The Mormon Church, which is the largest sponsor of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA,) announced that the organization will no longer be sponsoring older teenagers to participate in the program.
An estimated 130,000 to 180,000 teenagers in the U.S. and Canada will no longer be enrolled in boy scout programs starting January 2018.
“Instead, Young Men activities will focus on spiritual, social, physical and intellectual outlined by the Church,” said officials last week. “These activities are designed to be fun and meaningful and provide opportunities for personal growth and development.”
“In most congregations in the United States and Canada, young men ages 14–18 are not being served well by the Varsity or Venturing programs, which have historically been difficult to implement within the Church,” said the church in another statement. “This change will allow youth and leaders to implement a simplified program that meets local needs while providing activities that balance spiritual, social, physical and intellectual development goals for young men.”
This decision comes after the Boy Scouts of America said it would begin accepting members based on their gender identity. Back in 2015, the organization also made a policy change allowing gay troop leaders.
Then the Boy Scouts of America appeased the church by allowing them to appoint leaders based on its own religious and moral values. The Mormon Church opposes same-sex marriages and sees homosexual relationships as a sin.
“While the Boy Scouts of America and society in general move forward to support and include LGBTQ people, sadly the Mormon Church continues to send a damaging message to their own youth that being LGBTQ — or being an ally to LGBTQ people — is not of value,” said Ellen Kahn, an official at the Human Rights Campaign, linking the decision to the transgender issue. “It is a disservice to their own members, many of whom are moving in the direction of accepting and affirming their LGBTQ children.”
But the faith claims the recent decision to pull funding from the older boy scout groups wasn’t trigger by that.
“That was not the issue at all,” said Eric Hawkins, a church spokesman in response to a question about if some of the organization’s recent policies influenced the church’s recent move. “There were decisions made that caused concern, but it allows the church to select leaders consistent with its values.”
Instead, the church is developing an overarching global program for its teenaged members.
“No, this is not the global program, but an important step that addresses an immediate need,” writes the church on its website. “Varsity and Venturing programs have been difficult to run effectively on a local level. The Church continues to work toward developing a program for young men and young women globally.”
The Mormon church also applauded the Boy Scouts of America in its announcement.
“In every discussion with the Boy Scouts of America, they have expressed a shared desire to do what is best for young men,” said Mormon officials. “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.”
Like most organizations would be if a large amount of funding was to be pulled, the BSA was disappointed.
“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,” said the BSA in a statement. “The BSA values our ongoing partnership with the LDS Church in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts programming and look forward to our continued efforts to extend the benefits of Scouting to as many youth and families as possible.”
Author’s note: The Mormon church has a right to make sure its members are educated according to their own principles. Evidently, the Boy Scouts of America became the victim of political correctness.