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LDS Church considering alternative scout-like program

LDS Church considering alternative scout-like program

Spokesman Eric Hawkins confirmed Tuesday that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “considering creating its own international program for boys, separate from the Boy Scouts of America.”

This is in response to the recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board to no longer ban openly-gay adults as leaders within the organization.  That decision though, left an opening for local troops to continue to ban GLBT adult participants, which many considered a loophole primarily for the benefit of LDS sponsored troops.  The LDS Church the nation’s largest Scouting sponsor, serving 437,160 boys in 37,933 troops, making up 37% of all troops (though only 18% of all scouts).  For Mormons, Boy Scouts are their official youth program for young boys.

In their news release, LDS leaders suggest that they have been considering such a move for a while because Scouting isn’t available in many places where the church is;

As a global organization with members in 170 countries, the Church has long been evaluating the limitations that fully one-half of its youth face where Scouting is not available. Those worldwide needs combined with this vote by the BSA National Executive Board will be carefully reviewed by the leaders of the Church in the weeks ahead.”

However, as many commenters have pointed out, this isn’t strictly true.  In many countries, Scouting isn’t specifically for boys, but is gender inclusive which is contrary to the LDS church’s goals for scouting as a youth program for boys.

Read more here and here


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Anne Bay

The LDS are the ones that lose if they decide to have their own scout program. Through the years I have been privileged to know and work with members of the LGBT community. Incredibly gifted in so many ways it’s impossible to count!! Discrimination is alive and well and seems to go on and on. Very tragic.


Even if Mainline Protestantism and the Unitarians and Quakers made the Scouts mandatory/official for their boys, they wouldn’t replace these numbers. The birthrate differences are simply too great. Barely 9% of these groups are under 25-30. The Scouts weren’t thinking that they’d quickly replace Mormons with Methodists or Episcopalians; the were worried about the disproportionate financial resources of Mainline Protestantism being turned on them in lawsuits and the high numbers of Mainliners on United Way boards and other fund-assigning bodies.
They calculated also that writing “Eagle Scout” would become a net minus rather than a net plus in applying for college, especially those prestige schools disproportionately staffed and financed by the Mainline; if one of the main reasons for staying with the program is to become Eagle, if/when that became toxic, their numbers would certainly decrease rapidly.
Whether or not they calculated correctly remains to be seen.

Fred, please follow the comment policy ad post future comments with your first & last names. – editor


I suspect the BSA may be hoping to get back their old connections with the public schools and other non-religious organizations. However I don’t see the former happening as long as they discriminate against atheists (we atheists are incapable of being the “best kind of citizens” according to the BSA’s own governing documents).

Marshall Scott

There is at least one Scout-like program that has been embraced by some evangelical churches. We may see some displacement to that. If the LDS were to choose something like that, it would be hard, certainly, on the BSA.

JC Fisher

Yeah, this group started after the BSA agreed to let openly gay boys join: [Methinks any organization(s) which keep openly gay scouts out, will have a lot MORE down-low same-sex activity than the BSA will! ;-/]

John Chilton

On the other hand, there is a tension here. It’s association with BSA was a major way in which LDS could sell themselves as not too far out from the rest of America.

What I wonder more about is the calculation made by the BSA executive board that adherence to the no-gay leaders policy posed an existential threat. Some say that their action comes too late, and that liberal sponsors have already left and aren’t coming back.

David Allen

I think that you can be assured that the LDS Church put together a think tank type group, headed by one or more General Authorities of the Church, quite some time ago as they saw the handwriting on the wall concerning the BSA. They will already have an organization and program on paper that can be approved and rolled out in a moments notice including; command structure, uniform designs, merit badges and most importantly, their own version of the BSA Duty to God award, around which their own ward sponsored scout units were already focused.

And it may even include young women. The Girl Scouts of the USA has always been too feminist and progressive for the LDS Church, so it was never incorporated as the BSA was.

Bro David


The BSA doesn’t have a Duty to God award, that is strictly a LDS award. The BSA does allow certain religious emblems to be worn on the uniform each developed by a specific religion [though many Protestant groups including the Episcopal Church seem to allow a 3rd party, P.R.A.Y., to develop it]; the BSA are known to have not allowed a Wiccan award and to have withdrawn approval of the Unitarian Universalist award (and then approved a UU award not approved by the UU association).

Also I very much doubt that a LDS replacement program will include girls. LDS wards have Venturing Crews for older boys but not girls though Venturing Crews elsewhere allow both sexes (Venturing is a BSA program for older scouts). Their Young Men program of which Scouting is a part is also very oriented to the fact that all male members in good standing will become priests (lowest level at age 12) while no female members will (hence a completely separate Young Women’s program which apparently receives far less financial support).

David Allen

It appears that the Duty to God award, which was a BSA program in the past, has morphed into the religious emblems program. Through 2001 the LDS version of the award was earned by LDS scouts as an LDS/BSA program. That changed 1 JAN 2002.

It is now an Aaronic priesthood program of the LDS Church. LDS boys are usually ordained to the three offices of this priesthood; 12 – Deacon, 14 – Teacher and 16 – Priest. But in US LDS wards, the BSA units and the Young Mens Program are still tied together.

BSA/LDS Duty to God award through 2001

Duty to God LDS Aaronic Priesthood award from 1 JAN 2002

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