Mormon Church announces it will stay in Boy Scouts, despite concern about end to ban on gay leaders

The Mormon church announced Wednesday that it will remain in the Boy Scouts, a month after the church expressed major concern about the Scouts lifting a ban on openly gay adult leaders.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — also called the Mormons — make up 20 percent of all Boy Scouts, and the spiritual life of Mormon boys is deeply woven with scouting.

In late July, the Scouts approved a new policy allowing troops to pick openly gay volunteer leaders and banning discrimination in the hiring of Boy Scout employees, saying the expanding cultural and legal acceptance of LGBT people made the ban untenable.

The Mormon church — along with other traditional faith communities including the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention — expressed concern about being pushed into accepting leaders whose orientation violates the traditional teachings of the faith. The Scouts said no one would be forced to take on particular leaders, but the faith groups, and many church-state lawyers, have expressed skepticism about what courts will accept as LGBT equality spreads.

The Mormon church said last month it was considering leaving the Boy Scouts, despite Scout leadership saying units can appoint leaders who match their own religious and moral values.

On Wednesday, Mormon church leaders issued a statement saying it would stay in Scouting — for now:

“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 youths … we want the Boy Scouts of America to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances. …

“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.”

Scouts for Equality, which advocates for full equality of LGBT people in scouting, issued a statement Wednesday saying its members were “heartened”:

“We have maintained from the beginning of our campaign that the values and life lessons of Scouting are universal, and we would have been saddened to see hundreds of thousands of youth denied the opportunity to participate in the Boy Scouts. We hope to continue to work to build a stronger and more welcoming Boy Scouts of America with friends and allies across the religious and political spectrum.”