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Mormons keep affiliation with Boy Scouts despite gay leaders

Published:Thursday | August 27, 2015 | 8:00 AM
A group of Boy Scouts march during the Salt Lake City’s annual gay pride parade, in Salt Lake City.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP):

The Mormon church announced yesterday that it will maintain its longtime affiliation with Boy Scouts despite the decision to allow gay troop leaders, preventing what would have been a thundering blow to the organisation.

The decision from senior leaders of the Mormon church - the largest American sponsor of Boy Scout units - came as somewhat of a surprise. The church said it was deeply troubled and considering other options when the Boy Scouts announced on July 28 that it would lift its ban on gay adult leaders, while allowing church-sponsored Scout units to continue excluding gay adults.

Church leaders decided to stay with the Boy Scouts after getting assurances they can appoint troop leaders according to their own religious and moral values, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) said in a news release yesterday.

The Mormon church sponsors nearly 38,000 Scout units with 427,000 boys, accounting for about 18 per cent of all youth Scouts.

Officials with the Boy Scouts of America said it appreciates the decision, noting that the organisation is successful because of affiliations with groups like the Mormon church.

The renewed commitment from the LDS Church did include an important caveat: The church said it will continue evaluating and refining alternatives to Boy Scouts that would better suit the increasingly global membership of the religion. With more than half of the religion's 15 million members living outside the United States, there has long been speculation the Salt Lake City-based religion will create its own scouting-type program.

The bond between the Scouts and Mormons goes back to the early 1900s and involved mutual values and principles.