February 29

There are 1 entries for this date: Ed Schempp

    Ed Schempp

    Ed Schempp

    On this date in 1908, Ed Schempp was born. (He was actually born on Feb. 29, a date this software wants to recognize as March 1.) He and his son Ellery launched the landmark lawsuit Abington School District v. Schempp to contest a Pennsylvania law mandating daily bible readings in public schools. The U.S. Supreme Court issued an 8-1 ruling in 1963 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 Tom Clark wrote for the majority. The only dissent was from Justice Potter Stewart, who wanted the case remanded to the lower courts.

    A native Philadelphian, Schempp took over his father’s hardware business as a young man and later worked in electronics. He was active in Unitarianism and peace groups. He was a longtime FFRF member and honorary officer and was featured in FFRF’s 1988 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?”

    —Schempp, acceptance speech as 1996 Humanist of the Year, awarded by the American Humanist Association
    Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; photo by Brent Nicastro

Freedom From Religion Foundation