by WorldTribune Staff, May 12, 2017
The Mormon church announced on May 11 that an estimated 130,000-180,000 Mormon teenagers ages 14-18 will no longer participate in the Boy Scouts of America.
Though it opposes gay marriage and teaches its members that being in a homosexual relationship is a sin, the Mormon Church said the decision wasn’t triggered by the 2015 Boy Scouts policy change that allowed gay troop leaders. Mormon troops were still allowed to run their groups to adhere to church teachings, the church said.
Mormon officials said in a news release that the Boy Scouts’ “Varsity” and “Venturing” programs for older teens had become difficult to implement within the religion.
“Instead, young men activities will focus on spiritual, social, physical and intellectual outlined by the Church,” officials said. “These activities are designed to be fun and meaningful and provide opportunities for personal growth and development.”
The changes take effect next year, the church said, and will apply to just the U.S. and Canada, where the “Varsity” and “Venturing” programs are implemented. The Mormon church is the largest sponsor of Boy Scouts troops in the United States.
Some 280,000 younger boys ages 8-13 will be kept Scouts while the church continues to develop a global scouting-type program, the news release said.
There are a total of about 2.3 million youth in Boy Scouts. The organization has had a close bond with the Utah-based Mormon religion for more than 100 years.
Mormons who want to work toward an Eagle Scout award can continue to do so, the church said.
“In every discussion with the Boy Scouts of America, they have expressed a shared desire to do what is best for young men,” Mormon officials said. “We are grateful for their continued support with this new change and look forward to continuing our strong relationship in the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs.”
The Boy Scouts said in a statement that “although thousands of youth and leaders who participate in Venturing crews nationwide embrace and support the program, we recognize that not all programs are a perfect fit for all partners.”