- Located in Boston, MA
- Primary student involved in the landmark 1963 Supreme Court Case of Abington School District v. Schempp which declared public school-sanction Bible reading unconstitutional
- SSA Advisory Board member
- Subject of new book Ellery's Protest, written by Steven Solomon, and published by Univ. of Michigan Press
- Winner of the 2010 Secular Student Alliance Freethought Backbone Award
On November 26, 1956, Ellery staged a protest against the school requirement that each student read 10 Bible passages and the Lord's Prayer each day during homeroom. Instead, Ellery brought a copy of the Qur'an and read from that. For this, he was sent to the Principal's office. With the help of his father, Edward Schempp, and the American Civil Liberties Union, they sued the Abington School district over their policy of mandatory Bible readings.
Over several years, Ellery, his father, and later his younger siblings Roger and Donna continued to fight this policy in the courts. The Schempps were Unitarian Universalists, a non-Christian religion. The case was eventually decided in Ellery's favor by the Supreme Court in 1963, five years after he had graduated from high school.
Ellery received the Religious Liberty Award from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. He is on the Advisory Board of the Secular Student Alliance.
Listen to this Humanist Network News podcast (an audio broadcast of the Institute for Humanist Studies) interview with Ellery.
He has also written a satire on Intellegent Design theories called Gravity - Just a Theory.
Titles of recent speaking engagements include:
- The Constitution and the Bible.
- Bible-reading and prayer in public schools.
- Separation of Church and State: a personal history.
- Freedom of Religion and Freedom from Religion: What is Freedom?
- Is a secular view a 'religion'?
- Humanism and separation of church and state: Historical and legal perspectives.
- Supreme Court decisions-- honors to McCollum, Torcaso, Engle, Murray, Lemon, many others.
- Morality and Separation of Church and State.
- Why do we believe what we believe?
- Separation and belonging: church and state, evolution, creationism.
- Patriotism and separation of church and state: Dedication to the First Amendment.
- Reflections on 50 years of separation of church and state, looking back and looking forward
If your group has a particular topic in mind, Schempp can send an abstract for your approval.
Ellery charges a $2,200 honorarium but is more than willing to negotiate down for groups who would like to host him.
If you're interested in having this speaker come to your school and give a presentation, click here to fill out our online Speaker Request form.