Mormons, Scouts and bigots – another story

From the October 29th editorial: “Mormons don’t discriminate by religion in their Scout activities.” Not true.

I phoned the Mormon Bishop to find out what on earth he was thinking. His response was frank. The Bishop didn’t want me “poisoning the minds of the boys,” so my service as the Cub Scout Pack WEBELOS Den leader had been abruptly terminated.

It was an unusual situation. The PTA at Earl Legette Elementary School in Fair Oaks, California, didn’t want the hassle of chartering a Cub Scout Pack, so the local LDS ward offered to adjust their program. The Pack meetings would be held at the school. The Bishop would “call” a member of the ward to be Cub Master. And the Cub Master would run the unit, using willing non-LDS folks on the unit committee and as Den leaders. The result was an energetic Cub Scout pack with over 50 boys and lots of helpful adult leaders, most of whom were not LDS.

The Cub Master had noticed my uniform had an Eagle Scout recognition knot with two silver palms, a probable indicator I was an enthusiastic Scouter, so she asked me to be the WEBELOS Den leader. My son was in the Den (he’s 35 years old now).

Almost a year later the Bishop found out I was participating. He came unglued, rebuked the Cub Master, and summarily dismissed me. He personally made the announcement of his decision at a Pack Meeting. I was not contacted ahead of time (and I was out of town on a business trip, so I missed the festivities). My wife told me about it when I returned home.

The “poison” the bishop was worried about were my Presbyterian religious convictions. However, the only religious discussion that ever occurred in the WEBELOS den was when I helped a Jewish boy explain Hanukah (he was hazy on the history of the festival). The WEBELOS den had about a dozen boys, three of whom were LDS. And the Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant parents were not concerned about me poisoning the minds of their sons.

The bishop’s bigotry started a firestorm. Local volunteer and professional Scout leaders at the District and Council level encouraged me to formally protest the bishop’s actions. But while I was thinking about it the Cub Master took action. She persuaded the PTA to charter their own unit so they wouldn’t have to deal with her knothead bishop. A month later at the pack meeting the parents lined up to sign on with their choice, remain with the LDS unit or join the newly chartered PTA unit.

The bishop showed up to make a plea for participating in his ward’s unit, to no avail.

The result were two units, an LDS Pack with about 8 boys, the new Pack was even larger than the original unit. The LDS Cub Master moved her Scouter membership to the PTA unit and continued as leader. I was reinstated at WEBELOS den leader.

From the October 29th column: “Again, it’s sad that Cub Scouts is contaminated by bigotry.” True.

NOTE: I’m presently very active in the Trapper Trails Council, where there are few knotheads.

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11 Responses to Mormons, Scouts and bigots – another story

  1. Charles Trentelman says:

    You need to discriminate between “Mormons” as a class, and “Mormons” as individual butt-heads. I would hope you ran into the latter variety, of which we are unfortunately well-supplied, and not just of the LDS variety.

    Sadly, there’s nothing like religion to make power go to someone’s head.

    • Neal Humphrey says:

      Excellent point. Butt-headedness transcends religious preference. These days I’m usually butting heads with Presbyterian butt-heads.

  2. Kimmie says:

    Butt-heads as you call them remain too long in positions they should have been removed from. My son went through all the rituals of earning his Arrow of Light. When it came time to award his and three other young boys, the scoutmaster told us we were no longer welcome at the stake. The boys were devastated. That was years ago. I understand the same stake is still doing the same thing to this day though.

  3. Bob says:

    People are people. Leave religion, etc. out of the equation. It just demonstrates your own bigotry.

    • Pete says:

      I agree. This article had little to do with religion and more to do with a single “butt-head.” You find idiots where ever you go. The exist in every group, whether they are Mormon, Catholic, Democrat or Republican, or beyond. Sounds like it all worked out, though, that’s the main thing!!

  4. Gladstone Phelps says:

    I went to Mormon Cub scouts and one Saturday when I was 10 I got BAPTIZED.
    So, now I’m counted in their population .

  5. KW says:

    There are too many “individual butt heads” that I have had to deal with in my 43 years in Utah. How many individual butt heads make a class? (not a joke, looking for an answer). However, after visiting the “Bible Belt” it made me appreciate Utah and all it and it’s people had to offer. Also, Boston and it’s areas of catholicism. I suppose living in Utah, subjected to it’s “butt heads” for the majority of my life has made me a little cynical. I’ve found it is what you make of it and having a good attitude helps a great deal. Not my problem their are “butt heads” in the world, I just don’t want to be one of them!

  6. Neal Humphrey says:

    I’m a Calvinist, so I believe we’re all butt-heads.

  7. Botch says:

    I’m an Agnostic, because I keep reading threads like this from ALL religions… :(

  8. Mike Vause says:

    To Gladstone Phelps. Your response is either a pipe dream or an urban legend. It takes far more that attendance at one Cub Scout meeting to get baptized. This sounds like the account by an Irish woman who claimed she was kidnapped in Dublin, by Mormon Missionaries, and spirited away to SLC via a tunnel under the Atlantic Ocean which opened into the basement of the Salt Lake Temple. In her notarized testimony, she claimed to have escaped by jumping out of one of the round windows on the Temple’s top floor into Great Salt Lake and swimming to California. And she expected folks to believe that story too.

  9. Brandon Smith says:

    Mike Vause,

    Not sure where you got the idea Gladstone Phelps said his baptism was the result of one Cub Scout meeting. Kindly re-read his post.

    And you might want to look up “Mormon Baseball Baptisms” on a search engine.

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