Ellery Schempp

While we’re talking about new blogs, here’s one by Professor Stephen D. Solomon of New York University. Solomon went to Georgetown University for law school and has a new book coming out late next month:

Ellery

Ellery’s Protest: How One Young Man Defied Tradition and Sparked the Battle over School Prayer is about Ellery Schempp. If the name isn’t familiar to you, here’s a brief description of who Ellery is:

On November 26, 1956, Ellery Schempp protested mandatory Bible reading and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at Abington (Pa.) Senior High School by reading silently from the Koran. After he was thrown out of class, Ellery sued the school district. In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Abington School District v. Schempp that devotional exercises in the public schools violated the First Amendment guarantee against the establishment of religion

Ellery is one of the main reasons mandatory school prayer was abolished. He’s a hero for any young atheist out there. Not only for his courageous actions in 1956, but also because he is just a really nice, humble guy.

You can read a moving personal story Ellery wrote about his Supreme Court experience in a past issue of the Secular Student Alliance eNewsletter.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Stephen D. Solomon, New York University, Georgetown University, Ellery’s Protest: How One Young Man Defied Tradition and Sparked the Battle over School Prayer, Ellery Schempp, Abington Senior High School, Koran, Supreme Court, Abington School District v. Schempp, Secular Student Alliance, eNewsletter[/tags]

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    Ellery is one of the main reasons mandatory school prayer was abolished. He’s a hero for any young atheist out there.

    Not just a hero for atheists, but for anyone who thinks that the separation of church and state is a good idea, and who think that the marriage of the two was one of the greatest sell-outs of the gospel message in the history of Christianity.

  • http://www.humaniststudies.org/podcast HumanistPR

    You can also listen to Ellery Schempp tell his story on the Humanist Network News Audio Podcast #15.

  • http://bjornisageek.blogspot.com Bjorn Watland

    Separation of Church and State, I think, is one of the most important issues atheists can work towards. With this issue, you can even become allies with believers who want the same thing.

  • Darryl

    Separation of Church and State is vital to our form of government. I can’t wait until we get someone in the White House that understands that so we can boot out all of Pat Robertson’s little robots, like Monica Goodling, from our government.

    Here’s what some of our fellow-citizens in the state of Texas have to say about separation of church and state:

    Safeguarding Our Religious Liberties – We affirm that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity and strength as a nation. We pledge to exert our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and dispel the myth of the separation of church and state.

    This is from the 2006 Texas Republican Party Platform. Forgive me if I’m boring anyone here, but I can’t resist quoting a few more of these nuggets of faith-based political theory:

    2006 Texas REPUBLICAN PARTY PLATFORM

    P. 13

    Honoring the Symbols of Our American Heritage

    Ten Commandments – We understand that the Ten Commandments are the basis of our basic freedoms and the cornerstone of our Western legal tradition. We therefore oppose any governmental action to restrict, prohibit, or remove public display of the Decalogue or other religious symbols.

    Pledge of Allegiance – We support the adoption of the Pledge Protection Act. We decry any unconstitutional act of judicial tyranny that would demand removal of the words “One Nation under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. We also demand that the National Motto “In God We Trust” and National Anthem be protected from legislative and judicial attack.

    Strengthening Families and Promoting a Freer Society
    Celebrating Traditional Marriage

    Family and Defense of Marriage – We support the traditional definition of marriage as a God–ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman, which is the foundational unit of a healthy society, and we oppose the assault on marriage by judicial activists. . . .

    p. 14

    Marriage Licenses – We support legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple.

    Homosexuality – We believe that the practice of sodomy tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, recognition, or privileges including, but not limited to, marriage between persons of the same sex, custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.
    Texas Sodomy Statutes – We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.

    p. 16-17

    Child Support and Visitation – . . . We also believe that no homosexual or any individual convicted of child abuse or molestation should have the right to custody or adoption of a minor child, and that visitation with minor children by such persons should be prohibited but if ordered by the court limited to supervised periods.

    Adoption – . . . We oppose mandatory open adoption and adoption of children by homosexuals.

    Educating our Children

    p. 20

    Traditional Principles in Education – We support school subjects with emphasis on the Judeo-Christian principles upon which America was founded and which form the basis of America’s legal and its political and economic systems.

    Religious Freedom in Public Schools – We urge school administrators and officials to inform Texas school students specifically of their First Amendment rights to pray and engage in religious speech, individually or in groups, on school property without government interference. We support and strongly urge Congress to pass a Religious Freedom Amendment, which provides: “Neither the United States nor any State shall prohibit student–sponsored prayer in public schools, nor compose any official student prayer or compel joining therein.” We urge the Texas Legislature to pass legislation which ends censorship of the discussion of the role of religion in our founding documents, and encourage reading and discussing those documents in our public schools.

    Theories of Origin – We support the objective teaching and equal treatment of scientific strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories, including Intelligent Design. We believe theories of life origins and environmental theories should be taught as scientific theory not scientific law; that social studies and other curriculum should not be based on any one theory.

    Pledge of Allegiance in Public Schools – We believe that students should be taught flag etiquette and should be led on a daily basis in the Pledge of Allegiance, the Texas pledge, the national anthem and patriotic songs to ensure that the loyal and patriotic spirit of Texas’ and of America’s heritage is preserved.

    p. 21

    Christian Nation – America is a Christian nation, founded on Judeo-Christian principles. . . .

    Safeguarding Our Religious Liberties – We affirm that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity and strength as a nation. We pledge to exert our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and dispel the myth of the separation of church and state.

    Religious Institutions – The church is a God-ordained institution with authority separate from government. We call on Congress to sanction any foreign government that persecutes its citizens for their religion.

    Texas Capitol Chapel – The Republican Party of Texas urges the Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House as members of the five member Preservation Board, to make a motion and to vote to restore the Chapel in the Capitol as it existed before the restoration of the Capitol.

    Faith-Based Opportunities – We encourage the Legislature to increase the ability of faith-based institutions and other organizations to assist needy individuals and families and to reduce the regulation of such organizations.

    p. 23

    Faith-Based Charities – We oppose any restrictions by the IRS or any other government rules on taxpayer contributions to faith-based charities. We support new incentives to encourage more faith-based charitable contributions from all U.S. taxpayers, corporate and individual.

    We’ve got our work cut out for us.

  • Richard Wade

    Sooo, the Texicans want to forcibly shove their “Judeo-Christian” crap down our throats, but they want to “sanction any foreign government that persecutes its citizens for their religion.” Have I got that right? Is this like quantum politics or something, where you can know where something is but not how it’s moving, or you can know how it’s moving but not where it is? This lunacy is Lewis Carroll meets Franz Kafka.

    And what do they mean by the “original intent of the First Amendment?” They mention that twice but don’t define it. Wait, I can guess. Congress shall make no gall-durn law prohibitin’ Texicans from doin’ whutev’r they damn well please, y’hear?

  • MTran

    Mike C.,

    When I was a kid, the in-class Bible reading was struck down by the Supreme Court. My mother was quite upset. But our neighbor, who was Roman Catholic, was much relieved because, with her husband suddenly unemployed, she could not afford to continue to send her kids to parochial school.

    Suddenly, the public schools — with their Protestant based Bible readings — no longer so offended her Catholic faith that she felt confident about sending her children there.

    Richard Wade:

    Is this like quantum politics or something, where you can know where something is but not how it’s moving, or you can know how it’s moving but not where it is?

    This is great! May I steal it for occasional use?

    That Threatened Texocracy is mind-numbingly stupid. Across the board, no part of it makes any sense when compared to facts or reality. But this one is really puzzling to me:

    We decry any unconstitutional act of judicial tyranny

    WTF? The courts don’t have much to do with tyrannical acts, that’s what the Chief Executive and Legislatures have a tendency to do when the Judiciary is not an independent branch of government. The courts merely rule on whether federal law has been followed or violated.

    I don’t think any other branch of the government has been historically willing to protect the citizens from the excesses of the government the way the US Courts have. It’s nut-job pronouncements like the one above that make me very glad that the federal bench is not an elective position.

  • Richard Wade

    MTran,
    As I said to Mike, use my stuff as you like, just don’t make the villagers come after me with pitchforks and shovels. I love “Texocracy,” I’ll use that, fair trade.

    I think “unconstitutional acts of judicial tyranny” probably referrs to the many, many times their unconstitutional state laws have been struck down by the Supreme Court. I’d bet more come out of that region than all the rest of the nation put together. Any court decision that hampers their agenda they call tyranny.
    As for the federal courts being independent, remember they have been carefully stacked for years with good ole boys by two Texan presidents.

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  • Monty

    Hello,

    We would like to ask permission to use your photo of Dr. Solomon’s book for a documentary we are making. Thank you

    Monty


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