SALT LAKE CITY (Christian Examiner) – A majority of Mormons believe the Latter Day Saints should ditch the Boy Scouts of America and form their own, more conservative organization that offers similar programming, the Salt Lake Tribune is reporting.
According to a new survey at UtahPolicy.com, 54 percent of the survey respondents said Mormon church leaders should "definitely" or "probably" leave the BSA.
The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation. However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.
LDS leaders declined to comment on the poll, but when the BSA decided to open its leadership ranks to those openly practicing homosexuality in July, LDS leaders said in a strongly worded statement that the new policy did not reflect the church's values.
As a result, the statement said, the church would need to reconsider its "century-long association with Scouting."
"The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation. However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America," Mormon leaders said.
Not long after, Eric Hawkins, spokesman for the church, said the church was "considering creating its own international program for boys, separate from the Boy Scouts of America."
Should the LDS church order its congregations to break ties with the BSA, which in can do in its church hierarchy, the BSA may not be able to recover.
According to figures provided by the BSA, the Mormon Church hosts the largest number of religiously-chartered Boy Scout troops with nearly 38,000 units and 437,000 Scouts – or 18 percent of the BSA's national membership of 2.4 million (as of 2014).
In Utah alone, more than 320,000 Scouts and adult leaders are involved in scouting. Another 117,000 are involved in Mormon-sponsored troops across the U.S. Loses in membership fees alone ($24 annually) could total as much as $10.5 million. That figure does not include money earned through the sale of BSA publications, uniforms, badges and branded camping equipment.
The BSA has not responded to the poll either and likely will not. As far as the organization is concerned, it has expressed its willingness to allow religiously-chartered organizations such as the LDS to write their own rules with regard to adult leadership.