A well-intended pamphlet has been taken out of context, says the Scout executive for the Great Salt Lake Council.
Martin Latimer, the Scout executive for the Great Salt Lake Council, says a pamphlet in draft form outlining the "six unacceptables" for Scouts has been misrepresented. The pamphlet is intended to raise awareness in areas such as child abuse, drug use, improving reading skills, serving the less fortunate, and environmental concerns.The area that is raising a ruckus with Utah farm organizations is the topic of environmental concerns - in particular, a suggestion to reduce consumption of meat and eat lower on the food chain.
Latimer said the pamphlet was only in draft form and a task force made up of community members is working on refining and improving the pamphlet. "We think we can do a better job communicating our environmental concerns to our Scout families - and we will," said Latimer.
The Scouts had no intention of taking a stand on any of the issues, only raising the awareness of the Scouts and their families, he said.
The section on environmental concerns gives Scouts suggestions on how to reduce waste and recycle products. It adds that Scouts and their families may want to consider some suggestions from a national environmental organization. Reducing consumption of meat is one of those suggestions. The reason cited is deforestation caused by animal grazing, and that animal waste is high in methane emission, which contributes to the greenhouse effect.
Latimer emphasized the pamphlet was not distributed to the Boy Scouts in the Salt Lake area.
"We sent the brochure to selected Scouters because we wanted feedback," said Latimer. "This is not a final draft."
"The suggestions listed in the brochure (from the environmental organization) were given as choices. We were saying, `here are some concerns some people have brought up that you as a reader may want to study on your own,' " said Latimer.
"We had no intention of offending anyone. We wanted to encourage people to be self-educated and to be concerned about improving themselves and the environment."
Booth Wallentine, the executive vice-president of the Utah Farm Bureau, said he felt the brochure was very damaging, but he was pleased that the Scouts were not circulating the brochure.
"The unfortunate thing is that they (the Scouts) were used by some environmentalists. The Scout organization is a great organization and the Farm Bureau is very supportive of the Scouts," said Wallentine. He added that the Scouts had apologized for any misunderstanding.
John Berg, executive director of the Utah Beef Council, said he doesn't think the pamphlet will hurt the beef industry.
"I can't see a real problem with it. I think the beef industry will get a laugh out of it," said Berg. "Meat is good for you."
The Scouts have been producing the "unacceptables" since 1985 on the national level. The environmental concerns were added to the local brochure this year.