The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have voted to allow gay leaders to serve, as a result, the LDS Church put out this statement:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled by today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board. In spite of a request to delay the vote, it was scheduled at a time in July when members of the Church’s governing councils are out of their offices and do not meet. When the leadership of the Church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined. The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation. However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.
“As a global organization with members in 170 countries, the Church has long been evaluating the limitations that fully one-half of its youth face where Scouting is not available. Those worldwide needs combined with this vote by the BSA National Executive Board will be carefully reviewed by the leaders of the Church in the weeks ahead.”
First, some problems with the statement. The Church has not always been welcoming of all boys regardless of sexual orientation. Jack H. Goaslind, Young Men’s General President at the time, said in 1991 he would recommend the LDS Church withdraw from association with BSA if they were forced to register homosexual scouts.
Second, why would be being openly gay be inconsistent with the doctrines of the LDS Church? I don’t see justification for that on the Church’s official MormonsandGays website. Are they saying “openly gay” and “sexual active” are the same thing?
Third, they say they’re evaluating the limitations of fully one-half of LDS Church youth not having Scouting, but they really mean is the male youth. The LDS Church does not have an official association with the Girl Scouts.
It’s an interesting tactic by the BSA to vote earlier in the month when they knew none of the LDS Church representatives would be in attendance to the vote. They have their financial motivations to change the policy, but since over 1/3 of all Boy Scout charters are LDS, wouldn’t it have been better to delay the vote?
There are some LDS Church members who would like to see the relationship end over this new policy, and there are others who’d like to see it end despite this new policy. While BSA president Robert Gates said each religious charter could set its own standards dictated by their beliefs, this could still just mean lawsuits down the road. If the LDS Church keeps its relationship with the Boy Scouts, I don’t see how they could be sued. Leadership in the Scouts is a church calling for LDS Troops, and you don’t see anyone suing the LDS Church because they didn’t get the calling they wanted. (I know. Never say never when it comes to clever trial lawyers).
Meanwhile there are many LDS Church members who would like to see the relationship continue, but if they withdraw, then maybe the LDS Church will make their Young Men’s and Young Women’s programs more similar.