Ed Schempp

On this date in 1908, Ed Schempp was born. He and his son Ellery launched the landmark lawsuit, Schempp v. Board of Education (1963), ridding public schools of devotional bible readings. The Supreme Court issued a 8-1 ruling barring mandatory bible reading in public schools, which followed its 1962 decision barring prayer. "In the relationship between man and religion, the state is firmly committed to the position of neutrality," Justice Clark wrote. A native Philadelphian, Ed took over his father's hardware business as a young man, and later worked in electronics. He was active in Unitarianism and peace groups. Ed was a longtime member and honorary officer of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and was featured in the Foundation film, "Champions of the First Amendment." He and his wife of 69 years, Sydney, had three children. D. 2003.

“Freedom of religion includes freedom from religion . . . Why don't we celebrate living, instead of worrying about damnation and sin?”

—Ed Schempp, acceptance speech as Humanist of the Year, awarded by The American Humanist Association, 1996

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; Photo by Brent Nicastro

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