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LDS Church public relations official writes about Scouting decision for Washington Post

Published: Monday, July 6 2015 12:26 p.m. MDT

A Boy Scout wears an Eagle Scout neckerchief during the annual Boy Scouts Parade and Report to State in the House Chambers at the Texas State Capitol, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, in Austin, Texas. (Eric Gay, AP) A Boy Scout wears an Eagle Scout neckerchief during the annual Boy Scouts Parade and Report to State in the House Chambers at the Texas State Capitol, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, in Austin, Texas. (Eric Gay, AP)

The Boy Scouts of America’s reintroduction and reaffirmation of century-old core values made it possible for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and other traditional supporters, to back BSA's new membership policy, according to Michael R. Otterson, managing director of public affairs for the LDS Church, in an article for the Washington Post.

Although virtually every headline following the BSA’s decision on May 23 discussed the inclusion of gay members in Scouts, “what has been largely missing from the mainstream media coverage of all the lobbying, placard waving and rhetoric” is the “reaffirmation of principle, plainly restated in the [BSA] Membership Standards Resolution.”

Keynote speaker Gary E. Stevenson, the presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, addressed what those core principles are during his remarks a few hours before the voting took place:

“Boy scouts of today face issues not faced by generations before them: declining morals, technology, addictive behavior and declining academic performance to name a few. I believe that the key to solving these issues lies in family and duty to God. If boys truly understood what their duty to God entails and lived it, they would grow safely into manhood. … Scouting must never overlook this core principle. We still need duty to God. We always will. When the societal and political winds come, and they surely will, scouting cannot unhinge itself from this foundational principle.”

Understanding Scouting’s commitment to its core principles “makes it easier to appreciate why Latter-day Saints in large numbers supported the resolution,” says Otterson. “For Mormons, embracing duty to God as a core value is inseparable from the behavior that is expected to follow — behavior that it instills in its young women as well as its young men, and encourages in adults as well as its youth.”

“For the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this was never about whether the BSA or local scout leaders should try to discern or categorize ill-defined and emerging sexual awareness of pre-pubescent boys and early pubescent young men who make up 90 percent of scouting. Sexual orientation has not previously been — and is not now — a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint scout troops. Rather, it has always about teaching moral behavior to all boys, and instilling the core values that are part of responsible adulthood,” according to Otterson.

Matthew is a web producer for DeseretNews.com. Email: mhartvigsen@deseretdigital.com

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