Mormon Congregations Support Boy Scout Troops
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon Church, has created programs for its youth that help to develop moral character, belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the desire to serve God, family, and community. These programs are in effect in the global church. Because of its historic focus on the above attributes, the Boy Scouts of America program has been incorporated into Church of Jesus Christ youth programs for boys, and Mormon congregations (called “wards”) sponsor their own troops for youth in the local vicinity. In light of the spring 2013 decision of the Boy Scouts of America to allow openly gay youth to join Boy Scout troops, The Church of Jesus Christ issued the following statement.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded today to the Boy Scouts of America vote on its membership policy with the following statement:
For the past 100 years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has enjoyed a strong relationship with Boy Scouts of America, based on our mutual interest in helping boys and young men understand and live their duty to God and develop upright moral behavior. As the Church moves forward in its association with the Boy Scouts of America, Church leaders will continue to seek the most effective ways to address the diverse needs of young people in the United States and throughout the world.
The Church’s long-established policy for participation in activities is stated in the basic instructional handbook used by lay leaders of the Church: “young men … who agree to abide by Church standards” are “welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church , 8.17.3). This policy applies to Church-sponsored Scout units. Sexual orientation has not previously been—and is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest.
These standards are outlined in the booklet For the Strength of Youth and include abstinence from sexual relationships. We remain firmly committed to upholding these standards and to protecting and strengthening boys and young men.
The Church appreciates BSA’s reaffirmation of its commitment to “duty to God,” which includes service to others and moral behavior—central principles of our teaching to young men. As in the past, the Church will work with BSA to harmonize what Scouting has to offer with the varying needs of our young men. We trust that BSA will implement and administer the approved policy in an appropriate and effective manner.
A letter signed by the First Presidency of the Church is being sent to all Latter-day Saint congregation leaders throughout the United States. The letter will include the reaffirmation of Church policies and standards referenced in today’s public statement.
What this Means on the Ground
We are a Mormon family with two grown sons, both of whom are Eagle Scouts. Scouting was an important part of their upbringing, supporting the moral teachings and religious teachings in our home. Scouting was so beneficial, it’s difficult to imagine their youth without it. We know how important families are to God’s eternal plan and to the health of societies around the world. We follow our prophet in standing against all things that would destroy the traditional family and the fabric of society.
At the same time, we raised our boys to be kind and compassionate, and to appreciate diversity. The result of the vote to welcome gay boys into scouting would not change our desire to participate, knowing that they have taken an oath to uphold scouting’s high moral principles.