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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 28, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 35
Mormons to stay in Boy Scouts
Section One
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Mormons to stay in Boy Scouts

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Mormon Church announced August 26 that it will continue its affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America despite BSA's decision to allow Gay adult leaders to participate in the program.

The Mormon Church sponsors nearly 38,000 Scout units with 427,000 boys, accounting for about 18% of all Boy Scout members.

Church leaders said they were disappointed with the Scouts' decision to admit Gay men into leadership positions and would consider severing their ties with the organization. BSA offered a compromise whereby church-sponsored Scout troops could make their own decisions about who would be appointed to leadership positions.

The Mormon leadership apparently accepted this compromise, but also said the Church would continue to look into ways to serve members outside the United States.

'In the resolution adopted on July 27, 2015, and in subsequent verbal assurances to us, BSA has reiterated that it expects those who sponsor Scouting units (such as the Church) to appoint Scout leaders according to their religious and moral values...' Mormon leaders said in a statement.

'At this time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will go forward as a chartering organization of BSA, and as in the past, will appoint Scout leaders and volunteers who uphold and exemplify Church doctrine, values, and standards.

'With equal concern for the substantial number of youth who live outside the United States and Canada, the Church will continue to evaluate and refine program options that better meet its global needs.'

While the religion was founded in the U.S. and is still centered in Salt Lake City, more than half of its 15 million members now live outside the United States, and there has been active speculation the Church would create its own international youth organization.

Scout leaders in Utah said they were relieved by the Church's decision. About 99% of the 167,500 scouts in the state's two largest councils are Mormon.

'We've been worried for about four weeks,' said Rick Barnes, Scout executive for the Great Salt Lake Council in Utah. If the church had left, 'it would have meant a lot of rebuilding.'

Boy Scout officials said they appreciate the decision, noting that the organization is successful because of affiliations with groups like the Mormon church.

'The BSA affirms, and will defend, the right of all religious chartered organizations to select their Scout leaders in accordance with their religious beliefs,' the Boy Scouts said in a statement.

The decision was also applauded by Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout raised by Lesbian mothers and who now heads Scouts for Equality.

'It would have been incredibly disappointing for hundreds of thousands of young boys to be denied that opportunity because of the policy change,' said Wahls.

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