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Ellery's Protest: How One Young Man Defied Tradition and Sparked the Battle over School Prayer Paperback – January 16, 2009
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"Stephen Solomon's Ellery's Protest provides a brilliant analysis of a major Supreme Court decision that redefined the relationship between church and state almost a half century ago. This study goes well beyond simply offering a gripping account of the course of litigation that brought before the Justices the contentious issue of prayer and Bible reading in public schools, though the thoroughness of that account would merit careful reading by itself. Especially impressive is the author's deep probing of hitherto neglected sources, and invaluable primary material including extensive direct contact with the plaintiff, the `Ellery' of the book's title. Finally, and perhaps most impressive, is Solomon's careful placement of the issue and the case in a far broader context that is as critical to national life and policy today as it was four and a half decades ago when the high Court first tackled these questions." -- Robert O'Neil, Professor of Law, University of Virginia --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The Schempp name is not nearly as well known as that of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the fervent, loud-mouthed (and foul-mouthed) atheist whose similar suit was joined with that of the Schempps. They were not atheists, but Unitarians, who frequently discussed religious matters, especially the idea that government had no business supporting any particular religion or religious idea.Read more ›
The story Solomon tells is riveting, in large part because he takes the time to describe the colorful minor characters that populate this story - people like Madalyn Murray O'Hair, who sued the Baltimore schools and found herself and her son the target of vicious harassment and attack. (O'Hair's lawsuit reached the Supreme Court around the same time as the Schempp case and was considered along with it). Solomon vividly shows how such an historic decision hung on the leanings of one or two Supreme Court Justices, a timely reminder in an era when so many other civil liberties are at stake.
Despite the title of the book, Soloman, a First Amendment lawyer, spends the bulk of the book providing a detailed background of other church and state education cases leading up to and following the Schempp Decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Like Ellery, he has a larger point that he wants to make.
For many, the extensive treatment of the lines drawn between the King James Version of the Bible and the Roman Catholic Douay Version will seem artificial - and they are. They are simply two English versions. At this point in time the distinctions have lost much of their force and, in this, Soloman lives in the past. In his historical litany of the cruelty of Protestant educators toward Bible reading protesters, it would have been fairer to have pointed out that corporal punishment was widely used in schools for non-religious issues as well.
While Soloman is scathing of the Religious Right and conservatives, he missed an opportunity to take them to task for choosing their battles poorly (such as Goldsboro).Read more ›