By Utah National Parks Council
Dec 07, 2013

LDS Church’s Close Relationship with Scouting

As 2013 draws to a close, let us reflect on the one of the most significant changes that took place this past year described by the LDS Church as, “‘the most comprehensive listening exercise in its [Boy Scouts] history.’” [1]

In 2013 the Boy Scouts of America reviewed its membership policy and a change was approved and adopted.

The following membership standard for youth members of the Boy Scouts of America is hereby adopted and approved, effective Jan. 1, 2014: [2]

“Youth membership in the Boy Scouts of America is open to all youth who meet the specific membership requirements to join the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Sea Scout, and Venturing programs. Membership in any program of the Boy Scouts of America requires the youth member to (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and (c) demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”

The policy further reads:

“AND WHEREAS, Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting; … [3]

Scouting is chartered by civic, faith-based, and education organizations. Indeed, 70.3 percent of all Scouting programs are operated by faith based organizations. [4]

Many expressed opinions of how the LDS Church would react but in its statement, the First Presidency stated: “The current BSA proposal constructively addresses a number of important issues that have been part of the ongoing dialogue, including consistent standards for all BSA partners, recognition that Scouting exists to serve and benefit youth rather than Scout leaders, a single standard of moral purity for youth in the program, and a renewed emphasis for Scouts to honor their duty to God.”

“We are grateful to BSA for their careful consideration of these issues. We appreciate the positive things contained in this current proposal that will help build and strengthen the moral character and leadership skills of youth as we work together in the future.” [5]

Scouting was embraced by the LDS Church in 1913 as “its activity program for young men.” [6] In October of 2013, the LDS Church put on a production to celebrate 100 years of Scouting and the Church (see blog article, “LDS Church Celebrates ‘A Century of Honor’ with the Boy Scouts” to view the production).

The Young Men General Presidency described the close relationship the Church has with Scouting in its October 2013 LDS-BSA Newsletter:

“Both organizations [BSA and LDS Church] firmly believe in the bedrock principles laid out by Baden-Powell: “The Scout, in his promise, undertakes to do his duty to his king and country only in the second place; his first duty is to God. It is with this idea before us and recognizing that God is the one Father of us all, that we Scouts count ourselves a brotherhood despite the differences among us…”

For young men throughout the world, and in particular, young men in the LDS Church, the Boy Scouts have been a blessing and a strength in their on-going quest to become leaders in their homes, communities and nations.

Regarding Scouting, President Thomas. S. Monson has said: “Skills have been learned, values have been established, good deeds have been done, and lives have been enriched. scouting brings out the best in each of us. You’ve learned and will continue to learn. Help others to hike the trails, to keep steadfast in the paths of truth, of honor, of duty, that all of you can soar together on eagles’ wings. You are part of a mighty army of youth, even a royal army, and every organization, to be successful, has an honored tradition to uphold. May you uphold Scouting’s tradition, for it can be as a lighthouse beacon in the world of stormy seas”.” [7]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the largest chartered organization in the Utah National Parks Council. The largest council in the nation of Boy Scouts, the Utah National Parks Council (serving more than 83,000 youth) and the LDS Church have both enjoyed a close and beneficial relationship these past 100 years. 

Author: Heidi Sanders | Marketing & PR Director, Utah National Parks Council

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References

1. See LDS.org, “Church Issues Statement on Boy Scouts of America.” (2013, April 25).

2. See BSA, “Membership Standards Resolution.”

3. See BSA, “Membership Standards Resolution.”

4. See BSA, “Chartered Organizations and the Boy Scouts of America.”

5.  See LDS.org, “Church Issues Statement on Boy Scouts of America.” (2013, April 25).

6. See LDS-BSA Relationships, “Message from the Young Men General Presidency Centennial Celebration of Scouting and the Church.” (2013, October) Newsletter.

7. See LDS-BSA Relationships, “Message from the Young Men General Presidency Centennial Celebration of Scouting and the Church.” (2013, October) Newsletter.

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