Friday | September 22, 2017
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It’s in Mormons’ best interest to reconsider their breakaway from the Boy Scouts

For more than a century, the Mormon church has had a close association with the Boy Scouts of America. For many Mormons, putting on a uniform and joining a troop has become a rite of passage. The church, which covers the cost for congregations, is the biggest sponsor of troops in the nation.

The two organizations have nurtured millions of boys through closely aligned values of faith, leadership and service to one’s community.

That’s why we’re troubled the church decided to pull as many as 185,000 older teens from the Irving, Texas-based organization to start its own scouting-like program tailored to Mormons ages 14-18. (About 300,000 younger boys will remain in Scouts while the new program is being developed.)

Officials insist the move wasn’t triggered by the Boy Scouts’ wise decision to allow gay troop leaders or transgender males. But it comes just two years after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it was “deeply troubled” by the troop leader decision and considered pulling out then.

To most observers and a leading Mormon scholar, it’s clear the policy on gays contributed to the split. The church teaches that homosexuality is a sin.

We respect the Mormon church’s right to instill values in young people in the ways it deems best. But we worry this sends a bad message all the way around, especially to young Mormon boys. If they are gay, it says they are to be shunned. And if they’re not, it says it’s OK to shun those who are.

And it’s a shame the move weakens the Scouts. After years of declines, the organization recently showed signs of stabilizing as it charted a new course on some social issues.

No one is trying to change the Mormon church’s teachings. But surely the church wants boys to learn they can be a part of organizations doing good things in communities even if they have different views.

We urge the church to reconsider its decision. The fabric of our society requires engagement — the kind of rich and strong collaboration the Mormons and the Boy Scouts have enjoyed for decades.

— The Dallas Morning News


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