The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plans to pull more than 400,000 young people from the Boy Scouts of America program as it creates a new youth program of its own.
Losing Mormon membership, which will happen on January 1, will equate to roughly an 18 percent drop in total Boy Scout youth membership. It will mark the first time since the World War II era that membership figures will fall below 2 million.
The church will also launch its own youth program focused on religion and spiritual development. The program will involve camping and other outdoor activities where it is feasible. Although there will not be uniforms or a chance to earn an Eagle Scout rank, members will be able to earn rings, medallions, and pendants with images of Mormon temples.
Wayne Perry, a church member who is a past president of Boy Scouts of America and currently a member of its national board, said he expects to see some church members return to the Boy Scouts, especially since young Mormons attend a two-hour church service each week.
"One of the advantages we always had with Scouting is that it wasn't ‘churchy,'" Perry said. "They were getting the Scout oath and the Scout law, which are incredibly compatible with the church's philosophies and views, but they weren't reading out of the Book of Mormon."
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