The LDS church sponsors scouting programs for their boys, and I understand that many LDS young men attain the rank of Eagle, the highest rank in Boy Scouts.

Regardless of the possible implications of the imminent decision of the BSA related to gays in scouts, what is the LDS Church's affiliation with scouting? What religious significance does the Boy Scouts have with Mormon young men?

Update: The LDS Church recently issued this statement about their partnership with the Boy Scouts.

Another Update: One more statement by the LDS Church regarding the Boy Scout membership policy decision.

  • 2
    This is an excellent question I've had myself. Certainly I've noticed many of my son's scouting friends are Mormon and many of my LDS friends and family are active in scouting. – Jon Ericson Mar 18 '13 at 18:47
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    As another Eagle Scout, I can say that I've seen many churches associated with the Boy Scouts. At least when I was a scout, you had to believe in God to be a Scout (since indeed, part of the Scout Law is that a Scout is reverent). I suspect its more of Boy Scouts associating with a church, rather than a church associating with Scouting... – Affable Geek Mar 18 '13 at 20:08
  • The troop I was in was also sponsored by a church, and was always involved with those from other churches and occasionally public schools. The LDS perspective was particularly interesting to me since the LDS church is normally very independent, and is clear to not be "affiliated" with many other groups. – Matt Mar 18 '13 at 20:12
  • @AffableGeek - good point, I meant to add that. It is still true (belief in a 'higher power') – SSumner Mar 19 '13 at 1:13

The Boy Scouts of America's website states:

The Boy Scouts of America is one of the nation's largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations. The BSA provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness.

In addition, the BSA requires all members to espouse a belief in some "higher power", in other words, whoever you believe to be god.

The 13th Article of Faith of the LDS Church states:

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Clearly both organizations are seeking after character-filled and moral members. Specifically, the BSA's Scout Law states:

A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, Reverent

(bolded entries emphasizing those that appear in the Article of Faith in some form)

As an Eagle Scout myself, and having got to know many Mormon Boy Scouts, I can attest that many are there because they believe in the principles of both organizations. The strong overlap between the two sets of values is likely what makes Scouting so appealing to Mormon young men.

The Church's statement on Scouting:

Where Scouting is authorized by the Church, quorums may participate in Scouting activities during Mutual. Under priesthood leadership, Scouting can complement the efforts of Aaronic Priesthood quorums and Primary classes in building testimonies in young men and boys.”

For more resources, you could check out the LDS-BSA Relationships website. As for the LDS Church's affiliation with scouting, it is the largest chartering organization (sponsor for local troop), with 37,856 units containing 430,557 youth, almost 70,000 more than the next-largest organization.

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