End of 2019:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(The Mormons) severed its connection with the
BSA (Boy Scouts of America), Scouts Canada, and
other scouting groups worldwide:
When the split began to materialize:
Stresses began during 2013-MAY, when the BSA's governing body decided to stop discriminating against non-heterosexual boys as members. The BSA made Scouting available to all boys regardless of sexual orientation. Later, in 2016, the BSA stopped discriminating against gay adult leaders. Finally, in 2017, the BSA stopped discriminating against girls as members. M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the faith’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, the the LDS separated from the BSA because the latter made changes that pushed the church away. He said:
"The direction they were going was not consistent to what we feel our youth need to have ... to survive in the world that lies ahead for them."
Webmaster's personal comment:
The long-term trend in the U.S. seems to be towards less discrimination, as people of minority faiths, minority sexual orientations, minority races, and women are gradually being increasingly accepted as equals. This trend started with the elimination of slavery, continued with allowing women to vote, the gradual reduction in racial discrimination, decriminalization of same-sex sexual activities, and now acceptance of transgender persons. Also, same-sex marriage is now legal in the U.S., (with the exception of American Samoa,) as well as Canada, the UK, and many other countries. It is also being accepted by a progressibly larger percentage of U.S. adults. 4
So, it may be that the LDS church teaching children to continue to discriminate against women and minorities will make church members less able to fit in to the world as it develops in future decades.
Impact of the severance in Utah:
The total population in Utah was about 3,051 million during 2020-NOV. Of that number, about 2.1 million (68%) identified themselves in public opinion polls as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- commonly referred to as Mormons, or members of the LDS church. As one would expect, when the LDS church disengaged from the Boy Scouts on 2019-DEC-31, the number of Boy Scouts and the number of troops took an immediate nose dive.
- In Northern Utah, the number of BSA troops shrunk from 7,200 to 110!
- The Boy Scouts' Great Salt Lake Council moved from its former location on Foothill Drive to a smaller office at 8389 S. 700 West in Sandy. Kent Downing, area director for the Boy Scouts’ Western region, said that the headquarters is now open for fewer hours: Monday through Friday from 1 PM to 5:30 PM. He said that:
"We are expecting a notable drop in membership in 2020 as a result of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints separating from the BSA as a chartered partner."
- For decades, the LDS church was the largest religious participant in U.S. Scouting, with about 425,000 Mormon youth in Cub and Boy Scout programs. That accounted for about 19% of the BSA's total 2.2 million membership. More than 90% of all scouts in Utah belonged to units sponsored by LDS churches.
- At its peak, more than 4 million boys were Scouts. In the year 2020, this might drop below 2 million.
Downing wrote: "While we hope that some families that have been a part of Scouting in the church will continue their Scouting journey, we also recognize that more than half of the [population in the] Salt Lake City metropolitan area is not associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and we welcome the opportunity to bring the benefit of Scouting to these families in our area."
- Wayne Perry, is a Mormon, was a past president of Boy Scouts of America, and is a current member of its national board. He said said the end of alliance will sting and force many regional councils in the U.S. West to lay off employees and sell some camps. ..."
"One of the advantages we always had with Scouting is that it wasn’t ‘churchy.’ They were getting the Scout oath and the Scout law, which are incredibly compatible with the church’s philosophies and views, but they weren’t reading out of the Book of Mormon." 1,2
Impact of the severance in Canada:
The decision by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had effect worldwide. It facilitated the development of their global program for LDS youth which is similar to Scouting but with more of a religious emphasis from a Mormon perspective.
The first Mormon Scout group in Canada was created in Aetna, Alberta during 1911. Aetna is about 70 kilometers (miles) southwest of Lethbridge. Since that time, most Mormon boys across Canada have participated in Scouts Canada.
Scouts Canada permitted girls to join all of its program in 1998, and organized the first gay and lesbian scout troop in the year 2000.
The federal Scouting organization will lose about 5% of its membership as a result of the severance. 3
Rick Vermunt, a church leader at the LDS’s Calgary North Stake has been part of Scouts Canada for more than three decades. He plans to continue his work in Scouts Canada while also supporting the new Mormon program. He said:
"It doesn’t have to be an either-or decision. We’ll still have scouts and (scout leaders) like me continue to do both.
It really boils down to the fact that the church wanted to create a program that could be implemented worldwide to help [its] young people develop. [Scouts Canada has] ... been a wonderful association and it has taught many of our young men key principles that have provided a springboard for them for the rest of their lives. We’re sad to see the LDS depart but we’re happy to have had such a long and positive relationship with them. We’ll take a short-term hit with this loss but we continue to grow in southern Alberta and we expect that to continue."
- Kathy Stephenson, "After LDS Church exit, Boy Scouts shrink in northern Utah from 7,200 to 110 troops," The Salt Lake Tribune, 2020-JAN-17, at: https://www.sltrib.com/
- Brady McCombs & David Drary, "Mormons pulling 400,000 youths out of struggling Boy Scouts," Associated Press, 2019-DEC-17, at: https://apnews.com/
- Jason Herring, "Scouts to lose around 2,400 members in Alberta as Mormon Church ends ties," Microsoft News, 2019-DEC-27, at: https://www.msn.com/
- The Gallup Poll found that 67% of American Adults favor same-sex couples being able to marry. See: https://igniteamerica.com/
Copyright © 2020 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2020-NOV-18
Author: B.A. Robinson