Tag Archives: Boy Scouts

Dialogue

One of the main reasons I started this blog a couple years back was so that I could express my views anonymously and without retribution from the Church.  It was at a time where I was struggling and needed to vent.

As most of you know and as I have documented here numerous times, I have issues with the direction the Church seems to be heading.  Discovering that the wonderful Church of my youth is flawed and is “not true” to some of its founding principles and doctrines has been at times a very painful experience for me. Expressing why I feel that way and getting your feedback has been therapeutic.

I can’t say, however, I’ve had the same open-mindedness from Church leaders or generally from most Church members.  More times than not, even as a bishop, I was told to just be quiet, in some cases, to be more politically correct or sensitive or to repent.

I recall one of my own counselors while I was serving as bishop telling me I needed to be more careful about the things I said and felt.  I later found out that he reported me to my file leader for some things I had shared with a friend.

I have always disliked this idea of holding back what we’re really thinking.  Now, I understand that care must be taken to share or not share certain things in the presence of children or with those who may not be ready or wanting to contemplate certain ideas, but my experience in the Church is that we simply cannot talk about anything that may be viewed as controversial. Certainly we cannot do so in a civil and loving way.

This has made my Church experience lately even more difficult. I also think it has created a culture in the Church which is antithetical to open dialogue.

And so seeking to more openly vent my thoughts, I began this blog.  Here I wanted to be free to openly share whatever ideas I may be having.  I certainly can’t share my concerns about the Church’s decision to stay with Boy Scouts, an organization I view as broken and apostate, at Church or with many Church leaders or members.  Although I sure tried to as a bishop.  In fact, as bishop, I refused to sign the Scout Charter as Charter Head of the Troop and I refused to do Friends of Scouting.  This did not go over well with some, and with the wrong stake president, my tenure as bishop would have surely been shortened.

Now, having mentioned that, I was careful how I said what I said to the ward generally.  But, I was also very honest when I felt I could be.  I did not impose my ideas on others, however. As bishop I could have simply not called a scoutmaster or could have put someone in who hated scouts.  But because I knew Scouting was important to many of our ward members, we called the best person for the job and I supported ward members in their desire to have this program, despite the fact that I was opposed to it.

Other topics are taboo at Church as well.  Take the Word of Wisdom for example.  We had three or more adults addicted to opioids while I was bishop.  These were prominent people in the community and they were (likely still are) completely hooked on this awful drug.  BUT, as LDS people, especially in Utah, we don’t like to talk about our addictions.  And so a bishop who may wish to address such issues is likely to offend people in the ward.  And you certainly can’t tell the ward that you favor medical marijuana over opium use, as the Church has made it very clear that Utah will not allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for their patients experiencing chronic pain.  If not careful, you will be viewed as out of line with the Brethren on an issue.  So the unfortunate reality is silence or consequences from leadership.

And yet, many Mormons are so imbalanced when it comes to the Word of Wisdom.  The “world” drinks coffee, Mormons drink Coke and Red Bull and Monster.  Which is worse?  The world drinks alcohol, Mormons take anti-depressants or eat excessively.  (I recognize that non Mormons do this too, but Utah is the capital of anti-depressant use in the world).  The world watches rated R movies, while many Mormons struggle with pornography.  The list of moral and physical issues goes on and on.

As a bishop, from time to time, I suggested a person or two try to get off their meds (which they told me they and their doctors wanted them to) and to do as their LDS doctor was prescribing–to drink a cup of coffee in the morning to help them feel energy and to get out of bed.  In one instance a poor sister all but screamed at me and began to quote things about how blessed she was for “never” having broken the Word of Wisdom.  Not even once.  “Hidden treasures and running without being weary” etc.  Yet, this poor woman was so frail and unhealthy.  I did not perceive great wisdom in her, but rather great sadness and darkness.  Someone so obsessed with the letter of the law that she would rather die than consider to reason.  Mormons are not open minded in general about such things and we surely can’t talk about them.

Why?  Because we have a culture of not really “talking” to each other.

Well, it would be my preference–to be able to talk about most things in Church (that are appropriate for that setting) and most things with Mormon associates IN A WAY that is healthy. Healthy dialogue.

Most of you know that I have a sense of humor that often gets the best of me.  I post pictures that are at times a little shocking and I bring up controversial topics and share my ideas.  While doing so, I make an honest effort to use reason and logic, but I am quick to confess that my ideas are not always valid.  I admit that I do a little name calling when referring to certain people.  I shouldn’t call Elder McConkie “Bruce Almighty” for example.  It’s not nice.  But, I don’t do so angrily.  I don’t hate Elder McConkie. In fact he was one of my favorite leaders as a young man.  I would certainly show respect to him if I was having a conversation with him or was in a Church setting.  I employ such titles to be funny, because I despise the unearned and undue reverence we give to the Brethren.  Heck, if my name was Bruce (and it might be 😉 – and you called me Bruce Almighty, I would think it was funny, especially if I knew you loved me.

I wish I was more like some of you.  I love it when someone replies to my posts with a thoughtful counter argument.  Some of you do that so well.  So much better than I do.  Whether you know it or not, you persuade me.  If nothing else, you persuade me to be more like you in your approach.  More loving, more kind, more intelligent.

Most of you know that I lean conservative / libertarian.  But I have plenty of friends and people who I love who are more liberal in their ideas.  It’s true we don’t see eye to eye on some things, but we respect each other.  We may even tease each other.  But we love each other and try to persuade each other. I love it when these friends of mine are persuaded by some of my ideas and when I am able to perhaps better understand where they’re coming from.

This is what I love about this blogging experience.  I feel comfortable bringing up a topic and I love to see the healthy dialogue back and forth.  I’m disheartened, however, when someone says something like “Well, AB I thought you were awesome, but after this post, I just wanted to tell you, you’ve lost a reader.”  I don’t mind that you won’t read anymore.  I don’t mind that you disagree with me.  I admit that I’m a nobody just sharing his ideas.  BUT, I wish you would try to persuade me.  I wish you would share why you think I’m wrong so that I can learn from you.  I don’t intend to offend, but you simply prove my point that as Mormons, we can’t discuss anything when you throw in the towel so easily.

I personally don’t like to argue.  I took a harsher than normal tone with a commenter the other day who I felt was just mocking.  I feel badly and I apologize to that sister.  I’d love to hear her thoughts on why she believes allowing girls into Boy Scouts is a good idea.  I’d love to hear her reasons for why the Church should or shouldn’t support such an idea.  But, to simply laugh at my ideas or to threaten to never come back, robs us all of the opportunity to engage in healthy discussions, that I for one, don’t think exist at Church very often, if ever.

With that, I extend to all of you, my hand of friendship.  I know we think differently.  I know we are each just trying to figure things out in life.  I support you and love you.  Even though I don’t know many of you.  I thank you for being here and for supporting me as I vent and share.  God is good and Christ is our Savior.  I am pretty sure that most everyone here will agree with that.

Peace to you all,

AB

GBSA?

 

So it was like 100 years ago where some really nice person decided to form an all girls organization that would encourage among many things, female solidarity and women’s roles and virtues.

Way back then, no one seemed to care whether those private groups quote unquote discriminated against the opposite sex in such an endeavor.  In fact, for many years back then, many women didn’t even care that only men could vote.  Why? Because most men that owned land had a wife who more times than not, informed her husband’s views and balanced his ideas out.  Call it old fashioned, but the man generally voted for his family and their collective interests.  Just like the man went to war (for his family and his country) or went to work at some factory, while his wife took the harder job of staying home raising kids, running a small farm, and taking care of a busy household.

But somewhere along the way the concept of female “equality” came into the discussion.  Never mind that men and women are different.  We’ve now evolved into more sensitive and enlightened and openminded humans.  So openminded that our brains have fallen out.

We’ve broken the glass ceiling alright.  In fact we’ve broken the whole damn building.

So it should be no surprise to anyone that immediately after the Boy Scouts decided it was the right thing to do to let transgender children participate in scouting, the National Organization for Women (NOW) petitioned BSA to also allow girls into Boy Scouts.  Here’s the story for anyone who may have missed it.

The article begins with:

After many years of divisiveness, the Boy Scouts of America have opened their ranks to gay and transgender boys. Yet a different membership dispute persists: a long-shot campaign to let girls join the BSA so they have a chance to earn the prestigious status of Eagle Scout.

Just last week, after the BSA announced it would admit transgender boys, the National Organization for Women issued a statement urging the 106-year-old youth organization to allow girls to join as well. NOW said it was inspired by the efforts of a 15-year-old New York City girl to emulate her older brother, who is an Eagle Scout.

This despite the fact that girls ALREADY have their own organization!

Meanwhile the LDS Church is still pondering thoughtfully what it should do about the transgender issue.  That’s code by the way, for they’re waiting to see if there’s any huge groundswell of anger against BSA before it makes any rash decisions.

Does anyone really believe that the Church was not notified by BSA before changing such an important policy?  One they knew could affect the vital, mammoth support of its largest donor?

What’s interesting about this new twist is there is a work around for the NOW girls:  They simply need to tell their little girl applicants to say they are boys.  Kind of like a border crosser who speaks no English but somehow, when being arrested, knows how to scream and spell the word “asylum” with no hint of an accent.

“Transgender” is the new code word I suppose for these girls who feel left out.

On a serious note I’m very saddened that this little girl’s parents would allow their daughter to decide at age 9 that she’s a boy! She has not even hit puberty yet!  My gosh, how many little nine years olds would even know what any of that means!  You can’t buy cigarettes at age nine.  You can’t drink or drive or vote or have legal sex, BUT you can decide that you are a different sex than your body parts indicate, apparently.

Shame on her mom (not sure where dad is) for allowing her daughter to discuss what it means to be transgender at such a tender, innocent age.  My kids still believe in Santa Claus at that age.  Oh and by the way, cut any little girls hair and guess what! They look like a cute little boy!

Shame on Boy Scouts for supporting this mother and for now encouraging God knows how many other young, confused children to make such a serious decision so early on.

Shame on the Church for not running from BSA like a person would run from a fire.  It’s almost too late to run at this point, without the Church being criticized for having stayed in so long. Could you imagine if Planned Parenthood was the “activity arm” of Relief Society?  That’s about the equivalence of where we are with Scouting.

I assume that eventually some young man who got cut from the NBA will claim he’s now a woman and be able to be the star of the WNBA.  Why not?  I’m just waiting for that lawsuit.

Did you read the recent article about the transgender guy who went to prison with the ladies and who was “moved” because “she” was having consensual sex with all the women?  I’m not sure where they moved him/her but I’m guessing he’s meeting with ACLU lawyers as we speak.

At this point, how does the Church in good conscience say they have no sympathy for the Ordain Women movement?  The Church gives 10s of millions of dollars to an organization that allows “girls” (who say they are boys) to participate in what the Church considers to be the activity arm of the priesthood.

Maybe it doesn’t allow transgender children to participate in LDS troops (yet), but those same kids will be having activities in the Thomas Monson Lodge and at Church paid for campsites all over the country.

For kids not in Utah, who are wanting to get their Eagle award — They WILL likely have to more closely affiliate with these new individuals and in will be placed in these awkward situations.

I guarantee you the Church is not going to soften its emphasis on young men receiving their Eagle award.  Just like 4 years of seminary, getting your Eagle is one of the check boxes expected of a young man in the Church before entering the MTC.

I’ve said it before, but if nothing else the Church should at least eliminate the affiliation question from the temple recommend interview.  Anyone who affiliates with Boy Scouts of America in any way today, affiliates with those who oppose our teachings and beliefs.  Boy Scouts HAS become an apostate organization, unworthy of our investment and clearly an unworthy partner in rearing our young men.  Both gay, straight, or other.

Just as a side note, as someone living in Utah, I’ve noticed a lot more LDS people jumping on the LGBTQ and women’s rights bandwagons of late.  Like many of you I could not believe my eyes when I looked at the pictures on the news recently of people with huge “female parts” on their heads here in our very state in parades marching against President Trump, who they ironically say does not respect women and their parts.

As Wayne would say, “Exsueeze me?”  HE doesn’t respect women?!  HOW about you parading around with an exposed larger than life female organ on your head might not be respecting women?!

(Even I can’t bring myself to add a picture here)

And yet, somehow more and more LDS folks seem to be jumping on the bandwagon for these progressive issues.  I say go for it, it’s your God-given right and I don’t condemn you. But, Church leaders may want to take note.  Because I think it’s been since they “changed their stance” on such issues that more LDS people have started supporting these causes.  I could be wrong.

I laugh a little though because some of these Molly Mormons have no idea what door they are opening.  Maybe one of them should go to Berkeley with a Trump hat on as a social experiment to see what kinds of people they are teaming up with.

These people protesting conservatism (or Trump or whatever) wouldn’t even let a gay man, Milo Yiannopoulos, speak at Berkeley and they PEPPER SPRAYED this beautiful, intelligent young, courageous woman peacefully expressing her opinions!  Not to mention millions of dollars damage to taxpayer subsidized property.

So if you’re an open minded, progressive, LDS person, these are your contemporaries.  These are your amazing civil rights leaders.  Maybe you should spend some more time with them next time before you go buy that organ costume online.

As for me, I say it’s a sad day where evil is called good and good called evil.  Anyone who does not see this “slouch towards Gomorrah” is blind and the Church does not seem to be helping the situation by towing the PC line.

Hanging By A Thread

Romney does it again

Well, I’m quite surprised to report that LDS Living has scooped every major news outlet in the country in having predicted months ago that Mitt Romney would eventually enter the 2016 presidential race.  All credit surely will be traced back to some obscure Relief Society Teacher, somewhere – or maybe to Mitt’s bishop.  All kidding aside, in case you’ve not heard, the latest news in this year’s election saga is that GOP billionaires and millionaires have recently met and raised $100M to stop Donald Trump and to stage a coup to make sure an establishment candidate wins the Republican nomination, no matter the cost.  They’ve told Marco Rubio that if he loses Florida, he’s OUT and Mitt Romney is coming IN to save the Republican Party.

This would indeed be historic!  I’m left wondering if Romney and the Church believe this is the “Save the Constitution moment.”  Part Deux of the Mormon Moment.  I’m inclined to think they believe that it is.  Don’t get me wrong, I too agree that our Constitution hangs by a thread and that our freedoms have been undermined by both parties as well as by corrupt lawyers and judges who have laid the foundation for our destruction.  But I think Mitt Romney entering this race against an unprecedented populist tide would be a potential disaster for the Church.

What Mitt and possibly the Church do not understand is that a large percentage of the American people are completely disillusioned with ALL POLITICIANS!  I.e. the Establishment.  They are tired of people like Orrin Hatch going to Washington young and full of promise and principles, only to become soul-less 80-year-old politicians who never retire and who have long forgotten their base.  Our trust in them has waned and/or is gone.  We have learned by sad experience that when a man gets a little power and authority as he supposes, he becomes a part of the establishment in Washington and is given a leadership position on some Congressional Committee… or something like that.

If Mitt enters the race, I think several things are likely to happen.  Americans are likely to further reject the Establishment and will bitterly oppose and resent Mitt the Mormon who thinks himself above the fray.  An unsullied savior to rescue us poor naves from ourselves, will be the perception.  He will force out Rubio and Cruz (maybe) and the others, all except for Trump.  Trump supporters will become more zealous in their anti-establishment push for a Trump-like figure to win.  Mitt will be seen as a self-righteous spoiler who is fighting against the voice of the people which is far less inspired by Trump, the person, than by Trump “the idea.”  This energetic mob-like force is more interested in throwing out the establishment bums, like Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, John McCain, and 535 or so others, give or take a few.

Mitt would also not have a chance of winning, in my opinion.  If 5 million voters stayed home when he ran the last time, 10 million more would stay home this time.  Romney could end up actually ruining the Republicans’ chance to regain the White House and he would be hated by 50% or more of America.  The same 50% the Church likes to target in their proselyting efforts. The name Romney will become a verb like “Borked” and the Church will wish he wasn’t their poster boy.  Oh and by the way, if you think Trump will pull any punches against Romney and his faith as he is attacked by Romney (happening as we speak), and that Romney will do better than 15 other opponents have done, then you underestimate Trump and the “mad as hell” supporters backing him.

The other likely outcome of Mitt entering the race is that Trump could decide to run as an independent which is more likely to end in a Ross Perot – Bob Dole outcome than in a victory for Trump or Romney.  Again, Romney and the Establishment will be more hated than ever before and in my view, the Constitution will hang by a thread more so than ever, with the Mormon Elders having done more damage than good.  Once again proving the Church’s political ineptitude (see Prop8, LGBT, immigration, Boy Scouts, etc).

In many ways the LDS Church Establishment and the current Political Establishment have the same problem.  They’ve lost the confidence of many of their constituents.  This has happened as a result of NOT listening to their base with whom they have lost touch and whose support they’ve taken for granted.  This is a big mistake and may prove to be devastating for both institutions.  Despite obvious institutional differences, neither can long survive without the vote of confidence from the people they are called or elected to serve.

For Republicans, they elected people they believed would overturn Obama Care, de-fund the CFPB and Planned Parenthood, and who would fight harder against abortion and same sex marriage.

For Church members, we have sustained Church leaders most believed would pull out of Boy Scouts if they allowed gay leaders; oppose LGBT legislation rather than enact it; oppose illegal immigration; protect, not punish children of same sex couples, etc…  The list goes on and on and on.

In short, this is the era of insurgency and the Church would do well to get back to its foundational roots.  Where votes mattered and where people were not thrown out for merely disagreeing with their leaders.  People of faith and people around the country are tired of being taken for granted.

This is not the year for a Mormon or for the Church to play politics.  Perhaps there should never be another year for them to do so.  Never that is, until men and women can again be trusted by God to do His will and to seek inspiration rather than adulation.  Such a trust only comes one way and from One Source.

In times past, both Church and State have enjoyed a bully pulpit and favorable rules that have allowed them to more easily control the people and the process.  They controlled the media and they controlled the historical narrative.  Today, with greater access to truth and information than ever before, people are waking up.  And they’re upset.  They want to throw away the so-called rules.  They want to send a message that they will not be overlooked – that WE have the power to destroy the craft by de-funding them and by voting them out of office even if it means leaving them to their own devices and voting with our feet.

Let me just add that this is not meant to become a political discussion of which candidate would be best or worst for our country.  Some of us may have our preferences.  I think most of us can simply agree that this is a year in which choosing the lesser of evils will never be such a difficult task AND that our political system becomes more fragile each and every day.  May we unite in the Doctrine of Christ and not be divided by the passion of this moment.

God bless and thank you by the way for your love and prayers.