LDS Church announces end to relationship with Boy Scouts of America

SALT LAKE CITY - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it would be ending its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America.

The LDS Church plans to end its relationship with the BSA on Dec. 31, 2019.

"We jointly express our gratitude to the thousands of Scout leaders and volunteers who have selflessly served over the years in Church-sponsored Scouting units, including local BSA districts and councils," a joint statement from the two organizations, released late Tuesday, said.

In its place, the Mormon church said it planned to create its own gospel-based youth program.

"For years, Church leaders have been preparing a new initiative to teach and provide leadership and development opportunities to all children and youth, to support families and to strengthen youth everywhere as they develop faith in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This new approach is intended to help all girls and boys, young women and young men discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills and fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God," the church said in its own statement.

The LDS Church's departure from Scouting is significant. Approximately 470,000 boys in the Mormon faith participate in scouting from 8-18 in the United States and Canada.

The Orem-based Utah National Parks Council, which is the nation's largest scouting organization, has told FOX 13 that 93 percent of its troops are tied to the church.

The church has been phasing out its involvement in scouting over time. Last year, it planned to end the Varsity and Venturing programs.

At times, the BSA's changes in response to societal issues have conflicted with the LDS Church's stated values. The church had an exemption to allowing gay members and leaders in.

The scouting organization also recently decided to allow girls in.

The full statement released by the Church and BSA can be read below: