Vashti McCollum

I feel like a bad atheist that I have never heard of Vashti McCollum until this week.  We’ve been watching the PBS documentary series God in America (which is generally positive toward religion…but that’s a matter for another day), and I fully expected to hear about Madalyn Murray O’Hair during the segment covering the 20th century court cases involving separation of church and state.

Instead, the documentary focuses on the struggle of Vashti McCollum (1912-2006), a young mother who went to court on behalf of her son against religious instruction in the public schools.  The Supreme Court eventually ruled in McCollum’s favor in 1948.  She wrote a book about her experience–One Woman’s Fight–that has been reprinted by the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

For more about Mrs. McCollum you can read her New York Times obituary, or this remembrance by her son James.

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