Salt Lake City, UT. – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America have been partners for more than 100 years dating back to the expansion of the Boy Scouts organization into America in 1910. The Church was even the first entity to officially join the BSA as it’s charter organization. While the Scouting program has benefited hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saint boys and young men, and the BSA itself has also greatly benefited from the partnership.
But that joint partnership will come to an end in December of 2019, when the Church will conclude its relationship as a charter organization with all Scouting programs around the world. The Mormon Church said in a statement that the move comes as part of a plan to create and implement its own youth leadership and development program that can better serve its global membership.
The Church has stated, however, that it intends to to remain a fully engaged in Scouting and will encourage it’s leaders to continue their active participation and financial support until the December 31, 2019 date. The Church also stated that it will continue to support the goals and values reflected in the Scout Oath and Scout Law and that it wished continued success for scouting in the future. In kind, the BSA also wished the LDS Church all the best in its preparation to introduce its own youth leadership program.
Some suspect that recent changes to the policies and values of the Boy Scouts of America could have played a role in the decision of the LDS Church to end it’s century long relationship, but none of those assumptions have been formally addressed by the Church.
In October of 2017 the Boy Scouts of America Board unanimously approved a move to welcome girls into its Cub Scout program and to deliver a Scouting program for older girls that would enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout. The change was said to have been requested by families for years, and supported by many members and leaders within the organization. The changes are expected to go into full effect sometime in 2019.
Back in 2015, the Boy Scouts also made a move to allow gay troop leaders, which the Mormon church initially stated it was “deeply Troubled” by. The Mormon Church, like many other conservative faiths, openly opposes gay marriage.
Even if policy changes haven’t played a role in the separation, both the Church and the Boy Scouts expressed gratitude for their long-standing partnership in a joint statement. Within the statement both expressed their appreciation for the thousands of Scout leaders who selflessly served over the years in Church-sponsored Scouting units.
As the time-honored partnership draws to a close, both organizations are clearly excited about their future opportunities, and grateful for their storied history that benefited both entities, and perhaps more importantly, their youth.