By Liz Merrell
Mar 24, 2014

LDS Church President Featured in Boy Scout Painting

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Artist Jon McNaughton has captured the essence of Scouting in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with his new Boy Scout Painting, Sacred Fire.

The Sacred Fire is not an ordinary fire. In 1913, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became the first chartered partner of the Boy Scouts of America. Sacred Fire symbolizes this 100-year partnership and illustrates the qualities of the Boy Scout Oath and Law.

“I wanted to paint an image that reveals the relationship between Scouting and the Priesthood,” McNaughton said.

Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the world Scouting movement, is featured in the center of the painting. Gathered around him in a spirit of brotherhood and unity are the presidents of the LDS Church who served since the formation of this Scouting partnership. The LDS Church presidents are wearing period-specific Scout uniforms and awards unique to their era. Each log on the fire represents their leadership contributions to the Scouting movement. President Monson is pictured reaching forward to lay his log on the fire.

“I was grateful to receive the lovely painting by Jon McNaughton entitled Sacred Fire, which depicts Lord Baden-Powell with eleven Presidents of the Church, from Joseph F. Smith to the present,” said President Thomas S. Monson in his letter of appreciation.

“It is an honor to accept this gift from the Utah National Parks Council. Thank you very much,”

To those who are familiar with Scouting and its ideals, it is no wonder that the LDS Church places great emphasis on the Boy Scouts of America. “There is a sacred relationship between Scouting and the Priesthood and the Lord has an interest in its purpose. The logs on the fire represent the contribution of each President since the (LDS) Church joined with Scouting. The fire is ‘sacred’ and does not burn; it illuminates and represents the Lord’s Spirit directing this great partnership,” said David Pack, Utah National Parks Council Scout Executive.

The painting was commissioned by an anonymous donor.

“I hope you will feel the warmth of this painting and my invitation to gather around the fire; to contemplate the great purpose of the Boy Scouts of America,” McNaughton said.

Lithograph prints and giclee canvas copies of Sacred Fire are exclusively available with a donation to the Utah National Parks Council, Boy Scouts of America.

For more information contact Andrew Olsen at 801-437-1625 or

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22 thoughts on “LDS Church President Featured in Boy Scout Painting

  1. Avataradano

    Are you sure you want to feature Jon McNaughton here? He is, after all, an artist who has painted recent US presidents destroying the constitution. I would hardly call him a “patriotic artist” as this post does.

    1. AvatarLucie

      maybe he painted those presidents because that is what he thinks is going on and he fears deeply for our country as many Americans do. I find this boy scout painting very beautiful and would love to have a copy.

    1. AvatarMatthew Luke

      really?… prophets who have supported Scouting gather around a campfire in symbolic representation of the LDS support of the Scouting program and it’s creepy? well to each their own. I find this inspiring and honored that our Prophets have understood the importance of Scouting in young men’s lives.

      1. AvatarJoseph Watley III

        “I find this inspiring and honored that our Prophets have understood the importance of Scouting in young men’s lives.” YOURS not ours. I am an eagle scout and love the scouting program, but I wish it could find its own legs in the greater salt lake area without all the need of the church…

    2. AvatarD. Michael Martindale

      Why it’s creepy:

      McNaughton is the king of Mormon schlock. What’s funny is, there are people who actually think what he paints is art.

      This irritates me mostly because of the “Sacred Fire” title. He’s enshrining this as a holy scene, treating the church presidents as demigods. You doubt me? Witness the adulation of the people who praise his work.

      It’s just the Boy Scouts, people! Nice organization that can help build character in boys (even gay ones now!)

      Jesus managed to preach a whole gospel without Boy Scouts around. That fire is just a campfire, not a sacred fire.

      This is literally idol worship.

    1. AvatarMatthew Luke

      Hum DL what about the expression of one’s belief and opinion and affront to religion? Specifically since he is LDS what is that he is paints that is affront to what Mormons believe? Perhaps if you had an understanding of the LDS belief you wouldn’t be so offended that many of us believe as McNaughton paints.

      1. AvatarMatthew Luke

        DL I also am LDS and in my humble opinion I clearly disagree with you. But then again isn’t that what’s beautiful about religion? You can believe whatever you want and still believe in the same Jesus Christ. Also please clarify for me what YOUR understanding of LDS beliefs are that he has so offended you?

  2. AvatarMike

    This painting is currently being mocked within many LDS circles (as it deserves to be). The artist is a disgrace to art and as another poster mentioned he is an affront to religion. I would also kindly ask that you do not promote this artist or his art.

  3. AvatarMark Olsen

    An amazing painting truly capturing Lord Baden-Powell’s vision for scouting as well as that of the prophet’s for raising valiant young men.

  4. AvatarMarlyn Dillon

    I am so glad I have lead a sheltered life and had the opportunity to view this picture many times and to have watched others as they have seen this painting and admired it. I wish I had not read the previous comments about the artis. I still find the picture inspiring.

  5. AvatarSusan Jackson

    I’m with you, Marlyn. When I look at this painting it also makes me feel inspired. To me, it shows the support of scouting from the prophets and their love for our youth.

  6. Derrick LarsenDerrick Larsen

    This is a beautiful painting that depicts quite wonderfully the love that each Prophet has had for our young men since Scouting was adopted into the Church. Each man has contributed greatly to the saving of us all!

  7. AvatarCarma Steck

    I saw the image of this painting for the first time 2 weeks ago. I liked it instantly.
    (I still do. No matter the negative comments I just read.)

  8. AvatarAF

    I am a Proud Parent of two Eagle, and one almost there scout. I like the painting.
    My oldest Eagle met Pres Monson in Kirland a couple of years back and in the temple
    he spoke highly of the Scouting Program. I am greatful for all their scout leaders that
    gave freely of their time and talents to inspire my sons. They are better people for it.
    Best wishes to all that are bringing up their sons in the scouting program.

  9. AvatarJason Lichfield

    I love this picture. The emblems on the uniforms and around each of our Prophets necks tell volumes of how these men were impacted and supported the Scouting Program as the Activity arm of the Priesthood! I want this hanging up in my office! If there is a problem with the artist… well he that has no sin of his own can cast stones I guess. If perfect people are the only ones who can feel inspired to paint or contribute with the talents the Lord has blessed them with, we would be lacking of some amazing influences all through-out history.
    Peace to each of you my Brothers and Sister!
    30 yrs registered veteran of Scouting!

  10. AvatarMarzilla Bryson

    I have been involved w/ and had scouts in my family.2 eagles so far.. I have been watching for 47 years..never known scouting to be anything but a good influence on boys w/ the exception of a few who felt left out. The badges were useful, the character traits laudable in all that I knew.

    There has been great concern about gay membership and leadership..the only crimes I ever knew about were committed by straight men. And as long as ppl stick to the goals and aims every boy can benefit..I still donate and encourage others to do so. BSA is the best program I know for boys and young men.

  11. AvatarLynn Henrichsen

    I saw a copy of this painting at Camp Maple Dell and found it so inspiring that I searched for it on the Internet when I returned to “civilization.” As a Latter-day Saint and veteran Scouter, I struggle to understand why some people find it “creepy” or “disturbing.” Is it the idea of a group of “dead” people gathered together? Or are they disturbed because the Church and its presidents have staunchly supported the Scouting movement, and they have differences with what BSA represents and advocates? I wish they were brave (the tenth point of the Scout Law) enough to explain their objections.


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