out the Mormons they’d punt on the issue and let the Mormons get sued without a Dale-based defense. That might explain the testiness.

  3. I would imagine that there are memos (there are always memos!) but the press release does not seemed geared towards that sort of defense. Or, at least, it was needless in its emotional response. If all you want to do is insulate against anti-discrimination suits I think there would be more effective ways of going about it.

  4. I think you may be right, but here’s my question? Who would have standing to bring a challenge involving an LDS troop? You don’t apply to be a scout master in the Church–you’re called by the bishop. Not just any gay member can come forward and say I want to be scout master but the Church won’t let me. Nobody chooses there own assignment. I suppose a scout master that is currently serving, could come out of the closet, be released, and then sue, but that scenario seems unlikely. Plus, as you note in your wind up, being gay isn’t necessarily disqualifying under Church policy. Am I missing something.

  5. Standing is tricky, but the cases would be brought in state court under state law, where standing requirements can be relaxed. A gay Mormon might might have standing on the grounds that he is deprived of the right of having the possibility of becoming an LDS scoutmaster. That wouldn’t be enough for standing under Article III, I’d assume (not my area), but it might be sufficient under the Urah Act. A gay scoutmaster released from his calling when the bishop found out about sexual activity would almost certainly have standing. Also, I think that state human rights commissions could have standing. These are the kinds of questions where I don’t purport to know the answer. I’d have to spend time in the library with state anti-discrimination laws to figure it out.

  6. Also, I don’t think that the orientation-conduct distinction will stand up in states with broad anti-discrimination laws. I haven’t spent time on Westlaw with the question, but I’d be surprised if it did.

  7. You said, “in any case the Church has no objection to gay scoutmasters, so long as they are living the law of chastity.” No, I think most senior LDS leaders and local LDS leaders object to openly gay Mormons serving as scoutmasters for LDS units, even if they meet the LDS law of chastity for unmarried adults. The LDS position doesn’t make much sense otherwise.

    But I agree the most recent statement is a “testy and otherwise puzzling response to the BSA’s announcement.” They will now need additional statements to say what they really meant by this puzzling statement.

  8. Nate – Bingo. Your exact point was made very clear to National BSA the last time around.

  9. I think you are exactly right here. There is justifiable fear that litigation will follow given that the Boy Scouts no longer have a reason rooted in the organizations values to allow the banning of gay scout leaders by private troops. And having worked at the Church Office of General Counsel as a law student, I can guarantee that the Church is well aware of these issues and has been carefully considering it for a long while.

  10. Dave: I think you are wrong. There have been numerous recent statements by Church leaders that gay members who comply with the law of chastity may serve in church callings, etc. I think that it is more likely that Church leaders believe (correctly in my opinion) that this would still count as discrimination under state law. The question of whether those laws apply to the Church as Church is a different question. I don’t think that they do and I think that if a state tried to apply them to the Church the Church would have a very expressive association claim. I honestly don’t know what happens, however, to a Church-affiliated BSA troop, if someone has standing to sue.

  11. I agree that the loss of the Dale defense seems the most likely explanation for the posture the Church took in this press release.

  12. Nate, great review and nice to have a calmer head discussing the actual issue. I suspected the BSA’s decision would push the danger of lawsuits to the churches. I can see not only the LDS leaving, but also the Catholics and Baptists. This could leave BSA with only 30 percent of its troops intact. I have no idea what Robert Gates was thinking, unless he was so happy with his integration of LGBT into the military that he wanted to try it on youth programs, also.

  13. Nate, your theory presupposes there would ever be a situation where an LDS Scoutmaster is denied a position in an LDS chartered troop. Since local scouting positions are handled like other callings, people don’t ask to be scoutmasters….just as they don’t ask to be bishops, primary teachers or custodians. A scoutmaster would never be denied, because a practicing gay scoutmaster would never be called in the first place. The specualtive scenario is implausible at best.

  14. Depends on state standing rules. I dont think it unlikely that the released closeted gay scoutmaster case would arise eventually. I do think it pretty likely that the new BSA policy gets held illegal in some states.

  15. I couldn’t agree more. Despite the sexiness of the argument that “old white guys hate gays” it really comes down to the Church wanting to avoid litigation.

    Not to threadjack, but Nate, how does your analysis apply to Bishops/Sealers performing civil marriages? I am surprised that the policy has not changed yet, and that Bishops/Sealers are still authorized to perform marriages . Do you have thoughts on this that you would care to share?

  16. I’m sure that this possibility has been considered by both BSA and LDS attorneys, but I don’t consider such a scenario to be plausible. Courts traditionally are inclined to offer a certain measure of deference to the beliefs and practices of religious organizations, even if these views are seen as nonsensical or even somewhat objectionable, as long as these beliefs and practices do not present a substantial threat or burden to church members or others. A gay Mormon would not be denied the opportunity to be a scoutmaster; they simply could not be the scoutmaster of a troop sponsored by the LDS church. I do not see how this is a substantial burden or penalty, especially given that nonmembers would also not be allowed to be scoutmasters of LDS troops. The LDS church is a voluntary association; if people do not like its particular rules then they are free to go elsewhere, especially when there are viable replacements readily available elsewhere.

  17. Nate. If a released gay scout master can sue under your theory why not a YW leader released and facing a church court for a lesbian affair? Churches have a right to pick their own leaders.That is why I don’t think the theory quite fits. I really think it’s about gay men being viewed as improper role models for lds male youth.

    I also think Gates double crossed SLC. He is the Episcopal Bishop of the BSA. Causing mass dissaffection and leaving the BSA deeply wounded.

  18. No, Gates is the Wilford Woodruff of the BSA. The question is whether BSA has a Joseph F. Smith to lead a transition into the 21st century.

  19. Nate,

    To the questions about standing, would a lawsuit towards a troop sponsored by a different church have any impact on LDS troops? I imagine it would depend on the scope of the ruling. I am not a lawyer, but it doesn’t seem implausible to my meager understanding of law that a church, that selects it’s BSA leaders differently than we do, could be sued and have it impact all church sponsored troops.

  20. Here’s why I think you are correct: the Church was sued for not letting black males take leading roles in Scout troops. The Church’s reasoning was that the BSA was a leadership training program for youth and blacks would never be leaders, so they didn’t need the training. When we thought we’d lose the case, we gave in. Here’s why I think you are wrong: Being a Scout master isn’t a calling it’s a volunteer role. We pretend like it is a calling, but is cannot be as it is not an inspired program and has nothing to do with the priesthood. Technically the Church couldn’t be sued unless a gay man volunteered for the position, which isn’t something we do. Also, if an openly gay man can be in a bishopric, it seems odd they can’t get a non-calling like this.

    I do agree it is odd, and the fact that members are speculating leads to more questions than aswers.

    http://learnaboutchrist.info/lds-church-vs-bsa/

  21. I’m trying to understand why the newsroom chose to say “the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church” instead of the more precise “the admission of sexually active gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church.”
    Could it be that the the church is concerned not just with its ability to exclude sexually active gay leaders, but also gay leaders it considers too open about their orientation, even if they are not sexually active or violating the law of chastity? I could imagine a situation where a temple worthy gay/ssa man is released from a scout calling when his orientation becomes public knowledge or becomes a “distraction” or especially when it seems he is advocating for LGBT acceptance. Think of Mitch Mayne or Josh Weed. Could that leader sue if he is is removed from his BSA leadership role just for making his orientation public? It might get tricky since BSA policy now allows gay leaders and the church has stated “Members of the Church who have same-sex attractions, but don’t act on them, can continue to enjoy full fellowship in the church, which includes…carrying out callings.”
    “Openly gay” is broad enough to allow the church to exclude men from scout leadership based on their stated SSA alone and they can refer to this letter as proof that it is a doctrinal position.
    I’m gay and living the law of chastity. My bishop, stake president, family, and many friends know about my SSA. I’ve served as YM president and currently as assistant scoutmaster without any issue. I don’t think the church actually wants to completely exclude people like me from working with YM, but probably does want to to retain the right to be picky about how open gay leaders are about their orientation and to squash anything it sees as LGBT advocacy toward youth in the church.

  22. If an “out” gay man could be called as a scoutmaster in an LDS ward — and based upon the recent letter by the leading authorities of the Church, which holds that so long as he is living the law of chastity, he could — then he would have no standing to sue.

    But suppose an out gay scoutmaster suddenly engaged in homosexual acts that became known to the bishop. He would get released. But could he sue? Hey, this is America, right, of course he could.

    But I doubt he could prevail. Since, a heterosexual scoutmaster who violated the law of chastity would also get released. There is equal treatment in this regard.

  23. I think perhaps the bigger question here is, what if an LDS Scoutmaster who was gay /got married/ to his male partner? Could he then argue (in court) that he was following the law of chastity, and hence, his release from scoutmaster was discriminatory?

  24. I did not realize we had so many attorneys who are also T&S devotees.

    Tiago, I salute your service and your faithfulness. That press release was poorly written. Do not read too much into it. I am a social conservative and it made me flinch. Wait for a week or two for clarification.

  25. Nate (#11), I’m aware of the statements about gay members being given full consideration for calling if worthy. i don’t disagree with that policy. But (1) there may be an unwritten or unstated exception for scouting or youth callings; and (2) de facto discrimination is a question of fact, not of policy. An employer charged with de facto discrimination cannot point to a nice statement in their personnel manual (“We hire without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.”) as a defense.

    As to standing, a court is more likely to play that card to avoid a case it does not want to hear. I’m not sure that applies on this issue.

  26. Today, you can argue almost anything in court and win, or lose, based entirely off of which way the wind is blowing. The rule of law, like everything else, has become politicized, and this is most obvious with social issues, especially in civil and civil rights courts. As a result, this analysis may be right, but also irrelevant, as in fact the legal department of the BSA can probably come up with a hundred other scenarios of incoming lawsuits over their policies despite having won the Dale case. Their legal department probably asked, which is more costly, changing our policy and losing the Mormon Church, or keeping our policy and negotiating several different kinds of lawsuits with the moral support of the Mormon Church? The BSA bean counters probably made the decision, not unlike the Mormon bean counters who are calculating potential costs for staying or leaving.

  27. A gay Mormon might might have standing on the grounds that he is deprived of the right of having the possibility of becoming an LDS scoutmaster

    If true, that’s creates a temptation to change my current sexual orientation.

  28. Just a bit of background that may help explain the charged response of The Church on Monday:
    One of the five LDS members of the Scout Executive Board was told one hour before the vote was taken that the matter would be put up for vote that day. The Church representative suggested there was not such urgency as to require a vote in the July meeting, explained that the Church would like time to consider the language of the proposal and perhaps suggest modifications, and requested the vote be stayed until August.. Gates refused to delay the vote. If you read the statement of the church carefully, you will note they were “deeply troubled by today’s vote.” I submit they meant exactly that; they were upset at being sandbagged, and at the refusal of the board to delay the vote.

  29. “The Church’s reasoning was that the BSA was a leadership training program for youth and blacks would never be leaders, so they didn’t need the training.”

    I don’t believe that is correct. The church made a policy that the deacon’s quorum president automatically became the senior patrol leader. They didn’t give a moment’s thought to black scouts until legal action pointed out that since black youth at the time couldn’t be DQP, the policy also excluded black SPLs. The church responded by uncoupling the two assignments.

  30. Nate, first thanks for this. I appreciate a rationale discussion over what is typically seen on fb.

    You should know that RNS published a July 27 article entitled “Are lawsuits ahead for church-based Boy Scout troops?” The article conveys various legal advice on the subject you address in this post, though unfortunatly nothing from the LDS church’s counsel.

    Per the article, BSA’s outside counsel wrote a 14-page memo concluding that a challenge to religious-based discrimination “would be unlikely to succeed or even make much progress.” I read that to mean it would be thrown out on a motion to dismiss. I can’t find the memo online, but the RNS article also quotes an Emery University expert on religious freedom as saying the memo “strikes the right legal balance.” The only contrary view is expressed by counsel for a competing scouting program – Traillife USA – who says “there’s always the fear of the unknown,” particularly after Obergefell.

    Considering that this policy change was first publicly raised in January 2013, it is hard to believe that the LDS church has not sought substantial legal counsel on the issue prior to Monday’s vote. And if that counsel had concluded that a policy change would significantly risk legal liability – as opposed to mere baseless suits – I can’t understand why the church would not have made that clear to BSA prior to the vote.

    It’s baffling that just a few weeks ago (July 13), the church stated than any policy change would need to “affirm the right” for the church to appoint leaders consistent with its beliefs and doctrines. The new policy does just that. If the church had concluded that a policy change would threaten legal action so significantly that the church needed to oppose the policy change, well then, the church’s July 13 statement is harmfully misleading.

    The best spin I can give the newest church statement is that leaders need more time to get additional legal counsel in the post-Obergefell world where it unclear whether states will adopt non-discrimination statues that protect religious freedom. I also think there may be some frustration that the church expended capital to secure an express carve-out for BSA in the Utah legislation – but that BSA has now effectively mooted that protection.

  31. From my sources the decision to axe BSA had been made a long time ago, but they were waiting for Monson to pass. Church leadership has felt increasingly disrespected by BSA and I heard when they requested a vote delay it wasn’t even acknowledged, not even to say no. My source indicates this has nothing to do with LGBT other than making a strategic decision to get out now; how they were treated by BSA this week was the straw that broke the camel’s back – and since the decision to leave had already been made….they decided might as well now. I even told the decision has very little to do w LGBT issues. But that’s just from my source, whom I trust. Take it as you will.

  32. Kristine A, at the risk of derailing, what exactly were the other straws? In my area, BSA respects the unique ways LDS troops function – e.g., SPL assigned rather than elected, scout camp arrival on Monday rather than Sunday, 11-year-olds split off from the main troop because they’re still in primary, etc. I don’t know much about the national level, but less than 2 years ago BSA and the church held a 100 years celebration in the conference center where BSA bestowed several honors on the church. Outwardly, I never saw any dischord.

    I can understand if the church feels a need to unify YMs programs across the globe. I can understand frustration that scouting outside the US is co-ed and so conflict with how the church wants to run separate YM and YW. But that’s not BS-A’s fault. So again, how exactly has BSA snubbed the church before now?

  33. *Nate. If a released gay scout master can sue under your theory why not a YW leader released and facing a church court for a lesbian affair?*

    It would be much easier for the Church to claim that a YW leader was a minister, then for a scoutmaster. Nate O.’s theory isn’t rock-solid and there would certainly be some room to argue that the scoutmaster was a minister, but the argument is much more solid with the YW leader.

  34. It’s baffling that just a few weeks ago (July 13), the church stated than any policy change would need to “affirm the right” for the church to appoint leaders consistent with its beliefs and doctrines. The new policy does just that. If the church had concluded that a policy change would threaten legal action so significantly that the church needed to oppose the policy change, well then, the church’s July 13 statement is harmfully misleading

    Precisely. Even if everything Nate speculates about is true (very likely), it doesn’t explain the Church’s inability to get its story straight. And as plausible as Kristine A’s theory also seems, that just makes it worse. The Church has a very difficult messaging problem with respect to its approach to LGBT issues. Until this press release came out, I thought I could extract a coherent position from recent statements and actions. But now I can’t. And if the newsroom sacrificed a coherent message on LGBT issues just to provide cover for a decision to dump scouts (a decision which didn’t need any cover on the merits–only because it constitutes an end-run around Monson), then they did not just shoot themselves in the foot, they took off a whole leg.

  35. If Nate’s theory is correct, it would have been so refreshing and reasonable to have a press release that actually just laid out the actual concerns: “Based on legal precedents x, y, and z, the church is deeply concerned that the new policy will leave us open to lawsuits. We would like to be clear that gay leaders who are following the law of chastity would be welcome to be leaders in church led scout troops, but legally we think the church would still be vulnerable if we tried to invoke leader requirements using the law of chastity. We have been concerned for some time that the scouting program serves the needs of only one quarter of our youth worldwide. We are considering whether it makes sense to continue using the scouting program as part of our youth program going forward.” Something like that seems like it would be clear about the church’s actual concerns, not retreat at all, but still not throw LGBT folks under the bus.

    If Kristine A. is correct, and it certainly seems likely to me, and we are in fact throwing LGBT members under the bus as a cover for implementing a policy that the current prophet and president of the church would not otherwise support, then… FOR SHAME.

  36. Nate, thanks for this. The legal issues had been mentioned some but the news articles I read did no real analysis of how it might play out other than a vague mention of constitutional protection. The financial and PR damages might be worth it to the church if (1) they thought they were very likely to win or (2) Scouting was fundamental or (3) the lawsuit would be a one and done affair, as opposed to a bunch of separate state and possibly federal suits. None of these appear to be the case.

    As for the PR release, it seems to me that it could have been phrased better. But it would not be the first time a PR person or their supervisor made a mistake. As opposed to, I suppose, bloggers :)

  37. Why not simply sign up with Trail Life USA? It follows the position that the BSA had when Dale was litigated, more or less. See the statement on the Trail Life Blog, at http://www.traillifeusa.com/blog/26. Such a change would save us from the embarrassment of soliciting money from ordinary Church members to pay the grossly inflated salaries of the top BSA bureaucracy. A supposedly non-profit organization that pays its top brass in the UPPER six figures is corrupt for that reason alone.

  38. Thank you for this analysis. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, and while I do not think these form the fundamental basis for the Church’s reconsideration, they probably do serve to justify or rationalize a decision that has already been made. There are lawyers in the Qof12, and – rumor has it – that at least one of them is not a fan of Scouting.

    I don’t have a problem with your analysis, but if they are using this line of reasoning as the basis for the decision, I do have problems. There have always been callings that could be extended to non-members. I don’t know if this is, still, the case, but it used to be that a non-member (presumably the father of one of the boys) could be called as scoutmaster, or assistant scoutmaster. And, they could be called even if they drank, or smoked. They might be asked to not drink or smoke in the presence of the boys, but my point is they could be called even if they did not live LDS standards. I am willing to bet that over the years, a divorced, non-LDS father has served as a scout leader in his LDS son’s troop. What if that divorced dad was not living the law of chastity? Oh, my goodness! We cannot allow that!

    My point is that I really believe that this is really about not putting an openly gay man – chaste or not – in front of a group of impressionable boys as a role model. I do not believe it is fueled by fear of molestation. I just think they don’t want to hold-up a gay man – even one keeping the commandments – as a role model. I believe that is the real basis for the decision. Now, the lawyers in the quorum might, then, use the legal logic you shared to further demonstrate that this is an urgent legal necessity.

  39. Why not sign up with Trail Life USA? Because, first, they’re an objectionable organization, and, second, probably wouldn’t care to get involved with heretical Mormons.

  40. Trail life has specifically stated that Mormons aren’t allowed, at least as adult leaders. They have stated, “Mormons would not participate in our program as a denomination because of our specific Statement of Faith which holds a belief in the Trinity, which is not in step with Mormon theology.”

  41. “The rule of law, like everything else, has become politicized, and this is most obvious with social issues, especially in civil and civil rights courts.”

    So it has always been, so it shall always be. For better or worse.

    “I’m sure that this possibility has been considered by both BSA and LDS attorneys, but I don’t consider such a scenario to be plausible. Courts traditionally are inclined to offer a certain measure of deference to the beliefs and practices of religious organizations…”

    This is the exact problem with the change at the national level for the church. The boy scouts, qua the boy scouts, no longer have a policy that says homosexuality is immoral, so the tie to the freedom of association clause is significantly weakened. In a nutshell, Dale said you could discriminate as a private group if the group truly held as a fundamental tenet the otherwise discriminatory belief. As an extreme example, the KKK doesn’t have to let in black people to their group, because it has fundamental beliefs that black people don’t belong. With the national BSA organization essentially abandoning its belief regarding homosexuality, it will mean that the local groups who do continue to “discriminate” will: (a) probably be on their own when litigation comes; and (2) are much less likely to win when they say that they find homosexuality immoral . The rejoinder from the plaintiff will always be that lots of other troops are able to do scouting without homosexual discrimination, so it must not be a fundamental tenet of the group. And given that Dale even in 2000 was a 5-4 decision, I’ve got to believe this latter argument will likely carry the day in most courts, including SCOTUS.

    Or, you know, what Nate said.

  42. It’s good to keep in mind that the (now) 2nd most senior apostle is Dallin H. Oaks, a lawyer who clerked for SCOTUS Chief Justice Earl Warren, taught at U of Chicago Law School (and served temporarily as the dean there), was president of BYU when Title IX was enacted and fought to keep BYU-approved sex-segregated housing,, served as a justice on the Utah Supreme Court, and was considered a potential SCOTUS nominee by both the Ford and Reagan administrations. This is no knee-jerk or disgruntled reaction by the Church; I’m sure they have long seen the writing on the wall, and that they have several planned options to take.

  43. If my memory is correct, the Church floated the idea rather informally several years ago about setting up its own pseudo-Scouting program. The costs of supporting BSA are beginning to outweigh the benefits in the minds of Church leaders. Actually, the dollar costs are immense. My ward’s assessment every year for “Friends of Scouting” is massive compared to what we budget for, say, YW or Primary. Multiply that amount by the tens of thousands of wards in the U.S., and you get a truly enormous sum.

    I think this has been in the works for a long time. President Monson is certainly an impediment in this move, but even he probably has to admit that Scouting is becoming a bigger problem than it’s worth. Personally, I say, “Good riddance.” BSA is a money-sucking, administrative-heavy organization that is, as said above, an awkward fit for the Church. It meets the needs of those who are outdoorsy, but that is a smaller and smaller contingent in today’s society.

  44. Nate, your theory makes sense as to the BSA’s announcement that it will allow gay Scoutmasters being the point of departure for the Church (recognizing that there are numerous reasons and arguments for separating from the BSA, but nothing else is news). It does not explain the “intemperate” public affairs announcement, however. My theory is that the oddities of the public affairs announcement are due to the coincidence of the BSA vote (July 27, 2015), Dale (in 2000) (as you note), Obergefell (June 26, 2015) and your observation about the likely frailty of the orientation-conduct distinction (with which I agree, but without any independent research), residual feelings that gay men should not be working with teenage boys, however much an orientation-conduct distinction is otherwise respected in the Church (with which I do not agree, but do observe that the feelings persist), and July vacations, putting the Church in a genuine quandary about what to do. Separating from the BSA is only one step, and likely the easiest one.

  45. I thought of one other significant development that may be part of all this. The last few months have seen the deaths of the first and second most senior members of the Q12. I imagine that can be destabalizing. New leadership comes into shape. Quorum assignments change (I believe Elder Holland was appointed to the BSA executive board only in May). And of course the quorum’s overall views vis-a-vis BSA will change to reflect the new quorum makeup – which is complicated by the fact that the FP/Q12 are in the process of deciding on two new quorum members at this same time, but won’t announce that decision until October conference. So it’s not just the legal and social situations that have changed. The LDS decision bodies are in flux.

  46. Dave K, good point. It also helps explain why this wasn’t all worked out in advance, when the legal and social changes have been predictable enough to plan for, in normal circumstances.

  47. I’m curious as to the financial cost to the BSA of making such a bold policy change. I can’t imagine the friends of scouting campaign will be so enthusiastically contributed to by local members. I certainly have a problem contributing to something that feels like a political organization.

  48. It’s also possible that the contributions to FoS over the last two years may have been serving as an indicated to LDS leadership regarding membership commitment to the BSA. I have NO inside knowledge of whether FoS contributions have been up -or- down at -any- level across -any- time span. But if FoS contributions have been dropping, it would have sent a message to leaders that the BSA just wasn’t connecting with the members anymore.

  49. Anecdotally, donations to FOS are down in my ward. During the last drive my husband found $10 in his wallet to donate since he thought it would be too embarrassing for the number to be $0.

  50. Does anyone know how much property has been under effective control of LDS troops (Utah councils, etc.) that actually belongs to the BSA? I imagine some donors may be irritated when those former donations pass to control by others.

  51. My own take is that the Church leaders perceived the timing of the vote as a deliberate move to cut them out of the debate, and are *pissed.*

    Which doesn’t rule out any of the other things mentioned here as additional factors.

  52. To clarify my last comment, the FOS donations were going to be $0 from the entire ward and troop, not just my family. This is an area outside the intermountain West.

  53. I was asked to solicit FOS donations from several of my barely-scraping-by neighbors (parents working a total of 100 hours a week and barely providing enough for their five or six kids, etc.). I refused. I imagine they collected quite a bit from the ward, but the cause (paying for professional scouters, most of whom are better off than my neighbors) and the method (going door to door asking for money) just isn’t acceptable. I’ll be happy to see that done with.

  54. One more thing that hasn’t been mentioned. Even if the Church were left alone in regards to who they appointed as scoutmasters, the hired personnel would not be under Church direction. BSA would have to hire homosexuals if they were best “qualified.” That would be in any leadership and staff positions and at scout camps and activities of any kind. The Church could not protect against that under this new policy.

  55. Why would the Church want to protect against that eventuality, DNC? Is it important that members of the Church are never around anyone who is homosexual?

    In a stake of any size there are going to be at least several homosexual youth. How can the Church protect itself against these kids in its own congregations? Should they be shunned? Cast out of the Church? Removed to concentration camps?

    Really, what exactly are people suggesting? Why is it so important to define homosexuals, including those in our own congregations, as “other,” as something to protect our congregations against? Why are they not part of the body of Christ? (1 Cor. 12:12.) Please do let me know.

  56. Nate said: “Dave: I think you are wrong. There have been numerous recent statements by Church leaders that gay members who comply with the law of chastity may serve in church callings, etc.”

    I don’t think this is quite right Nate. I am aware of individuals in CES and other church-affiliated jobs who have been specifically asked not to disclose their sexual orientation even though it would not affect their ability to hold a temple recommend (for example). And when it comes to ward callings, there are numerous positions that are effectively off-limits for known LGBTs in the vast majority of wards today. More important than handbook policy is the general attitude exhibited by the lay membership.

  57. RMM, the Lord commands those in sin to repent and does not look up sin with the least degree of allowance. Further he has said, if you love me, keep my commandments. Someone living and advocating behaviors and lifestyles contrary to the Lord’s will without repentance separates themselves from Christ not us.

  58. I’m curious when your recommended process of repentance needs to start, Eric. Many people with attractions to those of the same sex report that they started to realize they were different as early as young childhood, before they had any idea what it even meant. So where do you draw the line? Do you cast a homosexual person out of the Church at age four? Age six? Age eight? Do they become a threat to you and your children at age 12? Perhaps 16?

  59. Your thinking is good, but flawed–in most units, scout leaders are volunteers, in the Church, nobody volunteers, a call (which the Saints believe is a result of divine inspiration) comes from local church authorities. If a person claims the Church is not “letting” him be a scout leader, the Church can fall back to a fundamental doctrine — we don’t serve where we want, we volunteer to perform any duty asked of us, and, if that doesn’t include a position we want, well, God knows best. Obviously, such an idea wouldn’t fly in bastions of atheistic liberalism like CA or NJ, but churches are given more latitude than other organizations.

  60. Anti-discrimination law is such a crock to begin with. It is a violation of the freedom of association implicit in the first amendment. Private organizations/businesses/churches (be they “public accommodation” or otherwise) should be free to choose with whom they do business and with whom they associate. Period.

  61. Nate wrote, “Standing is tricky, but the cases would be brought in state court under state law, where standing requirements can be relaxed” and “I don’t think there is any chance that the Church would.be required to perform SSM.”

    As to standing, I don’t view it as restrictive as you do, especially given the relaxation in recent years and the fact that BSA enjoys a Congressional charter–a rare “Title 36” corporation. I believe this will play out in federal, not state court.

    With regard to SSM, the last two sentences in Kennedy’s opinion suggest otherwise: “They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

    I see a homosexual couple, members of the Church, who are married civilly. They then seek a temple sealing. Their argument will be two-fold: i) we are legally and lawfully married and therefore not in violation of the law of chastity and ii) to deny us access to the rites of the temple available to other married couples does not give our marriage the “dignity” to which it is constitutionally entitled.

    The fine line the Church has endeavored to walk between homosexual attractions and acting on those impulses will come back to bite it with the “legally and lawfully married” contention. It will then be forced to acknowledge that homosexual activity–within the bounds of a lawful civil marriage–is not in keeping with the standards of morality as established by the Lord.

    Such an acknowledgement will run afoul of the “dignity” notion relied on by Kennedy in the majority opinion.

  62. Michael I’d agree with you had there not be nearly 200 years of horrible abuse & discrimination – largely enacted and preserved by the state.

  63. Rmm, your questions are ridiculous and demonstrate a lack of gospel understanding on the topic. Suffice to say no one thinks the way you think they do.

  64. With numerous good reasons to leave the Boy Scouts, reasons obvious for decades (and not only to those concerned about the inequity of our commitment to girls vs boys and to boys who like scouting and are greatly benefited by it and boys who don’t like scouting and benefit not at all), I am terribly sad we waited until we would hurt our gay members, allies, and friends as we harm the reputation of the Church with so many. That will be the reason that sticks, however many other reasons may drive an exit. So sad.

  65. I don’t get the whole “legally and lawfully” thing that keeps coming up. Everybody knows that the church does not recognize gay marriage. Two men are not “legally and lawfully wedded” in the eyes of the church, regardless of what other eyes may see them as married. There’s church law, and there’s secular law. For purposes of the law of chastity, it’s obviously the church’s concept of “legally and lawfully wedded” that counts.

    If you had your wedding in a Jewish Temple, the church doesn’t recognize you as being “married in the temple.” If you were baptized by a Catholic priest, the church doesn’t recognize you as having been baptized.

    Why would anyone think that the church is required to recognize what someone else thinks is valid, legal, or lawful?

  66. Regarding being chaste and having gay sex, that’s just not possible in our doctrine, married or not. Chastity implies moral purity, which homosexual behavior is not. That is ultimately what offends deeply on this issue; that a good person in so many respects is viewed as morally impure. It again reveals a lack of understanding in our faith, as that’s the whole reason for the Savior. We all fall short.

    But the key difference is we don’t get to declare our falling as not needing repentance. Yes you can be monogamous, “married” and unchaste.

  67. Did my last comment go into moderation? I suggested that Eric is not familiar with the Church’s teachings on the subject, since his preaching here is directly contradicting the Church’s teachings as found at its official website on the subject. (Trying to avoid any language that may trigger moderation.)

  68. From the official Church website.

    “The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”

    Eric directly contradicted this teaching in comment 68.

  69. Excellent insights. And if the LDS church does not withdraw from BSA, we can expect more litigation and activism. Transgender bathroom accommodations at scout camps. Mandatory tolerance training for all leaders. Rewriting of Scout Handbook Youth Protection and Adult Leadership.

  70. Rmm, what part of my paragraph disagrees? Do you the lds feel someone who advocates gay sexual behavior is in good standing with the church? People who sin need repentance. I said nothing about feelings of attraction, but it’s what we do with them.

  71. Back to the topic, the church was probably going to separate anyway, but if they were hoping to just put some public pressure the well has become poisoned at this point… I’d really think hard before accepting another scout calling in the future and Definitely wouldn’t donate again.

    I don’t fault the church for not breaking away sooner as I think it shows godly character to commit with an organization even though you know they will betray you. And this is a betrayal. But once the move is made, time to acknowledge the parting off ways and move on.

  72. Let me explain a little more simply, in case my emotion threw anyone off.

    In comment 65, DNC suggested the Church needs a mechanism for protecting itself from being around gay people.

    In comment 66 I asked why the Church would want to do any such thing, since there are gay people sitting in its pews.

    In reply in comment 68 Eric identified gay people as “in sin” and suggested they need to repent.

    In comment 69 I suggested, although with rather more emotion, that as it says on the carefully-written Church website, “the attraction itself is not a sin” and that “individuals do not choose to have such attractions.”

    In comment 74 Eric seems to have misunderstood my point and wrote that I did not understand the Church teachings.

    So in comments 78 and 79 I pointed to the actual Church teachings on the subject, since many Church members are not familiar with or do not understand them.

    There is an important distinction being made in that quote from the website, and comments like Eric’s 68 hurt real, tithe-paying, chaste young members of the Church who are just as interested in being righteous and serve missions as any other member of the Church, but are trying to figure out how to do so as a gay person.

    It’s a complicated path in life, and it would be good to show some humility and compassion towards people who have to work through such a difficult problem. Isn’t it much better to love them and welcome them into our homes and hearts while they’re suffering through an almost-impossible situation, particularly at a time when the Church has yet again said it doesn’t want them?

  73. I agree with the other Eric above. Also, I had the same thought as Gerald- Robert Gates spearheaded the LGBT integration in the military. Isn’t the BSA the next step? I believe he was brought in to head the BSA by a faction that wanted to wrest power away from the Church, to push their own progressive policies.

  74. This is a response to Left Field. “Legally and lawfully wedded” means legally and lawfully wedded according to the law of the land. For your information, technically speaking, Jews don’t have temples, because their temple was leveled, and all of their priests were killed nearly two thousand years ago. This is why they have synagogues and Rabbis, only. The LDS church does not recognize any marriage but an LDS temple marriage as a LDS temple marriage. The LDS church does recognize a couple married by a Jewish Rabbi, or a Catholic Priest, or a County Judge as “legally, and lawfully married.”

    I understand the temple ceremonies in the 1800’s contained language “given unto you by the priesthood.” Somewhere in the early twentieth century, the language was changed to “legally and lawfully wedded.” When the LDS Church got out of plural marriage, it changed to language to make it very clear it was talking about marriage in accordance with the law of the land, and not the law of the priesthood.

  75. ” “Legally and lawfully wedded” means legally and lawfully wedded according to the law of the land.”

    We’re talking about the LAW of chastity, which is a religious, not a secular law. In that context, homosexual relationships are considered by the church to be not LAWful.

    “The LDS church does recognize a couple married by a Jewish Rabbi, or a Catholic Priest, or a County Judge as “legally, and lawfully married.” ”

    I’m sure that will come as welcome news to any gay couple married by a rabbi, priest, or judge.

  76. No, private clubs and churches have unlimited freedom to discriminate in any way they choose. They could ban black people and Catholics if they wanted to and no one could successfully sue them. In fact, don’t they already ban women? No one can challenge that.

  77. Nate, I surely appreciate your ambivalence on this issue. I would just suggest that we are too prone to listen to media-driven interpretations of what people dealing with same-sex attraction can and can’t do in terms of keeping God’s commandments, living in a heterosexual marriage relationship, and confronting the challenge of same-sex attraction. God has never rescinded his commandments regarding sexual relations and he has continually reminded us that there is no challenge or difficulty we can’t overcome sufficiently to be obedient to his commandments. So, there must be something significant we, as a society, are missing as we approach the subject of same-sex attraction. Because of that, I am glad that the church draws a firm line in its approach to this matter even as we await further light and knowledge which will surely come and which will probably reveal just how far off the mark society’s approach to this subject have been.

  78. Just for the record, plural marriages that are “legally and lawfully” contracted in countries where that is possible are not recognized by the Church. So those who maintain that the law of chastity is automatically linked to changes in any country’s public policy are simply wrong. (OD1 was anything but automatic.)

  79. It is my belief the moral aspect, duty to God, has been the pasturage providing sustenance for the Boy Scout program to survive all these years. Consequently, the program without religious enrichment will quickly dry-up and fail. The LDS church (et al) severing ties will only hasten what is inevitable. I will be surprised if the program remains intact — in any form — for the benefit of my grandkids. It also seems to me, BSA is forsaking indemnity in allowing openly gay leaders the opportunity to, in the meantime, camp and frolic with these impressionable young men and boys. In this day and age, “hands off” may apply but still leaves license for subtle recording devices to run at leisure. The Boy Scout program will be ripped to shreds from both sides.

  80. A comment about economics and the boy scouts. The percentage of males in the USA that have participated in Boy Scouts has been steadily dropping each decade from about half of males over 50 having participated and about a quarter age 18 to 24 having participated.

    From an economic point of view Boy Scouts has been losing market share and needs to be reinvented. In today’s economy, large donors are one way to do that. For example, the $50 million dollar donation that the Bechtel family gave to the new national scout reserve.

    Scouting may collapse if more churches quit sponsoring troops. However, a shift away from religious troops may open up new options for scouting to stop its declining market share.

  81. I have to believe that none of the large corporate sponsors who abandoned the BSA on the homosexual matter are coming back. They’re gone.

  82. How great would it be to have such willing volunteers for any BSA troop, LDS or not. Call them as Assistant Scoutmasters, have them buy a uniform, get trained, and help plan weekly and monthly meetings. Have them burn a week of vacation time at Scout camp. If they can do it, great. If not, they’ll leave. Being a Scout leader is a lot of time, effort and money just to make a point.

    The thing that’s keeping most men from being Scoutmasters isn’t that they’re gay. It’s that they don’t want to do it. I suspect most gay people don’t want to be Scoutmasters either. For the few that really do, and the fewer that have some association with an LDS Scout troop and want to be a leader in one, I say let them.

    Ultimately, most gay people probably don’t care much about actually being gay Scout leaders; they just care that the rule is there saying they can’t do it because they’re gay. It’s like how I would be bothered if a local golf club had a “No Mormons” policy even though I don’t golf.

  83. Perhaps this could be an opportunity for the church to adopt a more normal mode of supporting scouts by simply sponsoring troops (providing meeting space, some funding etc), for Girls Scouts as well, and drop the hyper controlled model and forced volunteerism we’ve been practicing. This has always been why we don’t do Girl Scouts–not because of any of the weird political nonsense people assume but just because Girl Scouts weren’t willing to turn over control of their troops and money to Mormon men. The extreme integration of Boy Scouts with aaronic priesthood has always been strange and not terribly effective. LDS troops are known far and wide for their poor implementation of basic scouting principles. Catholic troops (boys and girls) don’t suffer from this because they are catholic sponsored troops not catholic controlled troops. Instead of dropping scouting we could be part of a renaissance of scouting as an inclusive, voluntary activity. We would end up with fewer troops (maybe one or two per stake per gender unless we worked with only BSA and did a more international style coed program) but those troops would be much more vibrant.

  84. I think those are good points Owen and I’ve long thought making scouting mandatory is a mistake. I like a lot about scouts but having troops where everyone wants to be there is a big difference.

    Hopefully we’ll simply shift to a better model of activity for young men and young women and rethink how activities are done for the senior primary.

  85. Owen,
    So we are going to send part of the YW budget to GSA and continue dumping money into BSA, when neither organization now supports the mission of the Church? Where is this money coming from? We are going to encourage busy teens to take yet another weeknight away from homework, YM/YW, athletics, music and family to support yet another activity? Any parent who wants to support BSA or GSA can do so.

    Clark,
    Outside the U.S., Achievement Days are for both genders. The program works betters with the boys included.

    Honestly, the programs which can fill the void are with us. There is a great program for the YM. It is called the Aaronic Priesthood.

  86. That’s the thing, Old Man, we wouldn’t be dumping money in the BSA the way we do now. Those who participate would pay their own dues and run fund-raisers like scouts do everywhere outside the church. Support from the church would be largely in the form of use of facilities that are already sitting vacant most of the week and access to our networks of relationships for recruitment. The church could give some financial support too, but it would be nowhere near the current levels where we are registering every single boy regardless of participation and guilting people who hate scouting into giving to Friends of Scouting.

    And I completely disagree that scouts does not support the mission of the church. Both boy and girl scouts are wonderful leadership development programs that encourage healthy lifestyles, education, and a lifelong ethic of service. Try telling Tommy Monson that Boy Scouts doesn’t support the mission of the church. If we do split from the BSA, which we may have to, there will be positives and negatives, but on balance I believe it will be a great loss. Better to create parity in the girls’ and boys’ programs by offering more for girls rather than less for boys.

    Our “busy teens” spend an inordinate amount of time playing video games and watching TV. Most of them don’t do sports, play music, spend much time on homework, or spend significant QT with their families beyond watching TV in the same room. The ones who are genuinely busy with other extracurricular activities are also often the ones who excel at scouting, similar to high achievers of any age cohort. For many LDS young men in the US, scouting is the only thing that pushes them outside of their comfortable little bubbles. We could do much of the same good without scouting, but it would be an awful lot of reinventing the wheel, as the YW are forced to do now in their non-program program. (I almost made our YW president weep when I showed her our scouting manuals and program feature books. In comparative terms they have almost nothing to go on in planning what to do from week to week. It’s a crying shame and puts the program completely at the mercy of the talent and dedication of the individual leaders.)

    Without some serious new program development (ie fleshing out Duty to God with a bunch of less “churchy” activities), if we dropped scouting in the US, the amount of time spent playing basketball would just skyrocket and we’d start losing more boys sooner than we already do. Duty to God and Aaronic Priesthood duties are great, but they aren’t much of a hook for nonmember or less active boys, or really any boy as his interest and understanding in the spiritual side of his church affiliation waxes and wanes over time.

    Anyway, that’s my experience. Scouting is a great program for youth which the church often hamstrings. I’d love to see this kerfuffle lead to fixing some of the fundamental problems in that relationship rather than dropping it an walling us off even more from the rest of civil society outside Mormondom.

  87. The solution is easy. Instead of Scouts, model a program after the pattern of Young Women Personal Progress (or Activity Days for Cub Scouts). There is only a small workbook, a shoestring budget, plus no expensive uniforms or banquets. For recognition there are only a few baubles and a cheap piece of jewelry given along with a handshake at the pulpit at completion. No background checks or leader training required. There’s no large committee of adults required to support their advancement. Only one second-rate camping event per year, plus no expensive gear to buy. Doesn’t that sound appealing?

    If it’s good enough for the girls, why not for the boys?

  88. Owen,
    I know President Monson. Please refer to him with respect.

    I am a Utah high school teacher closing in on the end of his career. I teach AP classes as well as regular classes. I have worked with LDS youth most of my life. Your assessment of LDS teens is dead wrong. And in my experience, High-achieving students have a negative view of BSA. They outgrew BSA around age 14. We have some GSA units, I have an active LDS neighbor who is a leader in that organization. She told me she could never envision GSA as a church organization. It is just too secular and many leaders are ardent feminists and secularists. The LDS church would not be welcome.

  89. So, Old Man, how do you explained the long relationship of the Catholic Church with the GSA? I’ve worked with the Girl Scouts as a youth and as an adult parent of girls, attending and helping run camps and fund raisers. Your acquaintances’ appraisal is dead wrong although a common perception in Utah.

    How is it disrespectful to refer to someone by a name they use for themselves all the time?

    And as to your long experience with LDS youth, I will throw back my own working in leadership callings with LDS youth in Utah over the past decade. The reason kids ‘outgrow’ scouts at age 14, a well known phenomenon I readily acknowledge, has everything to do with how poorly we run the programs. The whole merit badge thing isn’t meant to continue past that age. We just fail to use the more age appropriate parts of scouting for older youth. And we ought not be registering uninterested youth anyway–this is my point: our current model of scouting is broken and we would be better off switching to a volunteer/sponsorship model rather than a force/control model. Not everyone will be interested in *any* youth program we sponsor.

  90. All of the Girl Scout leaders in our troop are LDS. They would love to be able to meet at our ward house instead of the local Presbyterian Church, if only for the large gym and functional AC! GSA has religious recognition awards just like BSA and is generally little different. For the sticking point, you have to look beyond the culture wars. It’s about financial and leadership autonomy–Girl Scouts is an independent organization which for very good reasons (patriarchy) does not allow any outside org to take over their finances or appointment of their leaders. That (putting men in charge) would harm their mission of serving all girls inclusively. BSA on the other hand allows churches to contravene BSA practices and principles (like the democratic selection of boy leaders). The problem with us, the LDS, forming a close relationship with the GSA has everything to do with us, not them. We need to much control and can’t seem to swallow women leading women without men having some sort of veto power.

  91. You cant have 2 sets of order in the same house, it will not stand. It will confuse the boys to say the least. I think our relationship with BSA under its current leadership is over. It really was just a matter of time once BSA began to give ground.

  92. Owen,

    I seriously salute your ten years of service to BSA. But your comment #103 suggests a feminist perspective that many LDS would find distasteful. My experience with GSA, while limited, suggests that feminism is pronounced within that organization. And like the GSA, the LDS Church also does not want an outside organization to take over its financial and leadership autonomy. Hence your above suggestions are imaginative but not based on a realistic examination of the goals and philosophies of the institutions.

    The relationship of GSA with the Catholic Church is nothing like what the Church wants out of it’s YW program. As wonderful as that faith system is, Catholicism does not have to meet the preparatory standards for missions and temple marriage which our youth organizations must meet. Church leaders long ago felt prompted to handle the YW program in house. Now it appears that social and legal issues have made a relationship with BSA untenable. If that is true using GSA would land us in the same boat. If I understand you correctly, you now expect church leaders to seriously consider partially or fully relinquishing the ecclesiastical youth programs of the Church over to two organizations which currently or very soon will be unable to support LDS teachings on chastity and marriage. Part of the youth and no support for the basic tenets of our faith? We can do better than that.

    If the Church distances itself from this new incarnation of BSA, it will be because President Monson and other church leaders feel that BSA will no longer serve as a vitally integral and significant edifying force in the lives of our YM. But if the Church replaces BSA with another program, I suggest that it will be a program for ALL of our young men. Uniting a community is vital to the vision of Zion. I submit to you that sacred funds will be spent on that new YM program. In my opinion, there will be no need for a partial program which meets the social needs of a portion of the boys, especially one that no longer helps the Church fulfill its mission of teaching correct principles and establishing standards of conduct. If community leaders and parents wish to sponsor a BSA or GSA unit at that time, I salute their community service.

    You also asked why I thought you were disrespectful by calling President Monson “Tommy,” and I submit that you were disrespectful by referring to an elderly adult, obviously a leader of considerable esteem in our community who holds a position of sacred authority by a name he was known by within his family and during his childhood. Because he used that name while recounting stories from his youth does not make it appropriate for you to use it in direct reference to him. Your use of that childhood name implies intimacy you obviously don’t possess and possibly implies you do not respect either the man or the office. I am sure that as a BSA/GSA leader and supporter, respecting community and religious leaders is an important part of your character and I hope that you would want to avoid such implications.

    Thanks for the chat,

    Old Man

  93. A different take:

    An acquaintance was the head of Boy Scouts in Canada quite a few years ago. He met with the apostle in charge of Church Scouting relations and found him to be utterly opposed to Scouting. My acquaintance was flummoxed by this ambiguity. But, for me, it is apparent that the Church has wanted to get out of Scouting for decades but has had problems leaving because of the huge commitment by the Prophets, notably Pres. Benson, in the past.

    So, low and behold, the BSA came out with the new gay policy. This left the Church free to blame Scouting for the split. Reading the comments in the Deseret News, it seems to be working. The feeling of even very committed Scouters has become extremely negative.

    It does not matter that the announcement was full of half truths, untruths, and Christian hate, it had the effect of separating the Church from Scouting permanently. There is no going back now. All of those Church Scout Masters and den leaders are blaming the BSA for the split; fund raising and loyalty is unalterable damaged all across the Church. It is a forgone conclusion that when the “leadership” gets back from vacation that the decision will be made to separate from the BSA to finish the deed the letter has started.

    The desire to separate the Church from the BSA goes far beyond the gay issue. The gay issue, albeit important, is the proverbial straw dog to accomplish the broader organizational goals.

  94. I think the operative observation was that my acquaintance found the apostle over Scouting was antagonistic to Scouting in general, not just Canadian Scouting.

  95. Back when I was a Cubmaster I went to a regional scout leader training session held in Independence, MO. Charles Dahlquist was YM president at the time, and was there and held an open Q&A session. I asked about how we could provide an equivalent scouting experience for our young women. He suggested enrolling them in girl scouts and told us that he had done so himself with his daughters.

  96. I have long wondered why it is acceptable for church members and officers in the U.S. to be hostile to Scouting when so many Presidents of the Church, including the present one whom we all sustain as the Prophet, have patiently and repeatedly asked us to make Scouting work in our wards and branches. The Prophet says no tattoos for all and only one pair of earrings for women, and church members and officers want to enforce that rule almost pharisically. Or, let the Prophet way back in the 1970s say something about R-rated movies, or let the Prophet back in the 1930s say something about food storage, and so forth. But when those same Prophets over that same period of time ask us to make Scouting work in our U.S. wards and branches, well, many among us pooh-pooh that request, or outright mock it. Why is that?

    President Monson asked us to give every young man a good and meaningful Scouting experience. I sustain him in that. All of his predecessors back to George Albert Smith for sure and maybe even back to Joseph F. Smith, have made the same request.

  97. Ji, It is easy to explain the situation we have witnessed over the last 50 years. In the 1950’s and 60’s, Scouting worked. Leadership was provided by veterans from WWII and the Korean War. Outdoor activities were valued. There were few rules (Boy, do I have stories) and kids were never pressured to get their Eagles. Then the program evolved and became much more complex, kids changed and it didn’t work. BSA became a bureaucratic nightmare. Adult leaders today often do not enjoy the outdoors. Kids experienced pressure to get the Eagle, the awards and rank advancement systems grew more complex and expensive and resentment grew. Nothing feels worse than failure. The bottom line is that Scouting is no longer the program displayed in “Follow Me Boys.” Adjustments have been needed for years but they were never made.

    The examples you give are of successful teachings are not programs. They are correct principles. There is no “no pierced ear” award or ranks advancements based on your food storage. We are not constantly forced to face a board of review. They are ximply good concepts and we gain intrinsic value by attempting to live moral lives. Even many of the toughest critics of Scouting would never shirk the principle of teaching and nurturing the next generation. I hope that if the Church replaces BSA with a program, that the program is simple and focused on real moral and religious principles.

  98. I wish Gary would comment more, because nothing makes me happy like reading the word “pasturage” in an anti-gay rant that also implies that gay scout leaders want nothing more than to secretly video young men camping.

  99. Uh, uh, uh; not only are you taking my comments out of context, this was anything but an anti-gay rant, but also bending their meaning in apparent acquisition of political controversy. I feel there is no controversy. As it is, expediency hardly allow leaders to oversee groups of kids where sexual attractions may present themselves to the participants, especially in insulated circumstances where these presentations can gain traction or be exploited. I would hardly send my girls on overnighters attended solely by male leaders; nor would any sane organization allow it. By extension it only makes sense that those with same-sex attractions would be a concern if they were to solely accompany children of the same sex.

  100. There is absolutely no reason for a press release like this unless the decision has already been made to leave the BSA. If they don’t plan already do so, then this press release is PR malpractice.

  101. As someone who came from a family where becoming an Eagle Scout was an expectation back three generations (my grandfather received his Eagle Scout at age 45, when adults could receive the award) and who has served as a Scout leader for numerous boys and my own son in different wards on and off for many years I have a few observations:

    1. Scouting in the LDS context has not generally worked well for boys after they turn 14. With a few exceptions, most boys lose interest in Scouting with the onset of puberty and most Scouting efforts past that age are just high adventure activities mixed in with basketball. I knew if a boy didn’t get his First Class award by age 12 he was unlikely to get his Eagle by age 15. I’m pretty sure Boy Scouts are not considered to be cool by the vast majority of boys aged 14 or over, thus the dramatic drop in participation rates at that age (in and out of the LDS church).
    2. The only exception to the above is a strong spike in activity when a boy reaches 16 and wants a drivers license (conditional on having an Eagle) or 17.5 and needs to get an Eagle before age 18. This is just an exercise in checking off boxes and not really Scouting.
    3. Given the above, Scouting really hasn’t been of much functional value in the LDS Church for boys over the age of 14 for many years — there are exceptions, but not many. Losing a tie to Scouting will mostly impact the Cubs and younger Scouts. Not a huge loss as younger boys could be involved in Achievement Days and in a revamped Duty to God program.
    4. The recent press release was really an informal announcement that the Church is withdrawing from Scouting. Friends of Scouting fundraising will go to near zero as a result of this press release. Even those of us who strongly support Scouting hate FOS — we held our noses and did it. We will not do it anymore, No money, no Scouting program.

    Scouting was great for the boys while it was relevant and consistent with LDS values. The two have diverged. Adios BSA, it was good to know ye.

    btw: Despite the Girl Scouts embrace of “diversity”, their membership has plummeted by over 25% in the last decade or so. They have also seen significant financial problems as well. Doesn’t seem to support the idea that embracing “diversity” will prop up the fortunes of BSA.

  102. I was off grid for about a week; but in response to Dave K’s question about what other straws could have possibly been involved? Our church at times demands and expects a certain amount of power in sway in decision making in the BSA over the years bc of our #s and financial involvement. Apparently our $ and our #s have had less and less sway over the last few years. I also have a friend whose LDS family members had been full-time BSA employees and they found themselves being eventually pushed out and replaced with non LDS employees. All anecdotal, but totally feasible. And if I were the BSA I’d have done the exact same thing.

  103. As usual, I’m late to the party – but my two cents’ worth, which is about all it’s worth, is that Kristine A is probably on track. The seeds were sown at least 12 years ago, when BSA first started to think about its position vis-à-vis LGBT+ leaders; the Church at that time made it quite clear that we were out if it changed. We developed the whole new separate Duty to God program (along with “Strength of Youth”) at that time as a separate and parallel fallback in case the BSA changed its policy; it was tough to run the two in tandem but YM leaders have done it for more than a decade. I think Nate’s reasoning as to the eventual lawsuit makes a lot of sense, too. If the organization doesn’t have a “morally straight” policy, the troops won’t be able to sustain their own such policies, even with the support of a sponsoring organization.

    LGBT+ issues aside, good riddance, says I. BSA is a major PITA. It’s gotten to the point in this area so that the annual Friends of Scouting drive is met with open ridicule on the part of YM leaders and even Scoutmasters and committee chairs, who pretty much say that they’ll support the troop as needed but won’t donate to pay the 6-figure salaries of Scout executives. The flimsy fiction of providing programs for disadvantaged inner-city kids doesn’t cut much ice with LDS troop leaders who are allowed one fundraiser a year and whose “high adventures” consist of four or five days at a state park campground because we can’t drive on Sundays. Let the wealthy suburban city troops fund the BSA.

    What we will see is if the church is serious about allowing openly gay but celibate male leaders to serve in YM callings (or openly gay but celibate female leaders to serve with YW, although this seems to raise fewer hackles). Certain rules and guidelines should be, and are currently, followed for youth protection. (An openly heterosexual adult man, for example, probably shouldn’t be called as the camping director for the Laurels; it simply looks bad and invites trouble.) Hopefully we won’t succumb to the superstition that every gay man is a child molester in waiting.

  104. OP hit it on the head. The Church rightly sees significant, costly legal battles if BSA sponsorship continues and also feels disrespected by pushy national council behavior surrounding the vote.

    BSA serves (served?) a small portion of LDS (deacons in the United States, basically- maybe 1% of active members), and even among that portion many of them don’t like it very much. It’s very expensive, and it isn’t optimized for LDS or steered by LDS toward LDS goals. Historically, when the Church was mostly in the mountainous western united states (the perfect geography for scouting) and when the Church wanted to emphasize white-bread American-ness during the cold war, it probably made sense to put up with the negative aspects of scouting in return for a solid youth program for the boys that also showed Church patriotism. No longer. The Church generally respects history and tradition and they have loads of patience for a long-time partner like BSA, but eventually patience runs out. In this case, it seems to have been a clear and deliberate move by BSA that severed what remained of the relationship.

    As an eagle scout, it doesn’t bother me at all that the Church will shift away from scouting. I love the respect for the outdoors and the fun camaraderie scouts fostered, but you don’t need badges and neckerchiefs and high-paid executives to foster love and respect for the outdoors. The more important elements of scouting, reverence for God and commitment to personal character, are already covered in existing LDS youth programs. It’s actually a huge win for the Church that BSA would hand them such an obvious opportunity to back away from a long and expensive sponsorship. President Monson has a personal love for Scouting and it probably would have taken another 10 years for the Church to disassociate had BSA not thrown the door wide open like this.

    I feel sorry for professional scouters who are LDS and may find themselves out of a job before long, but for the rest of us this is a win to celebrate. Friends of Scouting won’t be missed.

  105. Re. 66, 68, and 74 – RMM, the Lord commands those in sin to repent and does not look up sin with the least degree of allowance Eric, what about people who are single and just gay? You know, like singles who are just straight? Or are they sinners too?

    In re. 121: I feel sorry for professional scouters who are LDS and may find themselves out of a job before long No reason they’d have to quit, if they can keep taking a BSA salary in good conscience. The Church removing itself from Scouting doesn’t mean an LDS person couldn’t be employed by the BSA. It just means he can’t dun his own ward members for his salary.

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