Effective on December 31, 2019 the Boy Scouts of America (Scouts BSA) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dissolved their century-old relationship. The church and the Scouts BSA jointly made the announcement on May 8, 2018.
While the church did not object when the Scouts BSA began allowing girls and homosexually oriented people as both scouts and leaders into the organization, many still attribute that decision as the motivation for the separation.
The Church's official statement explained that its reason for leaving was to address the needs of global membership. “As a global church with millions of children and youth, we need to address diverse needs and fortify all children and youth with gospel-centered growth and learning experiences now more than ever.”
This year the church has begun using its Children and Youth Program, a church centered and controlled program, with the goal of helping "all girls and boys, young women and young men discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills and fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God.”
Eagle Scout applicants and their projects have provided a valuable resource to the cities of this area, as they complete projects to improve their community. The Preston Citizen asked each city in Franklin County what the potential loss of this resource mean for the cities moving forward.
The sole response to this question came from Dayton City, whose leaders felt that nothing major would change. Councilman Dee Beckstead said that he believes the Elks, or other service organizations, will take up the torch in Franklin County. He and other Dayton City Council members conveyed gratitude and appreciation to Scouts, both past and present, and expressed hope that Scouting will continue into the future.
To that end, Troop 30, a non-denominational group sponsored by Jared Jensen and his company, ACME Fireworks, has been organized to serve the Franklin County area. It meets at the Franklin County Extension Office, 561 West Oneida, Preston, at 7 p.m. on Thursday nights. Ben Babb is the Scout Master.
Most area families have embraced the Church's new program for children and youth.
One LDS parent who wished to remain anonymous noted that some people in their ward are continuing on in Scouting, but that most members are done, as are they.
"We have enough evening activities. We told our boys we did (Scouting) because the church did it. We’ll stay in the new church program, but the kids still want their sports and other activities.”
LDS scout troops made up around 20% of the total population in the Scouts BSA. Both parties seem to be leaving on good terms with one another. The church said 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.”
Though this didn't stop M. Russell Ballard, an apostle in the Church, from commenting, "The reality there is we didn't really leave them; they kind of left us. The direction they were going was not consistent to what we feel our youth need to have… to survive in the world that lies ahead for them."