Scouts hold flags at jamboree

Intolerance and the Boy Scouts’ new policy

In response to the Boy Scouts National Executive Board vote finalizing the decision to allow openly gay leaders, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stated that it was “deeply troubled” by the vote, in part because the new BSA policy “is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.” The statement also says the BSA decision will be “carefully reviewed” along with the “limitations that fully one-half of its youth face where Scouting is not available,” with news reports focusing on the possibility that the church might create its own international program for young men.

The LDS Church response is an entirely reasonable one given the circumstances, and it should come as a surprise to no one who is aware of the pertinent facts of the BSA decision and rationally considers the situation from the church perspective.

By voting to do away with its longstanding adult membership policy, the BSA has withdrawn tested and validated legal protections from religious local chartering organizations like the LDS Church, Roman Catholic Church, and Southern Baptist Convention. The BSA’s old membership policy had been legally upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, and therefore it protected local partners from lawsuits alleging discrimination. That protection has now been withdrawn, and local chartering organizations that desire to maintain their own adult membership policies will likely be subject to lawsuits, which even LGBT advocates confirm. In other words, the BSA has chosen to protect itself and abandon its local partners to the legal wolves. Of course the LDS Church (and any other organization led by reasonable people) would want to carefully review where they stand in relation to the BSA.

The strange statements in response to the BSA policy change were not those from the LDS Church, but those from extreme LGBT advocates, seeing as they showed no tolerance for any desire to maintain an identity defined by core beliefs of traditional sexual morals. That these groups – which have spent decades advocating tolerance toward a community whose identity is defined by their belief about sexual orientation – could embrace intolerance for identities and core beliefs they disagree with, or do not understand, is both inconsistent and disturbing.

For instance, the response of the nation’s largest and most high-profile LGBT advocacy group – Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – was to immediately call on the BSA to consider “a full national policy of inclusion” by revoking church-sponsored units’ ability to maintain adult membership policies in line with their teachings on sexual morality. For the HRC, the BSA’s new policy of tolerance for LGBT adults is not enough. Only a full-throated intolerance for those who disagree with the HRC agenda is satisfactory.

It is sad that LGBT advocates are trampling their values of equality and tolerance in the wake of their policy victory on same-sex marriage. They have the opportunity to be the gracious victor but instead are embracing the role of the bully that keeps beating up the guy who lost.

Of course, we all have a darker side to our nature that can tempt us to try and annihilate those we don’t understand – to give ourselves over to hate and objectification of our fellow human beings. But decent people seek instead to embrace the tolerance advocated by the better part of our nature – to seek genuine equality, both for ourselves as well as for those we disagree with or do not understand. Here’s hoping that LGBT advocates soon return to the values of equality and tolerance that they have claimed to cherish for so long.