LDS Church to keep Scouting program

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement Wednesday saying it would stay with the Boy Scouts of America.

The church released a statement early Wednesday morning:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appreciates the positive contributions Scouting has made over the years to thousands of its young men and boys and to thousands of other youth. As leaders of the Church, we want the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances, thereby equipping them for greater success in life and valuable service to their country. "In the resolution adopted on July 27, 2015, and in subsequent verbal assurances to us, BSA has reiterated that it expects those who sponsor Scouting units (such as the Church) to appoint Scout leaders according to their religious and moral values "in word and deed and who will best inculcate the 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. "With equal concern for the substantial number of youth who live outside the United States and Canada, the Church will continue to evaluate and refine program options that better meet its global needs."

On July 27, the Boy Scouts of America lifted a nationwide ban on gay leaders. At the time, the church said it was "troubled" by the decision.

Members of the church who are on the BSA National Board, including Quorum of the Twelve member Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, General Young Men's President Stephen Owen and General Primary President Rosemary Wixom voted against the new policy.

"The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation," church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a prepared statement. "However, 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."

Hawkins confirmed at the time that the church was considering the possibility of creating an international program similar to Scouting for young men ages 12 to 18.

Approximately 430,000 of the BSA's 2.6 million Scouts belong to LDS Church-sponsored units. It is the largest charter in the country.

Utah is home of the Great Salt Lake, National Parks and Trapper Trails councils.

Wednesday afternoon, the Utah National Parks Council released a statement in response to the church's decision:

"We are humbled by the announcement from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that the LDS Church will continue its century-long partnership with the Boy Scouts of America. We look forward to continuing our mission of instilling leadership skills and high moral standards in youth everywhere and fully support the Church's right to select leaders that best exemplify its standards. We are grateful for the trust placed in the Scouting program by the LDS Church to help serve and build up their young men."

Contributing: Sam Penrod

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