The Mormon Church wants out as it ends 105-year-old relationship with Boy Scouts of America over ideological differences
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is ending its more than century-old relationship with the Boy Scouts of America and will create new youth programs for its members.
On Tuesday, the Mormon church announced that it will end a century-old relationship with the Boy Scouts of America and take out its remaining 425,000 boys in the program to put them into a gospel-focused youth group, reported Fox News.
"We have jointly determined that, effective on December 31, 2019, the church will conclude its relationship as a chartered organization with all Scouting programs around the world," a statement read.
Back in 2015, the Boy Scouts announced that it would allow gay troop leaders to join the ranks. Last year, it leaned further towards the left while making a decision to allow girls into the program in an attempt to become more "inclusive". Both the decisions prompted the Mormons to opt-out of the relationship as their conservative beliefs were no longer in resonance with the Boy Scouts.
The BSA announced last week that it will drop the word "Boys" from its historical title to portray the inclusion of girls into their fold.
Initially, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints voiced concerns when the Boy Scouts changed their policy on gays, saying they were "deeply troubled" by its decision. However, they stayed with the BSA on assurances that they could appoint troop leaders keeping their own religious and moral values in the forefront.
FOX 13 reported that the Mormon Church will devise its own youth program based on the gospels after they officially separate from the BSA on December 31, 2019.
The church asserted in a statement that its new program will "help all girls and boys, young women and young men discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills and fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God."
On the other hand, the Boy Scouts thanked the thousands of Mormons who served as scout leaders for a long period of time in a released statement. Wishing the church well on its new program, the organization said that those Mormons who wished to stay with the scouts would be incorporated into other troops.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the church has been the biggest sponsor of Boy Scout troops in the country for the longest time. It constituted 19 percent of the 2.3 million youths that make up the organization. Close to 330,000 Mormon youths are served by the organization.
In the first phase of their new policy, the BSA has recruited almost 4,000 girls in 170 Cub Scout packs, after their announcement. The admissions are expected to escalate this summer under a nationwide campaign titled "Scout Me In" which aims to admit as many girls as possible. They are also creating a program by which girls could pursue the rank of Eagle Scout.
“We wanted to land on something that evokes the past but also conveys the inclusive nature of the program going forward,” Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh said of the name change to Scouts USA. “We’re trying to find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women.”
The BSA and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a joint statement that the church's membership is expanding outside the U.S. and it is interested in exploring new youth programs and initiatives that serve its international congregants. As their footprint spreads beyond the nation, the church "feels the need to create and implement a uniform youth leadership and development program that serves its members globally. In so doing, it will be necessary for the Church to discontinue its role as a chartered partner."
Until the church commences its new development program for girls and boys in 2020, "the intention of the Church is to remain a fully engaged partner in Scouting for boys and young men ages 8-13 and encourages all youth, families, and leaders to continue their active participation and financial support."
The Boy Scouts of America said in a separate statement that it is "confident that many LDS Scouting families will go on to enjoy Scouting for years to come. ... 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."
According to Quin Monson, a political science professor teaching at the Brigham Young University in Utah, the Mormon church has used the Boy Scouts as its official program to induct young men.
"The church took the Boy Scout program and decided its values and mission-aligned closely enough with that of the church's program for young men that they just wholesale adopted it," Monson told NPR in 2015. He is Mormon, and a former Boy Scout himself.
"Basically, if you are a young Mormon male, you join the Boy Scouts," he said.
As the two organizations have moved in different directions in recent years, the church's decision was not unexpected.