The Boy Scouts of America continued the glacial process of hauling itself into the 21 century last month by voting to allow openly gay adult leaders, but the question remained whether the Mormon Church, far and away the largest single sponsor of scout units, would modernize with it?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Wednesday, August 26, that it will continue with the Boy Scouts of America’s Scouting program, despite its decision to allow gay troop leaders.
“We are heartened by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ decision to continue working with teh Boy Scouts of America and to continue offering the program to its young men”, said Zach Wahls, the co-founder and executive director of Scouts for Equality.
Cameron Morris, a father of two scouts, said he was relieved to hear the church’s decision.
Members of the Boys Scouts of America prepare to march in a gay pride parade in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 2, 2013.
Some speculated that the church would cut ties in 2013, when the Boy Scouts decided to allow openly gay youth, but Mormon leaders chose to stick with the organization. If the church were to have left, he said, “it would have meant a lot of rebuilding”.
After the announcement in July, John Stemberger, chairman of the board for Christian scouting group Trail Life USA, told The Christian Post, “It is tragic that the BSA is willing to risk the safety and security of its boys because of peer pressure from activist groups”.
“We’ve been anxious for about four weeks”, Barnes said.
With more than half of the religion’s 15 million members living outside the United States, there has always been speculation that it would create its own scouting-type program. While the Mormon church deliberated for a month, they released an initial statement weeks ago saying the leadership was deeply troubled with the appropriation.
In January, the Church announced it was supporting employment and housing protections for the LGBT community, but only if those protections are “balanced” by “religious freedom” protections.
The bond between the Scouts and Mormons goes back to the early 1900s and involved mutual values and principles.
On July 27, the Boy Scouts of America lifted a nationwide ban on gay leaders.
While troops run by churches can continue to “choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own”, the Mormon Church threatened to leave the organization over the policy change.