Though the Church of Latter-Day Saints has been a chartered partner of the Boy Scouts of America for a century, the past few years has seen that relationship fracture over the Scouts’ increasing acceptance of gay members. But now, after 100 years, the Mormon Church leaves the Boy Scouts of America.
The Church of Latter-Day Saints has a long history of partnership with the Boy Scouts — and of homophobia. After all, the Mormon Church was one of the major backers of California’s Proposition 8, the 2008 state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The church was also behind the Scouts’ former homophobic policies.
That changed in 2015, when the Boy Scouts of America finally agreed to lift its ban on gay scout leaders (kinda). The church spoke of creating its own scouting-style program — and it looks like, three years later, the church has finally made good on its promise.
According to a joint statement released by the Church of Latter-Day Saints, come Dec. 31, 2019, the two organizations will no longer be affiliated. The statement reads, “The church has increasingly felt the need to create and implement a uniform youth leadership and development program that serves its members globally. In so doing, it will be necessary for the church to discontinue its role as a chartered partner with BSA.”
But until 2019, the Mormon Church will “remain a fully engaged partner” with the Boy Scouts.
In terms of membership numbers, this is a blow to the Scouts. Last year, the church already pulled 185,000 members over the age of 14 from the Scouts — a significant number — though the Boy Scouts claim to have over 2.4 million youth members. (And that number is likely to increase as they announced this year the Boy Scouts will be admitting girls — and to illustrate that, will be soon officially changing its name to Scouts BSA.)
As the Mormon Church leaves the Boy Scouts, there will be a loss in funding. Under their previous relationship, the church paid $24 per year for every boy it sent to the Scouts. In 2015, it was estimated that if the church pulled out, the Scouts would stand to lose $19 million per year.
In today’s statement the church said it “continues to support the goals and values” of the Boy Scouts, and has a “profound desire for Scouting’s continuing and growing success.”