Why Mormons are ending their association with Boy Scouts and how it could affect your life.
Many of you will not think that Mormons leaving the Boy Scouts is important. The Boy Scouts of America (soon to be called “Scouts BSA”) are losing members rapidly, and with the nearly twenty percent of the 2.3 million members being Mormons, it will soon be even more diminished. But if you are part of any social organization, this could be a new trend.
Why are Mormons officially cutting ties with Boy Scouts of America? They claim it is to create their own faith-based organization to serve their global community. But Mormons could have done this at any time during their 105-year relationship with the Boy Scouts. What is more likely is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has finally had enough of some of the Scouts’ changes to their rules.
In particular are the admission of LGBTQ individuals into the Scouts and allowing girls into the organization. While the Scouts have allowed LGBTQ leaders since 2015, girls being allowed is new, bt girls have already been actively involved in the Scouts. There are two programs for teens, the Boy Scouts and the Learning for Life program. Learning for Life does not have any restrictions on gender or sexual orientation.
And the reasoning behind allowing girls doesn’t seem to be against the religious teachings of Mormonism. The case that paved the way for the change was about an Australian girl, Sydney Ireland. Sydney participated in Scouts with her brothers and just wanted official acknowledgment from BSA.
The Scouts have previously modified their stances on participation and religion. While the Scouts require all members to observe God, they evolved to allow different polytheistic or non-theistic faiths such as Hinduism and Buddhism, respectively.
This is the latest example of specific Christian denominations in America feeling like they are under attack. Several groups have begun to use the language of religious freedom to argue about being forced to promote or acknowledge LGBTQ rights. Mormons are leaving the Scouts to start their own organization, families are transferring their children to religious schools, and voters are choosing more extreme candidates who use religious freedom to win votes. These are all examples of insulation. This creates further divides amongst religious, geographical, and political party lines. A lack of interaction can cause less empathy for individuals who are different from their own tribe.
This may also be a move showing that Mormons are decreasing their interaction with who they consider sinners. There are numerous scriptures that instruct Christians of all denominations to interact with sinners and try to change them: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners…. there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Mormons should be excited over admission changes because it gives their members a chance to try to convert or at least provide accurate information about Mormonism. Remember, Mormons are heavily tied into conversion. Many members go on missionary work as a requirement to their faith. Maybe this is why famous Mormon and former Scout Mitt Romney opposed the LGBTQ ban.
Isolation of religious groups from social organizations hurts the binding ties that create a community. When our social networks become more uniform, it leads to increased ignorance of others, stereotyping, and aggression. So while Mormons forming their own group abroad might not matter to you, it does represent the changing nature of our community.