Mormons keep affiliation with Boy Scouts despite gay leaders

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

LDS Church to continue with Boy Scout program.

The LDS Church announced Wednesday (Aug. 26), that the Utah-based faith will stick with the Scouts after threatening last month to bolt from the youth group and form its own international organization for boys. “At this time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will go forward as a chartering organization of BSA, and as in the past, will appoint Scout leaders and volunteers who uphold and exemplify church doctrine, values and standards,” the church’s governing First Presidency of Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in a news release. FILE – In this Sunday, June 8, 2014, file photo, a Boy Scout wears his kerchief embroidered with a rainbow knot during Salt Lake City’s annual gay pride parade.The Mormon church – the nation’s largest sponsor of Boy Scout units – is keeping its longtime affiliation with the organization despite its decision to allow gay troop leaders.

As leaders of the Church, we want the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances, thereby equipping them for greater success in life and valuable service to their country. In 2013, more than a third (37 percent) of troops were LDS sponsored, accounting for 18 percent of the BSA’s 2.4 million total membership (Mormon troops, while more numerous, tend to be smaller in size). The Mormon church — along with other traditional faith communities including the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention — expressed concern about being pushed into accepting leaders whose orientation violates the traditional teachings of the faith. With equal concern for the substantial number of youth who live outside the United States and Canada, the Church will continue to evaluate and refine program options that better meet its global needs.

An LDS Church withdrawal also could have decimated the three Scout councils in Utah, which report between 96 percent and 99 percent of their members are in Mormon units. The Scouts said no one would be forced to take on particular leaders, but the faith groups, and many church-state lawyers, have expressed skepticism about what courts will accept as LGBT equality spreads.

As American culture accepts gays and lesbians, the Mormon religion is trying to strike a balance between adhering to its basic tenets and acknowledging cultural shifts in the world. The BSA’s new policy, however, makes no such distinction between “openly gay” and “sexually active gay leaders.” So a gay Scout leader could have a partner or a same-sex spouse — and that troubled the Mormon brass. Church leaders were involved in legislation enacted in Utah in March that extended nondiscrimination protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. A number of rank-and-file Mormons are pushing the church to become more accepting and welcoming of LGBT members to avoid losing them from the religion or being shunned. As the religion’s membership swelled, being Boy Scouts became a rite of passage for Mormon boys, with the church covering the cost of troops for congregations, known as wards, and strongly encouraging participation.

The Methodists’ General Commission on United Methodist Men has said decisions on whether to accept gay adult leaders would rest with individual churches.

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