(Photo: © 2012 Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released a statement expressing their support for the Boy Scouts of America after the youth organization voted to allow openly gay members.
Released not long after the resolution to change the membership policy was passed on Thursday, the LDS statement spoke of the longstanding history between the church and the BSA.
"For the past 100 years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has enjoyed a strong relationship with Boy Scouts of America, based on our mutual interest in helping boys and young men understand and live their duty to God and develop upright moral behavior," reads the statement.
"As the Church moves forward in its association with the Boy Scouts of America, Church leaders will continue to seek the most effective ways to address the diverse needs of young people in the United States and throughout the world."
One of the largest sponsors of Boy Scout chapters, the LDS Church spoke of never excluding boys on the basis of sexual preferences but nevertheless expecting members to adhere to certain moral standards.
"Sexual orientation has not previously been – and is not now – a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest," read the statement.
"These standards are outlined in the booklet For the Strength of Youth and include abstinence from sexual relationships. We remain firmly committed to upholding these standards and to protecting and strengthening boys and young men."
On Thursday, the estimated 1,400 delegates of the Boy Scouts of America National Annual Meeting voted on a resolution that would allow Scout chapters to accept gay members. While lifting the national policy against openly gay youth becoming scouts, the resolution still maintained the ban on openly gay leaders.
At the National Meeting in Grapevine, Texas, about 61 percent of the delegates voted in favor of the resolution while 39 voted against.
In the months leading up to the vote, both sides of the debate passionately appealed for the large and influential youth organization to listen to their side.
Socially conservative groups like the American Family Association and Family Research Council held events meant to encourage BSA delegates to maintain the national policy on sexual orientation. Many argued that if the membership policy were to change the BSA could see a large exodus of scout chapters from their organization.
Much concern still exists as to how other major religious denominations associated with the BSA will react to the vote. In addition to the LDS Church, the other denominations whose churches sponsor a large percentage of scout chapters include the United Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church. All three of the aforementioned church bodies consider homosexuality a sin.