The Salt Lake Tribune is questioning Mormon procedures after two Boy Scout leader who happened to be LDS pushed over a rock which park rangers say was millions of years old.
In doing their scant research, Tribune is shocked to learn that boys sometimes cause trouble. They point to scouts youths who over a decade ago caused a remote forest fire and chiseled out a dinosaur footprint. The Tribune struggles to find instances of Utah scouts causing trouble and can't actually find any recent examples to match the infamous rock toppling, except scouts feeding some bears.
They claim 4 deaths in scouting between 2005 and 2010 occurred in Utah, a full "13 percent of the national total," but failed to report how much of the national population of scouts are in Utah.
But scout leaders are the real problem, says the Tribune, like the leaders who push over the ancient rock. "If parents knew what rangers knew, they would hesitate to let their boys go on extended Scout outings into wilderness areas with leaders who haven’t demonstrated real outdoor experience." The Tribune more specifically blames Mormon scout leaders:
"The Mormon connection » More than 90 percent of Utah Scouts and leaders are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The LDS Church registers virtually all boys who are members in Scouts — regardless of interest — and appoints leaders for its troops.
Some Scouts and leaders may participate because they’re trying to be good church members, rather than because they have interest or experience in the outdoors.
Lankford said she has not seen any greater problems with Mormon Scout troops than with others — offering a backhanded compliment.
"Anecdotally speaking, Boy Scout leaders from other religious backgrounds seem just as ill-prepared," she said. "But I can see how that process [of appointing leaders] may increase the probability of groups being led by men who aren’t fit for the position."
So the anti-Mormon Tribune reporter pretty much told his false version of how the LDS church appoints its leaders to former park ranger Andrea Lankford and she gave her "back-handed compliment": "I can see how that process may increase the probability of groups being led by men who aren't fit for the position."
You can't blame Lankford. It sounds like she actually defended the church from the Tribune's assertion that Mormon scouts have a worse reputation. But the Tribune's version of the church's procedures is very incorrect. The church does not force boys to be in the Boy Scouts or to go on high-risk activities if they are not interested. Leaders do not participate in these events because they are "trying to be good church members." And they are required to receive extensive training.