For the past 100 years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has enjoyed a strong relationship with Boy Scouts of America, based on our mutual interest in helping boys and young men understand and live their duty to God and develop upright moral behavior. As the Church moves forward in its association with the Boy Scouts of America, Church leaders will continue to seek the most effective ways to address the diverse needs of young people in the United States and throughout the world.
The Church’s long-established policy for participation in activities is stated in the basic instructional handbook used by lay leaders of the Church: “young men … who agree to abide by Church standards” are “welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church , 8.17.3). This policy applies to Church-sponsored Scout units. Sexual orientation has not previously been—and is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest.
These standards are outlined in the booklet For the Strength of Youth and include abstinence from sexual relationships. We remain firmly committed to upholding these standards and to protecting and strengthening boys and young men.
The Church appreciates BSA’s reaffirmation of its commitment to “duty to God,” which includes service to others and moral behavior—central principles of our teaching to young men. As in the past, the Church will work with BSA to harmonize what Scouting has to offer with the varying needs of our young men. We trust that BSA will implement and administer the approved policy in an appropriate and effective manner.
A letter signed by the First Presidency of the Church is being sent to all Latter-day Saint congregation leaders throughout the United States. The letter will include the reaffirmation of Church policies and standards referenced in today's public statement.
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It is time to do OUR DUTY and GET TRAINED. Some closing statements from Presiding Bishop Gary E. Stevenson:
Duty—shall we drill down just a little deeper? Thomas S. Monson, the leader of my church and a longtime member of BSA’s National Executive Board, said, “I love and cherish the noble wordand all that it implies.”
Duty to God is the heart of Scouting. It is a founding principle as old and deep as the organization itself. What does it imply? The World Organization of the Scout Movement defines duty to God as “adherence to spiritual principles, loyalty to the religion that expresses them and acceptance of the duties resulting therefrom.” And a BSA duty to God task force said, “Spirituality, reverence, morality, [and] ethical behavior . . . are terms which reflect and demonstrate ways to fulfill duty to God.”
Some may not see the sacred gatekeeping role scouting plays. They may see only fundraising and not a foundation. Others may brand scouting activities as merely outdoor recreation, but it can and must be shown that BSA is not a camping club; it is a character university centered on duty to God. I quote again from Robert Baden-Powell: “The whole of [scouting] is based on religion, that is, on the realization and service of God.”
I stand here today with a resolute belief that Scouting must never overlook this core principle. We still need We always will. When the societal and political winds come, and they surely will, scouting cannot unhinge itself from this foundational principle. This great organization cannot be deterred when we remain strong in our solid foundation, when we stand united for