ellery's protest

Below (scroll down), Kelly provides some thoughts on Stephen Prothero's Religious Literacy--a reminder of the importance, as well as the difficulties involved, in understanding religion in school/academic contexts. Prothero's work joins a host of others (notably including Noah Feldman's) which attempt to define new ways for public discussion or practice of religious faith.

This morning I awoke to another reminder: of the bad old days when religion was in the public square in intrusive and coercive ways. It wasn't that long ago. In 1956, as his school's public address system resounded with readings of the Bible, Ellery Schempp (a Unitarian) silently read the Koran. Six years later, he was in the Supreme Court. Check out this interview with Ellery Schempp, plaintiff in the case that became a landmark school prayer decision (Abington School District v. Schempp). Law professor Stephen Solomon's work Ellery's Protest: How One Young Man Defied Tradition and Sparked the Battle over School Prayer (read an excerpt here) gives a social history of the case and its importance in American life. The author provides a resource page here, which includes the oral argument, previous cases (notably including Engel v. Vitale), court records, and current controversies.

I really didn't know anything about the personal story behind this case, and found the interview and author's excerpt a good place to start; it might pique your interest too.


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