I know more Mormons in scouting than any other single group. I do not know the statistics, I doubt the majority of Scouts are Mormon, but I am betting that many if not most Mormons are or were Scouts. That’s a big bat to swing as the BSA considers lifting it’s ban on gays. Here’s the key graphs:
“The Boy Scouts of America have heard from scouts, corporations and millions of Americans that discriminating against gay scouts and scout leaders is wrong,” said Herndon Graddick, the president of Glaad, an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “Scouting is a valuable institution, and this change will only strengthen its core principles of fairness and respect.”
Mr. Smith, the Scouts spokesman, said that under the proposed policy, “the B.S.A. would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.” He said that members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best met the needs of their families.
I have been down this path. I am watching my church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), disintegrate along this very path. This sort of “local option” approach that seems, on the surface, to be so reasonable really just erodes the bindings of the institution until the institution itself becomes essentially nothing. Over at First Things, Matthew Franck quotes Richard John Neuhaus:
This is a perfect occasion for a reminder of Neuhaus’s Law, named for First Things founding editor Richard John Neuhaus, who coined it in a “Public Square” entry in the January 1997 issue titled “The Unhappy Fate of Optional Orthodoxy.” Here is the Law as Fr. Neuhaus himself stated it: “Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.”
As Neuhaus went on to explain, with his usual trenchant insight:
With the older orthodoxy it is possible to disagree, as in having an argument. Evidence, reason, and logic count, in principle at least. Not so with the new orthodoxy. Here disagreement is an intolerable personal affront. It is construed as a denial of others, of their experience of who they are. It is a blasphemous assault on that most high god, “My Identity.” Truth-as-identity is not appealable beyond the assertion of identity. In this game, identity is trumps.
I know that the CJCLDS is of late reaching out to the homosexual community, but as far as I know this outreach does not mean they are changing their standards. I do not think I will be meeting homosexual Mormon bishops anytime soon.
I think it would be in keeping with that stance for Mormon scouts to actively engage and organize in opposition to this proposal, and I would challenge them to do so. Churches everywhere, including the Mormon church, rely on scouting as an essential tool in the formation of the character of its youth. As such, standards are appropriate. That does not mean young men that feel homosexual attraction may not come and explore character there, but it certainly means that leadership roles for practicing homosexuals should be out of the question. That’s not mean, nor demeaning.
Institutions are worth preserving.