Episode 38: Ellery Schempp – Protesting Prayer in Public Schools

09 Dec

Gabe and Dan sit down with Ellery Schempp to talk about his experiences as a life-long secular activist. Ellery is best known as the litigant in the landmark supreme court case Abington School District v. Schempp, which brought an end to requisite prayer in public schools in the US. What a treat.

Listen to this episode

The outline of the conversation:

  • The requirement for students to read versus from the Bible in public schools in Pennsylvania
  • Ellery’s initial protest by using the wrong holy book during morning devotionals
  • Angst associated with suing your school over prayer during McCarthyism
  • Religiously motivated changes to the pledge of allegiance
  • Ellery’s principal actively trying to ruin his chances of being accepted to college
  • Ellery’s participation in the Secular Coalition of America and the Secular Student Alliance
  • The role that religious references play in the governing documents of the US
  • Positive changes in the education system over the past few decades
  • The work Ellery has done as a scientist and his involvement in science education
  • The role of religion in education, art, and literature
  • Secular/Humanist/Atheist organizations
  • Some goals and directions for the future of the secular movement
  • The fun adventuring Ellery has been able to be a part of

Links to some of the things we discussed:

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Posted by on December 9, 2013 in Guest, New Episode


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