Church Sticks With BSA

boyscoutsofamericauniformAt least for the moment, as announced in this statement posted at the Mormon Newsroom: “Church to Go Forward with Scouting Program.” So despite the sharply worded LDS statement released a month ago at the Newsroom expressing frustration with BSA for the timing and content of the decision to allow gay scout leaders to serve and despite Internet rumors that an LDS-BSA divorce was imminent, this troubled marriage will continue, at least for now. How long will this last given declining support for BSA among the LDS rank and file? And what does this mean for LDS youth and youth programs?

25 comments for “Church Sticks With BSA

  1. How long will this last…?

    Until approximately 1 year after President’ Monson’s death.

    So how do we explain last month’s press release?
    a. The newsroom went rogue.
    b. The newsroom followed the instructions of one or more powerful apostles who were either (1) too pissed at the BSA to wait until everybody got back from vacation, or (2) trying to manipulate President Monson into abandoning the BSA by discrediting it.
    c. The newsroom followed the instructions of the collective leadership, which temporarily lost its mind, then got it back again.
    d. Other.

  2. There is something surreal to see the top mormon news stories, a few days after a Time magazine article citing demographics research from ARIS with a 1.5 – 2.0 active female mormons to male active singles, and then the inspired decision is? drum roll . . – Let’s stay with boy scouts and not change a thing.

  3. It could also be that the newsroom release was to put pressure on the BSA for some concessions we aren’t hearing about at the moment.

  4. But Clark, doesn’t the sequence of events sort of show that the Church no longer has any leverage over BSA? They called the LDS bluff and nothing happened.

  5. Depends on whether any serious changes are made about how Scouting is integrated into the ward program. If the status quo continues with untrained, uninterested adults corralling unengaged young men stuck in age-inappropriate activities, the relationship’s days are numbered.

  6. “doesn’t the sequence of events sort of show that the Church no longer has any leverage over BSA? They called the LDS bluff and nothing happened.”

    Great point, Dave.

    I wonder if by releasing the Newsroom statement criticizing the BSA, the Church signaled that it’s okay for ordinary members to also criticize the BSA, and this allowed a lot of complaints from more orthodox members that ordinary go unspoken to be voiced. And to results like the poll result you linked to. I’m guessing that now that such complaints have been voiced, it might make it more difficult to go back to the way things were, and might hasten the Church’s eventual exit, even if it’s still years in the future.

  7. Dave, I don’t know. That’s a plausible interpretation but maybe threatening to pull out in a huff made the BSA think twice. (I always thought the newsroom relief seemed like a bit of a faux outrage, but few others thought that so I may well be wrong)

    Ziff, have criticisms of the scouting program been unspoken? I’ve heard them for years.

  8. The Church may continue with the BSA for a little while, but Friends of Scouting has seen its time pass. So long old friend. Who will guilt me into giving them money now? Probably some provider of skin cream or Polynesian magical drinks.

  9. I’m glad! The relationship is good for the Church, and the young men of the Church. Now, I wish ward Young Men presidents and others will actually try to make the program work for the benefit of our young men all across the USA — but somehow, we are willing to accept mediocrity in this matter, and somehow, we collectively choose not to sustain our leaders in this matter.

  10. The only decent activities my boys had in Young Men’s were scouts and trek. The rest were last minute make work play time meet ups with no apparent purpose.

  11. According to the statement by the church …”With equal concern for the substantial number of youth who live outside the United States and Canada, the Church will continue to evaluate and refine program options that better meet its global needs.” Does this include improvements to the Young Women and Activity Days programs?

  12. I still think the exit will happen. Just a timing issue really.
    All we need is a good lawsuit to draw some blood.

    I agree with #12. Friends of Scouting is dead to me. I no longer will go around collecting funds or donate to this cause. I suspect this is not an uncommon sentiment. A very unpopular program is going to die a hard death, no matter the pronouncements from the pulpit.

  13. jb, what kind of lawsuit? The BSA is more or less constantly litigating one issue or another (though I didn’t look at what specific issues). Its recent change doesn’t strike me as indicative of a higher or a lower volume of litigation.

  14. So, not to be that person, but I think it’s interesting to watch Latter-day response to decisions that their leadership makes that they agree with versus those they don’t.

  15. Several points.
    1. The LDS church press release at the end of July was PR malpractice. Highly damaging to the church, their leaders and their affiliation with the local BSA councils if they stay with the BSA.
    2. I believe they will see more difficulty raising donations for the local BSA councils as a result of their PR malpractice. Of course the local church leaders will give a “quota” of donations that will have to raised by each ward regardless. So get ready!
    3. I never gave money to the scouts simply because “the church” asked me too…but because I think the BSA program is donation worthy. I don’t think it’s programs or value to boys who want to participate has changed. So I think you should still donate to this and other good causes of your choice. The vast majority of that money goes to the local council to run camps, scout offices, train leaders, etc.

  16. It is interesting that the July press release was an anonymous news room announcement. Today’s statement is from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. Someday the politics of the month between them will make for interesting reading.

  17. Mark, I agree, and I’m definitely not going to raise my hand to sustain Michael Otterson next Conference. :)

    But more seriously, I think this episode highlights the entire problem with anonymous press releases that are attributed to “the Brethren.” I know all of those brothers by name, and even by voice, as do most members of the church. They have personalities, are real people, and have opinions and can change their minds on anything. They can be right and they can be wrong. All of those are good things, in my opinion, and are part of what make our leadership special. The only above that Public Affairs shares with them are the last two: it very definitely has opinions, and those opinions can be changed very quickly.

    The First Presidency and other apostles personal and can be held accountable for what they say and do. When Bruce McConkie was wrong in his racism with regard to the Priesthood, he admitted he was wrong. Boyd Packer shared his personal struggles with gaining his testimony, and how it didn’t really come to him until he was an adult. Joseph Wirthlin was tempted to move a football after it was down. President Thomas Monson almost burned down Provo Canyon. And that’s why I love them: they’re real people.

    I don’t want to lose that.

  18. I believe most of us see that the LGBT are just two chess moves away from going directly after the LDS church. Once the groups get their concession from BSA – either through “persuasive measures” or through the courts – to require all charter members to permit practicing gays into leadership positions (which they have publicly stated is their next step), gentlemen within ward boundaries will step forward demanding to be made scout leaders. Once the request is denied, LGBT will legally go after the Church, at least attempting to remove the Church’s tax exempt status based on discrimination.

  19. Public Affairs has no opinions, mirrorrorim. It’s sole purpose, if you will is to be the like the spirit of the Brethren, conveying their mind and will to the public at large when the Brethren aren’t themselves speaking.

    That’s probably a bit extreme in the approach as PA and the Brethren aren’t perfected like the Lord and the Holy Ghost, but just as you wouldn’t say the spirit disagrees with the Lord, PA can’t disagree with the Brethren.

    Any change in PA statements, reflects a change, if it could be called that, in the thinking of the Brethren. In this case, the Brethren publicly announced they are rethinking scouting. And then announced they’ve thought about it and are going to stick with it for now.

    For all we know that release was never to signal a break between LDS and BSA in the near future, but rather just a PR way of the church saying, “We disagree with the recent actions for several reasons, and maintain the right to rethink our involvement”, which incidentally, is pretty much what it did say.

    All that being said, an organization that acts contrary to doctrine is not one I wish to support. So I won’t be. With my time or money.

  20. Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    Sheldon (#20), interesting observation. The July statement was described as “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement ….” The more recent statement was described as a “statement Wednesday from the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.” Both statements were then quoted verbatim, the July statement in the same font with two paragraphs of text in quotation marks, the more recent statement with three italicized paragraphs.

    This suggests the July statement was approved by a supervising apostle or two, whereas the more recent statement was vetted and approved by the entire Big 15. Interesting that a statement held out as coming from “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” is apparently less official than one coming from “The Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.” I wonder where a statement from the First Presidency alone would stack up on this hierarchy? Or a public statement by a single apostle over the pulpit or to a journalist?

    I wouldn’t attribute the differences to nefarious plans and activities of LDS PA — there are sharp people there working hard to communicate better with the media and the world at large on behalf of the Church. It sure is a better arrangement than what we had before the Newsroom. It is different views among the Big 15 that create some confusion in public statements, I think. That said, Michael Otterson’s recent comments did little to help readers differentiate between a simple “statement” and a “statement of the Church” and a “statement of the Council of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles” that all appear at the Newsroom.

    Internally there is apparently a difference between these (and other) categories, but to external readers those differences are not always apparent. Instead, external readers are more likely to perceive confusion or dissimulation by the leadership.

  21. rickpowers (#22), a person who can’t wait to demand to be a scout leader? Now I’ve seen everything!

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