United Way to Fund Scouts Despite Religion-Bias Suit

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The United Way of Orange County's Board of Directors voted Friday to continue funding the area Boy Scouts, effectively dismissing a complaint that the Scouts violated a United Way anti-discrimination policy when they ejected twin brothers from Anaheim Hills who refused to swear an oath to God.

The near-unanimous ruling by the 50-member United Way board came after a special committee reported that no court has determined that the Scouts either required religious activities or discriminated, United Way spokesman Jeff Rocke said.

Without such a finding, he added, no violation of United Way policies has been proved.

A lawsuit challenging the twins' ouster from Cub Scouts is scheduled to go to trial in November.

In addition to filing that suit, the twins' father, lawyer James Grafton Randall, had asked the United Way to withdraw its local Scout funding, arguing that the action against his sons violated the United Way's anti-bias policy.

The United Way formed a committee to examine that complaint. Based on that panel's findings, no further action will be taken by the United Way unless the court finds that the Scouts discriminated, Rocke said.

The United Way annually contributes about $748,000 to the local Scout council. That accounts for about 16% of the council's budget and makes the United Way its largest single contributor, officials said.

Randall, who had hoped that his complaint would strip the local Scout organization of that money, said Friday that he is outraged by the United Way decision.

Randall's 10-year-olds, William and Michael, were kicked out of their Cub pack earlier this year after they refused to say God while reciting the organization's oath.

"There was no investigation, there was no discussion with me, there was nothing," Randall said. "This was a complete whitewash."

Randall added that he was disappointed that the United Way elected to wait for the courts to rule on the bias issue, rather than acting on its own.

"They have to wait for someone to tell them something is wrong, even when it violates their rules?" he asked. "This was a decision made by spineless, gutless individuals."

Boy Scout Council Executive Director Kent Gibbs said he is "very pleased" with the decision, although he added that he wishes the United Way had clearly exonerated the Scouts instead of hinging its judgment on court rulings.

He added that Randall may be "running out of people to sue" and that "Mr. Randall assumes an awful lot" when formulating his legal arguments.

The twins' case, which seeks reinstatement in the Scouts for the fourth-graders, is scheduled to begin Nov. 18 in Orange County Superior Court.

Randall also said Friday that he is considering legal action against the Orange Unified School District, where his sons' Cub pack met.

Because the Scouts have embraced religious tenets and claimed them as part of their purpose, Randall said, he hopes to convince a court that the school district is violating the state Constitution, which bars state agencies from aiding religious groups.

He also said he is considering a lawsuit against the United Way.

Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and the Explorers youth groups in the area all fall under the umbrella of the Boy Scouts Council of Orange County. They have about 80,000 youth members and 14,000 registered adults.

Gibbs said the county Scout council is one of the 10 largest in the nation.

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