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United Way Scout Funding Gets Review Over Bias Suit

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The United Way of Orange County will consider this month whether the Boy Scouts violated the agency’s non-discrimination clause when twin brothers were kicked out of the organization for refusing to swear an oath to God.

However, the appointment of a committee to review a complaint by the boys’ father does not mean that United Way funding to the Boy Scouts’ Orange County Council is about to be discontinued, President Merritt L. Johnson said.

“I would certainly advise them (committee members) that that is exactly what the courts are dealing with,” Johnson said, referring to a lawsuit filed against the Boy Scouts of America by the father of the Anaheim Cub Scouts, lawyer James Grafton Randall.

Johnson said his own personal opinion is that the agency should review its policies but not make a final decision until the case has gone through the courts.

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The local Scout council receives $747,000 from United Way, with a similar amount requested for next year, Johnson said. He added that funding allocations for all United Way agencies will be decided in December.

“They are not in jeopardy,” he said of the Scouting organization. “We have an excellent relationship with the Scouts. We are going to be reviewing a complaint from a person who feels he has a valid complaint and we will look at all sides of it.”

In the case winding through the courts, the Randalls allege that the Boy Scouts denied the non-religious twins their constitutional rights and discriminated against them by throwing them out of the organization when they refused to take the Scout Oath.

Boy Scouts attorneys argued in court that the group is a private organization whose members should have the freedom to not associate with boys who reject the group’s moral principles.

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Because of the complexity of the issues, Johnson said, it will take a detailed review of the facts before the committee can determine whether the oath is a religious activity.

“It’s really new ground for us,” he said.


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