Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles participates in the groundbreaking of the Thomas S. Monson Leadership Excellence Complex with local Boy Scouts in Glen Jean, W.Va., on June 15, 2016. Photo courtesy of Intellectual Reserve, Inc./Mark Romesser

Mormons scale back involvement with Boy Scouts. What’s behind it?

(RNS) This week, the Mormon church announced it will be scaling back its long-standing relationship with the Boy Scouts of America. The partnership will continue as before for boys ages 8 to 13, but will no longer include the Varsity and Venturing programs for boys ages 14 to 18.

And it's possible this change is only the beginning. The Deseret News reports:

The church will continue to sponsor Cub Scouts for boys 8 to 10 and Boy Scout programs for those 11 through 13 in those two countries, but statements released by the church about the announcement signaled that it may drop those programs in the future, too.

As the Deseret News put it, "the overhaul is stunning, because Scouting has been an indelible, seemingly inseparable, part of the LDS Church's Young Men program for 104 years."

(To me it's also stunning for the simple reason that Thomas S. Monson is still alive. Monson, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has long been an enormous supporter of the Scouting program.)

So what does this mean for the LDS church? What advantages might there be?

And why is this happening now?

To many people, the answer about the timing is that the BSA's policies about welcoming gay and transgender members have become a source of deep tension.

The press release says this was not a factor, however, and that the BSA "has always allowed the Church to operate its programs in ways that are consistent with our standards and beliefs."

I would hypothesize the impetus behind this is larger and more far-reaching than conflicts over LGBT issues.

As I noted in an earlier column, the church has recently indicated its rising concern with youth leaving. In the overall picture of modern LDS history, the announcement about the church's evolving relationship with the Scouting program may have more to do with its internal concerns about retention than with any issues it has with the BSA.

I recently read an outstanding article by BYU historian Rebecca de Schweinitz called "Holding on to the 'Chosen Generation': The Mormon Battle for Youth in the 1960s and Early 1970s," which traces what happened 50 years ago, the last time the LDS church found itself with a widespread youth retention problem.

In American culture, most religious groups were struggling with a generation gap in a period of massive youth protest and social instability. Other religions' solution was to de-emphasize doctrine and move toward "youth programs centered on entertainment, self-fulfillment, and collaboration with external entities on social justice issues."

The LDS church responded to the same problem quite differently. It doubled down and created demanding internal church programs that focused on keeping youth in the fold:

  • Between 1965 and 1971, the number of students enrolled in LDS seminary (a morning program for Mormon high school students), increased by about 40 percent and the number of Institute programs (religious education for young adults ages 18-30) actually doubled.
  • In 1965, the church created a curriculum for Family Home Evening (a weekly time of religious instruction and prayer), and in 1970, it set aside Monday "as a church-wide family night."
  • In 1969, it pioneered the Bishop's Youth Council in local wards, giving youth more direct involvement in leadership.
  • From 1965 to the end of the decade, the church started almost 300 LDS Student Association groups on college campuses.
  • In 1971, it created a Big Brother/Big Sister-like program through the M-Men and Gleaners organizations. This channeled an idealistic generation into service projects designed by the church.
  • Also, that year, it debuted the "New Era" magazine for youth, replacing the old-school "Improvement Era" with a periodical that felt more culturally relevant and modern.

All in all, de Schweinitz says, the LDS church "channeled youth efforts internally, that is, into strengthening the LDS community as an institution and as the chief source of young people's identity."

I think we're there again: The church is navigating a period of growing disaffection among youth and young adults. And if retrenchment into a deep well of intra-LDS organizations and programs worked the last time, then by golly, in the eyes of the church, it's worth attempting again.

I believe the church when it says the new BSA split was not primarily caused by concern about LGBT issues. I believe it because of statements like these in its press release about changes to the youth program:

"The activities referenced on lds.org/youth/activities and ymactivities.lds.org have been in place since 2013 as a resource for youth and their leaders around the world. When followed, these activities can provide better opportunities for spiritual, physical, emotional and intellectual growth."

In this vein, we can see the changes to the youth program as a sign that Mormon leaders are gamely trying to address a bigger issue: how to create and maintain youth programs that do a better job of keeping LDS young people tied to the church. The 2012 lowering of the missionary age is relevant here, and the 2015 deepening of the college-age Institute system to encourage retention and graduation, and last year's changes to the high school seminary curriculum.

This is more than just the occasional tinkering that's needed to keep any program running smoothly. This is a crusade for Mormon youth.

So I would expect more changes to be coming down the pike. That includes the hinted-at changes to the budget for the Young Women organization. Whether programmatic and institutional solutions are the best way to speak to a generation that has been suspicious of institutions is a question worth asking ... but such an effort certainly worked half a century ago. Perhaps it will help now.

(Jana Riess is a senior columnist for RNS where she writes the "Funkling Sainthood" column) 

Comments

  1. Jana, your analysis is far more detailed than mine, but I would simply note this.

    The programs continue for the 8-13 year olds, but will no longer for the 14-18 years olds.

    In short, get them while they are young, uncritical, and aren’t asking too many questions

  2. There are some other reasons for the change. Most boys in Utah and Mormon-majority communities get their Boy Scout Eagle badge by or before age 14, leaving very little incentive to push forward with scouts in the older years of scouting. Part of that is because Mormons turn summer Boy Scout camping into merit badge mills, making it easy for a boy to garner the 21 merit badges needed to make Eagle Scout by age 14.

    However, a lot of gay young men do not even come out to themselves until age 14 or later. With Boy Scout troops being open to both LGBTQ scouts and leaders, there is higher probability for Mormon youth to be around openly gay men and boys at the high adventure camps for older scouts. Seeing an admirable Boy Scout or Scout leader who is openly gay would give gay Mormon youth positive role models that the Church would not want them to see.

    The Church makes a huge effort to put being gay in such a negative light that young gay Mormons feel the need to deny their own orientation and just fit into the Green Jell-O mold of being card-carrying Molly Mormon, even if it literally kills them. I would recommend going on YouTube and watching several of the courageous coming out stories of gay Mormon youth, something else the Church really does not want you to do.

  3. Can’t disagree with this, either.

  4. The main reason this change is happening is that homophobia is rampant in the leadership of the Church and in many rank and file. If the program was not servicing the international youth then where was the inspired leadership years ago? The days of true revelation are over.

  5. As someone who recently wrapped up 10 years working with LDS young men, including 5 as a Venturing Crew Advisor – I think you are spot on with your analysis, but I’d like to add a bit more. Here on the east coast, I have rarely seen a functioning venturing crew, and those that I have seen are not actually using the BSA Venturing program, they are more just using it to continue Scouting Advancement and create a separation from the 12-13 year-olds. I have never seen an LDS unit with a functioning Varsity program. In some ways, the Church has been getting very little return for the investment of registering these units, with a fair amount of overhead. To me, this change is a bit of a no-brainer. The bigger change would be to drop scouting completely, but I see this as a way to get an alternative program working before pulling the plug for the 11-13 year olds – which scouting appears to serve reasonably well.

  6. The Boy Scouts of America have succumbed to the gay tyrants and this is the fallout: the Mormons are exiting, the Catholic Church is exiting, evangelical churches are exiting. In fact all Christians who want to remain faithful to Christ are leaving the BSA. Some might say they will remain as witnesses to Christ. But in reality all they’re doing is sacrificing their children. Oh that will turn out for the best, I’m sure.

  7. Back in the middle ages when I was a Scout the US Army started putting its hooks into the BSA. Coming to meetings and holding military type uniform inspections, etc. They looked at the BSA as a easy recruiting pool. Not long after the Mormons did their best to take over the BSA for quite similar reasons.

    Consequently I have not supported the BSA for decades as IMHO it has lost its original mission & vision. Regarding the separation between the Mormons and the BSA I can only say GOOD. The less influence the Mormons have in the BSA the better.

  8. Like Jana said, this is a change that was going to happen anyway and for many reasons.

    Organized sports and clubs are readily available for youth in the US, where most Mormon boy scouts are. They offer many of the same opportunities as scouting. At the same time, religious and moral education is pushed out of the public square, out of respect for religious minorities and non-believers. I’ve heard the scouting program criticized for its lack of spiritual content. For years, young men have spent a lot of time in church activities that are only tangentially related to the church’s mission.

    Additionally, the program doesn’t work in all countries. As the percentage of active Mormons who live outside of the US grows, Boy Scouts becomes less and less helpful. A new program can meet the needs of wards in Africa, the Philippines and Latin America.

    Besides that, the scouting program has never fit the needs of all young men in the church. It is also poorly implemented in many or most wards, especially with the 14-18 age group that the church is focusing on now. This means the benefits that the program was designed to deliver were never fully realized.

    It is an expensive program. It creates a large disparity between young men and young women. It doesn’t have enough of a spiritual focus in a secular age. It doesn’t work in every nation. And many members and ward leaders participate half-heartedly out of duty rather than out of a belief in the program’s benefits. Whatever the catalyst for dropping it was, it was only a matter of time before it happened.

  9. “The Boy Scouts of America have succumbed to the gay tyrants and this is the fallout…”

    Nope. There are no “gay tyrants.” There are simply long persecuted and oppressed LGBTQ who were able to gain some measure of equal rights in the last decade due to the President of the United States stepping up to his bully pulpit on their behalf and causing real Americans to do some soul-searching.

    June 26, 2015 is a dividing moment in America between those who really believe in what the Founders wanted by way of inclusion and human rights for all and the worst of America’s bigots wearing the masks of libertarianism to hide the true hatred in their hearts. Sadly, most of so-called “Christians” in America chose incorrectly that day, and evil has filled their dark hearts as some now conspire with America’s foreign enemies against the nation itself. They could have shown mercy to “these, the least of their brethren,” but they chose hatred and betrayal instead, all for 30 rubles.

    Every “Christian” who voted for Trump betrayed all that they claim to have ever stood for and their sins of hatred and avarice will find them out to punish them. Betraying Christ that way comes at a price no human hands will ever have to exact. Your days of judgment have just begun unless you turn away from the path of evil.

  10. I John 2:15-16
    Love not the world neither the things that are in the world for all that is in the world the lust of the flesh and the lust of eyes and the boastful pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world.
    You better check your history of how the Founders perceived homosexuality.

  11. “You better check your history of how the Founders perceived homosexuality.”

    We are not bound by what they knew about the nature of LGBTQ any more than what they knew about equal rights between the genders or racial equality. That’s the “Modern-day Amish” approach to human progress. The all important issue is that the Founders set in place a constitution that included the means by which it could continue to grow and expand human rights as society moved forward.

    Social conservatives were trying to draw lines in the sand in Jefferson’s day as well which is what led Jefferson to extoll the notion of “separation of Church and State.” The social conservatives of his day and again thought the only way to protect us from papal tyranny was to substitute Protestant tyranny in its place. Times change, and social conservatives have the same game plan, substituting theocracy for democracy because they don’t like how modern-day America has progressed. Your “solution” to your imaginary crisis would be the real constitutional crisis.

    BTW, your efforts to Bible-thump will be ignored. Since your understanding of constitutional issues is so twisted around backward, there’s no point in going down the Bible-thumping rabbit hole, too.

  12. “We are not bound by what they knew …”
    From the get go you are deluded –
    Hear what T. Jefferson says against your sophomoric thinking: On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed. —Thomas Jefferson
    And more: Our peculiar security is in possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction. … If it is, then we have no Constitution. — Thomas Jefferson
    And again: To take a single step beyond the text would be to take possession of a boundless field of power. — Thomas Jefferson
    And James Wilson: The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it. —James Wilson, in Of the Study of Law in the United States
    And G. Washington: The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution, which at any time exists, ‘till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. … If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. — George Washington
    And J. Madison: Can it be of less consequence that the meaning of a Constitution should be fixed and known, than a meaning of a law should be so? — James Madison

    You and your ilk are linguist alchemists who instead of trying to turn lead into gold you are trying to turn gold into lead. LOL.
    As regards your silly attempt to defame the Bible:
    Eph. 6:17 Take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
    Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 There is no creature that is not revealed in His sight, for all things are bare and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

    You might ignore someone coming at you with a sword but you you do so at your peril. “… all things are bare and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Good luck then.

  13. Nice quotes, none of which give you permission to try to turn the clock backward. The quote you chose from Washington especially supports my view, not yours. Trump is the usurper, not the United States Supreme Court, as folks of your ilk would have us believe.

  14. LOL! Fail – You might want to go back and reread Washington’s quote. Another example of you trying to turn gold into lead. What a joke.

  15. Nope. I just read with comprehension. You don’t. My guess would be that you cut and paste from some predigested speech on the issue at Townhall or from Glenn Beck.

  16. Gay tyrants? Completely laughable. Give us a list of the names of those gay tyrants. Right. They don’t exist.

    The BSA changed their minds– such as they were– for two reasons. One reason was MONEY. The sources of their money were drying up because of the other reason –decent, kind, intelligent, and UNBIGOTED people were saying “enough!”

    Robert Gates. Former secretary of defense, who agreed with the policy change, is hardly gay or a tyrant.

    You simply cannot conceive that lots of people, good Christians many of them, simply no longer agree that raging bigotry, whether disguised as your “sincere” religious belief, or admitted for what it so clearly is, is a good guide to any kind of policy.

  17. We can also check their history of how they perceived Negros, women, non whites, Indians, non land owners, Catholics, and a host of others.

    All that it means is that we have progressed as a society.

    Well, some of us have,

  18. Yup – you’re trying to turn gold into lead – typical.

    Reread Washington’s quote closely – there’ll be a quiz at the end:

    The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. … If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. — George Washington

    Answer the following questions:
    1. What is the basis of our political system?
    Answer: “the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.”

    2. Upon what basis may the Constitution be altered?
    Answer: “If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong…”

    3. Explain the following phrase: “But the Constitution, which at any time exists, ‘till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all.”
    Answer: The Constitution is sacredly obligatory upon all.

    I’ve modeled by completing the first three questions; you answer the last three:

    4. Define the terms “sacred” and “obligatory”.

    5. What is the process by which the people may alter or modify the Constitution?

    6. Define the word “usurpation”. Explain Washington’s warning that it can be “the instrument of good” yet it is also the instrument of destruction.

    You’re welcome.

  19. II Timothy 3:1 Know this: In the last days perilous times will come. 2 Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 without natural affection, trucebreakers, slanderers, unrestrained, fierce, despisers of those who are good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness, but denying its power.

    The Bible predicted times like these – and it pretty much describes you and your ilk.

    So the BSA changed their policy for $$$. Yup, I can believe that.

    And Christians who don’t want their children influenced by the BSA’s amoral leaders will drop out of that corrupt organization.

    And here we are: come full circle right back to the subject of the article. That was neatly done.

  20. And yet, you missed my point entirely. Amazing!

  21. II Thess. 2: 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work…

    What’s amazing is that you and the rest of the prog libs here ignore the plain text of the Constitution and the Founder’s beliefs in forming the ideas and concepts of that document and instead as verbal alchemists try to turn gold into lead.
    It would be funny if it weren’t so sad – and dangerous. Fortunately, most Americans reject your thinking.

  22. “But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”
    That is not aimed at the United State Supreme Court, but your argument acts as if it was. You are careful to not specifically name SCOTUS because you can’t do so, but then you demand that I read between the lines as if I will see the 9 boogeymen you do.

  23. I am referring you to remedial thinking class. Your text will be The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk.

  24. “separation of Church and State” Not in my Constitution. I’ve heard it is in the old USSR’s constitution. You are probably reading that. (wouldn’t surprise me at all – lol)

  25. Cute. Not the least bit original but it’s at least half-witty.

  26. Guess you missed the coming out videos of mormonandgay.lds.org: https://mormonandgay.lds.org, like this video: https://mormonandgay.lds.org/videos?id=11549365994538963301 I would be the first to say there is plenty of change needed to help mormons understand this challenge in life, but it’s wrong to say that this LDS website casts things in a negative light. In fact, it helps parents who may have been mocking in the past, come see the light of the struggle their kids are going through.

  27. I would welcome the demise of the Cub and Boy Scout programs if it meant that the church would
    FINALLY put as much attention, emphasis, money, resources, and energy into programs for the girls that it has for the boys. For 104 years the church has slighted and neglected the girls and young women in the church, and I find that shameful.

    One of the Deseret News articles stated that the “Church leaders long have wrestled with concerns about inequity within the church” and the fact that “the church has spent more on American boys than girls because of its financial commitment to the Boy Scouts of America.” I find this hilarious. I know religious institutions plod along and are slow to change, but why has it taken the church 104 to agree that they haven’t been equitable with the programs for girls and boys. President Hinckley agreed in 1988 that the brethren are “prone to put emphasis on programs for the boys,” yet he did nothing to change this practice.

    I also found it ridiculous when the article stated, “The changes address the disparity of funding and activities between the church’s Young Men and Young Women programs.” If their solution to the disparity between funding between the girls and boys programs is to discontinue the Varsity and Venturing program, then they should also cancel the Cub and Boy Scout programs as well to rid the church of the disparity that still exists between the younger girls and boys programs.

    The girls aren’t stupid, They know they are not as important to the church leaders as the boys are. When the boys are out enjoying cub and boy scout activities, the girls are sitting in classrooms cutting out wedding dresses from catalogs. The girls and young women know they are second-best in the eyes of their male leaders.

    Considering the fact that there are two sexes in this church, and the church claims that both are equally important, why does the church put emphasis and money on programs for one sex over the other? Talk of equality is cheap. Let’s see it in practice. This inequity certainly contributes to the idea that males are more valued within our church than females. If the church wants to retain its young women, they should consider treating them equally and give them equitable programs.

  28. Perhaps, but “help” from the LDS viewpoint is still about forcing LGBTQ live a straight life, married to someone of the opposite gender or to live alone and lonely for life. It is not about accepting that these young people are made to find love within their same gender. So, the Church may take a kinder road to the same harsh destination, but it’s not what is best for those young people. But if LDS parents stop kicking their LGBTQ kids to the curb when they come out, that will at least be some progress. This “new, softer” touch has NOT reduced the LDS LGBTQ teen suicide rate, because those kids still get bullied all the same at school by their “good Mormon” peers. You should watch other LDS LGBTQ coming out stories on YouTube where no one is wearing rose-colored sunglasses to dress up reality.

  29. You’ve got a point – part your hair on the side and…
    Ummhmm! We can all play that game.

  30. You are the one who insists on insult as filler for a lack of substantive debate material. And you still suck at that.

  31. LOL! “Do as I say, not as I do.” Got it. LOL!

  32. Actually, not. I have shown considerable forbearance toward you while you have shown none in return, as the “good Christian” that you are. Thanks for being very clear in your hypocrisy.

  33. When I came out to my deeply religious foster parents 40 YEARS AGO, their response was simple: “we don’t care. You’re our son and we love you. And we’re glad you loved us enough to tell us the truth.”

    No matter how Mormonia may try to put a dress on that theological pig, it will still be a pig in a dress. There is only one response that will serve the best interests of a gay child.

  34. Just a little poem I dashed of for you RTL

    “Hypocrite, O’ hypocrite,”
    rolls easy off my tongue
    I like to use it now and then.
    especially for fun.

    I use it when I cannot think
    of what I want to say –
    and so I use it constantly
    all throughout the day.

    “Hypocrite, O’ hypocrite,”
    I say this in frustration
    you do not think the way I do
    and this causes me vexation.

    You laugh when I stamp my feet –
    you laugh when I pull my hair –
    and when I said I’d hold my breath,
    you said you did not care.

    “Hypocrite, O’ Hypocrite,”
    why do you not get it?
    If you do not conform to us
    – well, then I’ll call you “Hypocrite.”

    All the best,

    – Dirty Harry

  35. “may try to put a dress on that theological pig”

    Hahahahah. Priceless.

  36. “Nope. I just read with comprehension.” LOL!!

  37. Hey Ben. He quotes forged books in the Bible, Timothy and 2 Thessalonians, and then ad-hominems you for the coup de gras. How does it feel to be so outmatched in a debate? :-0

  38. I was so devastated, I neglected to say, “truly, the limpid and crystal stream of your usually undimmed intelligence has been vaporized.”

    Oh, well. TOo late now.

    And thanks. ??

  39. “Devasted”? Must be the limpid and crystal stream of your undimmed intelligence at work. Lol.

  40. O dang I did not see that scathing rejoinder speeding my way.

  41. Hello Ben,

    If you had been my child, I would have said something very similar. Theological pigs aside, there are more loving LDS parents than are given credit, just like your’s.

  42. Theologically it is a pig as Ben said above, and we can’t help but put lipstick on it 🙂 But, I’d also like us all to be intellectually honest about the theology and the suicide rate.

    For example, theologically speaking, the LDS faith says there are 3 different heavens (1 Cor 15:41-42) and the best of the 3 is divided into 3 levels also. If only a handful of people are “cast off” into hell forever (sons of perdition), then according to the LDS, most people will go to heaven. Each of the 3 heavens is presided over by a member of the Godhead. (D&C 76:85-88) This is WAY more hopeful for humanity than almost any other religion. The LDS faith focusing all efforts on trying to help people make it to the highest of the 3 heavens and the highest of the 3 levels within that. But let’s not forget that 2 of the levels in the LDS’s highest heaven are made of people who are not sealed to a spouse of the opposite sex and they get to live in the presence of God. Even the lowest of all the heavens has been described as glory surpassing all understanding! (D&C 76:89)

    To be honest about the suicide rate is to not find coincidental causality, but real and true causes. The rate in Utah doubled before 2007 and increased even before Prop 8 was an issue. Thus, the statistical rise in the rate had already started before there was anything the church did doctrinally or policy-wise before the rise. Prop 8 and the Policy change I will agree made it worse, but there’s something more to it than just LDS causality. I won’t call it a red herring, as I think there was an effect, but to blame and state cause is dishonest when you look at the real data.

  43. The “real” data is hard to get with regards to the Church. They do their best to suppress all that.

  44. “rate in Utah doubled before 2007” speaks to data gathered by the government of Utah, not the church. Hence, the one state with the highest per capita population of LDS youth. It’s best to speak to the data we have.

  45. Best from the perspective of “CYA” for the church, but not necessarily for the LGBTQ kids who are suffering there. Even if the data offered by Mama Dragons (an LGBTQ youth advocacy group in Utah) is soft, I will trust their estimates over “official” stats for Utah.

  46. “we don’t care. You’re our son and we love you. And we’re glad you loved us enough to tell us the truth.”

    A great and meaningful response that can only come from loving-parenting.

  47. I wouldn’t doubt it. But it all depends on what they do with it. My foster parents were fine with it, and welcomed my boyfriend, and later my partner, into their home. But I’ve known other parents who said that, but what they really meant was “we love you, and we love you so much that we’re going to make sure you get help with your ‘problem’ because we love you so much. Whatever the fallout, whatever the damage.”

    What I have learned is that usually, but not always, how the parents handle the issue is not about the child’s sexuality, but about their whole relationship. My bio-parents never could accept it, though they made a small effort a few times. But eventually, I saw how symptomatic it was with all of the other, real problems in our relationship. As in so many things, their ‘love’ was not enough to overcome either their prejudices or their own issues.

    My foster parents–long story there– meant every word they said. They were wonderful to me, and were it not for them, I probably would have become the mess that both of my bio brothers were. Instead, I grew up to be a pretty healthy adult, just like their two bio-sons did.

    Thanks for writing.

  48. Thanks, billy. They truly loved me, and made a huge difference in my life.

  49. The Church likes to give a store-window view of policy that is not consistent with their actual teachings or feelings. For example, consider the now infamous PowerPoint slide about influences that might lead Mormons into “apostasy” that MormonLeaks distributed across the media. The infamous slide attributes all LGBTQ Mormon issues to John Dehlin, by using his name on the graphic as code language for all the “challenges” that Mormonism has brought on itself. Dehlin helped organize, run and right about a huge study that sampled about 4/10 of 1% of the estimated 400,000 or so LGBTQ Mormons and ex-Mormons across America (1612 study participants). Findings showed that conversion therapy is ineffective, and that the Church imposed choices of lifelong celibacy or straight, heterosexual marriage create a great deal of personal misery for LGBTQ Mormons and ex-Mormons. But the Church sought to disrespect the results and the researcher by dumping all of their LGBTQ issues on John Dehlin by proxy. That sort of personal pettiness is reprehensible.

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