The Mormon church said Wednesday that it will stay on with the Boy Scouts of America — for now.
The church, which is America’s largest sponsor of Scout troops, said it had received “verbal assurances” from the BSA that it expects chartering organizations to appoint Scout leaders who reflect their religious and moral values in “word and deed, and who will best inculcate the [chartering] organization’s values through the Scouting program.”
“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,” senior Mormon leaders said in a statement.
The LDS statement also noted that since it has many youth who live outside the U.S., “the Church will continue to evaluate and refine program options that better meet its global needs.”
The BSA said Wednesday it “deeply appreciates our long-standing relationship with the LDS” — which is one of the BSA’s first national chartered organizations from more than 100 years ago.
“The ideals and principles of ‘duty to God’ and ‘a Scout is reverent’ set forth in the Scout Oath and Law are central to Scouting,” the BSA said.
SEE ALSO: Boy Scout leaders agree to new policy on gay adults
The BSA “affirms, and will defend, the right of all religious chartered organizations to select their Scout leaders in accordance with their religious beliefs,” it added.
The LDS statement, issued by the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was the first since the BSA voted July 27 to admit gay adults as leaders and volunteers.
The BSA made that change despite having said in 2013, when it capitulated to pressure from gay advocacy groups and allowed gay youth to be scouts, that the issue was now closed and reiterating then that gay adults could not be Scout leaders or volunteers.
The LDS said it was “deeply troubled” by the July 27 vote, as it expected it to be held at a different time, when LDS governing councils would be available to participate.
The church added that while it has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting program, “the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.”
According to an opinion article by Calvin Walker Harper in the Daily Herald in Utah, the BSA “needs” the LDS more than it needs the BSA, and staying “is the riskiest route” for the LDS.
The LDS is Scouting’s largest sponsor, serving more than 437,000 boys in 38,000 troops, wrote Mr. Harper, a member of the LDS and father of three Eagle Scouts.
But given the litigious nature of the “militant arm of the LGBT movement,” the Mormon church should expect “a bevy of lawsuits,” Mr. Harper wrote, noting that the leader of the Human Rights Campaign has already said “the religious exemption” for BSA sponsors is “unworkable.”
The BSA, founded in 1910, has 2.4 million youth members.
Other major BSA religious chartering organizations, such as the United Methodist Church and Roman Catholic Church, have also said they would continue with Scouting under its current policy.