As partners, Mormons and Scouts turn boys into men

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 17 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Troop 3053 visits the Cathedral of the Madeleine during the Boy Scouts of America's Duty to God hike in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 19, 2012. The hike is a walking tour through downtown Salt Lake City, giving scouts an opportunity to visit and learn about some of the religious organizations in their area.

Laura Seitz, Laura Seitz, Deseret News

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Our take: For almost 100 years, the LDS Church has entwined their Young Men's program with the national Boy Scouts of America program.

While both organizations and their relationship to each other have come under fire in recent years, LDS Church leaders don't see that relationship ending anytime soon. In fact, some see the program as in integral part of raising strong spiritual men.

In this piece from The New York Times, Erik Eckholm explores the symbiotic relationship and how current controversies may impact it.

CEDAR HILLS, Utah — In this hilltop suburb of Salt Lake City, where a vista of white spires signals a concentration of Mormons and their churches, it is a given that every boy will become a Cub Scout at 8 and then a Boy Scout at 11.

With mutual exaltation of God and country and a shared aim of nurturing "morally straight" men with leadership skills and a service ethic, the Mormons and the Boy Scouts seem made for each other, as entwined as a square knot. And in an unusual partnership dating to 1913, the Mormon Church has embraced scouting wholesale, giving it a central role in preparing male youths for their two-year missionary stints and adulthood as lay priests.

Virtually every Mormon church, or ward, has a scout troop. Every Mormon boy is automatically enrolled, and the vast majority participate. An exceptional share — three out of four at Troop 1194, here in Cedar Hills — attain the top rank, Eagle.

"Scouting fits in nicely with our spiritual goals," said David L. Beck, president of the churchs Young Men organization, in an interview at the Salt Lake City headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "We want our young men to be upstanding citizens and good husbands and fathers."

Read more about the relationship between the LDS Church and the Boy Scouts on The New York Times.

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