Nearly two-thirds of “very active” Utah members of the LDS Church believe their church leaders should separate from the Boy Scouts and start a new male youth organization, a UtahPolicy survey shows.
In a just-completed survey, pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds that 63 percent of those who termed themselves “very active” in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — both men and women — say church leaders “definitely” or “probably” should drop the long-standing relationship with the Boy Scouts of America and start their own program for boys.
Jones finds that only 23 percent of “very active” Utah Mormons want their church to stay in the Boy Scout program, while 13 percent don’t know.
So, two-thirds say get out of the Boy Scouts, while one-fourth say stay in.
After the national Boy Scouts board voted several weeks ago to allow adult gay male scout leaders, a spokesman for the Mormon Church said its leaders – who traditionally take the month of August out of their Salt Lake City headquarters – would seriously consider the ramifications of the national organization’s decision, and later have a statement on where the LDS Church’s Boy Scouts programs would go.
The LDS Church is one of the largest Boy Scout troop organizers in the world, with hundreds of thousands of boys in thousands of ward troops.
The national Boy Scouts said it would be up to each troop – or group of troops – to decide for themselves whether to allow gay male troop leaders, and that religious organizations could place restrictions on who could serve as an adult scout leader.
Thus, the LDS Church would not have to allow gay troop leaders.
Under the current Mormon organization, worthy male Mormon men a “called” – or assigned – to be Boy Scout leaders.
And it is an unofficial responsibility of faithful Mormon boys to be active in Boy Scouts and seek the highest rank – Eagle Scout – to be reached before the boy is 18 and becomes a legal adult and can then go on a two-year mission for their church.
Gay Mormon men can be faithful members of the church and hold lay church assignments, as long as they don’t act on their homosexuality – in essence, stay chaste and practice sexual abstinence.
Jones polled 500 adult Utahns between Aug. 7-14; with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.99 percent.
Among all Utahns, Jones found that 32 percent favor the LDS Church staying in the Boy Scout program, 54 percent said church leaders should leave the Boy Scouts and form a new, separate organization for young men in their faith.
Among those who told Jones they are “somewhat active” in the LDS Church, 44 percent said stay in the scouts, 47 percent said get out and 9 percent didn’t know.
Those who said they were once active Mormons, but no longer practice the faith, 46 percent said stay in, 47 percent said get out of scouting, and 7 percent didn’t know.
Catholics said Mormons should stay in scouting, 47-42 percent; Protestants said get out, 28-49 percent; with those who said they have no religion said Mormons should remain in scouting, 46-32 percent.
The “very active” Mormons would be those who attend their church regularly, practice the faith’s doctrine and pay 10 percent of their gross incomes to the church – all of which allow those Mormons to attend their temples (closed to non-active Mormons) and participate in temple ceremonies.
Of course, LDS Church leaders don’t govern the faith by public opinion polls.
But they also likely attempt to take the pulse of faithful members on non-doctrinal matters such as membership in the Boy Scouts – which the Church has been closely tied to since the early 1900s.
Many of the church leaders, including President Thomas S. Monson, have been active in scouting. Monson holds the Scouts' highest honor – being named a Silver Beaver.
Here are some recent in-depth news stories about the LDS Church and the Boy Scouts, here, here and here.