The Boy Scouts of America is no longer a place where Christian churches should want young men to participate, Rev. Franklin Graham said Friday.
“The Mormon Church made a good decision yesterday, announcing it was pulling older boys out of the Boy Scouts of America,” Graham wrote on his Facebook page.
“They had been the biggest sponsor of Boy Scouts in the United States. A scholar said the Boy Scouts’ new policies relating to gays probably related to the decision,” Graham wrote.
On Thursday, the Mormon Church officially announced it would divert up to 185,000 older teens from the Boy Scouts so they could enroll in its own similar program.
The statement announcing the move downplayed any LBGTQ issues.
“The BSA has always allowed the Church to operate its programs in ways that are consistent with our standards and beliefs, and they have been very supportive,” the statement said.
Programs for older teens have been “historically difficult to implement within the Church,” while Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts “currently meet the development program needs of boys from ages 8 through 13,” the statement said.
One analyst said changing Boy Scout policies did play a role in the decision.
“The church is wedded very much to traditional gender roles and they see the Boy Scouts of America increasingly move away from that,” said Matthew Bowman, a Mormon scholar and history professor at Henderson State University. “That means that they have come to see it as less of a hospitable place.”
Graham said that churches need to change because the Boy Scouts as an organization has also changed.
“Churches should always stand with teachings that align with the Word of God. Two years ago the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow gay leaders and then this year began to allow members based on their gender identity rather than their biological sex, opening the door to transgender members,” Graham wrote.
“I think the Mormon Church—and all churches—should pull out of the Boy Scouts organization completely. They need to get their younger boys out as well. I would not want my child or grandchild to be influenced by the lifestyle of a gay Scout Leader that goes against God’s design for creation,” he added.
In 2015, when the Boy Scouts decided to allow openly gay leaders, the Mormon Church issued a statement voicing displeasure with the action.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled” by the vote, its statement said, adding that “the century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined.”
“The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation. However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America,” the statement added.
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