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Refusing to Follow the Pack, 9-Year-Old Atheists William and Michael Randall Are Asked to Take a Hike Out of Scouting

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For nearly three years the Randall twins of Anaheim Hills, Calif., appeared to be model Cub Scouts. Happily they worked on the food drive. Joyfully they whittled and tied knots, and finally they attained the proud rank of Wolf.

But appearances can be deceiving. On Jan. 31, at the weekly meeting of Den 4, William and Michael, age 9, announced to the stunned den mother that they did not believe in God. They had never recited the G word in the “Cub Scout Promise”—in the part that reads “… do my duty to God and my country….”

“We would just cut out the word God, wait a couple of seconds, then go on and say the rest,” admits William.

The Boy Scouts of America were not amused, and the twins were drummed out of Pack 519 in February. The boys’ father, James, a personal-injury lawyer who says that he and his wife, Valerie, raised the boys to question authority, brought a suit charging that their civil rights had been violated. “We have two kids here who love the Scouts,” he pleads, urging that Scout leaders be less doctrinaire about the Supreme Being. But that seems unlikely. Kent Gibbs, Scout Executive of the Orange County Council Boy Scouts, says, “The issue of God has been one of the tenets of participation since we were founded in the United States 81 years ago. If these boys want to participate, they have to abide by the rules.”

The twins seem to be working on a merit badge for feistiness. “I haven’t seen any proof that God exists,” says Michael. “Nobody has anything with a signature on it.” As far back as Baptist preschool, they were skeptics. “I’d just hold my hands like I was praying and keep my eyes open,” says William.

In Crescent Elementary School, the twins have not been ostracized. “None of the kids care,” says Michael. “Just the parents and teachers.” And none of what has happened has changed the boys’ attitude. “If people who believe in God are this mean,” says Michael, “we don’t want to believe in Him.”