Church Announces It Cutting Ties with Boy Scouts

The Mormon Church announced it is severing its longtime relationship with the Boy Scouts of America because the organization is no longer meeting its needs.

Some little girls apparently have done what even openly-gay scout leaders couldn’t do: get a major church partner to break up with the Boy Scouts. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints announced that it will officially end its partnership with Boy Scouts of America.

It won’t be immediate: the separation won’t happen until the end of 2019. In the meantime, the church will apparently work on creating its own program for youth that better aligns with the church’s mission. The new program the church will create will set out to focus on “gospel-centered growth and learning experiences.”

I’m neither a Mormon nor a Boy Scout. So I really have no real dog in this hunt, other than to say that I do believe the Boy Scouts can provide a beneficial experience for its members, just as I think the Girl Scouts can do the same for its members.

I think it’s sad to see a partnership — one I wasn’t aware of — between the church and the organization come to an end, particularly if it means it might hurt an youth organization that’s already seeing a drop in members.

On some levels, however, I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise.

The Boy Scouts of America raised eyebrows and angered church members of multiple denominations when it decided in within the past few years to not only begin admitting gay and transgender scouts, but allowing openly-gay adult leaders.

As The New York Times pointed out, the announcement of a name change to “Scouts BSA” and the planned admission of girls into the former Boy Scouts might have been too much:

The Mormon Church, meanwhile, teaches that gay relationships are sinful. It has separate programs for boys and girls, and has distinct leadership roles for men and women. Only men can be ordained as priests.

One thing I find curious is that the Mormon church claims creating its own program will help ease the disparities between options that exist for boys and those that exist for girls. If they want more equality, it seems like they’d be even more behind the effort to allow boys and girls into the same program. That should certainly alleviate disparity when everyone is able to take part in the same activities.

Is a “gospel-centered” program worth ending a partnership that could have benefitted both Mormons and non-Mormons alike? Is there a reason that the “gospel-centered” curriculum not be taught in church while typical youth activities are taught in a scouting program? Presumably, these youth will eventually end up in the “real world” and every interaction they have won’t necessarily happen inside a church or only with their fellow Mormons.

In a commentary for the Chicago Tribune, Stephen Stromberg writes that as a Mormon and a scout, his Scouting experience was unique not because it mirrored what he learned in church:

It was unique because it demanded that I learn values such as hard work, self-reliance and respect for tradition in a diverse community, with each element committed in its own way to these principles. In the Boy Scouts, you learned that you shared a lot in common, yet also had to reconcile your beliefs and practices, with Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Muslims and many others.

Maybe the well-intended effort to create its own youth program might shortchange those youth, along with the scouting program who lose that particular religious perspective.

I think that’d be a shame for both.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.