by Jenniffer WARDELL
With the recent announcement about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ plans to cut ties with the Boy Scouts of America, there have been a lot of questions in the air.
What many people don’t know is that the church has already answered some of them, through a series of statements posted on their news site, mormonnewsroom.org. Though details about what the church plans to replace the scouts with won’t be available until closer to 2020, there’s a lot of information that’s already available.
Why did the church decide to end its relationship with the BSA?
The church listed several reasons for the change in their statements, the main one being that they want to replace Boy Scouts with a youth program that can be implemented on a global scale. Currently, the majority of the church’s membership is located outside of the United States, and the scouting program is difficult for many wards located in other countries to fully utilize.
“While the Church will no longer be a chartered partner of BSA or sponsor Scouting units after Dec. 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,” reads a joint statement from the church and the BSA.
Will they be replacing it with anything?
The church has said they are currently beta testing different elements of a new youth program, designed to be implemented by both boys and girls in countries all over the world. More details about the program will be revealed online at childrenandyouth.lds.org as it gets closer to the program’s activation date on Jan. 1, 2020. According to the church’s statement, the program will be more customizable and will require less financial investment than the Boy Scouts.
When did they make this decision?
The church’s prepared statement says that they’ve been working on this new program for several years. Another sign that this has been in the works for awhile is the fact that the church announced that it would end its Varsity and Venturing Scouting in mid-2017, a change that took effect at the beginning of this year. All scouting-related activities for 14-18-year-olds were replaced with a new program of Aaronic priesthood activities.
The young men’s program, which can be found online at lds.org/youth/ymactivities, divides their activity suggestions into four categories – spiritual, social, physical and intellectual. Early signs suggest that the new general youth program will follow a similar structure.
Will the Boy Scouts be the only program affected?
No, it won’t. While scouting is the only program that involves an outside organization, all the church’s current youth activity and achievement programs may be affected. This includes Personal Progress, Duty to God, Faith in God for girls and boys, and all Activity Days.
When does the decision take effect?
All of the programs listed above will remain fully active until Dec. 31, 2019, and church leaders encourage all participants to remain fully active until that point.
All relevant awards will be given out until that point, which means that anyone close to achieving them can make sure to push so that all their necessary work is achieved by that date. Those who aren’t close are still encouraged to take part in all the related activities.