Letter to the Editor: Motorcyclist dies by tree felled by Boy Scouts; ‘my’ perspective

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION – I feel that the LDS Church here in Southern Utah is negligent in their practice of “calling upon” individuals to act as Scout Leaders. According to the BSA requirements – a new Scout Leader must submit a BSA Adult Application. On the application it states (in bold print): “BY SUBMITTING THIS APPLICATION YOU ARE AUTHORIZING A CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK OF YOURSELF” and:

Leadership Requirements are that the applicant must possess the moral, educational, and emotional qualities that the Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive leadership to youth. The applicant must also be the correct age, subscribe to the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle, and abide by the Scout Oath or Promise, and the Scout Law.

After relocating (again) to Southern Utah in 2002, I remarried my children’s mother and began attending church with her. The bishop of the knew my father-in-law / mother-in-law, my wife and our three children (who were 12, 9 and 6), at the time. I didn’t know how well the bishop and other members of the ward actually knew the rest of my family, the only point I’m trying to make, is that they knew little-to-nothing, about “me.”

Shortly after attending church several times, I was “called upon” to be a den leader. To be quite honest, this was the last kind of thing I wished to do, but there’s always the odd fear of being labeled “anti-social” and I had already been told that receiving a calling, is somewhat of an honor. I begrudgingly accepted the calling.

“While responsibility for Scouting rests primarily at the ward level, stake presidencies encourage bishoprics to train ward Scout leaders, and they offer the support of stake leaders in training”.

Yet, with no training and no prior experience being a youth leader (other than my own children), I was given this task – And I hadn’t the slightest clue, as to what I was going to “teach” these young men, other than that I was given a Scouting Handbook and informed of the time / weekday, the meetings were to occur.

Parents of these young men never bothered to introduce themselves to me, either during sacrament meetings on Sunday – or even when they screeched into the parking lot, threw their kids out of the car and then laid down 5,000 miles of rubber off their tires, upon exiting the parking lot.

Most of these boys were distractive in the meetings, would not follow instructions and were generally ill-mannered. After several weeks, it seemed like all I was doing, was giving their parents a 60-90 minute “break” in the early evening. (But I politely bit my tongue, as it was not up to me, to lay judgement upon and consequently correct their obvious lack of discipline).

My biggest challenge however, was when it came time for the parents to pick their children up, from the meeting. More than half of them either returned 20 minutes to an hour late, or failed to show at all. The ones that were left without a ride were loaded into our van and driven home, following the child’s vague instructions on how to get to their house.

Imagine my surprise, when safely returning some of these kids to their homes and walking them to the door, that the parents were just kickin’ back and acting like it was somehow “expected” for me to drive their kid home? They were promptly told that it would be the first and the last time they did this. Worse than this were the parents who weren’t home at all.

So what are you supposed to do now, with a minor (who you don’t even know), who has been disruptive and hyper for the last 2-1/2 hours and no way to contact his parent(s)? Well, I guess you can either dump him at his home as easily as his parent dumped him in the parking lot – or, you take him home with you and try again, in another hour. I chose the latter and had to do so, on several occasions.

While expressing my dismay over these occurrences to different members of the ward during meetings, I was looked upon in the sense that I somehow quickly sprouted another two heads and was now speaking in Latin, backwards. Because the general mentality of most members of the church is one that refrains from saying anything at all, which could be deemed even remotely “sarcastic,” in its delivery. Even when attempting to sugarcoat my concerns, they were either quickly dismissed – or completely ignored, as everyone simply moved onto the next subject at hand.

I politely resigned out of this calling and years later my marriage ended (again) – Yet I was still subjected to times when my boys wanted to participate in group activities, with other untrained den leaders. I remember my youngest once telling me that a den leader who was in charge of the weekend activity was pulled over for speeding and was found to be operating his truck, with no insurance and expired registration.

On yet another outing, he and his friends wandered far away from their group and were lost for several hours as it was getting dark. And after finding out about this, I couldn’t necessarily forbid him from future outings, as I was longer “the man of the house.” Yet it never really DID matter that I was the “male elder” in our family as all major decisions were authorized by the in-laws, before and even after our marriage.

I cannot correctly express my disdain of the church and its corresponding members, on so many different levels. While very grateful on one hand for all the many ways that my children have benefited from attending church out here, I am also as much at a loss for a respectful and elegant conveyance of my thoughts into words for all the things that its members will blindly dismiss, as “trivial.”

I can, however, politely say this:

Just because someone is a member of the LDS Church, it does not (in any way, shape or form) mean that they are automatically “certified” to be trusted. Holding a priesthood does not mean that you are somehow given diplomatic immunity from the rest of society. And it certainly does not excuse you from the most polite, (yet forced), amount of sugarcoated constructive criticism, when dealing with situations that concern the safety and well-being of someone else’s children.

Yes, I am an outsider. I do not believe this church is true. But only to the extent that the statement (in which everyone makes during the Bearing of Their Testimony) implies that all other churches … are false? I think not. And I most certainly do not believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that our Heavenly Father spoke “through” him. My God is everywhere and his Son, Jesus Christ, is everywhere. But I have to pay tithes, accept callings, keep my mouth shut unless I’m bearing my positive and sugarcoated testimony of a specific church, its beliefs and all of its members – or I will be denied acceptance to the Celestial Kingdom?

Loving thy neighbor and forgiving him from his transgressions, does not mean that you are to keep eternally quiet about something that you find to be false, irresponsible, negligent or perhaps even unlawful. Yet there are SO many members that comment on St. George New website and the St. George News Facebook page, who are altogether too quick to invoke their powers of blame-shifting and/or quoting (yet misinterpreting) Matthew 7:1-3

I ask all of you, whether you agree or disagree with my opinions, to give some serious consideration in the matter of making it a mandatory requirement, that all den leaders be registered members of the BSA and also that they complete ALL of the required Joining Courses, before allowing them to “supervise” your children on any type of outing.

Submitted by David M. Rabbitt, Washington, Utah

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them; they do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News.

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Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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  • Jody October 14, 2014 at 7:05 am


  • Marcbeth October 14, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Ist off…I’m a little disappointed that the news would post something that tears down at one of the religions in the area. Stgnews…your source for Mormon bashing. Do you people see every hateful post this guy has all over almost every one of your articles? I can name a few more people known to all your viewers as the guys that always say something hurtful and negative that would love to have Stgnews post their rants. Good job guys.
    2nd, this guy obviously is blaming the church for his failed marriage again. Get counseling.
    3rd, yes it sounds like your church wasn’t following the rules of BSA. There’s a few people in the wrong here. You, your chartered organization rep, and the people at BSA over your troop who were obviously not looking for red flags.
    I was a chartered organization rep for 3 years and had an awesome team at BSA that I worked with who helped keep myself and my leaders in line.
    they made sure that I was making sure that my leaders were registered, trained, and following all of BSA rules.
    Just because a few people (including the writer) drooped the ball doesn’t make the entire church incompetent.
    3rd, you sound like my friend. He hates scouts. Has all his life. He was a horrible scout leader because he couldn’t get over his own feelings from childhood. You obviously still are hurting from your marriage and are taking it out on the church.
    4th, You say you have kids…did you ever attend a birthday party? Have your kids and their friends over for a while? You complain about these kids that don’t listen, we’re distracted and I’ll mannered? Haha they’re called kids! Obviously your wife did a great job with yours if you never saw them this way.
    5th, this was a tragic accident. Yes the boys screwed up, yes the leaders probably should’ve been watching them better. Maybe there should be punishment dealt out. That’s not your call….unless youre an attorney?
    Calling the whole religion out because of the mistakes of a few people is childish. Every church has normal people in it. People that make mistakes. Fault of the person not the religion.
    6th thank you for bearing your testimony against the church with the help of Stgnews. Your information is completely biased ajd greatly untrue and should not have been made public by our “trusted” news source.
    Will you people post my “opinion” of a different church and the damage they did to my family? I’ll mix in some news to make it legit….

    • Andy October 14, 2014 at 7:58 am

      Hey Marcbeth, you may not agree with Dave’s assement of your church but in your (2nd?) point 3 you made his point for him. Your friend “hates the scouts” and “has all his life.” Why in the heck would the church in any sort of “wisdom” call that guy to be a scout leader? Why would he feel compelled to accept the job? Sure…you may think it was meant as a “therapy” to your friend, but if that is the point… Imagine the risk of harm to the boys and apparently the general public. A call should be made out of true wisdom. A call to lead young men should be made out of the desire to be a leader.

    • Lance October 14, 2014 at 8:56 am

      Yes, I’ve seen some of this in the comments, what name(s) does this person post under. Reading this makes him sound like a real loser that cannot fit in to Utah, BSA, his church, or even his family. It must be everyone else’s fault, due to Mormonism or something, couldn’t be him I am sure.
      Anyway, I hardly even see the tie in to the motorcycle story. Some people negligently cut down a tree and road debris killed someone. The fact they were BSA is superfluous, BSA does not condone such things obviously, nor does the LDS church.
      This letter writer should either embrace his suck and adapt, or move to some other place. (and no doubt fail there)

    • Visiting Anthropologist October 14, 2014 at 9:20 am

      It’s unfortunate that you are so ill-informed about the role of a newspaper in a community. Printing Mr. Rabbit’s opinion piece was exactly right and a service to all readers. Or do you think anything that opposes the church should be withheld? There are plenty of countries in the world who would welcome you with that attitude. Most of us would not want to live in them.

    • Giuseppe October 14, 2014 at 9:29 am

      This ISN’T a NEWS article, it is a letter to the editor. So it is an opinion an Mr. Rabbitt is entitled to it. You tell Mr. Rabbitt he is blaming the church for his failed marriage, again. Yet you’re blaming ST George News for bad press about the LDS Church, again. Ironic.

    • Matthew Sevald October 14, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      Marcbeth, there is a difference between “kids being kids” and the way Utah children are allowed to run around insanely because “God will care for them”. I have been involved in youth sports for 16 years in a couple states and nowhere have I seen more ill-behaved, unsupervised brats (because they’re allowed to be) than in Utah.

    • ladybugavenger October 14, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      Marcbeth, you are an example of what this man is frustrated with. You are an example of what he is talking about. You aren’t listening. You are too busy defending, your church,to even hear him

    • John October 15, 2014 at 7:02 am

      Hi Marcbeth,
      I am happily married, love scouting, am a faithful and active member of the LDS church, and agree with much of what this gentlemen has said. IMO, for some reason, “Follow the prophet” and “trust The Lord” falls on dead ears for too many of us when it comes to scouting. Case in point…the prophet has taught us (and it’s in the church manual) that every scout leader MUST be registered, undergoing a background check, and have completed youth protection training BEFORE ever meeting with the boys. I was training bishoprics in my stake calling and the response I got was, “eh, that’s too inconvenient, I will just use my personal inspiration to tell if it is a good fit.” Time for another reality check bishops…what kind if inspiration do you expect when you disregard the counsel The Lord has already given through his prophets?

  • Rex October 14, 2014 at 7:21 am

    Well put and intelligently executed. I remember similar experiences as a Boy Scout

    • Lance October 14, 2014 at 9:05 am

      It’s dumb, he calls for “mandatory requirement, that all den leaders be registered members of the BSA and also that they complete ALL of the required Joining Courses”. He wants his mama govt. to save him from himself. How many more bureaucrats would he like to handle the manadatory certification? Stupid. In the 50’s 5% of occupations needed govt. blessing to do their work, now it is 1 in 3. http://www.steynonline.com/6567/descent-into-barberism
      Pussified US baby men asking mama govt to save them.

      • Matthew Sevald October 14, 2014 at 12:15 pm

        Actually, BSA requires all official den and pack leadership to be members of BSA and to complete online training. If the Mormons don’t do that then they as an organization are remiss in their duties and liable for bad things that befall the youth while participating under the BSA name. It’s not “government” its a private organization requiring these things. Funny how you’re against that, but so many Mormons say “If you don’t like BYU’s anti-beard stance don’t go there because it’s a private institution”.

      • Chris October 14, 2014 at 12:45 pm

        What are you talking about? BSA has not government affiliation whatsoever. No bureaucrats are involved in the administration of BSA policies.

  • Transplant85 October 14, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Agree and then some!

  • j October 14, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Disagree…..I am truly thankful we have volunteers in our community doing there best to help others kids become more knowledgeable about our world and nature..none of us our perfect and we act within the laws of the bsa…we take on these callings to help your children and others to learn and become great members of society… which we need..I have an eagle scout and I am proud and thankful to ALL who pitched in their time and alot of effort and patience to get my son through it…

    • Visiting Anthropologist October 14, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Doesn’t sound like this was a “v olunteer” position at all…interesting to read this along with the editorial about “obedience” lambasting the government, et al for requiring people to obey the laws…I guess it’s just the “laws” of the church that should be obeyed come rain or come shine…

  • Jacob October 14, 2014 at 7:42 am

    So…you spend 15 paragraphs to describe how much you disdain the LDS church when the title and subject of this letter supposedly concern the Boy Scouts program and how leaders are (or aren’t) trained. The bulk of your message is completely off topic. I am inclined to agree with your stance of how leadership needs to be accurately trained and parents need to be supportive and involved. But the details about how much you dislike the church and disagree with it is completely unnecessary. An accurate title for your letter would have been “How much I hate the LDS church as well as a brief statement about BSA leadership.”

    • Chels October 14, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      I agree wholeheartedly about the scout issues in this article. I was called by the lds church to be in charge of the ten year old scouts along with my husband. He loved it, but I didn’t really. There were some parents who picked kids up late and Some who let their younger kids run amuck while we had other meetings. It was frustrating. However, I did have to do a background check and I did have to do training. Every scout leader has to. We also have monthly training meetings to attend along with planning meetings etc. I didn’t like it But i did all the work necessary and kept those boys under control. I had fifteen at one point, and yes it was insane but they were not disrespectful because I knew how to keep them in line.

      That being said, this article does not stay on point and becomes a rant against the lds church. Yes he has every right to be frustrated and express his opinion…but perhaps he should have put it in a separate article. This article should have only contained information relevant to scouting. We didn’t need to know about his divorce or his in-laws. Any English teacher (or editor, etc) would have told him to edit those parts out because they were tangents that did not contribute to the piece. In fact, they undermined his credibility immensely.

      I am surprised that st George news published it seeing as it is not that well written. it is nice to get a different viewpoint now and then. However, I do think this is more hate mongering than insightful.

  • Sherry October 14, 2014 at 7:57 am

    Mr. Rabbitt,

    I do agree that all leaders of children, regardless of their religious affiliation, need to be held to a high standard, and background check when working with children. I also support a two deep policy with leaders and children, that may not have occurred for you. That is a church rule, or scouting rule…whoever’s rule a good one. I have sent my kids off to a package of hot dogs (my assignment) to share with the entire troop for their dinner, that was all 8 hot dogs, no buns,no anything else. It was not a disaster, it was one night…but I do agree that training, proper planning and accountability need to be in place, and safety measures for kids. In regard to dropping them off and back home, I think in Southern Utah that most of them could hoof it…since there is a church in every neighborhood, (I can walk to 9 safely from my house) but I am not clear on the age of the child you are referring to. I feel like I could have been that mother, and I do see your point…If I was her, or in her behalf, let me apologize for taking advantage of your time, it isnt right.

    I feel the hurt in your words…I want to address that too. I am sorry you feel like you were not enough. I think worse than a flaky scout leader, is a feeling of not being accepted for who you are and where you are in a church. I , too, am grappling with hurt feelings, so please accept my apology for those that have made you feel left out, or not adequate, or too out spoken. I know that my God is ok with people as they are, and loves them immensely, as they stand. He hates gossip, judgment and elitist thinking. He sent his boy out to the lepers and prostitutes…so if you have been ill treated, know it came from a mere mortal, who has a pile of their own stuff to work on. All churches are filled with these mere mortals, and because of that, slights happen, and worse yet, abuse and neglect can. So, yes, Mr Rabbitt, I agree that the scouting program in the LDS Church, my church, should hold itself to the highest standard. I hope they do…and I hope you are treated with courtesy and respect by those around you.

  • Rick October 14, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Hey St. George News did you read this crap before you posted it? What did any of this typical disgruntled member of the LDS church hogwash have to do with a scout troop and a tragic accident? I know the answer as do most readers. St. George News really doesn’t like St. George or it’s silly heritage and outdated traditions. Not to mention it’s overbearing, non-inclusive, prominent religion. I assume we can blame the FFA (Future Farmers of America) for the destructive rampage the killer bull went on in Cedar City yesterday. I don’t know why I keep reading the crap SGN posts.

  • Red Rocker October 14, 2014 at 8:05 am

    I was in Scouting for years and don’t remember it as being a religious based experience. My troop was sponsored by a secular organization, we had kids from all religions, many were Jewish. We did recite the Boy Scout Oath, but other than that, no other mention of God occurred.
    We had a very active troop, went camping twice a month, Did backpacking trips every year and produced several Eagle Scouts. And walked off with honors at big Camporees.
    It seems to me that BSA has been taken over by religious groups who want to use scouting as an extension of their own organizations.

    • Mike October 14, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Where in the world did you grow up? I am dubious that it was here. When I was a cub scout in San Diego, like you, I do not recall any religious overtones or having any kind of event in a church. That all changed when I moved to Utah. I was not raised LDS and did not attend church. I knew one of the scout masters and I attended a couple of meetings as a Boy Scout, even got my Arrow of Light, and all of these meetings took place in the local church house. My mother eventually pulled me out of scouts because we never knew when the meetings were taking place because they we announced during church services.

  • Bill October 14, 2014 at 8:10 am

    I grew up in the Scouts and learned many good lessons and skills that I still use today. And I’ll tell you, my old scout leaders would cringe at some of the church run policies here in Utah. For instance, we received a letter in the mail asking for a ‘donation’ to help send a scout to camp. What ever happened to ‘earning’ your way to camp? That’s what we did as scouts. We earned our way. Now I’m not saying they don’t try to earn money in a somewhat ethical way. They told us that they would put a flag out 6 times a year for only $50. They put it out 3 times, and then come to find out that they only charge $35 for church members. When told about this the next time they came selling the flag setup I was told, “Oh that must have been the younger guy’s”. As it happens, my neighbor keeps the flags in his garage, so I see them pick them up and start to put them up. 50% of the time it is not the scouts putting up the flags, but a couple of the dads. To me; a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. I think it best if the scouts quit trying to make themselves ‘look’ good and start being good.

  • Doug R October 14, 2014 at 8:28 am

    So…while I don’t agree with everything Mr Rabbitt has written, this IS an opinion post.
    And several people seem to do exactly what he has experienced– rather than address the issues he brings up, you’re dismissing his concerns. How about addressing his point about a lack of guidance when the calling is given, rather than blowing it off as someone that’s angry about his failed marriage?
    Look past the issues he has with the church and address the failures he points out. And do it before the lack of guidance and adult supervision results in yet another “tragic accident” that takes the life of a scout or an unfortunate passer-by.

  • Joe Smith October 14, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Marcbeth and every other Mormon with their head in the sand,

    Either finally come up with an intelligent argument or keep your heads buried and pretend you don’t hear. It’s called freedom of speech. Just because there is a church on every corner here, does not mean the LDS church is the majority in our part of the state. I think more and more people are speaking up and will keep doing so until you keep your religion to yourself and not impose it on the rest of us that want to live here!

    • Lance October 14, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Do you feel imposed on? I don’t and I’m not from here either. Maybe you are insecure in your own beliefs? Mormons don’t bother me in the least, I like living among people with morals. As opposed to the converse which is what liberals desire. Atheism is the fastest growing religion in the West. Much like many other religions atheists hate all others. This why liberals and Salafists are natural allies.

      • Chris October 14, 2014 at 12:37 pm

        Religious extremists and liberals are natural allies? That’s a laugh. Just how could atheists have anything in common Salafists? Your understanding of Salafism is apparently quite thin.

      • Mike October 14, 2014 at 1:45 pm

        Good Lord (hahahahaa, oh the irony),
        Atheism is NOT a religion, a movement, or even a theology. It is simply the rejection that deities exist. Atheists do not hold meetings, nor do they have a statement of belief. It’s just an easy way to group or identify people who do not subscribe to the notion that there is an all-powerful invisible sky wizard or purportedly magical Hebrew zombie. I would define myself as atheist and I do not hate any religion, I might think them somewhat unnecessary or even somewhat silly as well as a driving force behind a lot of bigotry, but I do not hate them. As a student of psychology and sociology I understand the driving force behind most religions and many peoples’ need to belong and define the world around them. Personally, I do not like to couch my beliefs in terms of such empirically unsound concepts. But I still don’t hate, nor do I even disdain those that subscribe to a theology, that’s up to them and they seem to receive comfort from it. It does make me chuckle that you try to lump liberals and Salafists (Muslims- for those not in the know- me included, I had to google it.) into one nice group. I can easily guess how you refer to our President behind closed doors or hanging out with your like-minded cronies.
        Liberals (I am also one of those) do not despise morals, we (as well as Atheists) also have those. Your whole comment just makes me laugh. sorry. I’m sure that wasn’t your intent. lol

        • Lance October 15, 2014 at 8:10 am

          Atheists will rabidly defend their (non)beliefs and attack all other religions. Atheists believe no god exists, which cannot be proven anymore than that a god does exist. Sound familiar? If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.
          Thanks for proving my point by example. Perhaps if you complete school you will learn some realities but I suspect given your major field you’ll be standing in front of a french fryer complaining about social injustice by the rich, which you will equate with the “Hebrews”.
          No worries, a strong man will come along to save you.

        • Bender October 15, 2014 at 9:13 pm

          Mike the atheist, you sound like a chill dude. Let’s you and me share some diet cokes sometime. Your friend, Bender the marginal Mormon.

  • Jerry jones October 14, 2014 at 8:43 am

    This will be the last article I download, the only thing they write about some ones kid or brother, or father was arrested for drugs with a big picture. Is there nothing good or positive in SG.

    • Lance October 14, 2014 at 10:50 am

      There is a lot of trash in the stream, petty crime aplenty. Not much really happens in SG.

  • Debbie October 14, 2014 at 8:49 am

    I am an active member of the LDS Church and I love scouting and totally understand the concerns expressed in this article. I hope that each of us listens and learns from his experiences.

  • space monkey October 14, 2014 at 8:51 am

    What a great article. I really like how you were able to show how the LDS church is irresponsible for allowing you to be a leader. I know several people who have turned down church callings because as the LDS church says your #1 priority is not the church but your family. You will be much happier in life when you learn to live it for you and your family. Don’t attend a church, club or basket weaving group if you don’t believe in the basic guidelines of that group, and if you do, don’t blame the group for having a set of ideals that you don’t agree with. You certainly don’t want to attend, then take a leadership position that puts you as a role model or guide to this groups youth if you have these same feelings. Lastly you need to stop blaming others for your inability to grasp these simple basic guidelines and realize it was you who failed by accepting this “calling” and your choosing to attend this church and allowing it to build up this level of resentment in your heart.

  • scott October 14, 2014 at 8:57 am

    So, is his issue with the boy scouts, the LDS church, or people in general? This just sounds like an all around whiny individual to me. It also sounds like he fails at life. Married the same woman twice, divorced her twice, and allowed he parents to run his life. No wonder he is miserable.

  • Grandma K October 14, 2014 at 8:58 am

    The first two and the last paragraphs are on subject, and are interesting points to discuss The rest need another forum.
    I am sorry the author feels as he does, however. Ultimately it is up to us what we take away from any experience; did I leave things better than I found them?

  • Notconvinced.... October 14, 2014 at 9:17 am

    I agree with about 1/2 of what you wrote. I’ll say 1/2 because honestly I do not think the BSA would have 1/2 it’s Utah members without a church calling. The sad truth is that most fathers/parents would rather sit at home and do nothing (as you have observed) than show up to meetings, let alone lead them. Without the ‘calling’ the LDS church would not be able to incorporate BSA into it’s young men’s program. A busy boy is a boy out of trouble, so as a parent I was always so grateful for the BSA that attendance was mandatory at our house. No BSA, no anything else during the week…those were my rules.

    When my husband was called as a den leader he was thrilled. He was an Eagle candidate who moved into an area where the leader couldn’t be bothered to help him complete his final project. He aged out without getting it done and has never really gotten over it. He wanted to be a better example to the boys in our neighborhood and stepped up for every hike, every community service project. His employer got used to the idea that nothing came before the scouts. One warm afternoon he stopped by the local Maverik on the way home and bought himself a beer. One of our ward members was in the store and saw him. Two weeks later my husband was called into our bishops office, confronted and released. He was devastated. It seemed surreal. That’s all it took? The disillusionment he felt eventually extended to our faith and was one of a few issues we had with this pompous bishop. We moved out of the core of our ward and eventually stopped attending while he was bishop (years). My point is…that is the true risk of incorporating a civic organization with a religious one. People will be embraced and marginalized for the wrong reasons (or in this case out of hypocrisy and bias).

    By the way, this editorial is the very first time I have ever heard of BSA having training guidelines. Wow. How does the church get away with not conforming to that requirement?

  • Tammy October 14, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Great letter to the editor! I applaud you for speaking up and not being one of this mass herd of sheep/cattle that are pushed around by LDS,Inc. I have felt during my lifetime that scouting is indeed nothing more than a place to send your boys to do “STUFF” while you and the wifey hang out with the girls. The men supervising these young men aren’t always there for the love of scouting, they are there simply so they don’t piss their bishop off and rather get the nod of approval, that they look for, rather get the negative shake of the head. There must be nothing worse.

    Stories of Scout leadership going a-muck, are more and more in the news. From men sexually abusing the boys and hording masses of child port and being arrested, to leaders toppling over parts of a beautiful state park and being charged, to children being lost in the Unitia’s, to never return home alive, fatal busing accidents, to falling trees across a state road, that lead to a mans death. I’m sure if the subject were googled, the list world wide, would be horrendous. When my son was in scouts, the leader had a fond practice of having the group, stand around in a circle and all of then would pee on the camp fire at the end of the night, to put it out. I also heard of the horrid stories of kids being cuffed and yanked around by impatient leaders and then admonished that if the boy would JUST mind, none of that would have to happen. My son brought back such a story and we confronted the scout leader. He apologized but at the next scout meeting he chided my son about saying anything and then the other kids harped in and it became a picking frenzy. At that point we took our son out of the care of this wretched man who proudly wore the banner of “The Priesthood”, whatever that means. We all eventually left LDS, Inc. and proudly withdrew our tithing money from being used to purchase any more billion dollar shopping malls.

    It is indeed odd that LDS, Inc., calls this a “Calling” it is not called that any place else on earth. Men aren’t called into this position. They join after training, because their love of the outdoors. This is simply a smoke screen to start further church indoctrination at a early age and keep the child sucked into a lifetime of shelling out his 10%

    • Billy the Kid October 14, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      Good for you! 🙂

  • John October 14, 2014 at 9:31 am

    I am disappointed in The St. George News. The title of the article is a desperate grasp to relate the author’s excuse to rant about himself and his personal feelings. This article has nothing to do with the man on the motorcycle who lost his life. I know this is an editorial but it shouldn’t be related to real news and a man losing his life. The title of this article should read: The LDS church made me do something and I didn’t like it, so now I will blame members of the LDS church and the institution itself.

  • Paul Jensen October 14, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Letter to the Editor: Motorcyclist dies by tree felled by Boy Scouts; ‘my’ perspective

    So what was his perspective on the motorcyclist who died when he hit a tree that was felled by Boy Scouts? Was it the Boy Scouts who cut the tree down’s fault, or was it the motorcyclist’s fault for possibly not paying attention to what was in the road ahead? Basically this was nothing more than a rant against the Mormon Church. If David M. Rabbitt wanted to be a trained scout leader, the resources are out there and provided at training sessions once every month, so if he wasn’t properly trained, he is the one who failed to be trained. Why is he blaming the parents failure to pick up the boys on time on the Church or on the BSA? He also failed to mention that scouting is ALWAYS done with ‘two deep leadership.’ Meaning that he was not the only adult that met with his group of boys. This is done for the leader’s and the boy’s protection. I could go on and on, but this really had nothing to do with Scouting, or the LDS Church and everything to do David M. Rabbitt, if that really is his name, trying to justify his failures in life and not take ownership of the things that he personally sucks at. But then… that’s just my opinion.

  • chupacabra October 14, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Dear Mr. Rabbitt,

    Your opinion piece is so meandering and disjointed I have a hard time trying to find the actual topic of your rant. I believe that there is room for all forms of criticism, especially of organizations. I suggest you re-read your words, form topic sentences, check your point numbers, and for heaven’s sake leave your bigoted perspective off the page. The best arguments build on the contrast of what is done correctly, and not your personal life failures. I hope you find the peace you so desperately need.

  • A reader October 14, 2014 at 10:54 am

    I was called to be a scout leader in my ward. I felt I was not knowledgeable enough to accept the calling, and politely told the bishop that. He accepted me turning it down and thanked me for being honest. Not another word was spoken about the subject (by anyone in the ward). So, I guess it depends on how enlightened your bishop is.

  • Matthew Sevald October 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    I sympathize with the author of this letter. Over the years I have experienced much the same as a sports official and more recently as youth leader for my children’s sporting events. Without parent support, a volunteer’s job is exceptionally difficult. Without the organization’s leadership, the job is nigh-impossible.
    Fortunately, I am lucky enough to currently serve as Wolf Den leader in Pack 4802 at the St. George Catholic Church and I have received nothing but the best support and education, whether it be in person or online. If I have any questions they are answered immediately and the unit has high expectations of parental involvement and high expectations of child behavior. It is a privilege to work with such a focused group that has nothing but the best interests of the kids at heart.
    I realize that the majority of scouts in Utah are Mormon-affiliated and are therefore expected to run with their own, so to speak, so perhaps joining a group that’s got it together is out of the question. The solution, then, is to stand up and be a leader and implement change if leadership is itself not open to change. I also realize that this can be extremely difficult in Mormon culture where folks are expected to shut up and tow the line with a stiff upper lip and not mention problems as well as to obey leadership without question, but nonetheless, this is the path required to get a functional scouting group going.
    I had a background with authoritative parents, so it is easy for me to expect others to do as I want when I am in charge. I also am a former Marine so I understand the value of group discipline, I know how to implement it, and I know how to make it happen without taking crap from naysayers. Additionally, many years of experience working in child-related activities and with their parents has sanded down my rougher edges and given me greater insight into how to right the ship. My advice to the author and to anyone else in the same boat is to be your own person. Get with someone whom you respect and who is successful at what you’re trying to do and emulate them. Don’t follow the groupthink and certainly don’t let others walk all over you. Demand respect and confront the problem(s) head on. Confrontation doesn’t have to be a negative thing. It simply means you’re addressing a problem.
    Many thanks to those volunteers who try their best to make things work, and shame upon those parents who take advantage and shame upon leadership that doesn’t care or is incompetent. These are our kids that are being carelessly “led”. They and those who choose to fill the positions deserve our best.

  • Bender October 14, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Even if your ward’s scouting leaders attend, and digest, all of the available leadership training, said training won’t turn a lazy, reckless, foolish or careless man into a careful and effective scout leader. Mormon scout leaders are a mixed bag. Some great, most mediocre, and a few terrible. Solution? Don’t squawk about it, pitch in. Parents, attend some of the meetings and help keep your kid’s trap shut and butt in the chair. Come to the camp outs, hikes, service projects, etc. and be a good example, help out and have fun with the boys. Pitch in with that stupid flag fundraiser program occasionally. If your ward has an under-performing scout leader, just a little effort on your part could make a big difference. Sometimes a weak scout leader just needs an occasional helping hand or some friendly encouragement. If your ward scout leader is a careless idiot, be a voice of caution regarding scout activities.
    I am a great believer in the value of young boys having positive male role models besides their fathers. Boys from broken homes may only have contact with child-men who are huge screw ups. Some of them would never go hiking or camping if not for scouts. The program can be a life changer for some boys.
    Bender, Scoutmaster

    • j October 15, 2014 at 8:39 am

      Well said

    • JO October 17, 2014 at 6:18 pm

      I know of a grandma aged woman with no sons or grandchildren in the scouts who was “called” by her church to perform boyscout duties. Her interests and involvement were marginal. Where were all the fathers and mothers of these boys in boyscouts? Why weren’t they stepping up instead of leaning on the church to pressure other people to fill those positions? Quality of these scouts must be poor at best.

  • chickweed October 14, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    I admire your bravery, Mr. Rabbit, for telling it like it is and signing your letter. Some of the responses here are unfortunate, and I hope you will take them with a big grain of salt.
    Despite your reservations about finding the right words, I’d heard you speaking from your heart and conscience. You articulated what many in this community wouldn’t be able to admit in a million years!

  • outsider looking in October 14, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Is this the same Mr. David Rabbitt that lost the car dealership on Bluff Street a few months ago?? Or is he related to the “Rabbitt” who owned it?? Either way, I do agree with his letter to some extent. I wonder if he blames the LDS church for his committing the frauds his car dealership was accused of. I do agree the LDS church has WAY TOO MUCH influence and say so in peoples personal lives. Bishopric status is OVERRATED! I have a neighbor who is a Bishop in the local ward and I have lived in the same home for over 9 years and I just recently ( a month ago) stopped waving and/or saying hello to this neighbor because he has NEVER once even bothered to respond in any way. Shows me how it is supposed to work I guess. I don’t need to friendly with people like this man. But back to Mr. Rabbitts letter…..he does make some good points. In general, I think being LDS is also overrated.

    • Billy the Kid October 14, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      Your last sentence… What does that even mean??? I don’t know of any perk that you get in this life for being LDS??? You might as well say, In general, I think being a normal person is overrated.

      • outside looking in October 15, 2014 at 10:07 am

        Yeah, that too. Sometimes being normal IS overrated.

  • Rosie October 14, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Sometimes people are called to positions out of desperation rather than inspiration. Mr. Rabbitt has “issues” it is obvious to see and I suspect no matter what he does, everyone else is wrong and he is right. The scouts are not perfect but they do provide an invaluable service to our youth in teaching them and keeping them out of mischief. I had 4 boys and a husband who was always involved with the scouting program and am very thankful for their involvement. Utah is particularly vulnerable to criticism because of anti-Mormon sentiment among non- or former members who have an axe to grind. It’s too bad they need to air their dirty laundry to the whole world, but it’s understandable that some people are just not stable enough in their own lives to just plug along and do their little part for mankind. Any church that sponsors a program such as the BSA is a good thing! Mormon, Catholic, protestant, Jewish etc…. Before trying to remove the mote from another’s eye please look in a mirror and analyze your own flaws. If you have non, then you’re a total narcissist, if you do, then work on them first before casting your stones. Our world has enough problems without your P & M. Take a pill and chill out.

    • Matthew Sevald October 15, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      What a crock full of crap.
      Why are Mormon apologists only capable of attempting to shame and deflect from the issue at hand? It’s unbelievable that we rarely ever read any Mormon response that actually confronts the issues being brought up; rather they “poo poo” the person for “airing their dirty laundry” or “having issues” or “having an axe to grind”.
      Are these talking points discussed at meetings or written down on pamphlets somewhere? They are tired and intellectually dishonest.

  • Who's fault is it? October 14, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    According to the author: If a tree falls in the forest and he hears about it…blame the Mormons. He is all over the place in this article. He is one frustrated person – with himself. Your prob dude, buck up.

  • Boy Scouts of America? October 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts of America are just that. Organizations to teach and help children learn many skills including survival. For many years I have been screaming mad that the Mormon Church has made these wonderful organizations, about the Church. A couple examples, when my brother was young and wanted to join first cub scouts he was told by other boys his same age he couldn’t join because he wasn’t Mormon. The scouts pray at the church meetings that are suppose to be the scout meetings, in other words the prayers are for church and not Scouts. And why is all Scout meetings help at the Mormon Churches’? I could bet also that all camp outs hold church type services on Sunday’s is this true? Church needs to keep out of organizations like the Boy and Girl Scouts of America

  • Bobber October 14, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    Lots of rly long-winded comments on this… its all too much, rly

    • JSD October 15, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      Considering your narrow mind, not surprising.

  • Koolaid October 14, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Seems like the scouts and their leaders of the mormon church troops are always getting absolved from any wrong doing. Yup, that’s what you want to teach young boys. Join the mormon church and get a free pass and a get out of jail card. Is your tithing current?

  • Bob October 14, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    I just wanted to say that I had one good scout leader and one terrible one. I quit the second.

  • Trust Me October 14, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Just because YOU don’t believe it, it doesn’t mean it’s not true. I’m glade to see all these folks who profess to be Christians fight amonghist themselves like it … and Summee do. All must change their attitudes or go to Hell. But if you wish to hang out with the robbers the murderers the cheaters the gaysters the whormongers the failures the satanist go head be who you are and keep on hating remember love your neighbor as yourself. Pray for those who despise you. Love those who hate you. You can’t be converted to Christ until you have a change of heart. So what is it folks Heaven or Hell you get to make the choice. But as for me and my family we will serve The Lord.
    Ed. ellipsis

    • Bobber October 14, 2014 at 10:35 pm


    • Bender October 15, 2014 at 10:19 am

      “But as for me and my family we will serve The Lord.”
      And be arrogant, self-righteous bigots while doing it.

      • Bobber October 15, 2014 at 5:32 pm

        I would have wrote that, but he wasn’t worth that long of a response… 😉

  • maninthemirror October 15, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    I am not really surprised at all of the negative comments. Maybe it is time LDS people, including me, look at how we come across to others. Are we ever “arrogant, self-righteous bigots” as Bender states? Do we really come off that way? If so, no wonder there are so many negative comments and “hatred” toward us. I get confused about the “cattle/sheep” comment, because I, for one, will never follow anyone or anything blindly. Still, I am beginning to understand the frustration others have. It really makes me sick that so many treat others with a different faith so unkindly. As to the author’s frustration, he has the right to his opinion. His experiences are just that: HIS! Whether you agree or not, he has the right to say, just as you do. I am looking at the person in the mirror. How do I act?

    • Bender October 15, 2014 at 9:18 pm

      Whoa, thoughtful comment from a fellow Mormon! You sure you didn’t wander into the wrong room?

  • DAVE RABBITT October 17, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    My story is not about blaming the church for my failure in marriage, or as a scout leader. (I resigned from my calling, because it seemed that all my concerns fell on deaf ears). My story is about how church members are placing WAY too much faith in people that they know little-to-nothing about. And also that most parents don’t seem to care, if their child has to walk home, by themselves or even wander off, with an ax in their hand. This was further evident by the comment made by SHERRY (on October 14th, at 7:57 a.m.): “I think in Southern Utah that most of them could hoof it -“since there is a church in every neighborhood”.

    (You were polite in your response, so please don’t think that I’m attacking you – I’m merely pointing out what “I” perceive as a flaw, in”your” perception of just how safe, your neighborhood really is. (Just because there’s a church on every neighborhood, doesn’t mean that it is within earshot of your home, or that it is within plain sight).

    I invite you to Google how many registered sex offenders there are, in Washington County. Type in “Registered Sex Offenders 84770” and click on a link from city data. The map you’ll view shows 61 red balloons, as of Oct. 17, 2014. (40) for 84790, (34) in 84780, (11) in 84738, (40) in 84737, (4) in 84745.

    Whether these little balloons seem crowded together in some neighborhoods, or spread out more in others, it still means that your 9 year-old has little chance of hoofing it home “safely”, from church.

    You know what’s really odd, was that none of you mentioned: “How would I know, for certain, that these boy scouts were actually with boy scout leaders???” – I mean, they could’ve just been out there with their fathers, right? Hmmmm?

    Doesn’t matter though, because the intended point here, is that “I” view “UTAH”, as being altogether too lax in the discipline of their children, in a public setting.
    And in “my” scenario, the parents were too lazy to inquire about “my” character, before entrusting “me” with the safety, guidance and well-being of “their” children.
    In the matter of the man who was killed by a falling tree, there were EIGHT adults in that group, who somehow failed to properly supervise only TEN children.

    You cannot (well, you “should not”) yell at someone, while inside of a church. You CANNOT (legally) “make” someone else’s child, obey your commands. And perhaps because the young man viewed me (as he does his parents – in that sacred environment), as someone who CANNOT and therefore WILL NOT, beat the bejesus out of him, for his non-compliance to simple instructions. Try fidgeting, whining, or running in a CATHOLIC Church and see what happens! Drag that child out by the ear, beat those demons outta him on the front steps and receive a standing ovation from the entire congregation, when you return – not to mention a possible invite, to write the next sermon.

    Boys “wandering off” implies that there was improper supervision, by the adults. Yet how old were these boys that they did not have the mental capacity to realize that cutting down a large tree that close to a public highway, wouldn’t (or couldn’t) possibly fall onto the highway? Does it really matter how old? Because we have 13 year-olds out here, who don’t know what 7,200V of electricity “could do” to them, and others who think that shooting a cat in the head with blowgun darts wont actually hurt the cat, because they watched Daffy Duck take a shotgun blast to the face – like a boss!?

    Perhaps I should have included the accident, for those who have a difficult time reading every word and then digesting the intended moral of the story, rather than having it spoon-fed by a highlighted caption, at the bottom of the page?

    Perhaps I should have went on the explain that “Involuntary Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, either express or implied. It is distinguished from voluntary manslaughter by the absence of intention”?

    I never had to beat my kids. But there was the fear, that I “might”, instilled in them from a very young age. There were no “terrible twos” and no “obnoxious fours” – just a child who KNEW, that you don’t “test” Mom and you most certainly don’t “poke” Dad. And if you’re going to blindly trust your child to be supervised by someone who possesses the same carefree attitude as you, then don’t be so surprised when little Johnny doesn’t make it back from his den meeting, because of that little red balloon, in YOUR neighborhood.

    I even went on to publicly admit that “my” son once wandered off – But that’s because he was allowed to go on an outing, where the adults that were in charge failed to properly supervise them. And since I was no longer “in charge” of decisions concerning the trust of a church member (who I knew absolutely nothing about), what could I do? Yet, as a father, it’s ridiculous to have the mindset that your kids can never do anything, without being supervised by you.

    When I read that someone had already attempted to label Edgar Riecke’s death as “a case of unfortunate timing”, I (in turn) labeled it as yet another “fundraising, no-accountability, offer your condolences to the family and then bury your head in the sand” event. Because a lot of people out here refuse to accept the fact that someone in their perfect little balloon-free society, actually did something that was negligent. And the laws in the State of Utah put a HUGE emphasis on words like “knowingly, willfully or maliciously” to further detract from one’s “alleged” neglect.

    In my example of being a Den Leader, did parents “knowingly and willfully”: 1.) Leave their children with a stranger 2.) Fail to pick them up at a predescribed time and/or 3.) Fail to be present at home, afterwards? Would they “maliciously” leave their child to fend for themselves, as the child walks through a neighborhood, riddled with these little red balloons? One would immediately reply “NO”, yet fail to recognize that their ignorance (whether intended or not) does not excuse them from what is morally (or in some cases, legally) wrong.

    Someone needs to accept responsibility for this man’s death, as that tree did not fall on its own. Even though we’d all like to believe that there’s a 99.9% chance that these kids did not “knowingly, willfully or maliciously” drop that tree into the road, a man still lost his life, because of it. And that lost life was due to either their negligence alone – or perhaps the negligence of the 8 adults who allowed them to wander off for an amount of time long enough to drop a tree.

    But hey – “Who am I to judge”? I’m just that Obnoxious / Anti-Social / Hate-Mongering / Mormon-bashing / Soulless Internet Troll (who just so happens to actually CARE, if YOUR child makes it home safely – and perhaps without injuring anyone, in the process).

    • Lance October 17, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      Well that certainly is an epic Concern Troll rant, hats off to you!!

      • Koolaid October 17, 2014 at 11:19 pm

        If you don’t like it, you are welcome to leave.

    • JO October 17, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      As a caring and responsible parent, I tried to volunteer my adult services for youth oriented activities. With one activity, I was told by the mormons who ran it that not was I not needed, but I was also not wanted. Another organization (mormon run) ignored me as if I didn’t exist. A third (mormon run) group wanted me to do some crappy one-deep work that nobody else wanted. Another (mormon run) group never even responded to my inquiries. The list goes on. Mormons make it very apparent that non-mormons are not welcome.

  • bishpoul November 24, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    We need to stop the bullying of the Washington County Assessors’ office. We need to stop the abuse of Authority.

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