The Mormon church announced Tuesday it will sever a more than century-old tie with the Boy Scouts of America and transfer its remaining 425,000 boys in the program into a gospel-focused youth group it is developing.
The church’s announcement follows the Boy Scouts’ unprecedented decision in 2015 to allow gay troop leaders and last year, to allow girls in its ranks – both seemingly at odds with the conservative beliefs of the Mormon church.
Last week the BSA announced it will drop the word “Boys” from its name to reflect the inclusion of girls.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints initially said it was “deeply troubled” by the Boy Scouts’ policy change on gays but stayed with the organization after receiving assurances it could appoint troop leaders in accordance with its own religious and moral values.
After the official separaration, slated for Dec. 31, 2019, the Mormon church will create its own gospel-based youth program, FOX 13 reported.
In a statement the church said its new youth program will “help all girls and boys, young women and young men discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills and fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God.”
The Boy Scouts of America in a statement thanked the thousands of Mormons who have served as scout leaders and wished the religion well on its new program. The organization said individual Mormons who wish to stay in Boy Scouts would be integrated into other troops.
The church has long been the biggest sponsor of Boy Scout troops in the United States, constituting around 19 percent of the 2.3 million youth in the organization, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Following the Boy Scouts’ move to allow girls into the organization, nearly 4,000 girls have joined roughly 170 Cub Scout packs participating in the first phase of the new policy, and the pace is expected to intensify this summer under a nationwide multimedia recruitment campaign titled “Scout Me In.”
Though the flagship program’s name is changing, the parent organization will remain the Boy Scouts of America, and the Cub Scouts — its program serving children from kindergarten through fifth grade — will keep its title, as well.