If most Utah Mormons got their way, the LDS Church would split with the Boy Scouts of America. A new UtahPolicy.com survey shows 63 percent of respondents who termed themselves “very active” in the LDS Church — both men and women — said Mormon leaders “definitely” or “probably” should bolt from the BSA and launch their own group for young male Latter-day Saints.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “declined to comment” about the poll, spokesman Eric Hawkins said on August 17.
But last month—after the Scouts voted to admit openly gay leaders into their ranks—Hawkins confirmed that the 15 million-member faith is “considering creating its own international program for boys, separate from the Boy Scouts of America.”
A Mormon exodus could devastate the Scouts, given that, as recently as 2013, more than a third (37 percent) of the troops were LDS-sponsored, accounting for 18 percent of the BSA’s 2.4 million total membership.
Although the LDS Church allows openly gay Mormons to serve in church assignments, including the Boy Scouts, these members are deemed to be living the faith’s standards. This means they are not acting on their same-sex attractions.
The BSA’s new policy, however, makes no such distinction. So a gay Scout leader could have a partner or a same-sex spouse—and that troubles the Mormon brass.
While the BSA insists that religiously affiliated troops, including those sponsored by the LDS Church, could continue to ban gay leaders, many observers doubt such an exemption could be legally defended.
The UtahPolicy.com poll, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates in the aftermath of the Scouts’ decision on gay adults, asked 500 adult Utahns on Aug. 7 to Aug. 14 about the tie between the LDS Church and Scouts. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.99 percentage points.
Utah Catholics called on Latter-day Saints to stick with Scouting, 47 percent to 42 percent, according to the survey, while Protestants favored the Mormons getting out, 49 percent to 28 percent.
Those who reported having no religious ties said the LDS Church should stay in Scouting, 46 percent to 32 percent.