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Secular Pioneer & Hero, Ellery Schempp, Speaks to East Bay Atheists

We just got lucky! Ellery Schempp, whose 1963 win in the Supreme Court outlawed prayer in public schools, will speak to East Atheists this month.

In 1956, Schempp, a student at Abington High School, brought a Qur'an to homeroom and read from it as a protest against the policy and the related practice of reciting the Lord's Prayer. He was sent to the principal's office and, with the assistance of his parents and the ACLU, sued the school. The case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was decided in his favor five years after Schempp's high school graduation. Ellery's case was combined with Madalyn Murray O'Hair's in the landmark Abington School District v. Schempp and Murray vs. Curlett decision.

This is how Ellery describes his talk:

"Separation of church and state is a more important idea than non-belief or atheism. Without a strong commitment to keeping religions out of government, there is little hope for Humanism and reality-based ideas to succeed. However, we have to understand values, and how these influence politics--and separation of C&S involves politics. I will discuss some of the history of separation of church and state as it is reflected in the Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and the Bible. For example, the "Divine Right of Kings" was nearly universally accepted as political philosophy prior to the Declaration. The Declaration was equally for independence in both government and religion. And key ideas of the Enlightenment were transformed by the "Second Great Awakening", a time of religious fervor, in the 19th Century.

"I will include a bit of personal history about Supreme Court cases relating to separation of church and state."

Do you really want to miss this!?

Afterwards we will go to dinner at King Dong Restaurant, 2429 Shattuck Ave. (near Haste) in Berkeley. Please join us..

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We will break for vacations in August. In September join us for our annual picnic in Tilden Park on Sunday, Sept. 16th. Details to follow.

When: Sunday, July 22, 1:30 - 3:30 PM

Location: Berkeley Main Library, 3rd Floor Meeting Room, 2090 Kittredge St., One Block From Downtown Berkeley BART

BART Access: From the downtown Berkeley BART Station, walk 1.5 blocks south on Shattuck Avenue, then turn right on Kittredge. The library is a half block down the street on the left.

Parking: The city parking lot at Allston & Harold Way, a short block from the library, is $5 for the entire day on Sunday. If you don’t mind walking, take University to MLK, turn right and then instead of proceeding left on Allston to the parking lot, turn right. In several blocks you will see parking on the side streets.

Information: Larry Hicok, Coordinator:[masked]
Ski Grabowski, Treasurer:[masked]

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  • Florence W.

    This was a world-class talk on the separation of church and state by a man who helped to make that separation stick! He's a world expert in this field and a good public speaker! His talk was well balanced with theory, history, details, humor, and personal experience to keep everyone's interest all through the talk as far as I know. It was a most rewarding experience. Most of all I learned how very important the separation of church and state really is -- and it is only law in America! I was shocked to realize this! It is only this law, that church and state shall remain in their separate domains, that give us atheists and non-believers any rights at all!

    July 23, 2012

  • Bruce

    Good speaker, interesting, educational, logical, humorous, good recollection of facts

    July 23, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Excellent. Very good speaker. It was great seeing a person whose courage is enshrined in our legal history.

    July 23, 2012

  • David D.

    Ellery Schempp proved to be one our very best speakers. He had knowledge, personal history, acquaintances, and a great sense of humor. He was organized and moved along at a great pace, plus he was clear and expansive in responding to questions and comments. He also clearly showed the connections between secular belief systems and politics in a delightful way.

    July 23, 2012

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