The Mormon Church And Boy Scouts Of America Are Going Separate Ways

Lucy Bush
May 10, 2018

The news comes days after the Scouts announced it is changing its name to Scouts BSA to reflect its decision to allow girls to join.

Matthew Bowman, a history professor at Henderson State University, said that gay troop leaders was one of the factors in the LDS Church's decision to create a new scouting program.

The LDS Church, aka the Mormon Church, and Scouts released a joint statement on Tuesday announcing the end of their partnership - for decades, membership in the Boy Scouts was almost compulsory for young male Mormons, with Mormon males making up almost 20 percent of its over 2.3 million membership.

In 2015, the Boy Scouts of America opted to permit openly gay troop leaders.

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Although boys with dual registration in a troop and in a Venturing Crew could earn both Eagle Scout rank and the Summit Award (Venturing's highest award), a girl could not.

The Mormon church, meanwhile, teaches that gay relationships are sinful.

The church's decision follows a push by the Boy Scouts to be more inclusive.

"The Boy Scouts of America deeply appreciates the long-standing relationship we've had with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints", the statement read.

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The Mormon Church has been the largest participant of the Boy Scouts in the United States, making up almost 20 percent of all of the Boy Scouts' 2.3 million youth members. However, a year ago it did remove some 185,000 boys between the ages of 14 and 18 from the Boy Scouts, instead turning them towards church-based community service.

The group retained lobbyists in Georgia and NY, where lawmakers say such action helped stall proposals that included "lookback" windows allowing adults to take legal action over decades-old claims.

Eric Hawkins, director of media relations for the church, said the change, under discussion for more than a decade, will allow the church to institute a youth program that is rooted in church teaching and translatable across countries and cultures. Any boy who was part of a congregation of Mormons, automatically becomes a boy scout. "For LDS families who want to continue the tradition of Scouting beyond 2019, the BSA will ensure a smooth transition to community-sponsored units that will welcome youth previously served by LDS-sponsored units". Mormon Church leaders considered parting ways with the organization.

It is unclear at present what form the church's new leadership and development programme will take. Last year, the church already pulled 185,000 members over the age of 14 from the Scouts - a significant number - though the Boy Scouts claim to have over 2.4 million youth members.

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Other reports by Info About Network

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