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Thousands of LDS teenagers being pulled out of Boy Scouts

Posted at 6:11 PM, May 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-11 21:21:15-04

The course of more than 100 years of history is changing, as up to 185,000 Boy Scouts are suddenly being pulled from the program.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced its 14-18 year old boys will no longer be a part of the "Varsity" and "Venturing" programs after this year.

In southern Nevada, there are about 1,300 teenagers this change will impact, according to Mike Marchese, the director of the Boy Scouts of America's Las Vegas Area Council.

Instead, the boys will be doing activities outlined by the LDS church.

Marchese says he's actually excited about the prospect of losing about 13 percent of his membership.

"It's like pruning a tree and the tree will be healthier because it allows leaders to just focus on Cub scouting and Boy scouting," he said.

The timing of the church's withdrawal has some people looking toward a policy change the Scouts made in 2015, when the organization decided to allow gay troop leaders.

An LDS spokesperson told 13 Action News that didn't factor into the decision to part ways with the Scouts, and it had more to do with the fact that the program wasn't very successful.

Marchese says this doesn't mean the 104-year relationship between the two organizations is disintegrating.

The Scouts can still play an integral role in LDS childhoods.

"We're on solid ground now," Marchese said. "After 23 years of working with and for scouting, I can tell you there's a lot of evidence that scouting works within the LDS church."

The Boy Scouts estimates the change will affect 130,000 boys nationwide, less than the Church's estimate of 180,000.