SALT LAKE CITY - The Mormon church is pulling older teenagers from the Boy Scouts as the religion takes a step toward developing its own global scouting-like program.

The Utah-based church is the largest sponsor of Boy Scouts in the U.S.

Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said Thursday 185,000 teenagers ages 14-18 will no longer participate in the Boy Scouts starting next year.

The Boy Scouts put the number of departing members at 130,000.

The Boy Scouts has 2.3 million participants. The group has been grappling with declining membership in recent years and enjoyed a close bond with the Mormons for more than a century.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement that it will keep some 280,000 younger boys in Boy Scouts while it continues to develop its scouting-type program that could be launched worldwide for church members.