For 105 years, the Boy Scouts of America and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been steadfast partners, with any Mormon boy automatically becoming part of the scouts. At the end of next year, that partnership will end.
The Boy Scouts and the Mormon Church have agreed to sever all ties as of December 31, 2019 in a move that could dramatically reduce the overall number of Boy Scouts nationwide.
The split is being positioned as an amicable parting. The Mormon Church says, as membership has grown globally, with an accelerating number of members in other countries, it felt the need to launch an internal program for its young members.
“The Church has grown from a U.S.-centered institution to a worldwide organization, with a majority of its membership living outside the United States,” the Mormon Church said in a statement. “That trend is accelerating. The Church has increasingly felt the need to create and implement a uniform youth leadership and development program that serves its members globally.”
The statement continues:
While the Church will no longer be a chartered partner of BSA or sponsor Scouting units … it continues to support the goals and values reflected in the Scout Oath and Scout Law and expresses its profound desire for Scouting’s continuing and growing success in the years ahead.
The Mormon Church and the Boy Scouts have increasingly clashed over policy changes. The Mormon Church was not happy with the Boy Scouts’ decision to allow gay troop leaders. And this announcement comes immediately after the group announced plans to change the Boy Scouts name to Scouts BSA as it opens the program to girls.
While Mormon boys will still be able to join Boy Scout troops individually, the end of the automatic enrollment could be a notable to blow to the Boy Scouts ranks. Currently, Mormon Church members make up nearly 20% of the total number of Scouts, which works out to roughly 460,000 boys.