The Mormon Church Is Cutting Ties With the Boy Scouts After a Hundred Years of Woodsy Bonding

Illustration for article titled The Mormon Church Is Cutting Ties With the Boy Scouts After a Hundred Years of Woodsy Bonding
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The Mormon Church has announced they’re cutting ties with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), an organization with which they’ve had a relationship for over 100 years.

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In their statement published Tuesday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) had nothing officially bad to say about BSA, instead announcing ambitions to implement their own scouting program for youths as precursor for missionary work and expand far, far beyond the US:

In this century of shared experience, the Church has grown from a U.S.-centered institution to a worldwide organization, with a majority of its membership living outside the United States. That trend is accelerating. The Church has increasingly felt 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 with BSA

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According to the Washington Post, for the past 105 years, any boy who was a part of a Mormon congregation would automatically be enrolled in Boy Scouts, leading LDS children to make up at least 20% of the organization’s membership. But tensions have grown as BSA becomes more progressive, as demonstrated by their recent decision to allow girls and transgender kids as members. Most rankling to the LDS church, however, was the 2015 decision to allow gay scout leaders (though they do not acknowledge this in their letter), a move they were so “deeply troubled” that they began to scale back participation.

The Mormon Church’s current chartered partnership with the Boy Scouts will end officially on Dec. 31, 2019. As for the Mormon scouts:

A new youth program, set to be launched January 2020, will be “designed to support families as they seek to develop faith in Jesus Christ and build character and capacity,” the church officials wrote in a statement.

“This approach is intended to help children and youth discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills, participate in outdoor activities and service opportunities, and strengthen their ability to fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God,” the church wrote.

Gay scout leaders need not apply. 

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin

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DISCUSSION

This is a huge deal. Scouting was one way that Mormons were able to access the mainstream culture in this country. When a boy put “eagle scout” on his resume, that meant a great deal to a certain generation of adults. Now they’ll put, “obtained the rank of Captain Moroni” or some nonsense and it won’t mean anything. I think it is also an acknowledgement that they’ve lost the culture war and have decided to return to their insular traditions.