For this Freedom Friday I decided to discuss the breakup of the association between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America. Five years ago Boy Scouts made the decision to admit homosexual boys. This change did not affect The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because they had always welcomed gay Scouts. When Boy Scouts agreed to allow homosexual men to be Scout leaders three years ago, I wondered how long The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would continue to sponsor Scout units.
Boy Scouts announced recently that girls would become part of their organization. Six days later the Church and the Boy Scouts released a joint statement announcing that the Church will drop Scouting as of December 31, 2019. I received an answer to my question!
The Church released new material Tuesday evening and included the following information about the new initiative.
This approach is intended to help children and youth discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills, participate in outdoor activities and service opportunities and strengthen their ability to fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God.
The initiative will include the setting and achieving goals “to develop spiritually, socially, physically and intellectually as they seek to follow Jesus Christ.” It is also “intended to reduce burdens on families, with greater flexibility to adapt to the needs of individuals and families around the world in many different circumstances.”
The Church and the Boy Scouts have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship for 105 years. Scouting provided a program that taught leadership skills and built self-confidence as it helped to reinforce traditional principles of importance to Latter-day Saints. The Church was the largest faith-based chartering organization for Scouts and sponsored a large percentage of Scout units. Because of the mutually advantageous relationship, the “break up” is not an easy thing for either organization. The Church’s decision was considered for several years before implementation.
The Church of Jesus Christ is now a worldwide organization with more than half of its members living outside of the United States. Church leaders have been concerned for years about having different programs in different nations. They invested several years in deciding how to create and implement a youth program that could serve its worldwide membership. In order to implement the planned program for children and youth ages 8-18, the Church must end its relationship with the Boy Scouts.
There is not a lot of information available at the present time. The new program for boys and girls will start in January 2020 and will replace all existing activity and achievement programs. These programs include Activity Days, Faith in God, and Duty to God programs for younger boys and girls, Personal Progress program for young women, and the journey to Eagle Scout for young men. There will be changes in children and youth Sunday meetings and week night activities.
I am grateful that my two sons had the opportunity to become Eagle Scouts. I am also grateful that my four daughters had the opportunity to earn their Young Women medallion in the Personal Progress Program. However, I feel great concern about supporting an organization that does not stand up to its principles. I feel certain that the new programs for children and youth will be outstanding. I wonder if I can finish my Personal Progress before the program ends!