Seventy years ago on March 8, 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down an 8-1 decision in favor of Vashti McCollum vs. the Board of Education of Champaign IL.
Mrs. McCollum — an atheist — objected to so-called “voluntary” classes in religious instruction in her young son James’s elementary school.
She objected on the grounds that they were not only inappropriate for public school but also that they were not voluntary at all (considering that the children who did not wish to participate were ostracized by their peers and even coerced by their teachers to attend).
Justice Hugo Black wrote the majority opinion and the American Unitarian Association was one of several religious groups supporting the decision.
We are honored to welcome Jim McCollum to our pulpit today to talk about this historic decision — still all too timely in many ways — from the eyes of the child at the center of it.
Jim is married to the Rev. Betty Grace McCollum who has spoken several times at All Souls. This will be his first time in our pulpit.
Religious education classes for children and youth are offered during the 11:00 AM service.
Children and youth attend the first 15-20 minutes of the service and then are dismissed to class.