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Freethought Today · January/February 2017

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

McCollum bumps into Darwin

Jim McCollum, an illustrious figure in Establishment Clause history, toured FFRF's newly enlarged and renovated office building, Freethought Hall, in Madison, Wis., on Dec. 28. He's pictured with the life-like silicon model of Charles Darwin by artist Csam Wheatley that graces FFRF's Joel B. Landon and Wanda Y. Beers Freethought Library.

Jim was the little boy in the middle of the legal battle by his brave mother Vashti McCollum to end religious instruction in the public schools in Champaign, Ill.

As the son of nonreligious parents, Jim was ostracized for not attending sectarian religious instruction classes during the school day. Ultimately, he had to leave the town to escape further vilification, as Vashti describes in her amazing memoir, One Woman's Fight, available from Vashti lost at two court levels, then thrillingly won a historic 8-1 ruling, the first in Supreme Court history, declaring religious instruction in public schools unconstitutional in 1948. The McCollum ruling is the bedrock of Establishment Clause law pertaining to public schools.

Jim, an FFRF Lifetime Member, went on to become an attorney. While technically retired, he very fittingly currently teaches constitutional law at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Ark. Jim, 82, often introduces himself to his constitutional law students by showing the excellent documentary about his case by filmmaker Jay Rosenstein,"The Lord Is Not on Trial Here Today." FFRF is pleased to give tours of Freethought Hall to FFRF members visiting the area. Just give us a little notice when you know your plans and we will make some time! Contact Director of First Impressions Lisa Treu at 608/256-8900, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..