CBS News Logo Mormon church to cut some ties to the Boy Scouts of America

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Mormon church, the biggest sponsor of Boy Scout troops in the United States, announced Thursday it is pulling as many as 185,000 older youths from the organization as part of an effort to start its own scouting-like program. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said the move wasn't triggered by the Boy Scouts' decision in 2015 to allow gay troop leaders, since Mormon-sponsored troops have remained free to exclude such adults on religious grounds. Boy Scouts' leader speaks out on gay adults ban New York Boy Scouts hire first openly gay Eagle Scout But at least one leading Mormon scholar said that the Boy Scouts and the church have been diverging on values in recent years and that the policy on gays was probably a contributing factor in the split. CBS affiliate KUTV in Salt Lake City, Utah, reports the LDS Church said it doesn't believe young men between 14 and 18 years old are not being "served well" by the Varsity or Venturing programs.   The church said the decision will affect 185,000 teens; the Boy Scouts put the number at 130,000. The loss is only a fraction of the 2.3 million youths in the Boy Scouts of America, but the organization has been grappling with declining membership for years and has enjoyed an unusually close bond with the Mormon church for more than a century because of their shared values. Joining the Boy Scouts is practically automatic among Mormon boys. Boy Scouts of America spokeswoman Effie Delimarkos said the organization is saddened by the decision but understands the church's desire to customize a program. About 280,000 Mormon boys ages 8 to 13 will remain in the Scouts while the church develops its program, the Mormons said. The Boy Scouts estimated their number at 330,000. KUTV reports the church will continue through 2018 to make the same payment to the Boy Scouts of America for registration of its young men.  Transgender boy to receive $18K, apology from Boy Scouts Like Continue Reading

President Trump’s speech at the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree versus Obama’s in 2010

Merit America Great Again. President Trump's full-throttled, self-congratulatory speech punctuated by jingoism that he delivered at the National Scout Jamboree Monday brought about a rapid response from angry members online as well as the Boy Scouts of America itself, the group stating afterwards that it's "wholly non-partisan and does not promote any one position, product, service, political candidate or philosophy." As a whole, his performance has been noted for the way in which it harshly broke with tradition, with no President in the past eight decades ever using the opportunity to tell thousands of scouts and their families how his political opponent took Michigan for granted. To get a better understanding of just how bizarre the address was, here's a look at how his speech stacks up against President Obama's pre-recorded remarks in 2010. Length They say brevity is the soul of wit, but nothing is as important as telling teens about a story involving a guy named William Levitt who "went personally bankrupt, and he was now much older. And I saw him at a cocktail party, and it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party." For 38 minutes, Trump trotted out his greatest hits, bringing up everything from "the fake news" and the Electoral College to people not saying "Merry Christmas" anymore when they do their holiday shopping, not to mention a random anecdote seemingly having little to do with anything. In contrast, Obama's videotaped speech was 1 minute and 34 seconds. Message Acknowledging the Boy Scouts' 100th anniversary, the former Illinois senator weaved together the history of the organization and what he hopes for the future of the individual members. "For a century, scouts just like you have served your communities in ways big and small," said Obama, a former member. "During World War II, scouts played a vital role at home by Continue Reading

California mulls bill that would take away tax breaks from the Boy Scouts of America due to its gay ban

SAN FRANCISCO — California lawmakers are considering taking some tax exemptions away from youth groups that do not accept gay, transgender or atheist members — a move intended to pressure the Boy Scouts of America to lift its ban on gay Scouts and troop leaders. Some cities have withdrawn free rent and other subsidies from the Boy Scouts over the years, but legislation introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara would make California the first state to target the Scouts for its anti-gay policy. The Long Beach Democrat's bill, SB 323, is scheduled for its first committee hearing on Wednesday. "Our state values the important role that youth groups play in the empowerment of our next generation; this is demonstrated by rewarding organizations with tax exemptions supported financially by all Californians," Lara said. "SB 323 seeks to end the unfortunate discriminatory and outdated practices by certain youth groups." The Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed the Texas-based organization's ban on openly gay members last summer then announced in January that it was revisiting the decision. In February, the group said it would submit a resolution on rescinding the policy to the 1,400 members of Scouting's National Council in May. Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the organization was aware of Lara's bill and would provide feedback on it to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee before Wednesday's hearing. "Beyond that, and our previous statements on membership standards, we don't have anything to add at this time," Smith said. The legislation, also known as the Youth Equality Act, would deny tax-exempt status to nonprofit youth groups that discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or religious affiliation. As a result, it would require those organizations to pay corporate taxes on donations, membership dues, camp fees and Continue Reading

Boy Scouts of America ordered to pay $18.5M to man sexually abused by ex-assistant Scoutmaster

PORTLAND, Ore. - A jury on Friday ordered the Boy Scouts of America to pay $18.5 million to a man sexually abused by a former assistant Scoutmaster.The award is believed to be the largest of its kind against the national organization.Lawyers for Kerry Lewis had asked the jury to award at least $25million to punish the Boy Scouts for reckless conduct.The jury decided on April 13 that the Boy Scouts were negligent for allowing former Assistant Scoutmaster Timur Dykes to associate with Scouts, including Lewis, after Dykes admitted to a Scouts official in 1983 that he had molested 17 boys. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Victim awarded $1.4M after Boy Scouts of America found negligent in molestation case

PORTLAND, Ore. - Jurors on Tuesday found the Boy Scouts of America negligent and awarded $1.4 million to a former Portland man who was abused by an assistant Scoutmaster in the early 1980s, following a three-week trial in which secret Scout "perversion files" were used as evidence. The jury also decided the Irving, Texas-based Scouts organization was liable for punitive damages that will be decided in a separate phase of the trial. That would be in addition to the $1.4 million. The Scouts denied the allegations of negligence and said the files actually helped them keep child molesters out of their ranks. Lawyers for Kerry Lewis, the victim who filed the lawsuit, argued the Boy Scouts organization was reckless for allowing former assistant Scoutmaster Timur Dykes to continue to associate with the victim's Scout troop after Dykes admitted to a bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints early in 1983 that he had molested 17 Boy Scouts. The church was the charter organization for an estimated third to one half of the Boy Scout troops in the nation in the 1980s. Dykes was later convicted three times of various abuse charges involving boys and served time in prison. Shortly before trial, he admitted in a deposition to abusing Lewis. The Associated Press had not previously named Lewis. But he said Friday he did not object to being publicly identified. Kelly Clark, an attorney for Lewis, introduced the confidential files to argue that the Boy Scouts was negligent because the files were not used to protect boys from alleged sex abusers but instead were kept secret. Although the existence of "perversion files" kept by the Boy Scouts at its national headquarters has been known for awhile, the Portland case is believed to be only the second time any of the documents have been seen by a jury. The Boy Scouts has fought to keep those files confidential. But the Oregon Supreme Court in February approved the release of more than 1,000 files the Continue Reading

Boy Scouts of America president ponders lifting hiring ban for gay adults

The president of the Boy Scouts of America said Thursday the organization should consider lifting its ban on openly gay adult leaders — before the courts make them do it. “We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be,” Robert Gates said at the Scouts’ National Annual Meeting. “The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained.” RELATED: LEADERS ASK BOY SCOUTS TO END BAN ON GAY ADULTS Noting that the New York and Denver chapters have already defied the BSA’s ban, Gates warned “we can expect more councils to openly challenge the current policy.” “Moreover dozens of states — from New York to Utah — are passing laws that protect employment rights on the basis of sexual orientation,” he said. This, said Gates, “makes us vulnerable to the possibility the courts simply will order us at some point to change our membership policy.” “The one thing we cannot do is put our heads in the sand and pretend this challenge will go away,” he said. Gates, the former Secretary of Defense under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, stopped short of asking the BSA’s board to lift the ban. Gates’ words were received with stony silence in the main room where most of the BSA big shots were sitting, but there was cheering in the overflow room where the other participants watched the speech on video feed. “It was one of the few things that the room actually applauded,” Michael Schuenemeyer, a United Church of Christ liaison to BSA, said of Gates’ remarks about the gay leaders. “They were sitting on their hands until that moment.” Any move by the BSA to lift the ban is likely to face stiff opposition from the conservative religious groups that sponsor many Scout troops. Continue Reading

New York branch of Boy Scouts of America hires gay adult employee — defying national leadership

The New York chapter of the Boy Scouts of America has made history by hiring an openly gay adult — and telling bigotry to take a hike. They have hired a gutsy 18-year-old Eagle Scout named Pascal Tessier to work as a camp counselor this summer at the Ten Mile River Scout Camp in upstate New York. And nobody is prouder than his mom. “I am,” said Tracie Felker, who lives in Hagerstown, Md., when asked about her boundary-breaking boy. “It’s not a brave thing he is doing,” she added. “It’s something necessary, something that needs to be done.” Legal eagle David Boies, best known for leading the fight against California’s anti-gay marriage law, said Tessier “embodies the best qualities of an Eagle Scout, and of America.” “Permitting him to continue his service to scouts and to scouting is the right decision for the Boy Scouts, and for our community,” said Boies, who is also a former scout. “In the past, barring boys and adults from being scouts and scout leaders solely based on their sexual orientation hurt them, hurt scouting, and hurt our communities. Ending that discrimination is an important step in putting an ugly chapter of American history behind us.” Zach Wahls of Scouts for Equality called the hiring of Tessier a "watershed moment." "For the first time in the history of the Boy Scouts, an openly gay adult will join their ranks as a camp counselor," he said. “Pascal Tessier was the first out gay scout, and now it appears that he will also be the first out gay leader.” New Yorkers interviewed said Tessier deserves a special merit badge. “It’s like the civil rights movement all over again,” said Kimathi McKay, a 20-year-old St. John’s University student and a former scout from Framingham, Mass. “I’m really happy the New York chapter is standing up against the national Continue Reading

Scouting values: Leaders call on Boy Scouts of America to end ban on openly gay adults

Were all the merit badges for naught? For Brian Peffly, a life teaching eager Boy Scouts to tie knots, start fires and build their character ended with a phone call. The vague communique told him that the Boy Scouts of America didn’t want a gay man in their midst. “I didn’t learn that discrimination was a scouting value when I was growing up,” said Peffly, 35, who has been both scout and scout leader for the better part of 20 years. “Being told I can’t be a part of my family is very devastating,” Peffly said of Troop 192, the Westerville, Ohio, group with which he has been active for much of his life. Two years after the storied organization amended its standards to prevent the expulsion of any youth member on the basis of his sexual orientation, openly gay adult members and volunteers are still in a bind. The organization made an explicit distinction between youth and adults, and leaders from the Boy Scouts of America have said there were no plans to subject the membership standards to further review. That doesn’t stop Peffly and others from praying that the topic comes up for discussion this week when more than 1,000 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America National Council converge on Atlanta for their annual meeting. “We’re really hoping that’s the case — we’re thinking and hoping and crossing our fingers that’s what they’re doing with their silence,” said attorney Josh Schiller, whose openly gay client Pascal Tessier, 18, has been hired by the Boy Scouts’ Greater New York Councils to be a camp counselor this summer. The Boy Scouts provide only a broad outline of their agenda for the private council meeting, which begins on Wednesday, and none of the proceedings will be public, but recent scrutiny of the organization’s practices has renewed activists’ expectations that the topic will be broached. I didn't Continue Reading

Boy Scouts of America to meet in Times Square for the Pinewood Derby World Championship

This time, it’s personal. Two of the biggest names in small car racing are poised to face off once again at the Pinewood Derby World Championship on June 27 in Times Square. Brooklyn Cub Scout Lerrod (Roddy) Smalls II has lost two consecutive races to bitter rival Giancarlo Costa — but promises a different outcome this time. "I want to beat him!" says Roddy, 7. “I’ve gotten this far and I really don’t want to lose. I worked really hard.” In this model car version of the Thrilla in Manilla, 8-year-old Giancarlo is playing the Joe Frazier role, declining all interview requests as he, presumably, focuses on tweaking his design for the upcoming faceoff. His victories speak for themselves — but Roddy said he’ll avenge his losses at the “Showdown in Midtown” thanks to new aerodynamic features that will make his car fly. "We make the top straight so the wind can go over it," explains the member of Cub Scout Pack 1400 in Brownsville. And that’s the goal of Pinewood Derby, a time-honored American and Boy Scout tradition dating back to 1953. Each year, participating scouts receive kits containing four plastic wheels, four nails for axles, and a block of pinewood. With these materials, and not much else, they create model cars weighing five ounces or less that roll down an inclined track. "The event celebrates the process of working with your hands and seeing a project from start to finish," says Ethan Draddy, Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America's Greater New York Councils. "This is a project often done with son and father, giving kids hands-on experience working on a complex project. In 2015, that's more important than ever." The New York Councils of the Scouts has before hosted regional races, but the June 27 event is the first world championship in the Crossroads of the World. About 200 scouts from Continue Reading

Boy Scout swept away by flash flood and killed at Boy Scouts of America’s New Mexico ranch

A flash flood whipped up by a nightime storm early Saturday swept a Boy Scout to his death during a 12-day camping trip at a remote northeast New Mexico ranch. The surging waters rushed through one of the scout campsites around 4:30 a.m. Saturday as the storm struck, whisking away four young scouts through the North Ponil Canyon. Three of the boys, whose ages range from 14 to 17, survived when rescuers pulled them from the raging waters, but one teen never resurfaced during the initial search. The boy's body was eventually found a mile from the campsite, New Mexico State Police said.  He has not been identified by pending the family’s notification. “This is a very difficult time for our entire Scouting family,” a Philmont Scout Ranch spokesman said in a statement to its website. “Our staff was unable to account for one youth participant, who we have since confirmed passed away. The scouts were in the first 15 miles of their trek through the ranch that covers about 214-square miles of rugged terrain owned by the Boy Scouts of America.  It’s unknown which path the scouts had taken, but multiple trails do pass through the canyon, ranch controller Steve Nelson said. Nelson does not recall any flash floods in that area of the canyon during his eight-year tenure at the ranch. The ranch has had at least one fatality in recent history when an adult died of a medical condition while on the trail. With News Wire Services Join the Conversation: Continue Reading