LDS Church to leave scouting

Very few people who follow the news will be surprised at this development.

From the Deseret News:

SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church is ending its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America.

The expiration date for the remarkably robust, 105-year alliance is Dec. 31, 2019, according to a joint statement released Tuesday night by BSA and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Read the joint statement from the LDS Church and BSA here.

The decision by LDS leaders is part of a broader restructuring of the church’s programs for all Mormon children ages 8 to 18.

“In this century of 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 said. “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.”

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

14 thoughts on “LDS Church to leave scouting

  1. Wonderful news! Scouting has become a very big, expensive industry, and the Church has been its cash cow. We spend way too much on boy scouts in the USA, while little spent on girls or youth in other nations. It made sense once upon a time, but no longer.

    It has been wonderful for some scouting families, but for boys not interested in Scouts, a force to drive them into inactivity.

  2. This is great news. Not only does the church spend too much of its monetary resources on scouting but the number of people that are required to run a scouting program is enormous compared to running, for instance, the Activity Days program.
    If families see the benefit of scouting they are still welcome to join their community scouting units. And as we admonished to be active in the community, this is a perfect way for those families to do it.
    As for me, I haven’t seen the benefits and am grateful that the boys’ program will now be a closer match to the girls’, more focused on Temple and mission prep.

  3. I feel like it was bound to happen and it reinforces my belief, no, my testimony that the Church is led by inspired prophets. Revelations come and are implemented at the time the “little flock” of Latter-Day Saints either need or can handle them. The Lord did not want to burden our beloved President Thomas Monson with this in his time, especially at the end of his life. It is about the Boy Scouts of America organization of 2018, 2019, and beyond, not that of 2017 and before. The transition will be awkward.

    The topic of scouting and the Church has been discussed on this blog before and I weighed in. The organization the church will separate itself from is no longer what it used to be. I empathize with US members who will forever cherish memories of the BOY Scouts of AMERICA. I know I cannot speak for them. When I was a scout I was a Catholic and I am grateful for my version of scouting and my religious upbringing before joining the Church. The Church statement clearly explains how membership outside the US is a factor as well.

    I have an issue with Girl Scouts allowing young boys who identify/dress as girls to join girl troops and I also feel like the Girl Scouts organization (besides the unfortunate liberal bias infiltrating it) was just insulted by the BSA with its announced name and policy changes. They should have reached out to the Girl Scouts instead and partnered with them.

    Scouting in America will become fragmented and I do not think there is anything anybody can do about it. An LDS boy, a Jewish boy, or a Baptist boy will likely go camping with boys of his faith and earn the badges through his church/synagogue programs, and the same thing will happen with the girls. We are too invested in what we envision for our LDS young men and women–and so are Baptist, Pentecostal, Seventh-day Adventist and Catholic parents–to waste time with organizations that allow secularism and humanism to corrupt our core beliefs.

    So, “scouting”, whatever that will mean in the 21st century, will be fragmented, with a whole spectrum of religious and secular creeds. As parents shop around for good schools or “a church where they feel comfortable”, they will also find organizations which they feel are beneficial for their kids, whether it be sports, drama, or a scout-like organization with a religious, conservative, agnostic, liberal, or environmentalist agenda.

    I predict that both Scouts BSA and Girls Scouts will not attract as many families as they think or as they are used to.

    We shall see. And I wonder what the reaction to the Church’s announcement will be in the boardroom of the BSA. It will be interesting to see what path other denominations choose.

  4. I just hope that difficult outdoors activities for boys continue. Be prepared is a motto that has allowed me to know I can tackle any difficult situation I’m placed in. When you are confident you can weather the storms you are much more capable of being able to help others in demanding physical situations.

    Any mission president and they will tell you they love having country boys who know how to work. Some of them might need help having their minds opened a bit, but that’s pretty straight forward to do with some teaching of the Savior’s words.

    I’m excited to see what’s coming. I truly hope it involves kids being outdoors, working up a sweat from time to time.

  5. caln,
    Our views likely parallel closely, but “… country boys who know how to work”? I’d like to believe that, but the social and intellectual stresses of missions are sending many of those country boys and gals home with serious anxiety issues. Work ethic alone does not cut it. Spiritual sensitivity alone does not win the day. We need a program that encourages intellectual development as well as physical, psychological and spiritual resiliency. Missions are tough, life can be even tougher.

    I hope all members give this new program the energy and dedication it needs. BSA is failing on multiple fronts, in addition to the culture war issues it has failed in recently. It is time to move on.

  6. When I think of my Boy Scout days, I think of Lord of the Flies, so I can’t say that I was sad to read this news. Additionally, I’m not so sure about the outdoorsmanship/country-boy/work-ethic argument in favor of a close replication of Boy Scouts in this new programs. The connection between the Gospel and sleeping (or lying awake all night) in a tent seems rather tenuous to me. The rural areas of my stake have far-and-away the lowest activity rate. My bookish nephew is AP right now. My one country boy mission companion was no harder working than my other companions.

  7. I have mixed feelings about this, as I’m sure many church members do.

    I wasn’t the best boy scout, though I did manage to become an Eagle Scout by the skin of my teeth two days before turning 18. But there were moments in my scouting experience that were formative and foundational. I learned to love the outdoors and I learned skills I otherwise never would have learned. A 60 mile canoe trip in Canada was highly challenging and tested my physical and mental stamina, but I prevailed. I still think about that experience all these years later.

    Most importantly, though, I remember Boy Scouts as a time when I made friendships with other boys who shared my values. Where I grew up, there were few places where I could have found this. And with my mother and I being the only LDS members in our family, this provided a time to learn from good male role models. I’ll never forget the prayers our troop said together each night at camp before taps was played and we went off to our tents. I’ll never forget being the only LDS troop at Scout Camp, and pulling out the sacrament trays on Sunday at our campsite as the older scouts blessed the bread and water and the younger boys passed the trays to each other. This all happened in the thick of the woods when it was 85 degrees outside. And yet, the Spirit was as strong there as I ever felt it.

    A part of me feels sad that my own boys, too young now to be scouts, will miss out on these experiences. We don’t know what the new youth programs will look like, however, but I am confident that many of these good things will manifest themselves in different ways to my boys and the other youth of the Church.

    On the other hand, the scouting program often seemed liked the most difficult program to properly staff and operate at the ward level. I was one of many (a majority?) who sometimes felt we would all be better off if we ended our affiliation with the Boy Scouts. We wouldn’t have to worry about assistant scoutmasters who don’t put the time into the calling and thus hurt the boys’ opportunities for advancement. We wouldn’t have to worry about filling out archaic chartering forms. We wouldn’t have to worry about missing “blue cards” or an Eagle Scout candidate who may not become an Eagle because some old-timer on the Board of Review didn’t think the young man was sufficiently “Scout-worthy” for his taste. Etc., etc.

    As the BSA and the LDS Church have watched their formerly shared values increasingly diverge in a short period of time, it seemed inevitable to many that the Church would cut ties with the Boy Scouts. I suppose what saddens me about this isn’t so much that the Church will no longer be affiliated with the Boy Scouts, but that the Boy Scouts became so influenced by our secular society that it rapidly changed its central mission of shaping boys into responsible men and leaders. The Boy Scouts chose a path of secular approval and cultural popularity instead of sticking to its principles (which is such an existentially Boy Scout notion). I am proud of the Church for sticking to its own principles and refusing to be part of something that no longer aligns with its values. I have hope that brighter days are ahead for our youth and our leaders.

  8. It is unfortunate that the Church did not make this decision sooner before so much effort was made by the BSA to “obligate” the Church to stay.

    I’m thinking specifically of the “Thomas S. Monson Leadership Excellence Complex” at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, and the “Thomas S. Monson Lodge” at the “Hinckley Scout Ranch” (as an aside, the church should not allow buildings to be named after living individuals). Not to mention the Philmont/Priesthood training (that did cease last year) and the number of LDS/BSA blogs that have long promoted Scouting as the one, true way to train Young Men.

    Also, just last month, the Church hosted a number of non-LDS Scout leaders at General Conference “to strengthen LDS-BSA relationships through a deeper understanding of the Church.” And last week, my Stake held a two-day Scout training program (5-10 p.m. on Friday and 9 to 5 all day Sat.). I’m sure people who gave up so much time are not happy about the now limited utility of the training.

    It is difficult to terminate a 100-year old relationship, but I fear the way this played out will leave many feeling a bit bamboozled about the Church’s commitment to the Scouting program during the last year. People invest time, money and resources this year assuming the Church would continue with the BSA program for younger boys, but now that effort will be viewed as for naught (especially with the statement that the new Young Mens program has been in the works for years). And in light of the announcement, I fear the level of enthusiasm for Scouting through Dec. 2019 will result in a poor program for LDS boys.

    Perhaps it couldn’t be avoided, but I can’t help but wish that this eventuality could have been sooner foreseen, and that our exit from the BSA program better timed and planned.

  9. Ever since the introduction of Activity Days to serve the needs of youth around the world, the Church has been prepared to opt out of Scouting.

    I see the efforts of the past year as good faith effort on the part of the Church to show that they were willing to continue the relationship if BSA continued to value LDS participation. But BSA ultimately made a decision to step across the line in the sand, and so a separation that could have been made years ago has finally been announced.

    But it isn’t happening for nearly two years, so people shouldn’t get too bent out of shape that they invested some time in BSA-related activities this past week.

    FWIW, stuff gets named after living folks all the time.

  10. I haven’t wanted to rock the boat and so haven’t complained a whole ton in the past (at least not in public), but I was very happy to hear this news last night. I am pleased that we are going to divest ourselves of this burden.

    I am sure scouting has helped a lot of young men learn good skills and life lessons, but few people understand what a huge toll it has on families. My father was a scout master during my teenage years and I always resented that he spent a lot more time with the scouts than he did with his own family. To his credit, he was a great scoutmaster, and to this day the scouts he taught praise him as the best scoutmaster they ever had. The fact remains, however, that there was not one scout who needed him more than I did. While he was mentoring the boys my age, I struggled in school and suffered from mental illness. It would have been great to have a dad during that period in my life. This was close to 20 years ago, and my dad recognizes what happened and has tried to make up for it, but the bare fact is scouting took my father away when we needed him most. I think the leaders of the Church recognize that scouting was putting stress on a lot of families, not just mine.

    My husband was just extended a calling as a scoutmaster, pending the completion of his background check. I know he will be good, but if it takes him away from our family the way it took away my dad, I will not be playing The Martyr – I will march right to the Bishop’s office and demand that he be released.

    Maybe that makes me unwilling to support my spouse in his calling. But hey, charity begins in the home.

  11. All I can say is hallelujah. I have cheered every incremental step away from scouts and feel this is way overdue. The financial burden of supporting scouts is gone. The time burden on families is gone. The staffing demands on wards and stakes is gone. The gross inequities between programs for young men and young women is gone. Families who love scouts and want to continue can enroll both their boys and girls. There is no downside to this.

  12. I’m not celebrating. The good that has come from the LDS-BSA relationship is immeasurable. It is the ONLY way we can structurally interact in our communities, with LDS Scouters attending local roundtables and camporees and summer camps and so forth. And the umbrella of world-wide Scouting is a wonderful thing. I think we will be poorer for leaving.

    I also have essentially no confidence that the replacement curriculum will have any value. A curriculum and goal-setting program to help young men grow closer to Heavenly Father? Oh, no! If it’s like all the other curriculum the Church has produced in the past several years, oh, no!

    We will have to wait and see. But I do think celebrating the divorce is unwise.

  13. It could also prompt other chartering orgs to stop chartering. If the Catholic church dumps BSA as LDS does Dec 2019, then its pretty much over for BSA. Though their decision to do so will likely be more on parish, diocese, arch-diocese levels than church-wide.

    Many churches, like ours, don’t have the human resources to start up Scout troops for girls. So I think defections from BSA are only going to accelerate.

    How many cubs/scouts/varsity enrollees is BSA losing with the LDS withdrawal? And what percentage of the overall numbers is it?

  14. I like to see reactions from others outside the LDS Church to some of what happens in the Mormon community. The liberals are doing what they always do; spew vindictive name calling and lies in the name of tolerance.

    The conservatives (particularly religious) are either staying silent or saying some surprising opinions on the matter. They are excited that the Mormons are leaving and even calling it in their own way a “Christian” move. Many hope that other religions (particularly Catholic) will follow the example. I haven’t heard such nice things said about Mormons, in at least this one thing, by conservative Christians about nearly anything else. It was a conservative (forgetting all the other reasons for the split) PR success.

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