I am Christian. As far as religion goes, if the rare question ever crops up, I was confident those three words were sufficient. Now I am not so sure. A couple with two young boys who desired to be Scouts, applied to be Cub Scout leaders at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, NC. The church declined Jeremy and Jodi Stokes’ application to take a leadership role in Scouts because they are Mormon.
Claiming Mormonism is not consistent with historical Christianity, the church rejected Jeremy and Jodi Stokes’ application. I have never viewed myself as less Christian in any way. However, I am astounded to learn some people are more Christian.I must be living in a cave.
Gist and Twist – Jeremy’s an Eagle Scout
Apparently, Christ Covenant Church needed adult assistance with its Scout program. The couple’s own church did not have a scouting program for their kid’s age group, which would be Tiger Scouts. The perfect match right. Jeremy and Jodi did not close their eyes and pick this particular church from the Yellow pages either.
From what I gather, they have plenty of friends who are members of Christ Covenant Church. Not only does this couple sound like attentive and good parents; Jeremy is an Eagle Scout to boot. That is an honorable achievement. Besides, what better qualification would you want in a person that is going to lead and mentor a Scout pack? So far, it all makes good sense to me.
I imagine the Stokes family must have been excited over the prospect of their joint endeavor with their children. Never mind that these young boys were going to have their dad involved in Scouts – Mom was willing to take an active part in the adventure as well. I see them as a parenting dream team. Christ Covenant Church had to pass, though, simply because Jeremy and Jodi are Mormons.
You Cannot Lead – You Can Volunteer
Ironically, while the Stokes were not allowed to be pack leaders, the church was OK with them volunteering their time to the Scout program. Huh? I find this rather confusing and to be honest, a bit arrogant, even though I am positive this is not the intention of the church. Sort of like you cannot have any of my steak, but feel free to help yourself to the fat.
In fairness, this brouhaha at Christ Covenant Church opened the door to the church instituting a formal written policy concerning the consistency of teachings of the church with those who seek leadership positions in that church including Scout leaders.
That is commendable, but I have to wonder what kind of message the church sends by passing on a perfectly capable Scout leader because they felt he is not as Christian as they are. I should mention that the Stokes’ children were welcome to stay as Scouts even though the parents could not be pack leaders
Church Makes its Own Criteria
In my research for this piece, I read that a Boy Scouts council member claims a church has the right, along with honoring the Boy Scouts’ creed, to make and enforce its own guidelines for a Scout leadership standing. Many moons ago, when I was a Girl Scout, my weekly meeting was at a Congregational Church. I was an Episcopalian.
Except for the Catholic girls, who I knew were Catholic because they were my best friends – I had no clue what religion any of the rest of my troop was. I do know one of my Scout leaders was Catholic and one was Baptist. They were fabulous leaders and mentors and that was the important factor.
Should any church that charters a Boy Scout troop or Cub Scout pack allow someone to be a leader based only on the religious dogma of the church? Would a Mormon church be OK with a Catholic Scout leader under its charter? My guess is probably not.
There is much to ponder about what happened to Jeremy and Jodi Stokes. Just as there is much to ponder about the Boy Scouts discriminating against sexual and religious minorities. Is it time perhaps to write a new chapter or does all this still work for you?
Tim Funk, “Church: Mormons can’t lead scouts,” TheSunNews.com