A Call to Distinctively Lutheran Scouting

May 23rd, 2013 Post by

rangerettesToday the news became official, the Boy Scouts have fallen in line with the step of a world gone mad.  The group has adopted a policy which allows openly gay boys to join (but in compromise they did not allow openly gay men to become scout leaders [you could probably hold your breath for how long that ruling will last]).  This has caused the American Heritage Girls to dissolve their working relationship with the Boy Scouts immediately following the decision.

There are some things which may be learned here.  First, as James 4:4 says, friendship with the world is enmity with God.  We need to understand that anytime we get involved in a “faith-based”, “parachurch” or modestly religious secular organization that they will eventually end up falling away from the true God.  This is maybe the writing that the WELS has seen on the wall.  In our efforts to get involved and do “more”, we have looked for partners or agencies which have the infrastructure already built that we can tag along with.  This has again proven to be a bad idea (remember all of our collaboration with the ELCA on stuff?).  Maybe it’s time to consider a Lutheran solution and be satisfied with a smaller footprint on the face of the earth (but also being better stewards of the children given to us).

Another thing we need to learn is that a generic confession of belief in “God” in such organizations IS NOT THE SAME GOD THAT WE WORSHIP.  No matter how you cut it, the Trinity is not confessed by generic statements of belief or vows to “god” (or even “God”).  It is time to get very specific about the God that we worship (remember the Second Commandment everyone?).  We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost [for more of that go to church this Sunday and confess the Athanasian Creed].  To water down the confession of who God is profanes the name of God among us.

Even more that that, following the pattern of our great creeds, we worship Jesus.  Although many of the current groups started by a rigorous confession of Christ, they have in the name of tolerance and all other sorts of things given that up to a more generic god, or at least a Jesus who is palatable to the world.

Now, Lutherans can learn from this and move on.  First, the WELS/ELS can teach something about this and help – they have the Lutheran Pioneers.  Another Lutheran scouting group which could be resurrected could be the Lutheran Rangers/Rangerettes, which only shut down its national offices a short while ago and still has troops in a couple LCMS congregations in Wisconsin.  Perhaps the Office of National Mission could work with those congregations (and the WELS/ELS) to prepare and offer a genuinely Lutheran alternative to the scouting groups now following after the darkness of the world.

You will note in this article I have not suggested that we should stay with the Boy Scouts.  They have chosen their god and now to remain faithful to Christ, Lutherans should flee from the organization.  Yes, it is painful, yes it will take away resources and there may even be members of LCMS congregations who will side with the Boy Scouts.  The plain fact of the matter is that those worldly concerns do not change the Second Commandment and what it says (not to mention the Sixth Commandment).  We are Lutherans, we can do it our way for the sake of our boys and girls.  Let them learn scouting, but under the one true God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


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  1. Rev. Paul Mumme
    May 23rd, 2013 at 23:28 | #1

    Nice post, Joshua! We had 7 good years with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. That came to an end today. I was never under the illusion that all the boys in the troop have the same God we do. That’s not why I had them in scouting. Besides, my oldest (till today) was the chaplain’s aid and offered Trinitarian prayers in Christ’s name. I appreciated the wonderful opportunities scouting presented them. Today’s actions render the Scout Oath meaningless. That’s why our departure was a no brainer. I would love to see a Lutheran alternative. So would my four boys!

  2. Joel A. Dusek
    May 24th, 2013 at 00:26 | #2

    I was in Pioneers in my youth in Michigan and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a good model for LCMS to use for replacing Scouting. However, I would not expect too much assistance from WELS, at least officially; individual pastors or congregations perhaps. I hope LCMS makes the break with BSA official and public. The world will ridicule, but a stand must be made.

  3. conqueror in progress
    May 24th, 2013 at 04:32 | #3

    wells never wanted to have anything to do with the boy and girl scouts, because of the church fellowship issue…

  4. conqueror in progress
    May 24th, 2013 at 04:34 | #4

    oh, sorry, i missed the passage where you mentioned wels/els. yes, right, good…

  5. May 24th, 2013 at 06:01 | #5

    Looking for advice, brothers.

    I have a boy in the BSA program and he is loving it. I’m with Paul (comment #1) on pulling out, but my question is timing. The BSA (in)decision takes effect Jan 1, I understand. Should we a) Pull him out immediately anyway on principle or b) Wait to do so until AHG, On My Honor, or even LCMS creates an alternative program for boys as likely will happen over the next several months?

    I’m sure there are a lot of dad’s like me with the same question. Just vote “a” or “b” as you make your other comments if you wish, and thanks!

  6. Robert Franck
    May 24th, 2013 at 06:58 | #6

    What does “gay” mean, anyway? If it means sexually attracted to the same sex, but not acting that out, isn’t that good? As I read it, boys who are sexually attracted to boys BUT NOT ENGAGING IN SEX are able to be boy scouts.

  7. Carl Vehse
    May 24th, 2013 at 07:11 | #7

    Lutheran Scout leaders probably saw this coming, with 60 percent of local BSA leaders voting to turn the organization into Boy Sodomy Association (and it will not be long before NABLA is invited to sponsor a troop. The letter President Harrison wrote earlier in March and the subsequent May 16, 2013 joint letter he signed were indications of the impending decision.

    There should already be set up at least a preliminary plan to develop a Lutheran scouting program separate from BSA. Since this will take time to prepare and will require the efforts of current Missouri Synod congregational sponsored troops, the planned separation should be announced soon, with the actually separation date on or before Jan. 1.

    To accomplish this will also require action to be taken by the synodical convention (and not one of those let’s-gaze-at-our-navels-for the-next-three-years-blue-ribbon-task-force resolutions, please). The preparation and promotion of an overture (from the floor if necessary) will require (and demonstrate) leadership, and will serve as an indication of where the Missouri Synod is headed as it approaches the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

  8. Carl Vehse
    May 24th, 2013 at 07:23 | #8

    @Robert Franck #6: “If it means sexually attracted to the same sex, but not acting that out, isn’t that good?”

    Homosexuality, as well as bankrobbery, murder, greed, idolatry, and other disobedience to God’s will, occur within thought, word, and deed.

  9. David C. Busby
    May 24th, 2013 at 07:30 | #9

    @Marc from Cincy #5 I am still angry, so I may not be thinking clearly. My inclination is to stay in until December 31, 2013 until the new rules come into effect in the hopes that a Lutheran or other alternative will become available.

  10. Robert Franck
    May 24th, 2013 at 07:48 | #10

    Of course, we all saw what “celibate homosexual” clergy led to in the ELCA. But truly, what about all the people with homosexual inclinations or temptations who RECOGNIZE the moral depravity of that behavior and do NOT want to sin in that way? All too often, they are rejected by Christians instead of supported by us. Being tempted to sin in a particular way, whatever that is, should not automatically make a person ineligible for most things.

  11. May 24th, 2013 at 07:54 | #11

    Three more thoughts, with the disclaimer that I never have been in scouts nor wanted to be:
    1. “I did my good deed today” If I do my duty to God and do my good deeds then I earn my merit badges, then I am a good person. I have always been quite uncomfortable with the works righteousness of scouting. As a pastor, if I participated in even a Blue/Gold dinner, I got a certificate for it!
    2. Pr. Scheer, to put a bold-face on the syncretism of the scouts, I was quite shocked when I sat through the Eagle Scout ceremony: complete with lighting of candles, Bible passages, and the like. And a youth group member once described to me her induction into the Daughters of Job: same type of ceremony. I was told in my first parish, that in Eagle ceremonies there are religious and non-religious Eagle ceremonies: I preferred the non-religious because they did invoke the civil deity and they were a whole lot shorter!
    3. “Thou shalt not receive federal funding” As a pastor of a congregation with a pre-school, the director asked me about a program to receive federal $. I said, “No, once the camel get it’s nose into the tent…” Any Lutheran non-profit should not receive funding from the feds because then the anti-Christian agenda has an opening.

  12. Rev. Paul Mumme
    May 24th, 2013 at 08:46 | #12

    Mark @11: Thanks for your post. While I’m sure there are many who do their good deeds to earn righteousness in God’s eyes and/or the world’s eyes, that is not what scouting is about. A Scout earns his merit badges and ranks by learning, applying himself, and working hard, no different than a student studies to acquire knowledge and earn a good grade on his test, an employee works hard to do his job and perhaps even receive a promotion, etc. I could list a thousand examples here. The left hand kingdom works this way. Yes, of course, it is also informed by the right hand kingdom for the Christian (i.e. God’s grace and mercy in Christ). I understand your concern, but to throw out scouting because of works righteousness is a straw man. Or should we start a communist youth organization where nothing is earned and everything is distributed by “grace”?! That being said, I think you have valid points on #2 and #3. Blessings on your faithful proclamation of Christ crucified!

  13. “LC-MS Quotes”
    May 24th, 2013 at 08:48 | #13

    “Another thing we need to learn is that a generic confession of belief in “God” in such organizations IS NOT THE SAME GOD THAT WE WORSHIP. No matter how you cut it, the Trinity is not confessed by generic statements of belief or vows to “god” (or even “God”).”

    We find fault with certain aspects of Scoutism. Of course, we wouldn’t dream of objecting to the camping, the training in crafts, the activities in sports, and the social get-togethers of Scouting. In themselves these things are fine, just as they would be if sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church or the Masonic Lodge.

    Let me set forth briefly just two of our main objections to Scoutism.

    1. Scoutism teaches children to be indifferent toward their religion. The Scout movement insists that young scouts be religious and recognize God, but — for obvious reasons — it never attempts to teach a child what God is like or what is true or false in religion.

    It ought to go without saying among Christians that to espouse indifference in matters of religion or doctrine or to teach that all religions are the same is clearly idolatry.

    2. Scoutism engenders in children a spirit of pride and self-righteousness.
    And since Scoutism continually emphasizes the scout’s “obligation to God” and his keeping “himself in conscious harmony with God,” these qualities of character and righteousness must be considered not merely as Civic accomplishments but also as spiritual virtues which God recognizes and approves.

    But no law, not even the Ten Commandments, can build righteousness and character. Only the Gospel can bring righteousness to a person.

    Even a secular newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, recognized this fact some years ago when it wrote concerning Scouting, “A simpler and more effective way than this to manufacture Pharisees is not on record.” One of the most difficult struggles of every Christian is to kill the Old Adam. Humility and meekness, even in small measure, are rare virtues which are most difficult for any Christian to come by. So we dare not expose ourselves or those who are dear to us to an influence which, even with all its pretension toward building character, will serve only to stifle these tender Christian virtues, and, worse than that, will tend to shake a child’s trust in Christ alone for righteousness and salvation and encourage him to trust in himself and his own achievements.

    These are two of the most important objections a Christian will have to the Scout organization. And I hope from my discussion you have learned a little about the spirit and aims of this movement. If you wish to learn more about the position of the Lutheran church toward Scouting I refer you to three booklets, Scouting in the Light of Holy Scripture by E. Pankow, Scouting in the Light of Scripture, a treatise prepared by a committee of the Wisconsin Synod, and The Testimony of a Former Scout by Paul Randolph. These may be ordered from our Lutheran Synod Book Company.

    Robert Preus
    Some Hard Facts About Scoutism
    Lutheran Sentinel
    January 24, 1957

    [Later in 1957, Robert Preus joined the faculty of the Missouri Synod's Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO.]

  14. Rev. Paul Mumme
    May 24th, 2013 at 09:15 | #14

    If scouting engenders in children a spirit of pride and self-righteousness, then so do sports, music, drama, and countless other youth activities (apart from the general we’re all equal and no one wins and no one is any better at something than anyone else crap out there).

    The athlete strives to play his best and win. That opens the door to pride and self-righteousness. “Look what I accomplished!”

    The musician strives to play or sing her best. That opens the door to pride and self-righteousness. “Look at me, I’m first chair.”

    The actor strives to put on his best performance. That opens the door to pride and self-righteousness. “Wow! I received a standing ovation.”

    Is this really the road we want to go down? Being a pastor opens up countless doors to pride and self-righteousness. Shall I take my collar off and resign? Or maybe, just maybe, I should daily drown the Old Adam with its sinful desires. My kids know the answer to this.

    Lock up your children in your home if you want. Pretend other organizations—every one of them, including the ones at church—don’t also engender pride and self-righteousness. Who are we kidding? I know what Scripture says about the devil, the world, and sinful flesh. You do too!

  15. Carl Vehse
    May 24th, 2013 at 09:16 | #15

    On May 16, 2013, twenty-six people from various religious organizations signed a joint letter expressing concerns about the proposal to allow homosexuals into Scouting.

    Here is graph (click to enlarge) showing how 1.8 million treacherous people have worked for over two decades to destroy the Boy Scouts.

  16. REMOVED
    May 24th, 2013 at 09:18 | #16

    COMMENT REMOVED BY MODERATOR

  17. Rev. Mathew Andersen
    May 24th, 2013 at 09:32 | #17

    Vehse

    Knock it off

    These are kids we are talking about – many of whom do not want to be gay and are asking for help.

    The crap coming out of your keyboard is literally satanic and the fact you are allowed to post this xyz is a clear indication of how far down the sewer this board has traveled.

  18. Carl Vehse
    May 24th, 2013 at 09:36 | #18

    @Robert Franck #10: “But truly, what about all the people with homosexual inclinations or temptations who RECOGNIZE the moral depravity of that behavior and do NOT want to sin in that way?”

    You are splashing the waters of NABLA newspeak.

    Your alleged people, who recognize homosexuality as sinful, would be hypocrites or liars if they joined the new Boy Sodomy Association, which no longer recognizes the moral depravity of homosexuality, but respects and honors such perversion.

  19. “LC-MS Quotes”
    May 24th, 2013 at 09:46 | #19

    @ #14

    Whenever anyone presumes to criticize a popular person or institution or opinion he is in for a lot of adverse criticism himself. For instance, as long as our Synod speaks out against such general and recognized evils as covetousness, worldliness, gossip, etc., the world and our fellow Lutherans take little apparent notice of our testimony. But when we venture to find fault with certain aspects of some popular, respected institution like Scouting, then there is often a storm of protest and indignation and countercharges, as though we had committed some awful crime. It has not been uncommon to hear ourselves described, even by other Lutherans, as that little group which is against the Boy Scouts, as if we never talked about anything else. And then, of course, the uniformed and misinformed public asks, what can be wrong with Scouting? Is it wrong to teach children skills and crafts, to keep children off the streets and from running wild and without supervision in gangs?

    I start this article with this rather cross and bitter sounding introduction not because I am cross or bitter, but because I want any reader who may feel that we are straining at gnats in our stand against Scoutism to think and study a little more before he jumps o any hasty conclusions.

    There are two reasons why a Christian might not agree with our stand on this issue. 1. He has never bothered to study our criticisms of the Boy Scout movement. 2. He will not allow himself to study these criticisms, since, if he were convinced that they were valid, he would have to take a stand himself and would probably appear silly and perhaps fanatical to his easy going neighbors and friends who think that Scouting is just fine.

    Robert Preus
    Some Hard Facts About Scoutism
    Lutheran Sentinel
    January 24, 1957

  20. Jason
    May 24th, 2013 at 09:49 | #20

    @Rev. Paul Mumme #14

    The difference is that Scouting tries to bless these self-centered attitudes with God. For many Reformed (et al) and Mormon churches, this is fine with their theology. Even Catholics can be okay with scouting through their ecclesiactical beliefs. But for Lutherans, this gets into an ugly gray area, on the darker side. This blending leads to heterodox type environments, and like the e_ca, apostate. Maybe not as bad as the Masonic Lodge, although some individual chapters probably are.

  21. May 24th, 2013 at 09:49 | #21

    @Robert Franck #10
    Robert,
    I understand you are trying to describe a decent situation with someone struggling with the fruit of original sin in a specific way, but the history of this and the very lobby to get it shows we are not dealing with those who “struggle” with this, but those who have embraced it and want to live in it (and then die in it).

    @Rev. Mathew Andersen #17
    I haven’t seen any information concerning the Boy Scouts decision of kids who want help on not acting out their inclinations, can you show me some?

    @Carl Vehse #18
    Carl, calm it down a bit with the comments please.

  22. Carl Vehse
    May 24th, 2013 at 09:49 | #22

    @Rev. Mathew Andersen #17: “These are kids we are talking about – many of whom do not want to be gay and are asking for help.”

    To place those who “do not want to be gay and are asking for help” into an organization that no longer recognizes the moral depravity of homosexuality, but respects and honors such perversion is the sin of child abuse.

    The rest of your ranting speaks more about you as a pastor than to any expressed opposition to the new BSA.

  23. “LC-MS Quotes”
    May 24th, 2013 at 09:50 | #23

    @ #14 “…crap out there.”

    @ #17 “The crap…this xyz…”

    Watch your words.

    Matthew C. Harrison
    President Harrison on the Newtown, Conn., Statement of Unity and Pastoral Letters
    February 11, 2013

  24. “LC-MS Quotes”
    May 24th, 2013 at 09:55 | #24

    Boy Scouts of America: What the Policy Change Means
    A statement by the Rev. Bart Day, Executive Director, Office of National Mission
    The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

    May 24, 2013

    On Thursday, May 23, 2013, a vote changed history. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) voted yesterday to end its 103-year ban on allowing gay Scouts in the organization. Prior to the vote, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) spoke against this proposed policy change. We voiced our concern, not because we do not care for all people and not because we believe only certain individuals are known and loved by God. Instead, we spoke against the policy change because these uncharted waters, which now allow the BSA to supersede the authority of local scouting chapters, cause a crisis of conscience for our pastors, parents and congregation members.

    For now, we ask your patience. LCMS leaders are already studying the implications of this policy change, but we will need some time to evaluate the decision and determine what it will mean for BSA troops in our LCMS congregations. We need to consider how this will affect our religious freedoms. We need to discuss how this may impact our ability, as confessing Lutherans, to continue to be bold about what we believe, according to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, in the public square. Finally, we need to reflect on how we can better live and work in such a way that best cares for those in this case, young men especially who may struggle with same-sex attraction.

    As we consider these implications in light of who we are uniquely as Lutherans, we remain focused on Christ and on His cross, confident that His plan and will are best. And as we evaluate, we continue to do what we do best: We bear witness to Christ at every opportunity, we show mercy to those who are struggling and suffering, and we live in confidence that our Lord richly blesses all His children in their life together.

  25. May 24th, 2013 at 09:55 | #25

    @Pr. Mark Schroeder #11
    Mark, the issue of unionism and syncretism is another aspect of these groups that should be considered and you are absolutely right, the pan-religious nature of groups nowadays hurts the confession of the faith once delivered to the saints.

  26. Rev. Paul Mumme
    May 24th, 2013 at 10:15 | #26

    Jason #20: Your thoughts are well written and I certainly see your point. There is definitely an ugly grey area within scouting. I do have problems with BSA and pulled my boys because of those reasons. That being said, pride and self-righteousness were not among those reasons. I could lock up my boys in their room and they would still find ways to be prideful. That’s the Old Adam at work. That has been and remains my main point throughout my threads on this post. After 7 years within scouting, I saw no trace of scouting trying to bless self-centered attitudes with God. Perhaps our troop was an anomaly. I have no doubt that some scouts (and scouting leaders) of heterodox theologies use scouting to build up their own self-righteousness. But I don’t see scouting encouraging that. I see their false theologies encouraging it.

  27. May 24th, 2013 at 10:19 | #27

    @Rev. Mathew Andersen #17
    As far as “how far down” BJS has gone, I am surprised that you in your piety still come to such a place then. You know that visiting the site is voluntary, right?

    For those reading on, Rev. Andersen refuses to communicate privately, so the only way to tell him this was to publicly comment.

  28. Pr. Mark Preus
    May 24th, 2013 at 10:20 | #28

    Dear Pr. Mumme,

    Your comparison of Scoutism to other activities such as sports, etc. is not a good one for a few reasons. First, although it’s right to discourage the so-called “spirit” and “pride” cheers of our athletic competitions, and to remove all “power of pride” bumper stickers from our car, the pride engendered in the Boy Scouts is engendered in conjunction with him keeping his duty to a god of his choosing. It is civic/heathen virtue. Even if this god is the true God in his mind, his works are done in order to gain “merit.” The Christian never does works in order to gain merit, but someone who is focused chiefly on doing good works doesn’t care about the doctrine of the Trinity. It doesn’t matter to him. What matters is his merit and a god who will recognize the good in what he does. Here are a few passages from our Confessions which might set the stage for where I’m coming from:

    http://bookofconcord.org/defense_5_love.php#para73 here and passim

    http://bookofconcord.org/sd-goodworks.php#para8

    The fact that what is good in nature is good in nature regardless of the faith of the one doing it cannot distract us from the fact that Christians should not be told to pursue their duty to God in the works of the law, but rather in the freedom of the Gospel of Christ; otherwise all is done for merit. The discipline of the body that Christians employ by means of the law is a discipline based on repentance and faith in Christ, something heathen neither recognize nor have. Even if such discipline resembles what the heathen do, it ought to be separated from heathen righteousness as far as heaven is from earth, otherwise Christ is severed from our labor to serve and help our neighbor. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.

    We have bought into the error that we can let the heathen teach our children their duty to God and man. Aristotle and Aesop do teach a discipline of the body and mind, but Scoutism has to have “God” do it. To deny that Scoutism is religious is to alienate religion from our day to day to lives and relegate it to something ostensibly “spiritual.” In their effort to put “God” in the public square, they actually force Him out by leaving him a nebulous and undefinable deity. In fact, asserting the Scoutism isn’t religious shows that their apathy and indifference toward the true God has a good deal of influence on us.

    Can sporting and competing for a joy become idolatrous? Absolutely! The tenth commandment warns us of such idolatry. But Scoutism explicity joins to its merit badges our duty to God. It also teaches that we are to respect the rights of other religions.

    How about you change the oath from “God” to “Father, Son and Holy Spirit?” Would the BSA allow that? What if you taught your scouts during your Scout meeting NOT to respect the religious convictions of others because they pray “hallowed be Thy name” and ask God to protect them from the religious convictions of others? Would they take kindly to that? What if you, during your Scouts meeting, taught the Lutherans there that the doctrines of those Scouts over there were more deadly than the forest fire and the knive and the gun?

    The acceptance of homosexuality has everything to do with their worship of a generic god. Idolatry leads to sexual immorality. Their “god” allows them to do that, and really, always has. They only needed to chisel a few nooks off their idol to get it. Let us not be fooled by our desire to be joined to the “religious” right. They all allow Masons and Lodge members into their churches without repentance.

    Alright, I think I’ve said everything…uffda! I said too much!

  29. May 24th, 2013 at 10:52 | #29

    @Rev. Paul Mumme #12
    @Pr. Mark Preus #28
    Pr. Mumme, the concern is the linking together of my point #1 with #2. Then merit has the ‘approval’ of the deity to earn salvation complete with an ersatz worship service ratifying it. I think this is a confusion of the kingdoms. I think Pr. Preus is quite thorough and correct above, despite his “uffda”.

  30. Rev. Paul Mumme
    May 24th, 2013 at 11:11 | #30

    Pr. Preus (#28):

    Thanks, Mark, for your faithful work and writing. You state well Scouting’s use of “a god of his choosing.” I’d love it if Scouting removed all references to God from its oath. You are correct that BSA’s use of God is intentionally generic. That IS one of my chief issues with BSA.

    I do have a question about your statement: Even if this god is the true God in his mind, his works are done in order to gain “merit.” If you’re talking about first article merit (i.e. worldly recognition for an accomplishment), then Yes! That type of merit is not in and of itself sinful. We use it and participate in it all the time in the kingdom of the left. School. Business. Home. Organizations. Etc. “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat!” But if you’re talking about second article merit (i.e. justification before God), then No! While some from heterodox theologies do this, this isn’t an issue for many Scouts. My boys included. I could agree with your statement if it said “may be done” as opposed to “are done.”

    I also agree that Christians should not be told to pursue their duty to God in the works of the law, but rather in the freedom of the Gospel of Christ; otherwise all is done for merit. True! But I do not and will not shy away from speaking of duty to God, as many Lutherans like to do. Luther speaks about it in the Creed, where he writes: For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. Those words are not evil, nor are they misleading. They are godly. They are also unattainable by poor miserable sinners. However, in Christ and Him alone does this duty become reality. That’s our great joy and why we teach the first article always in light of the second (and third)! Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord!

    Finally, I don’t agree that Scoutism “explicity” joins to its merit badges our duty to God. The oath speaks of duty to God (generically, as you know). But merit badges are earned by studying and achieving a useful skill and/or piece of knowledge. They are not explicitly joined (please show me where they are if you believe I am wrong), though one could argue they are implicitly joined.

    I stand open to correction on this issue, am enjoying this brotherly conversation, and do indeed have problems with Scouting. Generic God. Generic terms. Acceptable of homosexuality while still pledging to be “morally straight.” Etc. But I still don’t see how works righteousness fits the bill, even though it is abused and used by many within scouting.

  31. Rev. Paul Mumme
    May 24th, 2013 at 11:39 | #31

    Pr. Schroeder (#29):

    When your points #1 and #2 are linked, the dangers you cite are right on. Well said! I’ll skip the uffda and go straight for a German beer!

  32. “LC-MS Quotes”
    May 24th, 2013 at 11:39 | #32

    @ #30

    The Scout Constitution, Art. III, p. 3 says, “The Boy Scouts of America maintain that no boy can grow into the best kind of citizenship without recognizing obligation toward God.” But nothing really definite is stated about who God is, what He is like, how He regards us or what our obligation toward Him is. This much is said, however, on the religion of Scoutism by Barry Chalmers, The Boy Scout and His Law, a book “approved by the chief scout executive”: Scoutism is “in itself a religion of a very excellent sort.” p. 171. Friendliness and kindness and service and clean living are the foundations of every religion in the world.” p. 169. “Do we think our way the only right way? If so, we have a lot to learn and had better begin to learn it at once.” p. 172. And the Scout Law, which every young scout must swear to keep, says, “A Scout is reverent. He is faithful in his religious duties, and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion.”

    These statements clearly indicate that Scoutism wishes to insinuate in children the idea that all religions and denominations are the same, and that no one should claim that his religion is right and true. If a scout “respects the convictions ['conviction means 'belief' in Webster's dictionary] of others,” that can only mean that a Lutheran scout, for instance, must respect the belief of a Catholic that it is good to pray to saints, the conviction of a Jew that Christ is not our Redeemer, the conviction of the Christian Scientist that there is no such thing as sin etc. It ought to go without saying among Christians that to espouse indifference in matters of religion or doctrine or to teach that all religions are the same is clearly idolatry.

    Quoting from the same book by Barry Chalmers, “In the Scout Law we have the key to the kingdom of righteousness.” p. 172. Again in the Handbook for Scoutmasters, p. 38, we read, “It is by aiding him [the scout] to keep that Oath and to live that Law that we shall most surely reach our goal of fashioning his character.” (By “character”, I take it, is meant a high moral vigor.) These two statements can only mean that the Scout Law builds character and righteousness. And since Scoutism continually emphasizes the scout’s “obligation to God” and his keeping “himself in conscious harmony with God,” these qualities of character and righteousness must be considered not merely as Civic accomplishments but also as spiritual virtues which God recognizes and approves.

    The strong emphasis of Scoutism on “character building,” “Daily Good Turns,” “Scouts Honor,” “Merit” without any mention of sin or of the need of repentance and Christ and forgiveness can only be calculated to inculcate in children unrestrained pride and self-righteousness.

    Robert Preus
    Some Hard Facts About Scoutism
    Lutheran Sentinel
    January 24, 1957

  33. May 24th, 2013 at 11:47 | #33

    @Robert Franck #10
    I believe what’s at issue here is that the people with homosexual temptations are now being told that it’s perfectly okay to give in to those temptations.

    To struggle with sin is one thing; to accept that sin as valid is something else.

  34. May 24th, 2013 at 11:49 | #34

    The saddest thing about this is that many the people involved in this attack on the Boy Scouts probably aren’t even interested in sending their kids to Scouts but are simply attacking because it’s in their nature to hate all things with a moral and wholesome appearance.

  35. Pr. Mark Preus
    May 24th, 2013 at 11:50 | #35

    Dear LCMS links,

    Could you please send me a link to the whole article, or the whole article by Robert Preus? Thank you!

    markpreus@gmail.com

  36. Pr. Mark Preus
    May 24th, 2013 at 11:59 | #36

    Thank you, Pr. Mumme, for your reply.

    There are merits for justification, and there are merits for temporal blessings. We acknowledge that God sometimes rewards merits for temporal blessings regardless of faith, but we confess that God gives them by grace through Christ, even to all the wicked. We realize what God has given and receive the rewards of our merits with thanksgiving, as the gifts that they are, not as our due, as we confess in Luther’s Small Catechism in the fourth and fifth petitions. The worshipers of the civic idol do not recognize this.

    This is akin to Paul’s criticism of similar idolatry in Romans 1:21, ” For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

    Simply because they don’t worship idols made of gold and silver resembling animals doesn’t mean that God doesn’t punish their thankless idolatry with the same giving over to sin with which he punished the heathen in ancient times.

    I ask all those reading seriously to ponder the article that LCMS Quotes is posting. Simply because your own experience doesn’t match with what is being said does not mean we do not consider the truth of the matter. When we do this we are acting like Methodists, who make their own experience a source of doctrine.

    The fact is that we should do our own thing, since the good things of Scouting teach a boy good manly things which the father should teach his sons. If the father can’t teach his sons how to skin a rabbit, then he can find him a heathen to teach how to skin a rabbit. But if you’re going to make it into an organization that talks in any way about “God,” then find him a Lutheran to teach him to skin a rabbit. Maybe that seems to rigid, but it sounds like good sense to me!

  37. Katy
    May 24th, 2013 at 12:02 | #37

    My fundamentalist/pentecostal parents were skeptical of the Scouts precisely because of the civil religious language. I admire troops of boys led by worthy men learning self-preservation skills, but there seems to be a lot more to scouts (even back in the good ol’ days) than just camping and survival. Although I am all for patriotism, I have also been uncomfortable with the nationalism often present in scout practices. A quick look at wikipedia’s article on the scouts confirms my discomfort–the LDS were the first organization to sponsor the Scouts, in 1913, using it as their youth improvement program.

    My mom understood the Eagle level to be full of Native American religious flirtation. Not sure if that’s true.

    I was in 4-H, and believe it or not in the last 10 years even that noble group now has annual visits to each group by “diversity” experts. Worst meeting of the year, I’m told (we avoided them at our club, but my husband remember how lame they were). They seem to be most obnoxious in urban areas.

    I’m hearing about the Pioneer Girls (are Campfire girls still around?) as a good alternative to the Girl Scouts. Even my liberal theatre friend, who is quite vocal about her support of “gay” “marriage,” is uncomfortable with the socializing aspect of the Girl Scouts, which assumes the responsibility of parent when it comes to sexuality and promoting feminism. Instead of reinventing the wheel, are there alternatives to the Boy Scouts already out there which do not speak the language of civil religion?

    And then my cousin told me about how they might just leave the GS because their daughter earned badges (which cost a lot of money for the parent) by 1) drinking a glass of water 2) going to see a movie 3) eating ice cream.

    It would be interesting to read about the history and rise of these organizations worldwide, and why they were formed. I believe many of the groups were formed around the turn of the last century or soon after WW1.

  38. May 24th, 2013 at 12:03 | #38

    Great conversation! But I find it interesting the conversation is not wrestling with the original article’s suggestion(s) but instead is a lot of electrons passed back and forth debating and defending personal positions and opinions about the BSA.

    The original article suggested: “Maybe it’s time to consider a Lutheran solution and be satisfied with a smaller footprint on the face of the earth (but also being better stewards of the children given to us).”

    So to get back on track, IS IT TIME to do such a thing? Ought we put our intellects and efforts to use in this direction? (It has to be better than navel gazing and bickering over individual opinions.) Should this be something done under the auspicses of LCMS, Inc., or should we treat this as an issue of vocation for parents and concerned congregation members to raise up the next generation in our midst rather than delegating it to someone else? How can we join together across parochial lines to assist one another in this manner?

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the discussion, and enjoy much of the conversation, but can we maybe put the time to better use and take action to help and protect our young men (and ladies) and teach them how to grow up to be godly productive citizens? Or are we only capable of lamenting yet another way that we’ve been betrayed by the progressivist promise that we can pawn our responsibility to raise our children off on others and have the job done better?

    Personally, I don’t think the solution is in the purple (or is it blue now) palace but rather in the homes and congregations of the Church, where God had placed it from the beginning. The real question is not what should we tell others to do about this situation, but what are we going to do about it?

  39. Pr. Mark Preus
    May 24th, 2013 at 12:09 | #39

    Matt,

    Being one of the bickerers, I would defend my taking the time to write about this as something more than that. It is a call to an understanding of where the Boy Scouts went wrong, so that, if we are to build an alternative, we don’t make the same mistakes.

    With regard to that, you make this excellent point that we need to understand: “Or are we only capable of lamenting yet another way that we’ve been betrayed by the progressivist promise that we can pawn our responsibility to raise our children off on others and have the job done better?”@Rev. M. Dent #38

  40. “LC-MS Quotes”
    May 24th, 2013 at 12:31 | #40

    @ #36 “I ask all those reading seriously to ponder the article that LCMS Quotes is posting.”
    @ #35 “…the whole article by Robert Preus…”

    Whenever anyone presumes to criticize a popular person or institution or opinion he is in for a lot of adverse criticism himself. For instance, as long as our Synod speaks out against such general and recognized evils as covetousness, worldliness, gossip, etc., the world and our fellow Lutherans take little apparent notice of our testimony. But when we venture to find fault with certain aspects of some popular, respected institution like Scouting, then there is often a storm of protest and indignation and countercharges, as though we had committed some awful crime. It has not been uncommon to hear ourselves described, even by other Lutherans, as that little group which is against the Boy Scouts, as if we never talked about anything else. And then, of course, the uniformed and misinformed public asks, what can be wrong with Scouting? Is it wrong to teach children skills and crafts, to keep children off the streets and from running wild and without supervision in gangs?

    I start this article with this rather cross and bitter sounding introduction not because I am cross or bitter, but because I want any reader who may feel that we are straining at gnats in our stand against Scoutism to think and study a little more before he jumps to any hasty conclusions.

    There are two reasons why a Christian might not agree with our stand on this issue. 1. He has never bothered to study our criticisms of the Boy Scout movement. 2. He will not allow himself to study these criticisms, since, if he were convinced that they were valid, he would have to take a stand himself and would probably appear silly and perhaps fanatical to his easy going neighbors and friends who think that Scouting is just fine.

    Now remember I said we find fault only with certain aspects of Scoutism. Of course, we wouldn’t dream of objecting to the camping, the training in crafts, the activities in sports, and the social get-togethers of Scouting. In themselves these things are fine, just as they would be if sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church or the Masonic Lodge.

    Let me set forth briefly just two of our main objections to Scoutism.

    1. Scoutism teaches children to be indifferent toward their religion. The Scout movement insists that young scouts be religious and recognize God, but — for obvious reasons — it never attempts to teach a child what God is like or what is true or false in religion. The Scout Constitution, Art. III, p. 3 says, “The Boy Scouts of America maintain that no boy can grow into the best kind of citizenship without recognizing obligation toward God.” But nothing really definite is stated about who God is, what He is like, how He regards us or what our obligation toward Him is. This much is said, however, on the religion of Scoutism by Barry Chalmers, The Boy Scout and His Law, a book “approved by the chief scout executive”: Scoutism is “in itself a religion of a very excellent sort.” p. 171. Friendliness and kindness and service and clean living are the foundations of every religion in the world.” p. 169. “Do we think our way the only right way? If so, we have a lot to learn and had better begin to learn it at once.” p. 172. And the Scout Law, which every young scout must swear to keep, says, “A Scout is reverent. He is faithful in his religious duties, and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion.”

    These statements clearly indicate that Scoutism wishes to insinuate in children the idea that all religions and denominations are the same, and that no one should claim that his religion is right and true. If a scout “respects the convictions ['conviction means 'belief' in Webster's dictionary] of others,” that can only mean that a Lutheran scout, for instance, must respect the belief of a Catholic that it is good to pray to saints, the conviction of a Jew that Christ is not our Redeemer, the conviction of the Christian Scientist that there is no such thing as sin etc. It ought to go without saying among Christians that to espouse indifference in matters of religion or doctrine or to teach that all religions are the same is clearly idolatry.

    2. Scoutism engenders in children a spirit of pride and self-righteousness. Quoting from the same book by Barry Chalmers, “In the Scout Law we have the key to the kingdom of righteousness.” p. 172. Again in the Handbook for Scoutmasters, p. 38, we read, “It is by aiding him [the scout] to keep that Oath and to live that Law that we shall most surely reach our goal of fashioning his character.” (By “character”, I take it, is meant a high moral vigor.) These two statements can only mean that the Scout Law builds character and righteousness. And since Scoutism continually emphasizes the scout’s “obligation to God” and his keeping “himself in conscious harmony with God,” these qualities of character and righteousness must be considered not merely as Civic accomplishments but also as spiritual virtues which God recognizes and approves.

    But no law, not even the Ten Commandments, can build righteousness and character. Only the Gospel can bring righteousness to a person. St. Paul could have been speaking of the promoters of Scoutism when he said, “They being ignorant of God’s righteousness, have not submitted themselves to everyone that believeth.” Rom. 10:3, 4. The strong emphasis of Scoutism on “character building,” “Daily Good Turns,” “Scouts Honor,” “Merit” without any mention of sin or of the need of repentance and Christ and forgiveness can only be calculated to inculcate in children unrestrained pride and self-righteousness. Even a secular newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, recognized this fact some years ago when it wrote concerning Scouting, “A simpler and more effective way than this to manufacture Pharisees is not on record.” One of the most difficult struggles of every Christian is to kill the Old Adam. Humility and meekness, even in small measure, are rare virtues which are most difficult for any Christian to come by. So we dare not expose ourselves or those who are dear to us to an influence which, even with all its pretension toward building character, will serve only to stifle these tender Christian virtues, and, worse than that, will tend to shake a child’s trust in Christ alone for righteousness and salvation and encourage him to trust in himself and his own achievements.

    These are two of the most important objections a Christian will have to the Scout organization. And I hope from my discussion you have learned a little about the spirit and aims of this movement. If you wish to learn more about the position of the Lutheran church toward Scouting I refer you to three booklets, Scouting in the Light of Holy Scripture by E. Pankow, Scouting in the Light of Scripture, a treatise prepared by a committee of the Wisconsin Synod, and The Testimony of a Former Scout by Paul Randolph. These may be ordered from our Lutheran Synod Book Company.

    Robert Preus
    Some Hard Facts About Scoutism
    Lutheran Sentinel
    January 24, 1957

  41. helen
    May 24th, 2013 at 12:41 | #41

    @Pr. Mark Preus #28
    Alright, I think I’ve said everything…uffda! I said too much!

    Yes.
    I think that if we had a representative in the board room, we would find that the “caving in” of the BSA had less to do with anyone’s perception of God and more with the fact that, if they did not agree with this 1-3% of the population, any corporate donor to BSA would be coerced until they withdrew. I think, IOW, that this capitulation is about money.

    Now, how did such a small segment of society… most of whom could care less about BSA… get so much power over the rest of us?

    You, (who never were a part of it), can blow smoke about the Boy Scouts….. but consider that the real objective is to demolish any organization which dares to deny homosexuality “equal” status/label it as a SIN.

    You may chortle about BSA now; your church will be next.

    We are three generations of Scouts; four of the men are Eagles, two of those are LCMS Pastors. I am glad for what they had; I am sad that it will never be like that for another generation.

  42. scout mom
    May 24th, 2013 at 12:50 | #42

    The LCMS congregation near our home charters a BSA troop. We were members at that congregation for a time but transferred to a confessional LCMS congregation about five years ago. Most of the members currently in the troop do not belong to the chartering congregation. My middle son earned his Eagle Scout rank while a troop member. My youngest son is on his path to Eagle but will soon have to find another activity. I agree with Pr Mumme, neither of my sons connected the earning of badges to the earning of their salvation or their duty to God; and it was not presented as such. It is merely what they had to do to earn ranks leading up to Eagle Scout rank. Each of them, in turn, was troop chaplain and their prayers were said in the name of the Triune God. We were able to separate the two kingdoms due to good catechetical instruction and a clear understanding that Scouting was an activity, not a replacement for anything that a good congregation can offer.

  43. Benji1517
    May 24th, 2013 at 13:23 | #43

    I understand and agree that we cannot join with the BSA because it now affirms homosexual sin as morally upright.

    What I do not understand is how we justified our ties for so long, when the BSA has clearly affirmed idolatry as morally upright since its inception.

    Even when I was a just a tenderfoot evangelical kid who thought my relationship to God was based on the emotional intensity of worship experiences, I knew something was off when I bowed my head and was led by a deist in a camp-wide prayer before meals.

    I am an LCMS layperson, and don’t have enough grasp on the two kingdoms to really talk to this. If someone asked me why it was OK before when idolatry was affirmed, but not OK, now that sexual sin is affirmed, I would not have an answer.

    Can anyone explain to me how our previous union with the BSA was not capitulation to idolatry?

  44. May 24th, 2013 at 13:24 | #44

    @scout mom #42
    Wow … one of the most clear and practical comment on this post. THank you.

  45. May 24th, 2013 at 13:27 | #45

    @Pr. Mark Preus #39
    Mark – to clarify – some of this discussion is good and salutary in the process of developing a way forward. I don’t disagree with that at all.

    But first things first – are we committed to doing something about it or are we just blowing off steam? If we’re resolved to do something – then answering the question – “what did they do wrong, what can we learn from it” can be a very helpful part of the process. RIGHT NOW, however, the real questions are (1) should anything be done and, if yes, (2) what is the next step to developing a solution?

    I’m not saying that good things can’t come from these discussions. They are thought provoking and will provide helpful info in any path forward. But they are useless unless we’ve resolved to take positive steps and actively work to figure out what those steps will be.

    My “rant” was that we often have the cart before the horse. Before these discussions can be “useful” in a solution, there are a couple of steps that need to be taken first.

    It’s clear (at least to me) that continued sustained cooperation with the BSA is not something that is possible (whether we should have been doing it up to now is irrelevant except as an act of contrition and repentance). That said, just pulling kids out creates more problems than it solves – not having something that fulfills the aims of the BSA (whether through similar or completely different means), is a recipe for disaster.

    As I see it, here’s a plan of action that can be implemented right now:

    1) Decide to take action (Yes/no)? (or gather together a group/list of those interested in taking action)
    2) Provide means and mechanisms for participation & communication.
    3) Gather information
    Preus’ critique (and the referenced books) should be part of the repository of info to draw from as should the book by Pankow. Where and how can we get that info together/disseminated for further study – can we get copy of the Ranger/Rangerette manuals – and the BSA/GSA manuals for that matter – what material can we get together relating to the scriptural responsibilities of fathers and families (book list anyone?). Right now the question would be – How can we share this info with interested parties and work through/discuss the material together?
    4) Research and preliminary proposals
    5) Refinement and execution

    I guess I’m just calling for distributed solution development instead of simply commiseration.

    Much help/guidance in this process can be gleaned from the development models that have brought us the World Wide Web and most of the software (including the sofware running this website) that run there.

  46. “LC-MS Quotes”
    May 24th, 2013 at 13:29 | #46

    Boy Scouts of America Responds

    May 17, 2012
    Mr. Ken Etter
    Osage District Executive
    Boy Scouts of America
    Greater St. Louis Area Council
    ketter@stlbsa.org

    Dear Mr. Etter,

    When you spoke to the pastor of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s Missouri District’s Washington Circuit on May 15, you passed out a booklet titled “Duty to God”, published by The Boy Scouts of America.

    It shows religious emblems awarded to Boy Scouts from various religious groups including Bahai, Church of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), General Church of the New Jerusalem (Unitarian), Hindu, Islamic, Metax Babar, Jewish, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Unity Church, Zoroastrians, United Pentecostal International (non-Trinitarian), etc.

    Does the Boy Scouts of America maintain that all these religious groups worship the true and only God who exists?

    God’s blessings,
    Pastor Herman Otten
    cnnewsandinfo@yahoo.com

    May 23, 2012 1:21 PM

    Hello Pastor Otten,

    Thank you for your email and concerns. I asked the LCMS Committee on Scouting, within the Protestant Committee, to write concerning your question and here is what they had to say:

    The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.” The recognition of God is necessary to the best type of citizenship and is a wholesome precept in the education of the growing members. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need for good citizenship should be kept before them. The BSA recognizes the religious element in the training of the members, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is affiliated shall give definite attention to religious life.

    I have also attached a few other pieces of information that I was given by the Lutheran Committee.

    I hope that this will help answer any questions or well-founded concerns that you have. In the end, should the Circuit sponsor a unit, it will live up to each and every belief and practice of the Church

    Yours in Scouting,
    Ken Etter

    “Scouting for Lutheran Youth,” which Mr. Etter sent CN begins:

    The Record – Lutheran congregations have used the Scouting program locally for more than 80 years. Scouting has been recommended at various times to constituent congregations by their respective church bodies as a viable resource for ministry with children, youth, and families. There are more than 125,000 Lutheran youth members in more than 4,200 units, i.e. Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, Varsity Scout teams, and Venturing crews, chartered to local Lutheran churches.

    Christian News
    June 4, 2012

  47. Carl Vehse
    May 24th, 2013 at 13:32 | #47

    @J. Dean #34: “The saddest thing about this is that many the people involved in this attack on the Boy Scouts probably aren’t even interested in sending their kids to Scouts but are simply attacking because it’s in their nature to hate all things with a moral and wholesome appearance.”

    Dean, you have made a serious accusation against BJS posters in which you assign the motivation of “it’s in their nature to hate all things with a moral and wholesome appearance” and “probably aren’t even interested in sending their kids to Scouts ” to their comments about Boy Scouts.

    In a post earlier this year the moderators noted:

    “The thing we are really going to be looking for is the assigning of motivation to other commenters or to our writers. Unless a commenter has empirical proof of someone else’s motivation we simply will not allow the assigning of motive. “

  48. May 24th, 2013 at 13:41 | #48

    @Carl Vehse #47
    I didn’t take his comment as an accusation against BJS commenters, but instead took the “many people” as those who promoted the homosexual agenda that has now overcome the BSA.

    Perhaps J.Dean can clarify.

  49. Holly Scheer
    May 24th, 2013 at 14:58 | #49

    We have a copy of the Rangerette manual in our possession.

  50. “LC-MS Quotes”
    May 24th, 2013 at 14:58 | #50

    Boy Scouts of America Respond

    Mr. Etter sent CN this letter from former LCMS President Jerry Kieschnick:

    Mr. Robert J. Mazzucca,
    Chief Executive Scout
    National Office
    Boy Scouts of America
    1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
    P.O. Box 152079
    Irving, TX 75015

    Dear Mr. Mazzucca:

    On behalf of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), it is my privilege to express support for the Boy Scouts.

    The LCMS has experienced a long-standing, positive relationship with the Boy Scouts. It pleases me to extend in this letter our continued respect and support for this organization.

    Many of our congregations have worked in partnership with the Boy Scouts of America in providing leadership, programs and resources that have enhanced their ministry with young people. While the Boy Scouts of America does not promote any particular religion or theological point of view, we are appreciative of the emphasis the Boy Scouts teach and model in regard to ethical and moral living.

    There are many outstanding individuals in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod who contribute their time and energy to BSA through the sponsorship and support of troops on the community and congregational level. It is our prayer that God will continue to guide their efforts so that both those who participate and those who lead will be enriched through their scouting experiences.

    As a former Boy Scout, I thank you all for the opportunity to express my support for the Boy Scouts of America and to convey appreciation on behalf of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod for the excellent work this organization continues to do for the young people in our country and around the world.

    Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick,
    President
    The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

    Christian News
    June 4, 2012

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