The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had a tried and true relationship with the Boy Scouts of America for more than 100 years. In fact, 19% of Boy Scouts are Mormons, and 37% of scout troops are LDS sponsored. That is all coming to an end.
Effective Dec. 31, 2019, “the Church will conclude its relationship as a chartered organization with all Scouting programs around the world,” according to a statement from Mormon Newsroom, released Tuesday, May 8. The Church plans to “remain a fully engaged partner in Scouting for boys and young men ages 8–13” through 2019.
It appears that the two bodies have been working together for the past few years to make the transition as painless as possible. Boy Scouts recently announced that it will be changing its name and accepting girls into scouting. This should ease some of the financial pain the organization will suffer when it loses Mormon support.
In a joint statement issued by the Church and the Boy Scouts of America, the two organizations emphasized their long, respectful relationship:
“The Scouting program has benefited hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saint boys and young men, and BSA has also been greatly benefited in the process,” the statement said. “We jointly express our gratitude to the thousands of Scout leaders and volunteers who have selflessly served over the years in Church-sponsored Scouting units, including local BSA districts and councils.”
During their 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, the joint statement added.
“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.”
Mormon Church leaders said the Church “continues to support the goals and values reflected in the Scout Oath and Scout Law and expresses its profound desire for Scouting’s continuing and growing success in the years ahead.”
What Will Replace Scouting?
The Church has been working on youth programs to replace scouting and those will come into effect on January 1, 2020.
A new activity program — which will replace Scouting, Duty to God, Personal Progress, Faith in God for Girls and Boys and Activity Days for Girls and Boys — will be shared at childrenandyouth.lds.org as the implementation date approaches.
The new initiative will be designed to “teach and provide leadership and development opportunities to all children and youth, to support families, and to strengthen youth everywhere as they develop faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This new approach is intended to 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.
“The initiative is designed to allow local leaders, families, and even the young people themselves to customize their efforts, while providing service opportunities and activities, fostering healthy relationships, and supporting communities.”
LDS youth still have the option to join the Scouts, but troops won’t be church-sponsored.