Thursday, June 6, 2013

Reasons for Scouting

Last night I was reading through a brief history of Scouting in the LDS church (It's our centennial this year!) and learned something new.

I had already known that the church started a Scout group (known as MIA Scouts) before officially adopting the BSA. What I did not know were the reasons that the church recommended using the Scouting movement as a part of it's programs for young men. One of the reasons given by the committee studying the possibility of using Scouting was that LDS young men needed more outdoor activities. In 1911 a bunch of farm boys in Utah needed more outdoor activities? Wow. What does that mean for our video game addicts of today?

As Scouting in the Church continued to grow, the question was often asked why the MIA Scouts were not affiliated with the national organization of the Boy Scouts of America. Another committee looked into the possibility. After studying it out, the committee recommended affiliation with the BSA for five reasons:
  1. Broader opportunities as Scouts
  2. Definiteness of purpose and standardization of merit
  3. A general uplift and fellowship of the boys of the nation
  4. The missionary work of our boys, associating with their fellows 
  5. A worthy spirit of fellowship and brotherhood with the National Organization
I had never heard that reasoning before. They sound like good reasons to make the affiliation, but I was impressed with how applicable they are today. Those were good reasons 100 years ago, but they are just as good reasons to stick with it today.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Don't leave yet.

The other day I read this article about an upcoming vote by the Southern Baptist Convention on whether or not to abandon Scouting after the recent change in membership policy. According to the article, it is a sure thing.

I have already posted (here and here) about my thoughts regarding the new membership policy. I won't go over the whole thing again but, in short, I believe the new policy actually defines homosexual behavior as immoral and contrary to the values of Scouting. (And groups can exclude members based on inappropriate or immoral behavior.) I don't see a problem moving forward with this policy.

I do, however, understand why others want to leave. I applaud those who will stand by their values even if it means ending long-standing friendships and associations. But, I really think that those who have declared an intention to leave the BSA need to re-think that decision.

I encourage everyone to re-read the BSA statement on the membership policy change, the resolution that was voted on, and the points of clarification document associated with it. I believe that a careful reading of these documents will reveal that the BSA has not abandoned it's traditional values, nor does it advance an agenda in any way.

I also understand the fear of what comes next. This issue will come back in relation to adult leaders. There are those who want another change in policy that would essentially define homosexual behavior as acceptable. That would be a problem for me, too. I would not be able to support such a decision.

What that means, then, is that it is time for religious groups to increase their involvement in the BSA rather than decrease it. We need people and churches who are willing to stand up for what is right to become more involved in their districts and councils, and on the national level. We need to have more of an influence over decision making, not less.

I do not believe the BSA has abandoned it's moral tradition with this recent change. But if churches and religious groups leave, we will be weakened. The next time it comes up, there will be fewer who will resist and the changes will be more likely to happen.

Please, don't leave. We need you.