LDS young men ages 14-18 in the U.S. and Canada will no longer participate in the Varsity and Venturing programs offered by the Boy Scouts of America.
In a major announcement Thursday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said the break from the National Boy Scouts programs will begin Jan. 1, 2018.
The Varsity and Venturing courses are not serving the needs of the LDS boys involved, the church said in a statement, and have been "difficult to implement" in Mormon congregations.
Instead, the church will engage these youths in activities that are focused on "spiritual, social, physical and intellectual goals outlined by the church," the statement said. They are "designed to be fun, meaningful and provide opportunities for personal growth and development."
“Though important, financial and property obligations are not the primary concern. Instead we are driven by our desire to serve the spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual needs of young men.”
The church will continue to make the same payment to the BSA for registration of its young men through 2018, so there should be a minimal financial impact to Scouting in the near future.
It was January's decision by the BSA to allow transgender youth to join that seemingly caused LDS leaders on local levels to be concerned about issues of safety of the boys. In both cases, the Boy Scouts assured its religious chartering organizations they will be able to organize their troops in a way fully consistent with their religious beliefs. That has not changed.
The LDS Church emphatically denies that Thursday's changes are a reflection of these recent BSA decisions.
The church also acknowledges the concern of disparity between funding and activities that exists between the Young Men and Young Women programs. The new program brings the spending into balance for youth 14-18.
There are apparently signs the LDS Church is proceeding to concentrate a more worldwide program that addresses best the issues of LDS youth in an evolving world.