Update April 20th: The Boy Scouts of America will introduce a compromise proposal on May 20th that will allow openly-gay Scouts, but continue to ban openly-gay adult leaders. Updated post HERE.
On January 28th, 2013, numerous sources are reporting that the Boy Scouts of America organization is considering ending the nationwide ban against participation by openly-gay boys and adult leaders, despite the fact that the litany of past sexual abuse of scouts involved male homosexual leaders with male Scouts. Although there is a clinical difference between homosexuality and pedophilia, the line between the two became quite blurred as a result of these scandals.
The best story, including public reaction, was published by The Blaze, although there are 2100 comments appended to NBC's story. However, because it is a controversial issue, BSA is considering merely removing the national ban and allowing local scouting groups to decide for themselves whether they will admit gay youths and leaders rather than imposing mandatory permission of homosexual participation from the top down by the national organization. Deron Smith, a media representative for the Boy Scouts, said “The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs.". This issue could be resolved soon; the discussion is nearing its final stages, and if approved, the change could be announced as early as the first full week in February, after the BSA's national board holds a regularly scheduled meeting. Update February 6th: BSA decides to defer decision until May 2013.
But one of the reasons for the change is economic. Some organizations have waged economic warfare against BSA to pressure them to change. More recently, amid petition campaigns, shipping giant UPS and drug manufacturer Merck announced that they were halting donations from their charitable foundations to the Boy Scouts as long as the no-gays policy was in force.
Naturally, this leads to questions on how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would react, not only because BSA is the official youth program for boys, but, according to prominent LDS blogger Joanna Brooks, 34 percent of Boy Scout troops nationwide are co-sponsored by the LDS Church as of October 2012. The Salt Lake Tribune is currently reporting that the Church has 420,977 youths in 37,882 Scouting units. This means that if the LDS Church objected to the change, and decided to disaffiliate all their troops from BSA, it could inflict a mortal blow upon BSA. KSL Channel 5 reports that BSA conferred with Mormon leaders, as well as Roman Catholic and Southern Baptist sponsors of Boy Scout troops who also prefer to exclude openly-gay participants, before making this new announcement, but none of them have officially reacted, although the Tribune reports that the LDS Church will make no official statement until the decision is announced after next week’s BSA national board meeting.
But considering that BSA says they have already talked to LDS leaders and BSA is still considering going ahead with the change, this implies that the LDS Church can live with the change and won't object. Consequently, I don't foresee the LDS Church disaffiliating all their Boy Scout troops, since they will retain the freedom to exclude openly-gay participants. Nevertheless, it is disturbing that BSA is caving into public pressure and weakening their standards, considering that there is an alternative organization called Scouting For All that caters to openly-gay participants. Even more disturbing is the seeming obsession that gay rights lobbies have with our youth; they seem fixated on getting youth who are unsure about their sexuality to admit they're gay, come out of the closet and publicly proclaim their homosexuality as the only acceptable choice. First, they inundated our high school and middle school campuses with Gay-Straight Clubs, and now they want a foothold in the Boy Scouts. The gay rights lobbies would have more credibility if they would focus on adults and leave the youth to their parents.
Unofficial LDS Reaction: Discussion has already broken out on Mormon Dialogue and LDS Freedom Forum, where reaction is mixed. KSL Channel 5 also records several comments reflecting Mormon reaction (after the jump):
Joshua H. posted 1 hour ago:
The LDS community is a large LARGE financial supporter of the scouting program in Utah. I decision like this could force the LDS church to drop scouting as the activity arm of the young mens program. That could have devastating effects on scouting in Utah. I believe the church has been preparing for this time and is ready to make the break but I hope it doesn't come to that.
Goofy posted 2 hours ago:
What is going to happen though, is because of the stance of the LDS church, and how much money the LDS church puts into the boy scout program, I could see them dropping it, and I think that will hurt the boy scouts tremendously.
Redsoxunixgeek posted 2 hours ago:
Under the proposed change, said BSA spokesman Deron Smith, "the Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents."
Well that is good to know, however, let the moral outrage begin as people do not read the entire article, and how it really doesn't impact the day-to-day operations of the Church's involvement in Scouting.
AKepsel posted 56 minutes ago:
I don't want to be rude, but the core beliefs of the LDS church is love one another and Family first. Just like the church would not want you to disown a family member struggling with sexuality, it would not want you to exclude families from being in a Spiritually uplifting setting like the BSA. Rise above the idea that you need to keep bad out and try taking good with you. If a young man is struggling the boy scouts of america is a wonderful organization to help him feel secure, strong and part of something. Young men need this and the Church and the BSA understand that. I agree with the former commenter who brought up the new LDS church website on Homosexuality, it's really wonderful and members should really concern themselves with the most recent information their church gives them.
Russell B. posted 2 hours ago:
I would not be too sure about what the LDS church will do. You never know if they would sever their ties with the BSA. The church is softening their position these days and teaching its members to love all gods children. Check out the new LDS website concerning gays. The BSA is facing a big problem with membership because of a demographic shift. The number of scouts is dropping dramaticly accros the nation.
Brooklynboy posted 2 hours ago:
I think it the LDS Church drops or lowers it moral fiber, a major shift will have taken place, I see this as caving to peer pressure, this organization should be able to apply their own standards and folks join or not join base don the moral fiber or character of the organization itself
stuntmonkey posted 2 hours ago:
This will put them in a difficult position. If they want to continue their 'Duty to God' yet acknowledge and allow openly gay indivuduals to join- That's a bit contradictory, no?
Maybe if they change their purpose to "Duty to Mankind" or something, and leave religion out of it. In the end, they are a private national club and can do whatever they want, regarding who they allow as members.
Thomas S. posted 2 hours ago:
I, for one, will resign my membership in the BSA should this take effect. I will also cancel my yearly "friends of scouting" donations and dontations recruitment. I cannot condone this lifestyle and will cease ALL affiliation with the BSA if they continue to trifle with the great program it has been--I don't care if our troop/pack/council is not affected. I don't care if the LDS Church joins with you. The whole program must remain cohesive and consistant! The same program in New York, Florida, Utah, etc...
This is NOT an attack on gays/lesbians. This is in defence of a program which has been a benefit to all moral young men who have participated in it for over 100 years. Our oaths and promises will be null and void with a new turn in moral direction! What next BSA?--Take the word "God" out of the pledge of alligiance?
This is not an idle threat knee-jerk reaction; this is a great concern of mine, and I will fight this!
Mike B. posted 1 hour ago:
I'm with you 100% Thomas. The scouting program has always been a place to learn and grow on a personal and spiritual level. If this program is trifled with, like you, I will end my support and return all my badges and awards, yes even my Eagle. When there are standards set forth to belong to a group you either join and accept the rules or you don't join, it's easy to understand. It's time for America to stand up for what is right and quit letting a vocal terrorist minority hold our lives hostage. I have rights also and it's my right not to agree with the gay plan.
Nathan T. posted 1 hour ago:
Fist off I bear no animosity to those who are gay, nor even those who are open to the public about it, nor even to those who chose to live that life-style. I had several fiends that are gay. I realize sometimes my statements on this board get misconstrued a lot. So, please realize that I have no problem with those who label themselves gay.
It is very sad that the boy-scouts are even "thinking" about back-tracking on this policy. I railed against the boy scouts recently for "collecting files" but then doing nothing and sometimes even covering up for the abuse that went on in their ranks. They already lost my distrust, and I no longer even promote to anyone the rank I achieved in that organization.
With that said, there is a good reason for that policy to be in place. Every single abuse that occurred between a boy scout leader and his charges was gay. Now don't misconstrue my words. I know for a certain that MOST people who are gay would NEVER abuse a boy child. But, to claim that males who abuse male children are not gay is to misunderstand human sexuality, and is completely disingenuous to use such an argument against the policy.
The policy is not to limit gays from serving, it is to limit gays who are "open" about it. It is to limit those who want to push their own life-style as being good and acceptable to promote the decay of the very morals that the boy scouts claim to uphold. I realize a gay person serving is not going to turn boys (sans abuse) to being gay. That is not the point of the policy either, it is not out of fear of turning a boy to being gay. The point of the policy is to keep the abuse from happening. Someone who is "openly gay" promotes (intentionally or unintentionally) the morality of a gay life-style while being entrusted with the care and close proximity of charges to whom it is very possible that they may become sexually aroused by, and those charges may know of said arousement (this creates a dangerous situation).
If you allow gays to server as boy scout leaders, why not allow young women to be boy scout leaders too? After all, it isn't about sexuality right? But, it is, and it is for a good reason. [Ed. Note: Good God, man, don't give the feminists any ideas. FMH will start lobbying for it.]
I have no problem with gays being in the boy scouts if they are not openly promoting their behaviors, and if other policies are in place to stop the abuse (which again includes comprehensive sex education in the schools), as well as never being alone with the boys, leaders never sharing the tents, etc.
I find it sad that the boy scouts would so back-track on this policy. But, then they already lost my respect, and any and all future donations, when I learned that they not only knew about the abuse, but that they often covered up and kept the abusers out of prison. Truly, if they have no gumption about protection of the boys, then there is no reason to maintain their policy. But, the policy has a reason, even when many gays (who themselves would never harm a child) refuse to see the purpose of the policy.
hardbooter posted 1 hour ago:
I would think the BSA would be walking on thin ice with the LDS church by making this move. Currently the church is a huge supporter of the scouts and without the church the BSA could quickly become what the Girl Scouts is.
I personally wish the church would pull out of the BSA and do some kind of program with the young men like what they do with the young women.