The Church of Latter Day Saints is cutting formal ties with the Boy Scouts, claiming the organization is no longer in step with Mormon values.
“We express sincere appreciation and gratitude to all adult leaders who have supported young men in these programs and are grateful for our longstanding and continuing partnership with the Boy Scouts of America and Scouts Canada,” the First Presidency, the church’s highest governing body, told church leaders in an open letter Thursday.
The LDS Church is the largest sponsor of Boy Scout troops in the U.S., with a partnership that goes back more than a century. And while the Scouts’ decision to welcome gay troop members—as well as LGBT leaders and trans scouts—wasn’t cited as the cause of the rift, it was likely a factor.
While not a ban, the decision to cut formal relations affects as many as 185,000 boys age 14 to 18 in the Scout’s Venturing and Varsity programs, who will join a new LDS scouting program more tailored to Mormon values. For now, the roughly 280,000 Mormon Scouts ages 8 to 13 will remain while the church’s program is developed.
The AP reports church leaders had heard the Boy Scouts were considering allowing girls, but that was not a factor in the decision.
“The church is wedded very much to traditional gender roles and they see the Boy Scouts of America increasingly move away from that,” said Mormon scholar Matthew Bowman. “That means that they have come to see it as less of a hospitable place.”