SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is ending its working relationship with the Boy Scouts of America, but the two are not parting ways for 18 months.
The century-long partnership between the church and Scouts was the focus of the Tuesday night announcement, but the church also announced an end to its Personal Progress program for girls ages 12-18 and introduced plans for a new youth initiative program that will begin in January 2020.
Here are five questions answered about the transition period and new LDS youth initiative.
1. Why are the church and BSA ending their relationship?
The church said it reviewed its youth programs for the past several years and found it needed a youth program that focused more on spiritual growth for its worldwide membership.
“While Scouting and other Church programs for children and youth worked well over the years in Utah and elsewhere throughout the United States, the Church found some didn’t fit well elsewhere in the world because of cultural, financial, distance and membership reasons,” wrote Scott Taylor in an article for the LDS Church News. “The new initiative is one that is expected to be available globally and flexible enough to be adapted to local circumstances.”
2. What happens to boys who turn age 8 during the next 18 months?
The church plans on registering boys ages 8-13 until Dec. 31, 2019, it said on a Frequently Asked Questions page about the announcement. It will also keep registering "those 14 and older working on rank advancement, and adult leaders associated with those youth. All adult leaders should continue to receive Youth Protection and other required training for their position. Camps, regular activities, and Friends of Scouting will all continue until December 31, 2019.”
3. Are there other LDS Church programs besides Scouting that are being replaced?
The LDS Church already dropped Varsity and Venture Scouting for boys ages 14-18 in 2017.
The change may also affect the following programs: Faith in God and Activity Days for girls and boys, Personal Progress for young women and Duty to God for young men.
In a statement to its members, church officials said there will be a "new approach to replace all existing activity programs for girls and boys, young women and young men beginning in January 2020."
4. What should LDS youth do until December 2019?
The church requests that members fully participate in the current programs, including Scouts and Personal Progress, for the next 18 months.
"We encourage all youth, families, and leaders to continue their active participation and financial support of Scouting," until the official end of the partnership, church officials said.
5. Does the church still support boys who want to earn their Eagle Scout?
The statement released Tuesday emphasized that the church still supports the goals and values of the program, but will not sponsor Scouting programs after the end of December 2019.
“While the Church will no longer be a chartered partner of BSA or sponsor Scouting units after December 31, 2019, 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.”
Any members who wish to continue Scouting can join local chapters through schools, other churches or community groups.