The Church of Latter-Day Saints has decided to end its century-old association with the Boy Scouts this week. The 105-year-old partnership is scheduled to come to an end on December 31, 2019, because the Scouts moved to end its male-only policy.
“The intention of the Church is to remain a fully engaged partner in Scouting for boys and young men ages 8-13 and encourages all youth, families, and leaders to continue their active participation and financial support,” the Church said in a statement.
The church has been the single biggest sponsor of the Scouts during their association. Mormon boys who will be leaving represent about 18.5 percent of the 2.3 million youth in the organization, NPR reported.
This isn’t the first time that the Church has voiced concerns over the scouts’ developing view of social policy. When the scouts lifted its ban on gay troop leaders in 2015 the Church of Latter-day Saints put out a statement saying they were ‘deeply troubled,’ by the move.
The news of the Churches’ dissociation from the Scouts came one week after the Scouts announced their plan to change their name from the Boy Scouts to Scouts USA.
Reportedly nearly 3,000 girls have already joined the Scouts since the decision was announced to allow them into the organization.
“We wanted to land on something that evokes the past but also conveys the inclusive nature of the program going forward,” Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh said of the name change. “We’re trying to find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women.”
The Scouts have a long history of being slow to adapt to social movements. Accusations of racism, sexism and general insensitivity to the plights of minorities have long followed the organization.
In a 1991 memo entitled “Atheism, Girls, and Homosexuality,” leadership warned regional directors of the moral issues of the day.
“We believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirements in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight and in the Scout Law that a Scout be clean in word and deed, and that homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts,” they warned in one passage.
Today, the Scouts have embraced a more inclusive, less divisive approach to contemporary society. The Mormon Church seems to be at odds with this vision for the Scouts. The Church plans to expand its vision for a scouting organization out into other parts of the world in 2020 and beyond.