I would like to take issue with some of the opinions Charlie Roberts expressed in the Sept. 3 Matters of Faith column. First, allow me to point out your editor’s note that reads, “‘Matters of Faith’ is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.”
In reading this column, the only aspect of it that provided me with any “hope, courage and strength …” was the acknowledgment of the fact that “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will go forward as a chartering organization of the BSA,” as per their official statement released on Aug. 26.
I am disappointed in the fact that your editor tapped Mr. Roberts as a “local religious leader” and gave him the forum to allow for speculation, mixed with his own personal opinions. Though members of the LDS community are constantly counseled to seek a confirmation of sorts that the doctrine, policies and programs of the church, amongst other things, are the will of the Lord; to openly express an opinion and lack of commitment that is contrary to those doctrines, policies and programs is not something that a leader within the LDS Church should do — regardless of their God-given constitutional rights as found in the First Amendment.
In referencing the official statement of the church, Mr. Roberts failed to point out that the church’s continual evaluation and refinement of program options that better meet the global needs of the church is being done, “With equal concern for the substantial number of youth that live outside the United States and Canada.”
In my opinion, this statement substantiates the recognition by the church that a program that will (from the Mission Statement of the BSA) “prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law,” is a critical element in aiding the church in the fulfillment of its own goals and that such a program is what the church is seeking in regards to its global membership.
After expressing a fondness and appreciation for the Scouting program, Mr. Roberts goes on to express his opinion that youth in this day and age now have plenty to do and it is hard to “cram a consistent Scouting weekly program into the lives of our kids.” It is my opinion that Mr. Roberts is 100 percent correct in this observation. Though the founder of Scouting found that “spectatoritis” — the desire to watch rather than to do, had overtaken the youth of England at the turn of the 20th century, we are at the point in society that there is plenty of involvement opportunities pulling our youth in every direction. I do not concur though that our youth need to be involved in year-round sporting activities, spending long hours working through piles of homework assignments, nor have a demand placed on them to earn money. Each of these things has merit, but we must leave room for Scouting, and we need to assure the future of Scouting.
As the former Mayor of Tooele City and as an individual who still earns a living serving the taxpayers of the State of Utah, Mr. Roberts should be acutely aware of the detriments our society is facing in regards to patriotism, good governance, citizenship and political awareness and involvement. On the other end of the spectrum, Mr. Roberts can probably give numerable examples of when these attributes are proudly displayed and manifested. Most sporting activities, most high school classes and most employment opportunities do not have these attributes as part of their emphasis, heritage and their core values. But Scouting does.
In recent history, the State of Utah has received many accolades and has become a model and example to the rest of our nation on guide governance. Could this be by chance? Or could it be because of the high number of the state’s youth that have participated to some degree in the Scouting program for over 100 years now?
I recently returned from the 23rd World Scout Jamboree that was held in Japan last month. At this Jamboree, 33,000 youth and adults representing more than 150 nations participated in the only peace movement of its kind. Scouting is alive and well amongst all races, religions, nationalities, familial statuses and sexual orientations. Today, let’s continue to see that Scouting is alive and well amongst the youth of America, and more specifically amongst the youth in our very own community.
Disregard any speculation on the future, and embrace the opportunities we have today. Today, the LDS Church wants “the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances, thereby equipping them for greater success in life and valuable service to their country.” In my opinion, this will always be the desire of the church and its leaders. In the future, legal ramifications and the cost to defend religious freedoms may thwart the church’s ability to continue its partnership with the BSA, but that is not today.
I implore those of you who read this, to have hope, courage and strength to continue to do the good that you are doing in leading the youth of our community through athletics, through academics and through other civic and employment opportunities. If you want to be more involved in positively leading the youth in our community, you do not have to wait for an ecclesiastical calling. You can be involved in Scouting today. You can have a positive influence on a young member of our community — today. Perhaps what you do today will be just what is needed to disperse the shadows of doubt and skepticism of what the future holds.
Personally, the darkest days in my life are those when I chose not to remember the principles of the Scout Oath and failed to continually apply them to my own life. I hope that together, we won’t let the forces of evil that are attacking our youth and our families in a myriad of shapes and forms to win. I know in my heart that Scouting is an amazing program and it is my personal resolve to be involved with it until it proves to be otherwise.
Egelund is a Tooele resident.