The Boy Scouts of America was hit with some unpalatable news on Thursday when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that it will drop scouting from official church programming for teen boys aged 14 through 18.
“Beginning January 1, 2018, young men from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will no longer participate in the Varsity and Venturing programs offered by the Boy Scouts of America,” a statement from the LDS church read.
The text continued, “Instead, Young Men activities will focus on spiritual, social, physical and intellectual goals outlined by the Church. These activities are designed to be fun and meaningful and provide opportunities for personal growth and development.”
— Mormon Newsroom (@MormonNewsroom) May 11, 2017
Despite the headline-grabbing move, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said that it will continue to utilize both Cub Scouts and other Boy Scouts programming for younger boys aged 8 through 13.
These changes, which the Mormon church were are driven by a “desire to serve the spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual needs of young men,” will only effect Mormon churches in the U.S. and Canada — and they won’t take effect until 2018.
The LDS church’s decision is significant, considering that one-in-six Scouts in the U.S. are Mormon; the changes could take 180,000 young men out of the Scouting programs, Deseret News reported.
It was in 2015 that the LDS church first said it was reconsidering its affiliation with scouting after the Scouts voted to allow openly gay scout leaders. Previously, the Boy Scouts had voted to allow openly gay scouts, though the LDS church said that decision held little sway, as the religious group had always permitted this within its ranks, according to Deseret News.
The most recent LDS decision, though, might have also been rooted in concerns over inequality, as boys in other countries don’t always have access to the scouts, meaning that the Mormon church was spending more money on U.S. youths — something that was apparently a concern long before the more recent controversies over homosexuality.
Read more about the decision here.
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