Mormon Church pulling out older boys from certain Boy Scout programs

Cheryl Sanders
May 16, 2017

The Mormon Church announced a big change regarding their partnership with the Boy Scouts program.

The church said the move was meant to shift focus to "spiritual, social, physical and intellectual goals outlined by the Church".

"These activities are created to be fun and meaningful and provide opportunities for personal growth and development", the church said in a statement.

"The church statement also indicates that in most congregations in the USA and Canada, young men ages 14-18 are not being served well by the Varsity and Venturing programs, which have historically been hard to implement in the church".

At least one leading Mormon scholar said that the Boy Scouts and the church have been diverging on values in recent years and that the policy on gays was likely another one of several contributing factors in the split.

The Boy Scouts of America will lose as many as 185,000 teens from the organization next year after the Mormon church announced Thursday it will pull the teens out, the Associated Press reports.

Effie Delimarkos, a spokesperson for the Boy Scouts of America said they are saddened by the church's decision but they understand why.

The National Boy Scout headquarters received notice of the changes by the LDS Church Tuesday.

About 280,000 Mormon boys ages 8 to 13 will remain in the Scouts while the church develops its program, the Mormons said. And the older youths, the church notes, will continue to be "registered, supported and encouraged" if they desire to earn merit badges and Eagle Scout awards.

But it comes at a time the church has expressed reservations about the Boy Scouts' decision to allow gay and transgender troop leaders.

Dave McGrath, a former BSA scoutmaster who has long advocated gender and sexual orientation integration in Scouting, said he doesn't believe the decision to reduce ties to Scouting is unrelated to the inclusion of gay youths, gay adults and girls.

Thursday's decision may be the first step towards a larger Mormon exodus from the BSA ― fueled partly by the rapid growth of the church.

Still, the move marks a significant shift for a church that has always been interwoven with the youth institution - so interwoven that The Associated Press reports the decision could mean that between 130,000 and 180,000 teenagers will leave the organization.

Now Porter will likely participate in the church's young men program.

Boise resident Brandon Lyon said he began volunteering with the Boy Scouts when his oldest son, now a high school sophomore, joined the Cub Scouts in second grade.

The church and the Boy Scouts of America have a long standing relationship. He also has twin 10-year-olds who are Cub Scouts in Boise.

The Boy Scouts has 2.3 million participants.

Dahlquist says nationally it's a loss of about 130,000 varsity and venturing scouts. "They get their Eagle and go on with Scouting".

In this July 21, 2010, photo, Scouts from Eagle Mountain, Utah, work on a service project.

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