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Is the LDS Church pulling out of Scouting?

Not entirely. The Utah-based faith will continue to sponsor Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops for boys ages 8 through 13 in the U.S. and Canada. But it is dropping Varsity and Venturing for ages 14 to 18, arguing that these older youths are "not being served well" by those two programs.

Will the church ever sever all ties to Scouting?

That remains to be seen, though this move and the statements accompanying it raise that as a distinct possibility. The nearly 16 million-member faith has made plain that it desires to have — and is "developing" — a program that will serve all of its young people around the world. For now, though, the church says the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts "currently meet the development program needs" of the younger boys.

Is the LDS pullback occurring because of evolving Scout policies on LGBTQ issues?

Mormon leaders say no, though they did express deep concerns when the Boy Scouts of America opened the door to openly gay Scout leaders. In the end, the church, BSA's largest sponsor, stuck with Scouting after winning assurances that it could continue to appoint Scout leaders who heed the faith's standards by not acting on any same-sex attractions.

What about news that the BSA may expand to include girls?

The LDS Church says that wasn't a factor either, insisting its decision came before such talk arose. But the church adds that it "continues to work toward developing a program for young men and young women globally."

Will this move affect Scouting's bottom line?

Yes, but not until 2019. The LDS Chuch has pledged to make the same registration payments (which are negotiated and are private) through next year.

What will happen to Utah's Scouting presence?

It will shrink. Since more than 95 percent of the state's Scouts are in Mormon units, Utah's three Scout councils can expect to see fewer older LDS boys in their ranks.

What about all those Scout camps?

They'll still be around, and they'll still be used. These properties are either owned by the Scout councils (not the BSA itself) or are leased properties from the Forest Service. They'll serve thousands of remaining Scouts. Other religious and youth groups will be able to use the sites when they are available.

What about older Mormon boys who still want to earn Eagles?

They can and, no doubt, many will — and with the complete financial and structural support of the LDS Church, which will continue to register those boys as Scouts.

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