Skip to comments.Church: Mormons can't lead Scouts
Posted on 10/19/2010 8:21:21 AM PDT by Colofornian
In shopping around for a Cub Scout program for their two sons, ages 6 and 8, Jeremy and Jodi Stokes decided on the one at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews.
The Stokes, also of Matthews, weren't members of the evangelical megachurch, but they had many friends who were. And unlike the Cub Scout pack at their own church, which doesn't have a program for 6-year-old Tiger Scouts, Christ Covenant's was big enough to accommodate both of their boys.
The couple even signed up to be Scout leaders - he would lead the Bears, she'd help with the Tigers - when they discovered the church needed more adult help. And when the Scouting officials at Christ Covenant found out Jeremy Stokes was an Eagle Scout, they were thrilled.
So why, in the end, did Christ Covenant reject the Stokes' application to be Scout leaders?
Because they're Mormons. And, therefore, not real Christians, church officials told the couple last month.
The Rev. Gabe Sylvia, Christ Covenant's staff liaison to the Scouting program, confirmed the Stokes' account. He called them to apologize but defends the church's decision.
"Based on a once-over, informal scan, it looked like the Stokes would be good additions to our leadership," he said. "But when it became clear that they were Mormons, they could not become leaders in our pack. Mormonism is not consistent with historical Christianity."
That view - that Mormons are not Christians - is shared by other Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches. Mormons, though, do call themselves Christians.
The Stokes were told their sons were welcome to join, and that they could volunteer. But as practicing Mormons, they couldn't be leaders.
Scout Council: It's unusual
Mark Turner, executive director of the Mecklenburg County Council of the Boy Scouts, said it's the first local instance he knows of where parents were rejected for Scout leadership on religious grounds.
What upset the Stokes family most was the church questioning their Christianity.
"It was so offensive," said Jodi Stokes, who was raised Catholic, then became a Mormon. "I have a picture of Jesus in my living room."
And, she added, look at the formal name of their church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jeremy Stokes, a Bank of America financial consultant whose family has been in the LDS (Latter-day Saints) church for generations, wrote this when asked on Christ Covenant's Scouting application to describe his relationship with Christ: "One of the most important things in my life is my faith and trust in Christ and in His Atonement. Without Christ's help and guidance, I know I wouldn't be the loving father or devoted husband or humble man I am today. His example is the one help I need and rely on every day and I am truly grateful for that."
Bishop Steven Rowlan of the LDS ward, or parish, which the Stokes attend in Weddington, acknowledged that Mormon theology diverges from some beliefs shared by most Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox Christians. But he insisted members of the LDS church are as Christian as the members of Christ Covenant.
"Yes, there are distinct differences," he said. "But not with respect to being a Christian. We definitely and truly are Christians in every sense of the word."
Not true, say Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches. They point to the LDS church's extra-biblical scriptures (Mormons abide by the Bible and the Book of Mormon). Mormons also reject the professions of faith, or Christian creeds, that are recited on Sundays in many Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches.
But the Stokes case raises another issue: Do Scout leaders or coaches of sports teams have to pass the same religious tests as, say, Sunday school teachers, if those troops and teams are chartered by houses of worship?
Packs at other churches
No is the answer at many churches, including Charlotte's largest - St. Matthew Catholic, with 28,000 members.
"We have Scout leaders of many faiths at St. Matthew," said Mike Nielsen, Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 8. "Other than the Scoutmaster - that one job, which goes to a Catholic - I've never heard any mention of the faith of other (Cub Scout and Boy Scout) leaders."
But at Christ Covenant - the largest Presbyterian Church of America church in the Carolinas, with 600 families - the answer is yes.
"Boy Scouts is a ministry of our church," said Sylvia, the church's pastor for Christian Education and Young Families. "We want to insure that what (Scout leaders) believe is consistent with our denominational viewpoint."
For Sylvia, that at least means that Scout leaders must believe in the Apostles' Creed - a profession of faith dating back to the early centuries of Christianity.
Stelle Snyder, the spokeswoman for Christ Covenant, said it could even extend beyond that. A decade ago, she said, the church had to say no to a Catholic dad who wanted to coach one of the church's sports teams. Catholics, she said, often stress good works as the road to salvation more than many Protestants, who emphasize grace. And she said it's part of the role of coaches in her church's sports outreach program to share Bible stories.
"From the standpoint of ministering and representing the church, those people (coaches and Scout leaders) need to be on the same page," Snyder said. "In practice and intent, this is not meant to be unwelcome, unpleasant or unnecessarily legalistic. It's all for positive reasons. And it's not that Mormons have been singled out."
Turner, executive director of Mecklenburg's Boy Scouts Council, said Christ Covenant is within its rights as a chartering organization to apply additional leadership qualifications, as long as it also honors those the Boy Scouts insist on.
Some of the Boy Scouts' national guidelines have also been controversial and, to some, discriminatory. Because the Boy Scout pledge includes fealty to God and country, no atheists and agnostics can be members or leaders. Neither can homosexuals.
In Mecklenburg, Turner estimates 150 houses of worship charter Boy Scout troops and/or Cub Scout packs - a greater number than those sponsored by civic organizations, neighborhoods, and other groups.
Asked if other houses of worship apply theological tests for their Scouting leaders, Turner said he didn't know. "We're not asking that question out there," he said.
"I think it's a good question," Turner said. "Scout leaders are mentors to young people, whether they're 7 years old or 13 years old. If that charter organization feels strongly about that and says our mission is to achieve 'X' objective through scouting, then it's OK for them to set these parameters."
Blatant racial discrimination would be another story, he said, with the council reserving the right to revoke any group's charter.
As for the Stokes family, Turner said, what happened was "unfortunate... We in the Boy Scouts want everybody - the whole family - to have a great experience, not a bad experience."
Stokes find Scouting home
Though the family pulled their sons out of the Christ Covenant scouting program, they have since signed up their 8-year-old for the smaller Cub Scout pack chartered by their Mormon ward in Weddington. The bishop has named Jeremy Stokes the pack Cubmaster and Jodi Stokes chair of the Scout committee.
"My little guy (the 6-year-old) can't join, so he tags along," his mother said.
Nationally, the Mormon church has a close relationship with the Boy Scouts of America. What is the Mormon church's rules about appointing Scout leaders?
Mormon Bishop Rowlan, who heads the Stokes' Weddington church, would not say whether he would be open to naming a non-Mormon as a Scouting leader.
"I'd have to take each one on an individual basis," he said, adding that that is the policy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
At Christ Covenant, meanwhile, Rev. Sylvia and spokeswoman Snyder said the Stokes case will prompt the church to clarify policies that were always understood, but not necessarily written down.
"There's a need for us to be much more specific, so that it's clear whoever is in a leadership position is consistent with what Christ Covenant teaches," said Snyder.
Before anybody gets their special protective underwear in a wad, the article also cites the Boy Scouts saying the church was within its rights as a chartering organization and turnabout wonderment on this is fair play...IOW do the Mormon chartered Boy Scouts organizations allow non-Mormons to be leaders? (Maybe somebody out there knows)
The journalist did a good job in bringing out both of those issues:
From the article: Nationally, the Mormon church has a close relationship with the Boy Scouts of America. What is the Mormon church's rules about appointing Scout leaders? Mormon Bishop Rowlan, who heads the Stokes' Weddington church, would not say whether he would be open to naming a non-Mormon as a Scouting leader."I'd have to take each one on an individual basis," he said, adding that that is the policy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
From the article: Turner, executive director of Mecklenburg's Boy Scouts Council, said Christ Covenant is within its rights as a chartering organization to apply additional leadership qualifications, as long as it also honors those the Boy Scouts insist on. Some of the Boy Scouts' national guidelines have also been controversial and, to some, discriminatory. Because the Boy Scout pledge includes fealty to God and country, no atheists and agnostics can be members or leaders. Neither can homosexuals
So, just as a church wants a theist (vs. an atheist) leader. I would think they could insist upon a theist leader vs. a Mormon polytheist leader. (True Believing Mormons are polytheists...they believe many gods exist...they even have a hymn to a "Mom god" in heaven...and they believe they will become a god, adding to the universal god population). I guess the Q is: Do we really want polytheist Boy Scout leaders who don't know the Ultimate God?
in the council I worked in, LDS is very strong. I find this strange.
Lets see...Mormons can be US Marines. Airborne. Business leaders. Politicians. But no, not Boy Scout leaders. Seems plausible./s
But isn’t the Boy Scouts a secular organization? I know they talk about the importance of “reverence” and being “morally straight”. I thought that the Scouts encouraged religious faith, meaning you should be active in whatever your faith happens to be, not that the Scouts expect someone to be of a certain religion.
How ironic. Here, when you read the Apostles Creed from Mormon eyes, there really isn't anything objectionable in that creed from a Mormon perspective. (As long as people understand that the word "catholic" in that creed doesn't mean "Roman Catholic" -- as "Catholic" simply means "universal.") What that would mean is, that if any Protestant church only had that as the hoop to jump over, any Mormon could really say they believe, remain true to their beliefs, and then the Protestant church would need to pinpoint differences of belief beyond that creed.
Except for one thing. By a Mormon saying they agree to the Apostles Creed, they actually would simultaneously call Joseph Smith a false prophet. How does that happen? Well, in the very first "vision" Smith had of two unnamed "personages" who appeared to him, he say one of them told him ALL (as in 100%) of the creeds of the Christian sects were an "abomination" to him. There's the Nicene Creed. The Apostles Creed. The Athanasian Creed. Those are the three creeds. And the Apostles Creed is the one of the three that Mormons should have no objection to. Yet Smith said it's an "abomination;" even though I cannot find anything in it that a Mormon would find abominable!
That means either that: (a) These personages hadn't read the Apostles Creed and didn't know what was in it [does that sound like a god or Jesus appearing ?]
(b) These "personages" who were unidentified by Smith in the Pearl of Great Price weren't divine at all. I mean come one, who would really say that 100% of Christianity's creeds were offensive to them -- other than demonic beings themselves who were masquerading as angels?
Indeed. Mormonism is a cult. Good for these Presbyterians for standing up. And, oh, yet another irony: Here, Joseph Smith in his first vision (which Mormons have now made into "scripture"), specifically singled out the Presbyterians and claimed: "I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true." (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith History, v. 20) So the irony here is that Smith labeled Presbyterianism as false 175 years ago...and we're not supposed to have a hue and cry or offense over that!!! But if the reverse happens, and if Presbyterians label Mormonism as untrue (and unlike Mormons, doesn't call it "Scripture,"), offense is taken by this family and by the Mormon bishop in this story...and I'm sure by many other Mormons! (Can you spell "two-face?")
Oh, the ironies never seem to stop in this story: Here supposedly the Mormon bishop "insisted members of the LDS church are as Christian as the members of Christ Covenant." Yet, if you read official Mormon doctrine as to how they regard Presbyterians, they are untrue per Joseph Smith's first vision (v. 20 of Joseph Smith History). And all Christians are "apostates," says Mormon doctrines. That would mean that what this bishop is really saying is that members of the LDS churach are as "apostate" as members of Christian churches...if you take Mormon doctrine as true, that is!!!
Hey, having pictures of a person whom Lds apostles have said is a "saved being" in your living room doesn't make you a Christian. Trusting in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation is what is key. And as long as Mormons hold to verses from the Book of Mormon like 2 Nephi 25:23: "ye are saved by grace AFTER ALL YOU CAN DO, then trust is falling upon Jesus Christ alone for salvation...trust is a self-trust based on "ALL YOU CAN DO."
It sounds like the Christ Covenant Church is unfamiliarshalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
with and does not practice Yah'shua's lovingkindness.
No, to be a leader you have to believe in God. Atheists are not allowed.
And they charter it often through private organizations like churches.
How many Mormon churches allow non-Mormons to be leaders in the Boy Scout chartered groups they run?
And if most or all of them do not, will we hear your same accusation of the Mormon church?
(Just checkin' your face...whether it's one side or two)
Shocking as it may seem, they’re even allowed to use the same drinking fountains we use. LOL
I had a similar experience with a PCA congregation. I started a homeschool group that outgrew the place where we were meeting so one of the members of the group asked her PCA church if we could meet there. They agreed as long as the group adopted a statement of faith and PCA leadership.
I said NO thanks. Why would I have put years into this group to be told neither I not my child would be welcome?
BTW, I’m not Mormon, I’m Anglican!
Can’t be Scout leaders for a specific Christian Church.
Do you think there would be any members of say a Church of Christ Congregation being leaders of a Boy Scout troupe that was formed and maintained by the lds ?
to sheep, other sheep are different.
If Christ Covenant church requires that scouts groups be lead by real Christians, it would seem to be their prerogative to make that stipulation.
Can I cut into your brain based on my word?
No one has a right to be a soutmaster and this church wasn't turning anyone away from being a scout. Paul set qualifications for Church leaders. This Church established the scouting program as part of its Church ministry and reasonable qualifications for its leaders is perfectly biblical.
How many Mormon churches allow non-Mormons to be leaders in the Boy Scout chartered groups they run?
None around here. The LDS Scouting program is a little different.
Fortunately there are plenty of Packs around so we just went to a different one.
Doesn't that just settle the whole question?
By the way, I don't believe I have a picture of what people presume to be Jesus in my whole house. Am I unChristian? I think not! After all, Jesus lives here.
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