Latter-day Saints, Methodists return to Scouting’s latest bankruptcy plan to fund survivors’ claims

Two faith groups that have long supported the Boy Scouts of America have pledged to take on key roles in the Scout organization’s latest bankruptcy reorganization, resulting from tens of thousands of sexual abuse allegations. within the ranks of this organization.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the United Methodist Church appear as “contributing charter organizations” listed in the grand plan to be launched in mid-February. ​will be reviewed by a US bankruptcy court on March 14. Between them, the two sects plan to contribute $280 million to a proposed settlement that could exceed $2.7 billion.

“The Church of Jesus Christ has reached an agreement on a Chapter 11 plan that has the support of the vast majority of survivors and their advisors, including the official committee representing survivors. abuse survivors and represent abuse survivors, the Boy Scouts of America, and some of the participating insurance companies,” said Eric Hawkins, spokesman for the faith based in Utah, said in a statement to the Religious News Service.

The the church discontinued its association with the BSA in 2019choose create its own global youth development and leadership programbefore proceeding with bankruptcy proceedings.

The $250 million the church has pledged to settle “will be fully used to compensate those who may have been abused while participating in Scouting units run by the Church of God of Latter-day Saints. Jesus sponsored,” Hawkins said. “Church agreement and payment of substantial sums covers all Scouts and Scouting units that are part of the BSA and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

The Unified Methodist Church announced in December that it and the BSA had reached an agreement attached to the settlement.

The official committee representing childhood sexual abuse victims in the BSA has announced its support for the revised plan, announced on February 10, saying it believes it will increase protections children and increased compensation for survivors. It suggests that survivors voted against the previous version of their plan to change their vote to accept the revised version.

Steven Scheid, director of the Unified Methodist Center for Scout Ministries, said Methodist leaders also support the new restructuring plan.

“In collaboration with BSA leadership, we are developing a new set of documents to guide the relationship,” he said in a statement to RNS. He said the United Methodist churches’ charter, or official relationship, with the military in effect until March 31 has been extended to June 30.

United Methodists announced in December that it would raise and contribute $30 million over a three-year period to help fund restitution for victims of abuse.

“If the plan is passed during the trial period beginning March 14, complaints against United Methodist organizations and institutions will be directed to the Survivors Trust,” said United Methodist Bishop John Schol told RNS in a statement.

Schol led the leadership team of The United Methodist Church, who supported charter organizations within the sect as bankruptcy proceedings continued.

In some cases, faith groups’ relationships with Scouts – including Methodists and Latter-day Saints – have existed for more than a century.

“Religious organizations have been an important part of the backbone of Boy Scouts of America,” said Los Angeles attorney Paul Mones, who co-advised on the large punitive damages award case. against the BSA when the jury awarded the 38-year-old Former Boy Scout $19.9 million in 2010.

The BSA said its reorganization plan “provides broad releases and protection for regulated organizations. Specifically, regulated entities that do not object to the plan will be exempt from all claims arising after 1976 and also for certain claims arising before 1976 where such claims are covered. from a settlement insurance company. “

But the Scout organization added that in the year after the plan goes into effect, “we expect the settlement trustee to work with the operated organizations to identify any claims that have not yet been made.” approves the plan and allows chartered organizations to decide if they want to contribute to the settlement trust to obtain disclosure of these claims. “

Other religious organizations “may have legal liability and they will have a year after the plan goes into effect to see if they want to make some form of settlement with the trust for protection. no,” said Mones. “I’m sure the Boy Scout bankruptcy was a complete shock to most of them and they caught their guard off guard.”

Several religious groups, including the United Church of Christ, were not involved in the plan.

Father Michael Schuenemeyer, a UCC executive whose office includes the UCC Scouting Working Group, told RNS: “The ecclesiastical polity of the UCC is such that hiring BSA units comes at discretion. of each local church. Although the national UCC has a memorandum of understanding with the BSA regarding the support of Scouting, “there is no centralized management or administration with our local churches regarding the hiring of units.” BSA.”

UCC general counsel Heather Kimmel told RNS that unions should seek the advice of their attorneys and insurers on how to respond to the BSA’s new plan.

“How the plan affects a local church will depend on the events and circumstances surrounding any Scouting abuse claims against local churches and elections. that the local church has done as planned,” she said in an email to RNS.

Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co., an insurance company for Christian ministries, said it has received dozens of inquiries from ministries about the BSA’s bankruptcy application and has posted answers to frequently asked questions. on its website.

The head of a special Roman Catholic commission, which includes several dioceses and archdioceses and was created to support the interests of the Catholic Church during the BSA bankruptcy process, declined to comment. Monday and referred the question to their attorney, who did not immediately respond.

The BSA did not directly respond to an inquiry into the status of such negotiations but told RNS in a statement late February that it was “focused on ensuring that the charter partners are fairly represented and they can continue to support Scouting.”

Schol said the Methodist committee hopes other groups will support the plan.

“If these organizations are sued, they will have to defend themselves in court,” he told RNS. “United Methodists have been and continue to advocate for the liberation of all charter institutions, and we encourage them to join in the healing of survivors.” Latter-day Saints, Methodists return to Scouting’s latest bankruptcy plan to fund survivors’ claims

Joel McCord

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