“In a day when some people are using religious faith to divide the human family, this little gathering is a bold declaration that commitment to deity can and should be a powerful, uniting force in this world,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during a national meeting of Scout leaders. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is holding its annual gathering in San Diego, California, where Elder Holland was the keynote speaker during a breakfast meeting Thursday, May 26, 2016.
“Here we are, hundreds of men and women from a variety of backgrounds and cultures — to say nothing of [our] varied faith traditions — gathered to talk about our collective duty to God,” said Elder Holland. “You are evidence that faith in God is not becoming weaker, thinner or less relevant in the public life.”
Elder Holland said the 1,600 attendees were brought together by their commitment to God and the boys and young men they serve.
He also said the challenges youth face today are “unprecedented in history” compared to when he was a boy growing up in southern Utah. “Let’s just say that trouble was a pretty much a long bicycle ride away, in any direction.”
“Modern technologies make life more comfortable but they also bring moral and spiritual dangers that can easily distract a young man from his duty to God,” said Elder Holland. Elder Holland called the youth “wonderful,” but he said they need role models. “If there is anything this generation is demanding, it is transparency, genuineness and integrity.”
“I am reminded that part of my duty to God — and yours — is to help these young men know that they can turn to the Almighty for help and strength and power,” he added.
The Scout Oath states, “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God.” Elder Holland hopes these words “never become casual or commonplace.”
The Church has enjoyed a more than century-long relationship with Scouting as it sponsors many Scout units for boys and young men.
“There is no box that one can check to indicate that he fully succeeded in his duty to God. In short it is not just something we do; it is who we are — or perhaps more accurately stated it is who we are becoming,” said Elder Holland.
He continued: “Throughout life we will all fill many different roles and hold many different titles. In my life I have done everything from deliver daily newspapers to selling skiis in a sporting goods store to being a university president. But through it all I would like to think that the one thing that has always been constant in my life has been my love of God and the duty I feel toward Him.”
In May 2015, Elder Holland was elected as a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America. He is the recipient of the organization’s Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. He also received his Eagle Scout Award as a youth, the highest rank in the Scouting program.
Nearly 2.5 million youth between the ages of 7 and 21 and about 960,000 volunteers are involved with the Scouting organization in the United States and its territories.