Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Happy Birthday, Ellery Schempp

I want to wish a happy 71st birthday to Ellery Schempp, one of my heroes in life. In 1956, at the age of 16, Schempp protested against mandatory Bible reading and forced reading of the Lord’s Prayer at his school. When it came to be his turn to get up in front of the class and read out of the Bible, he instead read a passage from the Quran. Can you even imagine having the courage to do that at 16 years old?

He then became the plaintiff in an ACLU legal challenge against mandatory Bible reading in public schools. In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in his favor in Abington School District v. Schempp and mandatory Bible reading was removed from public schools. Schempp is a longtime secular activist, serving on the advisory boards of the Secular Student Coalition and the Secular Coalition for America.

Happy birthday, Ellery. And may you have many more.