Mormon Church pulls plug on Boy Scouts funding after feud over LGBT members
The Mormon Church is revoking part of its funding for the Boy Scouts, after the Scouts relaxed anti-LGBT rules.
In 2015, the Boy Scouts of America removed its long-held ban on gay scout leaders, after first lifting the ban on gay youth members two years before. More recently trans boys have been accepted into the BSA for the first time.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which has been affiliated with the BSA for 100 years and provides a massive amount of funding for the organisation, bitterly opposed the changes.
After the changes went through, the Mormon leadership said it was “deeply troubled” by the decisions and would review the church’s “century-long association with Scouting” as a result.
In one of the first signs of the Church following through on its threat, the Mormon leadership this week confirmed it would be pulling the plug on its formal involvement in programs for over-14s.
A statement said: “As part of the Church’s ongoing effort tro evaluate and improve its service to families and young people worldwide, the Church will no longer [take part in the units].
“The Church will continue to use the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs for boys and young men ages 8 through 13.”
An FAQ on the Mormon press centre website included the question: “Is this due to changes in Scout policy in the past few years to allow gay and transgender Scouts and leaders?”
The response says: “The BSA has always allowed the Church to operate its programs in ways that are consistent with our standards and beliefs, and they have been very supportive.
“This change is to address the needs of young men ages 14 to 18. The Church is always evaluating what is best for our youth and families, and will continue to do so.”
They added: “We anticipate our Cub Scout and Boy Scout units [for younger boys] will continue as they are at present.”
According to the Associated Press, the change is expected to impact between 130,000 and 180,000 teenagers, who will leave the organisation.
The Boy Scouts of America acknowledged the decision.
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They said: “The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) deeply appreciates our relationship with the LDS Church, one that began in the earliest years of the Scouting movement when the LDS Church became the first partner to sponsor Scouting in the United States.
“The BSA offers a variety of programs from Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts to STEM Scouts, Exploring and Venturing, and our chartered partners are in the best position to decide which programs most appropriately meet the needs of the youth they serve.
“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.
“We anticipate that many youth from the LDS Church will continue to participate in Scouting beyond the age of 14 as young men work to earn the Eagle Scout rank.
“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.”