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History  of  The Fellowship of Humanity  a  Deep Green Humanist Church

The Fellowship of Humanity, a Humanist Church,
has a rich and important history beginning in 1935

Brief Time Line



Founded by some of the earliest Humanists in America in 1934, the Fellowship of Humanity became incorporated in 1935 as a Humanist Church.  It was not only Humanist, but Socialist, conceived in the 1930’s enthusiasm for socialism as the answer to poverty and economic depression. The Fellowship was a spearhead for the EPIC movement (End Poverty in California), which served as Upton Sinclair’s campaign for the Governorship of California.  But the dream of the early Fellowship humanists was to establish not just one church of humanity, in one location, but a string of churches, to be called “The Church of Humanity” (as opposed to the Church of Christ or the Church of England).  The early Fellowship humanists believed they were founding a group of progressive churches, unique in their humanism and socialism, carrying forward the EPIC ideals.  Ever since that time, the Fellowship has a distinct socialist orientation.




As time went on, the Fellowship of Humanity honored communism as a legitimate political orientation, along with its inherent socialism, and its building, Humanist Hall, became a Communist Meeting Hall.  Then its church pews were removed and barbeque pits were built in the back yard on each side of a gigantic fireplace.  The Fellowship became a communist community center and dance hall where communists had a great old time!  It was a stronghold for communists well into the 1960s.  When communists were black listed in Hollywood and shunned in mainstream society throughout America, they were welcome at Humanist Hall well known as the only Hall in the San Francisco Bay Area where a communist was allowed through the door to be a featured speaker.  Humanist Hall has been communist-friendly for the entirety of its history, now over seventy years old, from 1935-2007.







In the mid 1950s, the Fellowship of Humanity was taken to task for its church status. The County of Alameda challenged the Fellowship for claiming to be a church with a religion. The Fellowship considered itself to be a Humanist Church, and Secular Humanism its religion, practiced in Humanist Hall every Sunday.  The legal case of the Fellowship of Humanity versus the County of Alameda is dated 1957 and arguments from it appear below.  Essentially, the County of Alameda sued the Fellowship of Humanity for not paying taxes.  The Fellowship had not paid taxes because it believed it had religious exemption from taxation.  So the Fellowship had to prove that it was a Church with a religion against gainsayers who denounced humanism as irreligious.  This case went all the way to the California Court of Appeals, where the Fellowship prevailed!   The Fellowship was determined to be a church and its religion:  Secular Humanism!






Then in the 1970s, the Fellowship of Humanity gained a lot of membership from the labor community.   The President of the Fellowship in the early 1970s was a Supervisor of Custodians for Hayward State University.  He was Jake Price, father of two sons, one the former Vice Principal of Oakland’s Technical High School, Marty Price, and the other, Styles Price, high school teacher and social activist.  Jake Price died in 1973 and a Memorial Service was held at the Fellowship for hundreds of people.  Ever since that time, the Fellowship has been a defender and advocator for labor.  Tolbert Small became Jake’s son-in-law and a founder of the George Jackson Free Health Clinic.  Tolbert once worked with the Black Panthers and today he is a renowned Oakland medical doctor, in fact, a rare hero of medicine who runs an independent medical practice.








In the 1980s, the Fellowship of Humanity became communist once again, in fact, Soviet Communist, under the direction of President Oiva Nurmela, a Finnish communist.  He was also a singer and sang during Sunday meetings.  At that time, the Fellowship enjoyed a flowering of hospitality toward all left and progressive organizations and persons all around the San Francisco Bay Area.  Humanist Hall was open week nights as a meeting space for numerous left organizations; and on weekends the Finnish, Soviet communists and friends held forth in their  Sunday meetings and celebrations.


Then in the 1990s, the Fellowship of Humanity embraced its Humanist tradition once again and became a meeting hall specifically for Humanists.  Under the direction of Presidents LeRue Grim and Walter Springer, the Fellowship became a humanist community center.  At Sunday and weekday evening meetings a small study group met regularly wherein the wide worlds of politics, history, and philosophy, including Humanist philosophies, were studied and discussed.  In the 1990s, The Fellowship took on the name of “Humanist University.”











In the new millennium we live in now, the Fellowship of Humanity began to re-emphasize the church aspect of its origins, deriving inspiration from its founding as a Humanist Church.  Its leaders at the beginning of the new century, David Oertel and Florence Windfall, re-envisioned the Fellowship as an alternative church for non-theists.  They sought to expand the philosophy/religion of Secular Humanism to incorporate a spirituality and ethics appropriate not only to Humanists but also to all those seeking to save life on Earth.  They made every effort to build a community of Humanists that would fill the human needs that traditional religions fill, without buying into the traditional religions.  This Humanist Church, conscious of the organic ideals of the new century, in tune with the ecology of the Earth, and communitarian at heart, helped round out the Humanist lives it touched at the same time that it practiced its own more natural style of human living:  a feminine paradigm based on simplicity, generosity, sustainability, cooperative economics, and communitarianism instead of the deceit, meanness, carelessness, competition, and beliefs in domination everywhere predominant in American society today.  The future belongs to people whose community and ecological spirit incorporates sustainable, wholesome, and exciting ideas and actions. 








* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


of the Fellowship of Humanity

of the New millennium


Newsletters of the Fellowship of Humanity

have been produced on computer since 2001

when a major effort to modernize the Fellowship was underway.

It remains another task to archive them online on our website here.


Newsletters from  June 2003 -- September 2006

are now available on PDF at this link:


Older Newsletters,

dating from  September 2001 through May 2003,

will become available on PDF at this link when possible.


Newer back issues of Newsletters,

dating from  October 2006  to the present,

will become available on PDF at this link when possible.








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A Short History

With Contributions By Members




Edited by


  J. Arthur Ragsdale

        History is the story of man, told by man himself.  Man makes his own history.  But he does not make it from the "whole cloth," to quote the phrase of a famous writer.  He makes it from the materials at hand.  Is history an exact science?  The answer must be no, because of so many subjective factors which enter into its making.  But it is possible to study history by use of the scientific method, by which means a certain law or tendency may be observed, which explains, on a long-time scale, the development of the course of history.

        Corliss Lamont in his recent book entitled Freedom of Choice Affirmed, asserts that man is free to make a choice in any given situation.  However, Lamont qualifies this statement by saying that the choice is free within certain limits.  What are these limits?  These limits are made up of the entire social and natural environment in which any given individual had his origins, plus his inherited physical and mental capabilities.  His choices are made and his will is exercised and directed because of and by means of these background factors.  Since each individual has had a different life experience, his will is formed accordingly.  However, it may be observed that large numbers of individuals who find themselves in the same social environment are constrained thereby to form judgments and make choices according to their needs, and thus at certain periods of history the collective will of a certain social class may be opposed to that of another class.

        To sum up, history is the resultant of the clash of innumerable wills, both of individuals and of social classes.  The Fellowship of Humanity is an example of how history is determined by this process. The following pages will illustrate how this came about.



  J. Arthur Ragsdale

        If one should take a stroll along the south side of 28th Street, between Telegraph Avenue and Webster Street, in the City of Oakland, one will notice a large garden, with trees of several varieties, most prominent of which are a number of live oaks, natives of the soil of Oakland, California.  Toward the rear of this garden is seen a small building, over the entrance of which are inscribed the words, “
Fellowship Center.”  This has been the home of an organization, unique in the annals of American Humanism, since August 4, 1941.  Its name is The Fellowship of Humanity.

         The origins of The Fellowship of Humanity can hardly be explained without some description of the social environment which gave birth to it.  It was the year 1934.  Franklin Roosevelt had been elected President two years previously.  Many millions of people were out of work; some of them since 1929, the year of the stock market crash which was followed by the Great Depression.  Thousands of people roamed around the country, going from state to state, looking for work.  But there were no jobs to be had.  Banks failed and industry came to a standstill.  A large savings and loan company in San Francisco was forced into bankruptcy because some of its biggest borrowers, large hotels and restaurants, up and down the state, could make no payments on their loans.  The loan company foreclosed the mortgages and tried to operate these “frozen assets” directly, but this also proved to be a failure as there was insufficient public patronage to sustain the offered services.

        The Roosevelt administration was struggling to bring order out of chaos and to get the wheels of industry turning again. Many bills were rushed through a panic-stricken Congress.  Some of these measures proved to be useless for the purpose intended.  Months and years passed by and many people were still without work.  The government began handing out doles, some of them in the form of make-work jobs, but it also established the Works Project Administration and the Public Works Administration, which gave employment to many people.  However, there was still much unemployment and people began to gather into groups and to discuss what might be done to relieve the situation.  Some of these groups formulated plans and leaders sprang forth who sought to publicize the plans and to build organizations to put them into execution, in the hope of solving the problem of unemployment. 

        One such plan was that which was advocated by Upton Sinclair, a long-time Socialist and a prolific writer of many novels, most of them bearing on the problems of poverty and unemployment.  Sinclair entitled his program “End Poverty in California.”  His plan consisted in having the State Legislature pass a law which would legalize the seizure of factories which had been closed by the depression, by the State, and to have them operated by the State and thus put some of the unemployed people to work.  Sinclair announced that he was going to run for Governor on this program and managed to form a large statewide organization which became known as “EPIC,“ an acronym formed from the initials of the title of the plan.  Sinclair ran in the Democratic primary election and won the nomination for Governor as the candidate of the Democratic Party.  However, he was defeated by a reactionary Republican candidate who was backed by all the wealthy interests who feared that their property was about to be taken away from them.  Thus the “EPIC” plan was never given a trial.  Whether it would have worked or not is another question.

        Some of the people who were Sinclair supporters were members of a Unitarian Church in Oakland.  During the “EPIC” campaign there was great excitement, which did not abate after Sinclair’s defeat.  The hopes of the unemployed had been raised high by his plan and his followers felt that something had to be done.  Among the Sinclair supporters in the Unitarian Church was a minister, Reverend Absolom David Faupell, who taught Sunday School there.  Faupell had a magnetic personality, a charisma, and built up a following.  He was a man with a dream.  He envisioned a string of churches throughout California which would be called “The Church of Humanity.”  Thus even though Sinclair had been defeated, his message would be carried on.

        So on January 12, 1935, a group of individuals, dedicated to the cause of humanity, gathered together in the City of Oakland and signed a document entitled “Articles of Incorporation of the Church of Humanity.”  This document was filed in the office of the Secretary of State in Sacramento, on January 28, 1935.  The Church of Humanity thus became a non-profit corporation according to the provisions of the General Non-Profit Corporation Law of the State of California.

        There were seven articles set forth in these Articles of Incorporation.  The first article provided that the name should be The Church of Humanity.  The second article set forth the purpose in three sub-paragraphs.  The first of these detailed the purpose, as now incorporated in the Constitution and By-Laws, as Section 4, Paragraph 1.  The second sub-paragraph of Article II stated that it was the purpose to organize other Churches of Humanity throughout California.  The third sub-paragraph stated the intention to lease, buy or sell property, etc.  Article III stated that the existence of this corporation is to be perpetual.  Article IV provided that the principal office is to be in Alameda County.  Article V stated that the Directors are: A. D. Faupell, Frank W. Hooper, Anna Belle Van Tassel, J. I. Mclntosh, and Constance Roberts.  Articles VI and VII provided that the By-laws may be adopted by the Board of Directors and by the members.  The Board of Directors named in the Articles of Incorporation represented a membership of about 200.

        On February 7, 1938 , a Resolution was adopted by the Board of Directors changing the name to The Fellowship of Humanity.  This change was approved by a large majority of the membership.  The Resolution was filed in the office of the Secretary of State on February 8, 1938.  It was signed by A. D. Faupell, President; Anna Belle Van Tassel, Secretary; and Directors Frank W. Hooper, Robert Robertson, and A. Berlucci.

        During the first six years of its existence the Fellowship met in different halls, among them Jenny Lind Hall and Sons of Norway Hall on Piedmont Avenue.  Then on August 4, 1941, the building and lot at the present location, 411 - 28th Street, was purchased from the Central Lutheran Church. This was made possible through the generosity of J. George Kullmer, whose name is preserved on a bronze tablet fastened to the wall just inside the 28th Street entrance.  The members were very enthusiastic over the acquisition of their beautiful new home and garden, and set to work with a will to put everything in order.  The sign near the 28th Street entrance to the garden was made by Jessie Bradley and her son, Theodore.  It reads as follows: FELLOWSHIP OF HUMANITY HUMANISTS Affirm that Man, by His Own Power, Through Scientific Knowledge, Enlightened Social Purposes, and Democratic Cooperation, Must and Can Build a Better Human World.  The inscription on the bronze tablet inside the building reads: FELLOWSHIP FOUNDATION  This Building and Grounds are The Gift of J. GEORGE KULLMER, Born in Hess Nassau, Germany, Dec. 21, 1859, Died Apr. 23, 1940 “He Being Dead, Yet Speaketh” Heb. 11:4.  The dedication ceremonies for the new hall were held on October 26, 1941.  One of the speakers was Rabbi Stearn of the Reform Synagogue.

        The first President and the first Leader of the Fellowship was Reverend Absolom David Faupell.  He suffered several strokes in 1944 and was forced to retire.  E. O. Corson was chosen as President to succeed Mr. Faupell, and remained in office until the annual election August 29, 1948.  During Mr. Corson’s administration Philip Mayer, a former college teacher, was chosen as the second Leader.  He first addressed the Fellowship on August 3, 1947.  He retired from the office on October 30, 1948.  The third President was A. R. Mueller, elected August 29, 1948.  On May 29, 1949 he was re-elected after a faction in the Fellowship tried to unseat him by means of a court hearing.  The fourth President was Walter F. Kennon, elected at the annual meeting held on September 17, 1950.

        Mr. Kennon was reelected at every annual meeting including September 1965.  He retired from the office by resignation on May 1, 1966.  During his administration three Leaders served the Fellowship.  The third Leader of the Fellowship was Dr. Lowell H. Coate, who was in that position during a part of 1954.  Before coming to the Fellowship Dr. Coate had served with the Los Angeles School Department as a Supervisor for 25 years.  He was a graduate of Olivet College in Illinois and took his Ph.D. degree in Education at Pasadena College in California.  W. David Brown assumed the duties of Leadership in 1956 and continued on into 1957.  He was the fourth Leader of the Fellowship.  Dave Brown was popular with the members, but upon graduating from the Starr King School in Berkeley, he resigned from his position with the Fellowship to accept an appointment as minister of the Unitarian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where, after about two years of hard work in his new position, he died suddenly of a heart attack at a relatively early age.  We were all sorry to hear of Dave’s death as he was a likeable young man.

        Dr. Hugh Robert Orr became the fifth Leader of the Fellowship in 1958.  He was the most loved and respected of all our Leaders and continued in the position for nine years.  He was stricken suddenly with a heart attack while at the rostrum in a Sunday morning service in March, 1967, and died a few days later.  His passing was a great loss for the Fellowship.  Dr. Orr came to us with a background as a Professor of English Literature at the University of Chicago and later at San Francisco State College.  He had been a Unitarian minister and was one of the early Humanist leaders and teachers in the United States.  He was founder and editor of the Progressive World magazine, the official publication of the United Secularists of America.  Dr. Orr’s picture has been placed in the Fellowship Hall next to that of A. D. Faupell.

        A crisis in Fellowship affairs arose in 1952 when the County of Alameda denied the Fellowship’s claim for exemption from real estate taxes.  This claim must be filed annually by all churches in compliance with Article XIII, Section 1-1/2, of the Constitution of the State of California, which provides, in part:

“All buildings, and so much of the real property on which they are situated as may be required for the convenient use and occupancy of said buildings, when the same are used solely and exclusively for religious worship.... shall be free from taxation.”

After unsuccessfully pursuing its administrative remedies, the Fellowship paid the taxes and penalties under protest, filed its claim, and commenced an action to recover the amount so paid.  The trial court determined that the Fellowship did use its property “solely and exclusively for religious worship” and was entitled to the claimed exemption.  It ordered the taxes refunded.  In rendering its decision the court stated that many of the world’s religions, counting their adherents in the millions, such as Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, did not include belief in a supreme being in their teachings.  The County of Alameda appealed this decision to the Court of Appeals and to the State Supreme Court and the ruling of the Superior Court was sustained in each appeal.  These history-making decisions established the right of The Fellowship of Humanity to exist as a church, free of taxation.

        The purpose of the Fellowship to establish a Humanist Church was originally set forth in its Articles of Incorporation, filed with the Secretary of State in Sacramento in January, 1935.  These court trials and hearings, together with the time taken by the appeals to the Court of Appeals and to the Supreme Court, lasted over two years.  They placed a heavy financial burden on the Fellowship and occupied an enormous amount of the time of the President and the Board of Directors.  In addition to President Kennon, full credit must be given to Secretary-Treasurer Frona Ernst for her tireless efforts in raising the necessary funds for legal expenses.  Gratitude is due to attorney Doris Brin Walker for her able handling of the case, from the Superior Court through the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

        Several years after these trials Secretary-Treasurer Frona Ernst retired for reasons of ill health.  She was succeeded in the position by Maxine Staats, who, in addition to her duties as Secretary-Treasurer, undertook the position of pianist, replacing Lillian Wright, who had played beautifully for the Fellowship for many years, but who was forced into retirement because of the encroachments of arthritis.  When the Fellowship acquired an organ early in 1966, Mary Middleton, who by this time had succeeded to the office of Secretary-Treasurer, also became the Fellowship Organist.  She resigned the position of Secretary-Treasurer on June 1, 1966, but continued as Organist until October 25, 1970.

        Early in April 1966, Barbara Kennon, wife of President Kennon, died from an attack of Asiatic influenza while the Kennons were on a vacation trip in Guadalajara, Mexico.  Shortly after this, President Kennon, on his return from Mexico, became embroiled with the members in a dispute over the desirability of disposing of the property at 411 - 28th Street and moving the Fellowship to another location.  This led to his resignation as President on May 1, 1966.  As J. Arthur Ragsdale was Vice-President at the time, he succeeded to the office of President, following Walter Kennon’s resignation. Mr. Ragsdale was elected as President at the Annual Meeting in September 1966.  He was re-elected to that office at each succeeding Annual Meeting in September of the years 1967, 1968 and 1969.  Arthur Ragsdale was fifth to undertake the position of President.  The sixth Leader of the Fellowship, Gary Gresher, was elected to that position in February 1968, by the members of the Fellowship.  He assumed office on March 1, 1968 and occupied the position until March 31, 1969.  Gary was a talented young man of strong personal convictions.  He had a background of studies in Philosophy and Literature at Northern Illinois University and Miami of Ohio University.  Shortly after leaving the Fellowship he moved with his wife and infant son to Chicago, Illinois.

        During the period following the death of Dr. Orr in March, 1967, until Gary Gresher took over the office in March, 1968, President Ragsdale temporarily assumed the duties of Leadership in addition to his duties as President.  After the resignation of Gary Gresher in March 1969, the Board of Directors decided, for the time being, to carry on without a leader.  Since the Constitution specifies that the President shall preside at the Sunday morning services in the absence of the Leader, unless the President decides to appoint some other person, this is the program that has been carried out.  Usually a member of the Board of Directors or some other active member assumed the chairmanship on Sunday mornings.  This arrangement proved very successful for about a year and a half, when we were fortunate in obtaining the services of a new Leader.  The Rev. Wm. T. Baird came to us highly recommended as a minister of many years in a church in Chicago, as well as a leader in the civil rights movement.  He has been functioning to the entire satisfaction of the members of the Fellowship.

        Throughout the years many prominent speakers and lecturers have appeared on the platform of the Fellowship of Humanity.  Among these, to mention a very few, were Corliss Lamont, Leo Huberman, Scott Nearing, Frances Herring, William Mandel, Sydney Rogers, Maude Russell, Dr. Carleton Goodlett, Dr. Martin Larsen, Vincent Hallinan, Terrence Hallinan, Benny Bufano, and Ben Seaver.  The topics of the morning services covered a wide range of subjects.  Speakers dealt with discussions on world affairs, civil rights, and civil liberties, work among black students, work with youth, the problem of delinquency, of radiation, farm labor conditions, the plight of the American Indians, ecology, and even a demonstration of different bird calls.  Various speakers told of their visits to Vietnam and gave graphic reports of the devastation wrought by American intervention.  The talks may be widely diversified, but are always interesting and inspiring.

        It should be explained that at the Annual Meeting of September 18, 1966, the Constitution was amended to provide for a Second Vice-President and to separate the offices of Secretary and Treasurer. Since then these offices have been filled with great success by the present occupants of these positions. Following are the members of the Board of Directors at the time of this writing, October, 1971: Yetta Land, first Vice-President; Charles Friedman, Second Vice-President; Sheba Ragsdale, General Secretary; Hazel Linton, Treasurer; Sam Blackman and J. Arthur Ragsdale.

        This account would not be complete without giving commendation to those loyal and faithful members who have given of their time and other resources so that the Fellowship might continue to exist and to go forward in even greater service to its members and to the community at large, in the spirit of Humanism for the betterment of humanity.  In the pages following this brief outline of the history of the Fellowship of Humanity will be found more detailed accounts of the early days of the Fellowship, written by Henry Halvorsen, William Henkelman, Mrs. Lucy H. Johnson, Mrs. Herbert T. Johnson, Walter F. Kennon and Alfred G. Martin, all former active members of the Fellowship in the days of the formation and who are still members (with the exception of Henry Halvorsen, who died about a year ago).  Mrs. Lucy Johnson was formerly Secretary of the Fellowship.  When this book was started, Arthur Ragsdale was still President. At the conclusion of his term in September 1970 William Creque was elected to succeed him.  William Creque was reelected in September 1971 and is presently occupying that office.  Bill Creque is one of the early members and has been a loyal and consistent supporter of the Fellowship of Humanity.



    1.  A. D. Faupell               1935-44
    2.  E. O. Corson               1944-48
    3.  A. R. Mueller               1948-50
    4.  Walter F. Kennon        1950-66
    5.  J. Arthur Ragsdale       1966-70
    6.  William Creque           1970-72
7.  Jake Price                    1972
8.  Oiva Nurmela             1980
8.  Rey King                     1990
 9.  Walter Springer           1992
10.  LeRue Grim               1994
11.  Walter Springer          1997
Rowland Hill              2001-03
Charles Gary               2003-04
Florence Windfall       2004-09


     Leaders (ministers)

     1.  A. D. Faupell               1935-44
     2.  Philip Mayer                1947-48
      3.  Lowell H. Coate           1954-54
      4.  W. David Brown          1956-57
       5.  Hugh Robert Orr         1958-67
       6.  J. Arthur Ragsdale        1967-68

       7.  Gary Gresher                1968-69
   8.  Wm. T. Baird                1970
   9.  Guy                               1990



  Henry Halvorsen

        My recollection is rather vague, but I do remember that the
Fellowship of Humanity had its antecedents in the Philosophers Club.  I was accustomed to attend the Unitarian Church at 14th and Castro in 1932 or 1933.  There were some very good lectures at the Sunday School class.  Mr. A. D. Faupell was the Leader at that time and his talks were of an educational nature, mostly on psychology, philosophy and politics.  Over one hundred people attended these lectures, most of them middle aged.  Dr. Reed was then the Pastor of the Unitarian Church and out of respect to him, on account of the Sunday School some of us attended his services.  However, Dr. Reed took exception to the subject of the programs in the Sunday School and, particularly during the Upton Sinclair campaign for Governor, objected because we wanted to participate.  Mr. Faupell then decided to move out.

        Tom Sullivan (Spokane Tom), two others, and myself organized the Philosophers Club, with Tom Sullivan conducting.  The old original Chabot Observatory in Chabot Park between Jefferson and Grove on 10th Street was where we held our first meeting.  One of the boys got a permit from the Board of Education.  The Philosophers Club became so large we had to change our meeting place to the school house which is now a parking lot (originally it was University of California) across the street from Chabot Park.  The old building of the University became a public school.  As many as 4,000 people at one time listened to the Philosophers Club lectures with well known speakers.  The Sunday School section of the Unitarian group moved to the Pacific Building at 17th and Jefferson Streets, to the fourth floor.  The Fellowship of Humanity was organized in the Masonic Temple on Madison Street.  There were four or five well known attorneys who attended the Fellowship meetings and helped in the organization.  The dues were set at 10¢ per member.

        Mr. Faupell was the principal speaker.  They had a question period and the speaker would make comments — the same format as presently; a prelude, a text by Faupell usually, then collection, question-period and comments.  They met here for some time, then moved to Norway Hall on Piedmont Avenue; later to the Knights of Pythias Hall.  In 1936 and 1937 I was Secretary-Treasurer of the Workers Alliance and could not attend meetings but came back in to the Fellowship in 1956.  One of the original members of the Fellowship of Humanity, a Mr. Fell, died about this time and his widow turned over the estate to the Fellowship.  Bill Moody, one of the original members of the Philosophers Club and a few of its other members reorganized the Club and they continued to meet informally.

NOTE: These recollections were dictated by Mr. Halvorsen shortly before his death.



  William Henkelman

        I had been in San Francisco and Oakland many years from 1926, but Eastern trips took about seven years, being an active industrial unionist, and a member of the A. F. of L.  Returning from Bonus Army in 1934, I became interested in
Upton Sinclair’s campaign, working in headquarters of Mankind United, Utopians and Philosophers Club.  As I attended these meetings, I was thrilled by a little man named A. D. Faupell.  His talks rang so sincere and rational.  Mr. Faupell had spoken once weekly for the yet-to-be Fellowship of Humanity.  He also spoke at various organizations in forming this Humanist unit.  I spoke to him many times.  He had real human qualities.  In greeting and speaking with the many people after meetings, he was keen in determining what the person was capable of, thereby assisting in forming the organization. “A.D.,” as we called him, came to my home twice, once social and the other time to ask me to donate my services in painting a sign for our Norway Hall on Oakland Avenue, just prior to buying the present location at 411 - 28th Street.  I painted a professional sign for the outside. 

        In the years 1934, 1935 and 1936 we met in many places, mostly in Jenny Lind Hall.  Then we met in a real nice setting weekly at the Blue Bird Cafeteria on Franklin Street at 17th.  There we purchased our supper, and after eating and joviality, “A.D.” would call the meeting to order.  As many as 70 to 125 attended.  One of the members, an elderly man, very quiet, a carpenter, named J. Geo. Kullmer, was hospitalized at that time.  Figuring his stay among the living would be short, Mr. Kullmer called “A.D.” and requested that he bring an attorney to him, so that he could arrange to dispose of his estate.  “A.D.” brought Mr. Wm. Crocker, an attorney and member.  Mr. Kullmer’s estate was divided three ways, to a brother and sister in Germany and one third to the Fellowship.

        After a search for a suitable hall, the present location was found.  It had been built for religious services but was put up for sale because neighbors brought about abatement proceedings.  They complained of loud noises.  What joy and enthusiasm by one and all in refurbishing, altering, painting, building the big outdoor fireplace, gardening and painting of the picket fence!  I took pictures, dozens, of all at work: “A.D.” himself leaning on a shovel, with overalls on — also others.  I helped a paint contractor paint inside, others helped in putting up shelves, stoves, stage, ante-rooms and basement.  All worked gratis.  These pictures are in a large album which the late Jessie Pedrick maintained as a pictorial history of the Fellowship.

        After about eight years, a division arose among the members, splitting us in twain.  I stayed neutral for the existence of our Humanist unit.

        As I look to the yesterdays in our Fellowship movement, I recall with pride some outstanding activists:  Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence McCray (they owned a large place and monthly threw a party, a jovial gathering); Jack Morton was a hard worker around the hall; Anna Myers radiated Fellowship; Jessie Bradley and her machinist son Theodore made the big beautiful announcement board facing 28th Street, replacing my smaller one – (Jessie, at all socials, decorated the hall in different motifs Roman, Greek, etc.); Anna Van Tassel was a lovely person and did things; Lillian Wright, our pianist at that time, played beautifully; Blind George donated handsomely; Sophie Lloyd, ex-teacher, lived nearby, married a member; Mr. Smart, Mary and Mr. Jentlen; Lombardii, Corrigan, Crawford, all activists; Lil Loud and Lucy Hibbard; others I knew well were Ernest Larchi, the Knickerbockers, Sam Landis, Mrs. Ensign, Fred Rivers, Feinstein, Wm. Pagel, J. Stitt Wilson (a wonderful orator who spoke many times for the Fellowship); Fred Maes, Frona Ernst (long time secretary).  Among the more recent to pass away: Robert Bolton, Harvey Staats, Wm. Merz, Scotty Learmont, W. David Brown, Al Hanson, Ted Boutelier, Eric Lind, Harry McLellan (husband of Jessie Bradley), C. A. Benson, Frances Frazier, Professor Max Radin, Myrtle Maddy and Mrs. Chaput.  We all worked hard and together at the Fellowship of Humanity to further the interest of Humanism in order to build a saner society and eventually a warless world.




  Mrs. Herbert T. (Karen) Johnson

        I’ve thought a lot about my past acquaintance with the Fellowship and my recollections are rather sparse, to say the least.  My first introduction to the Fellowship was as a guest singer when
A. D. Faupell was the Leader.  His talk that morning was about the Norse Trilogy, and since I am of Swedish ancestry and familiar with Swedish music, friends of mine (members at the time) asked me to sing a few Swedish songs for the program.  I was impressed with the way in which Mr. Faupell paralleled the Norse trilogy with that of Christian and other religions, past and present.

        Some time later, when Herb and I were discussing our wedding plans, we agreed that only Mr. Faupell should perform our marriage ceremony.  As Herb knew a minister who had handled an estate badly and gone to prison as a result, he mentioned hearing another minister on the radio one Sunday morning, who must have been “Humanist," because you could understand everything the man said, and he made no idle promises.  When I told him about Mr. Faupell, this settled the matter immediately.

        An interesting sidelight about what followed — Herb and I made all the necessary and proper arrangements (we thought) so that the ceremony could be held on Friday morning, May 30, 1941.  On Monday of that week we appeared at the County Clerk’s Office to apply for our marriage license.  We were informed that the license would be ready on Friday, but, since Friday was a holiday and the office was not open on weekends, we would have to wait until Monday June 2nd to pick it up.  Needless to say, we were quite upset, inasmuch as we hadn’t realized the three-day wait meant three days between the day of application and the day of delivery.  Finally, the County Clerk offered a solution.  If Mr. Faupell would come to the Clerk’s office and sign an affidavit that he would not perform the ceremony until Friday morning, we could pick up the license Thursday night.  This he did — and we’ve been forever grateful for his thoughtfulness.

        After we had been married a short time, Mr. Faupell asked if I would sing at another Fellowship service.  This time the program was about China and at that time 1 sang Chee Lai and some other songs appropriate to the occasion.  This service was held in the present Fellowship Hall.  I cannot recall the place where the first meeting I attended was held.



  Mrs. Lucy H. Johnson

Fellowship of Humanity in Its Early Days — Though I had heard of the Fellowship of Humanity, which A. D. Faupell had started in Piedmont, Paul and I attended, for the first time I have a record of, on Sunday, July 6, 1941, when Monroe Friedman, as guest speaker, addressed the group meeting in Daughters of Norway Hall.  Mr. Faupell, instead of doing all of the speaking himself, frequently presented speakers with special knowledge or thought-provoking ideas.  The following Sunday, however, July 27, 1941, he made a talk which so impressed my husband, Prof. Paul L. Hibbard, and me, that we signed the Fellowship Roll, becoming members, and thereafter attended as regularly as we well could, taking with us Mrs. Margaret Harrison, Mrs. Eugenie C. Biolettti, and other friends when they could go.  On August 10, 1941, my sister, Dr. Minna E. Jewell, while visiting us went with us.  On Sept. 7, 1941, Mr. Faupell, as first of a series on Mankind Uprooted  spoke of Philosophical Uprooting Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.

        On October 12, 1941, I drove with Paul and Mrs. Margaret Harrison past the place which was to be the permanent home of the Fellowship at 411 - 28th Street, Oakland, which had been purchased with a bequest left the organization by a deceased member, while on our way to Norway Hall where the meeting was still held.  But the members were eager for the new place and did much to put yard and building in order.  One day a large group of them met and under guidance of a stone mason — I think his name was Miller — split off slabs from large stones to use in building the fireplace, patio and walks.  A photograph was taken of the party with Jessie Bradley at the wheelbarrow, which I have seen in a book at the Fellowship.  Each of us split off at least one slab, but our mason planned the work and did much in carrying out the plans.  Many worked on the wooden building to clean and repair it, Walter Kennon contributing his skill as a plumber.  My husband, whose field in chemistry was plant nutrition, and who was a lover of growing things, became head of the Garden Committee.  E. O. Corson, whose business was pest control, sprayed the trees.  On October 26, 1941 we attended the Dedication ceremonies at which Rabbi Stearn of the Reform Synagogue gave a fine address, stressing the social message of the prophets.  The building was well filled and everyone enthusiastic.

        Mr. Faupell was a man of intellectual integrity and a winsome and friendly personality who was an inspiration to those gathered about him.  He had been a Methodist minister, and in his work had to take frequent rides on the train.  He observed the “news butcher” carried paper bound books and called out — “Heaven with Moody” (a popular preacher) or “Hell with Ingersoll.”  He always chose Heaven, but someway felt unsatisfied.  One time he found a book by Ingersoll left on the seat and out of curiosity started to read it.  The beauty of the language and the nobility of the sentiments was a revelation to him.  He read more of Robert Ingersoll and read many scholarly commentators on the Bible, which led him to feel that the social message of Jesus had been diluted and sidestepped by the accretion of pagan material, the sacrificial idea, etc.  He brought out the contrast between the teachings of Jesus and the Pauline and Constantinian doctrines, which made him their symbol.  He could no longer with honesty preach the “old time religion.”  So he started to preach what he felt to be true.

        Paul derived much satisfaction from hearing him, until his advancing deafness, helped only to a slight extent by three successive hearing aids, made him feel thwarted by his futile efforts to hear.  Then he would go outside and work in the garden with the plants he loved.  Sometimes I took him there and worked with him on other days of the week, and others were helpful until blooming flowers bordered the walk on both sides from the gate to the building, trees and shrubs were well pruned and fertilized, and the neglected garden became a beauty spot.  We attended a pot luck dinner of the Fellowship on November 16, 1941, before dishes and other necessary equipment had been acquired; then on January 14, 1942, the Fellowship put on a big turkey dinner at which 250 were present.

        Death claimed a number of our able members.  On March 11, 1942, Mrs. Walter Kennon was the victim of a heart attack, leaving five growing children, the youngest only six years of age.  On September 27, 1943, the beautiful voice of Margaret Harrison, which could carry the alto for the whole congregation, was stilled, and her tireless work for the things she believed good, which she carried on without sparing herself though well past seventy yielded to a worn out heart. On Saturday, October 14, 1944, Mrs. Lawrence McCray also died as one in harness, having two evenings before attended a meeting of the Democratic County Central Committee with me.  Mr. Roberts, who conducted the singing ably, could no longer continue the work.  He was succeeded by Mr. Hinds, who had a good voice but little training.  On August 28, 1943, my husband Paul suffered a slight stroke.  He recovered his ability to walk without dragging his foot, and worked in the Fellowship garden, but from that time on failed in many ways, and subsequent strokes rendered him helpless in 1946.  He died March 14, 1947.

        On January 9, 1944, a pot luck dinner at the Fellowship and the annual election took place.  Dissention had sprung up among the members regarding control of the Fellowship property, and whether Mr. Faupell should be given permanent tenure as Leader.  I stood with Mr. Corson in backing Mr. Faupell’s control.  But on January 15, 1944 he suffered a stroke that destroyed his ability to speak.  His wife worked heroically to re-train him in speaking, utilizing undamaged nerve centers for producing speech, but this took time.  At the meeting on Sunday, January 16, 1944, Mr. Corson conducted a symposium by Mrs. Allen, John Walters, Mr. Loud, and Mr. Chesterman.  The next Sunday when Walter Packard spoke on the Central Valley Project, Messrs. Walters, Chesterman, Kightlinger and Leslie were absent.  For a time, without Mr. Faupell to unify the group, there was much dissension.  On Sunday, April 9, 1944, Mr. Faupell spoke for the first time since his stroke, introducing the speaker, Hugh Robert Orr.  On July 23, 1944, he acted as speaker, giving a book review, and on August 13, 1944, spoke on Robert Ingersoll.  Though perhaps less fluent than formerly, he had profited by much time for thinking and seemed especially understanding.  The following Sunday Mr. Orr spoke on The First Nudist Colony and its Sudden Demise (Eden).  Then John Stirratt spoke on Currency.  Then word came that Mr. Faupell was worse again and confined to bed.  He never spoke again.

        Though thereafter we had many able speakers, particularly Mr. Hugh Robert Orr, who later became Leader, a man of brilliant intellect and fine personality, the attendance dwindled.  There were notable exceptions as on Sunday, January 14, 1945, when Tom Roberts told of his life as a union leader, and that evening the Free World Day dinner was put on by Lawrence McCray.  Though 81 years of age he stuffed huge turkeys and baked them, managed coffee and many details, assisted by Jessie Pedrick, Corson, Hinds, and others.  Over 230 were served at only 50¢ a plate.  Anga Bjornson presided; Dr. George Hedley of Mills College, Judge Louis Hardie and M. Anderson Thomas spoke, besides “minute men.”  In spite of having worked for 48 hours, Lawrence McCray addressed the group in a strong voice.  He lived a year and a half longer, dying July 13, 1946.

        As Secretary Mr. E. O. Corson gave loyal support to Mr. Faupell, both before and during his illness.  I remember what looked like a big thermometer which he set up, with the column rising as funds accumulated until it reached the amount of the mortgage on the Faupell home, which they celebrated with a mortgage burning party.  Being President of the Fellowship was to him a first attainment of importance.  He was large and strong and made a fair success of his pest control business.  My first husband, Paul Hibbard, who was a chemist in the Division of Plant Nutrition at the University of California, helped him with advice, but since Mr. Corson had never studied chemistry and had no understanding of the chemicals he used, my husband could only give him recipes and rule of thumb.  Mrs. Corson, besides raising a family, acted as his secretary, clerk and bookkeeper.

        On May 18, 1947, he showed me correspondence he had with a candidate for Leader to succeed Mr. Faupell, Philip Mayer, though that same day George Smart, head of the Fellowship Memorial Association called a meeting to consider policies in dwindling attendance, which, with the divisions in the membership, augured ill for raising a salary.  Mr. Mayer, a well educated man, a former college teacher, spoke to us first on August 3, 1947, introducing himself, his wife and two little boys and giving a brief account of his life, and especially of teaching school in a colony of fanatical Dukhobors (followers of Tolstoi).  Under him, the Fellowship was affiliated with the Humanist Association.  We had many excellent speakers besides Mr. Mayer, but the attendance declined and was tense with factions for and against Corson.

        One occasion for dissatisfaction was the change of name of the organization from “Fellowship of Humanity” to “Humanist Society.”  On January 18, 1948, we met after a luncheon to consider a new Constitution, but Corson in the chair ruled out of order everything the congregation attempted to do.  Only Mr. Kruger backed him.  People became so angry there was shouting, but Corson whacked his gavel and threatened to send for the police.  They shouted to him to do it.  Finally he adjourned the meeting, but immediately they reconvened it with Mr. Smart as temporary chairman and Mr. Mueller as secretary.  Mr. Mayer was made chairman.  In an orderly way, we all considered the new Constitution paragraph by paragraph with only minor changes.

        On August 1, 1948, Mr. Mayer celebrated his anniversary of coming to Oakland and the Fellowship with an address on Understanding Others.  Afterward we met to plan a three-day peace conference, the women planning food and where to obtain it.  On August 29th, 1948, I attended a committee meeting on the Constitution and election.  It appeared that George Smart, with no consultation with other members of the Constitution Committee, inserted a provision which would make the property taxable, and mimeographed and mailed the copies to all members.  After the morning service and pot luck lunch, in the absence of a secretary, since Oscar Haugen was ill, Mr. Corson appointed me secretary at the annual meeting of the Fellowship August 29, 1948 — a riotous one for Mr. Corson, with lawyer Clarence Rust to back him — chaired the meeting and also took the floor, an un-parliamentary procedure.  Finally he adjourned the meeting in spite of a no vote, whereupon Vice President Kennon called to order, after Mr. Mayer appealed from the decision of the Chair.  Under his chairmanship the new Constitution was soon adopted and the election held.  All other nominees of the Nominating Committee were elected by overwhelming majorities, but though Corson received only a small vote, there was a close race between Mr. Crocker, the Committee nominee, an able man of judicial temperament and modesty, who was one of the original group of members, and Mr. A. R. Mueller, a later comer.  I had known him years before in Berkeley.  A small group pushed for him, with the result that there was a run-off between him and Mr. Crocker, who was ill and absent, in which he edged out Crocker by one vote.

        On advice of a new member of the Board, Mr. C. W. Johnson, a retired lawyer, a resolution was passed requesting Mr. Corson to return the Fellowship property in his possession.  The next Sunday I found that Mr. Mueller had not carried out the resolution passed by the Board of Directors, asking Mr. Corson to return to the new officers the Membership Roll Book and other property held by the former officers, but had arranged a mass meeting, chaired at first by Miss Anga Bjornsen, to elect six members, three of the Corson faction and three of the majority group to thresh out the differences with Rev. Cope of the Berkeley Unitarian Church and Prof. Rowell as co-moderators.  Mr. Corson, Mr. Rust, and Miss Bjornson were chosen vs. Mr. Mueller, Mr. Mathews, and me.  This only opened the way for a lot of fruitless talk and recrimination and weakened our legal position.

        To me, the issue seemed to be whether an organization has a right to vote into office the ones it wishes, or whether one already in office holds permanent tenure regardless of the vote of the congregation.  Mr. Mueller, at the first conciliation meeting, held at the Unitarian Church in Berkeley, being delayed in arriving and very tired, denounced Mr. Corson in a way that seemed to throw Rev. Cope’s sympathies to Mr. Corson, while Prof. Rowell stood with the elected officers.  After a few meetings, Mr. Corson and Mr. Rust took the case to court.  Mr. Corson claimed as members sixty names of people whom no one at the Fellowship had seen there.  I was left as secretary with the necessity of notifying all members of meetings or business but without membership files or roll book.  I collected what lists I could find among the congregation.  On Saturday, October 30, 1948, at the farewell dinner for Philip and Eleanore Mayer, who had worked devotedly with the Fellowship in spite of small remuneration, about $100 was raised.  Prof. Rowell spoke and Mrs. Mathews and Mrs. Shivers played a piano duet — Liszt’s 6th Hungarian Rhapsody.  The Sunday following Mr. Mayer delivered his final sermon.

        On November 14, 1948, after the meeting and lunch at the Fellowship, I went on an errand to Professor Rowell’s, but car trouble made me get back ten minutes late, just as Corson and his group were leaving the hall to hold a meeting in the patio.  I kept the minutes for the meeting which followed — a continuation of the meetings of Sept. 19 and Sept. 26, and Mrs. Fincken sent me minutes of the first part of the meeting which I missed.  I completed it with a few details from Messrs. Kennon, Smart, Markland, and Mueller and embodied it in the minutes.  Then I got other documents of Mr. Smart which I fastened in the same folder, which I turned over to Mr. Edises for his associate lawyer, Mr. Truehaft.  With the help of Mrs. Ernst, who typed duplicate stickers of the addresses I furnished her, I got out a letter, drafted by Mr. Mueller and me, and a card for memberships.

        On Thursday, January 13, 1949, Mr. Mueller and I went to lay the case of the Fellowship before Mr. A. D. Ericksen, whom I had known well in political work.  Though a Mormon bishop, he took the case for only $250 because of his interest in and affection for Mr. Faupell.  Afterward we went to see attorney J. Regan Talbot.  Mr. C. W. Johnson was with him and came out with us and took us to lunch at Capwell’s Market nearby.  That was the beginning of an association between him and me that developed as the trial progressed and Fellowship troubles deepened.  I cut a stencil for a turkey dinner for February 12, 1949, typed endlessly on addresses for files and to sticker envelopes, and spent an afternoon with Mr. Mueller working over a letter to be sent out with the Turkey Dinner and February program announcements.  I stenciled it, in the evening Mrs. Dickie and I mimeographed it, and the tickets for the dinner on the old, primitive, hand-turned and hand-inked machine of the Berkeley Democratic Club were printed.  I spent several days going over minutes and papers and putting them in labeled folders or envelopes.  I conferred with Messrs. Mathews, Smart, Fincken, and Markland at the Fellowship, telephoned for signers of the statement of attendance on Sept. 19, 1948, and signed them up at the Sunday meeting February 6,1949, and with Mr. Mathews’ help got a good number.

        At that meeting the Board met and Mr. Ericksen read his brief, comparing it with Corson’s and showing the basis for our case.  On Saturday, February 12, 1949, I finished typing the minutes in duplicate, getting done in time to pick up Mrs. Dickie and Mrs. Tabler to go to the Fellowship Turkey Dinner.  It was a big success; 170 reported present and though all were served, little was left over.  $125 above expenses was reported from the dinner and a $25 collection, but the women of the dinner committee surely worked hard for it.  Mrs. Tabler helped much of the time after we arrived.

        On Sunday, after the Fellowship meeting, the Board of Directors and witnesses met with Mr. Ericksen, who questioned Mr. Lind, Miss Anna Meyer, and Mr. Smart.  On Tuesday, February 15, 1949, Corson’s case came to trial.  Clarence Rust (Corson’s lawyer) introduced a lot of earlier minutes, then skipped over September 19, 1948 to September 28, 1948 (when Corson had Mr. Haugen write minutes) and November 14, 1948.  Before it finished he had Judge Hoyt grinning.  He had some notes he claimed to have written Sept. 19, 1948, but Judge Hoyt told him they were of use only to refresh his memory and could not be introduced as evidence since he was not secretary and a secretary had been appointed.  On Monday, February 21, 1949, I went again to court but was not called on since the whole time was taken examining Mr. Corson with regard to the “members” for whom he had signatures on cards.

        I went next when the court again convened on Monday, February 28, 1949.  Afterward I checked the list of names he gave as those who met in the patio Nov. 14, 1948, with the Fellowship Roll Book, which was impounded at the Court House, and checked until 2:00 P.M. when the court reconvened and I had to stop — 40 names in all.  In court again on March 1, 1949, Mr. Corson finished his testimony and Miss Ange Bjornson was questioned.  She finished the following day.  Lawyer Rust called Mr. Walter Gordon and Mr. Walter Kennon — neither helped him that I could see, and Anga did not stick to facts.  Then he rested his case.  Mr. Ericksen did some cross questioning, and then called me.  The judge admitted my minutes up to the time Mr. Corson left, in evidence, those after as an exhibit, saying they are not official, since Mr. Kennon did not appoint me as secretary and Mr. Corson’s appointment terminated when he left the chair.  I told the contents of the minutes during Mr. Kennon’s chairmanship in response to questioning.

        On Monday, March 7, 1949, I finished as a witness, then Mr. Mueller was put on the stand.  Mr. Rust red-baited him with regard to a book, Crimes Against Russia, which he reviewed at the Fellowship.  He testified that he did so at Mr. Corson’s request and it was Mr. Corson who chose the book.  He is not and has never been a Communist.  The following Wednesday Messrs. Kennon, Smart, Nicolaysen, and Mathews testified, also Holland Roberts.  On Thursday, March 10, 1949, Mr. Ericksen had me present the first minutes I typed together with the changes made in them.  On Tuesday, March 29, 1949, I drove to the Court House with Mrs. Kerchen, Mrs. Dickie, and Mrs. Tabler, and heard the pleas, first of Mr. Rust, and a clear, well-documented and forceful summarizing of our case by Mr. A. D. Ericksen, concluding with an eloquent defense of the right to think and learn.  We heard from Mr. Ericksen that Judge Hoyt will rule both elections — ours and Mr. Corson’s in the patio — invalid.

        On Monday, April 4, 1949, Mr. Clabe W. Johnson and I, who had become very fond of each other during our work for the Fellowship during its long troubles, drove to Reno, Nevada where we were married.  After a short honeymoon driving about the gold mining regions on our return trip, we reached home Thursday, April 7, 1949.  Next afternoon we attended a conference with Mr. Ericksen to plan strategy for the coming election of the Fellowship.  On Sunday, April 17, 1949, with flowers and a cake I baked, Clabe and I went to the Fellowship.  Mr. Mueller gave a good talk on The Meaning of Easter.  Then we had a pot luck luncheon at which Clabe and 1 were honored by wedding cakes baked by Mrs. Mueller and Mrs. Giltsch.  They gave us one with a bride and groom to take home.

        At the business meeting it was arranged that I should get out a list, with the help of Mr. Smart and Mr. Kightlinger — who was back with us for the first time since he left the Fellowship after the January 16, 1944 meeting — and get others to contact as many as possible.  We met Mr. Kightlinger in his real estate office, and I went over his copy of the Fellowship Roll up to the date over five years ago, copying it, checking it with the Fellowship Roll impounded at the Court House, from which I also copied the later names and addresses.  In that part I noticed names written over erasures.  One was Dittmar’s and the name of C. W. Johnson was gone from the Roll.  I also copied former secretary Haugen’s Active List, typing them on duplicate stickers for mailing and for pasting on cards for a file, for that purpose adding their number in the Roll Book and telephone number.  Then I made telephone lists to pass to members for them to contact.

        I stenciled a letter, and the Court Decision, also credential sheet, and prepared the mailing, using care to send to members only.  The election result was 87 for me, Kennon 86, Bjornsen and Hinds each 59.  Afterward the Board reconvened, elected Mr. Kennon 1st Vice President, Mr. Mathews 2nd Vice President, Mr. Smart Treasurer, and me Secretary; then appointed May 29, 1949, to elect a President.  At the 11 o’clock meeting Mr. Mueller led a Memorial Day service, at which he spoke appropriately and read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address beautifully, while Mr. Corson presided.  Mrs. Ernst and Mr. Hinds then paid tribute to A. D. Faupell.  After a lunch, we assembled for the election.  Mr. Mueller was elected by a 51 to 0 vote.

        The evening of May 31, 1949, we attended a peace meeting led by Alfred Gonsalves at the Fellowship in the patio before the fireplace.  In spite of the fire it was uncomfortably chilly, but the meeting progressed well.  Mr. Clarence Tobey and Mr. C. R. Vickland were among the speakers.  As we were about to leave, Clabe was called on and although he had made no preparation, he was so well informed that he gave a forceful talk on The Fraud of the Atlantic Pact which stirred the audience so that they rose.  The group later became the Bay Area Peace Committee with Clabe as President and Mrs. Frances Capelle, an earnest young mother, as secretary.  The executive committee usually met with us.  Though not a part of the Fellowship, the groups overlapped and shared objectives.

        On Thursday, June 2, 1949, we attended the funeral of Ira Ross, brother of Mrs. Jessie Pedrick.  As he was driving back to Fresno, he apparently lost consciousness and swerved into the wrong lane head on against a huge truck.  Corson and his group did not come to the next Fellowship meeting, but on the following Sunday June 12, 1949, Corson, Kruger, Newman, and three women of Corson’s faction were present and Corson tried to take the chair, declaring that the Court had given him the presidency until September.  Mr. Mueller, instead of calling on the Speaker to take the floor, tried long arguments and made a sounding board for disrupters.  Then he lost nerve and left the platform, but Walter Kennon came forward and saved the situation.  The speaker left because of the disorder.  Then six policemen came — Newman had telephoned for them — Corson misrepresented the Court Order, but Mrs. Ernst showed them a copy of it and on seeing the facts they escorted Corson, Newman, and Kruger out of the premises.

        A new attack came when, on July 21, 1949 we received a pack of 109 “membership” cards from Mr. Dittmar.  I knew him previously as a member of the Democratic County Central Committee, who worked entirely with old age pensioners, attending all of their meetings and obtaining their signatures and addresses on petitions for which the politician or interest who employed him paid so much per name.  Mr. Corson and others added 5 more cards he had put out as entitling them to membership in the Fellowship, making 114 in all.  We again employed Mr. Ericksen to defend us.  He dictated a letter to present at the Directors meeting and send in returning the cards.  Before returning I copied the names and addresses on the Dittmar, Newman, and Ormsby cards. 

        On Sunday, Sept. 11, 1949, Clabe spoke at the Fellowship on Conceptions and Their Relation to Human Welfare.  He was bothered by violent coughing after an asthmatic night until Mathews brought him water.  After that he went along well but did best after he abandoned his manuscript.  About 50 were present.  All listened and many expressed appreciation.  The following day we drove with George Smart and A. D. Ericksen to the Naval Supply Base, where we were joined by Mr. and Mrs. Mathews, Carrie Brandenburg, John Walters, Walter Kennon and Miss Anna Meier, who worked at the base, in her hearing before the Loyalty Board, with Ericksen as her counsel, the rest of us witnesses.  All was very secret.  We were called one at a time, Walters first, then Kennon.  I was next to last and Smart last.

        Afterward Ericksen seemed well satisfied with the results, though the verdict exonerating her came some time later.  This is an example of the tactics used to harass the Fellowship by gossip against a loyal member.  On Sunday, September 18, 1949, the day scheduled for the Annual Election, Mr. Corson was absent.  Mr. Ericksen had Mr. Mueller convene the meeting at 2:00 P.M. and presented a resolution to adjourn the annual election meeting until October 16, 1949.  It passed unanimously since the Corson group agreed.  In spite of the troubles, forty-five new members had joined the Fellowship, for whom I mailed membership cards and placed their names and addresses in the files.  During the weeks following, I was kept busy with typewriter, mimeograph, etc. copying lists in duplicates, and other papers for Mr. Ericksen, sending out notices, and using a rubber stamp “A Non-profit Corporation.”

        On Wednesday, October 5, 1949, the case of Dittmar vs Fellowship of Humanity was opened at 10:00 A.M.  Mr. Ericksen, whom we had re-employed, made a fine work of marshalling legal citations — showed the law to be clearly in our favor, but Judge Hoyt tentatively decided to admit all applicants the 114 false applications as well as the valid ones — in spite of a Supreme Court decision that in a voluntary association, no person can claim membership unless accepted, and no court can make an organization accept members it does not choose to have

        On October 6, 1949, I was placed on the stand by Mr. Lercara, Dittmar’s lawyer.  He questioned me with regard to notification of members, speaking accusingly because he had not been notified though his name is on the Fellowship Roll.  I testified that Mr. Lercara had come when a Candidate for office a number of years ago to solicit votes and then had signed the roll, but I had not seen him there since; also that I had received the Active Membership mailing list from my predecessor, Oscar Haugen, who I presumed, had complied with the by-laws, but that Mr. Lercara’s name was not on the list.  Judge Hoyt, who acted as if he were counsel for the plaintiff, ruled against us.  I had to add the Dittmar and Corson 114 names to the list to whom I sent all notices, already running into many hundreds.

        On October 16, 1949, after a baked ham dinner the evening before which raised some funds for our defense, Mr. Mueller gave a talk on The Worth and Price of a Liberal.  Then a number of us got together and decided, since Corson’s friends were present, to adjourn the meeting until November 13, 1949, with no other action than dispensing with the minutes and treasurer’s report.  On November 13, 1949, after Prof. Rowell spoke on Traditions and Myths, giving both their undesirable and valid features, the deferred election meeting convened in order to adjourn until December 11, 1949, when we met to adjourn to January 8, 1950, thus keeping alive the annual election.  The members signed a letter I wrote thanking Mrs. Kower for the gift of her piano.  On December 17, 1949, two days before the court trial was to begin, Clabe, Walter Kennon, and I conferred with Mr. Ericksen with regard to a proposal by attorney Lercara that a settlement be made out of court.  He outlined stipulations we should make.  That evening a turkey dinner was held at the Fellowship, over 100 attending, after which the Labor School Chorus presented The Yellow River Cantata, a Chinese revolutionary work written in 1938, and other selections as encores, followed by a dance.  Sunday, the Board of Directors — Mathews, Smart, Mueller, and I, excepting Kennon, who was absent and had already seen him — conferred with Mr. Ericksen to consider the offer made by Lercara.

        On January 29, 1950 I delivered a lecture on The Bible as a Cultural Document.  The people seemed interested and quite a group came up to talk with me afterward, and in the question period there were a number of good questions which enabled me to amplify my presentation of the various states of cultural development in Palestine and the surrounding peoples.  I was pleased with Mr. Lind’s response.  Before he had assumed 1 would hand out the “old time religion.”  On January 31, 1950 we attended the funeral of Mrs. Beatrice Shivers, a much loved member; and on February 20th of Mrs. Kower, who had given her piano to the Fellowship.  On March 19, 1950, Mr. Mueller gave a fine address on The Threat of Catholicism to American Freedom.  A business meeting followed.  Then on Sunday, April 2, 1950, we met with Mr. Ericksen, who could get nothing out of Lercara, and planned deferring the election until September 1950.

        Until that time I would have to continue sending out monthly announcements to hundreds of inactive and unknown names on the Membership Roll and those added by Dittmar and others and allowed by the Court, for since the original Constitution made signing the roll the only qualification for membership, until we could adopt a constitutional amendment making some other qualification, we were legally bound to send notices to all we could not prove were dead.  The Fellowship had acquired the Addresserette held by Oscar Haugen, so I cut many stencils for it.  Later, on April 30, 1950, Mr. Ericksen met with us on a compromise prepared by Lercara on the Dittmar case, to which we agreed but nothing came of it, so on May 21, 1950, he moved to bring the case to court.  After more correspondence with Lercara by Ericksen, the Board decided to have him go ahead with the compromise.  Mr. Dittmar presented objections to 17 card members of ours.  Afterward, on July 13, 1950, I finished work on the Fellowship Roll excepting for a little tabbing of deceased persons.  On July 17, 1950, Clabe went with Mathews, Smart, and me, representing the Board of Directors, to the Supervisors’ office to protest the levying of taxes on the Fellowship.  The hearing was put off because of a new court decision.  Afterward we discussed strategy with Ericksen apropos of a letter from Lercara in which he said the injunction would be dissolved but disallowing our 17 members.  We decided to go ahead and let them sue if they would.  On July 20, 1950, Dittmar called up to say he had in Lercara’s office a bunch of membership cards and $4.60 which he wished to turn in.  I told him yesterday was the deadline; they were too late according to Fellowship by-laws.  He threatened legal action.  On Sunday, July 30, 1950, after Mr. Kennon had reviewed This Plundered Planet at the Fellowship meeting, the Board of Directors held a specially called meeting with Mr. Ericksen, at which it was decided to send notices to the Dittmar group, but to state on them that this did not qualify any voter, but that inspectors of election would pass on them; to put Dittmar and me and one other in the place of inspectors — two to one.

        Besides my concern for the Fellowship, I had for some time been concerned regarding Clabe’s health.  In spite of my eliminating allergens as far as possible from his diet and the house, his asthma kept growing worse.  On August 3, 1950, I drove with him to Chico to try the valley climate; then to Paradise in the foothills; then to Clear Lake, returning Monday, August 7th, but we found no climate that seemed to benefit him.

        At the meeting August 27, 1950, David Sarvis gave a factual presentation on the Korean Situation.  Later the Nominating Committee decided on Kennon for President, Fincken and Mathews to succeed themselves, and Al Gonsalves and Lind to succeed Haugen and Smart.  Later Mrs. Ernst objected determinedly to leaving out Smart, and some called Bradley and Gonsalves Communists, which they were not.  Mrs. Bradley was an artist, and like many artists was a bit “Bohemian,” that is, informal of manner, and so was Theodore.  Gonsalves was devoutly religious with a Catholic background — a man who lived his beliefs regardless of cost to himself — as much as anyone I have known, but his desire for what he considered good, at times clouded his judgment, making him work for hopeless causes really thinking they could win.  Lind was emotionally rationalist and anti-Catholic.  On September 10, under Mrs. Ernst’s urging, the nominating committee, with Clabe dissenting, reversed itself, nominating Kennon for President, Mathews, Fincken, Smart, and Crocker.  The Fellowship annual election finally came off on Sunday, Sept. 17, 1950.  With lists, ballots, etc. locked in the ballot box we drove to the Fellowship.  Mueller held forth, then turned the meeting over to Kennon as pre-arranged, who introduced Mathews and me.  Mathews recounted the financial and social side, I, the speakers of the year.  After a hasty “pot luck” the election convened.  Dittmar, Rust and Lercara marshalled their forces as best they might, but could muster only 28 legitimate votes, though 33 (a few of them our supporters) were disqualified and denied ballots.  We won 110 to 28 on most of the candidates — one 109 to 29; and the amendments both passed.

        Afterward when the Board met, I resigned as secretary, Sept. 17, 1950.  I had already stenciled a letter according to the amended Constitution canceling inactive memberships, and on Monday afternoon we drove to Mrs. Dickie’s and mimeographed it.  At 3:00 P.M. we had a “stuffing party” at the Fellowship, where Mathews, Mrs. Ernst, Mrs. Bradley, Mrs. Groth, Harry McLellan, and I stickered the envelopes and arranged them alphabetically, then copied the names, stuffed them, then stamped, sorted, counted and tied.  Ted Boutelier served us soup he is famous for making. Then we drove to Berkeley where we mailed the cancellations — 590 in all.  I explained to Mathews and in part to Harry and Mrs. Ernst the contents of the boxes I left, and was glad to leave to Mrs. Ernst, who was to be my successor, the Addresserette with a file of stencils cleared of cancelled names, for the active membership, so that her work would be much easier than mine had been.

        On Tuesday evening, Sept. 19, 1950, Clabe and 1 attended a meeting of the Peace Committee, where Clabe made a fine farewell address and everyone spoke appreciatively of us.  A leaflet on Korea and China was presented and discussed; then returned to the committee for revision and mimeographing.  Friends of the Fellowship and the Peace Committee entertained us at dinner, and on Sept. 30, 1950, the Fellowship held a victory dinner in my honor, where Mr. Mathews presented me with a fine suitcase.  On October 3rd, 1950, we set out for the Mojave desert in southeastern California, arriving at the little town of Joshua Tree next forenoon.  Since Glabe found breathing easier than in Berkeley, we bought an acre tract on the edge of Yucca Valley on October 27, setting out for home Sunday, October 29th, 1950.  A few weeks later, Mrs. Fincken called me up to tell me that Mr. Kruger, whose membership had been cancelled, and Mrs. Ernst went to the District Attorney.  The Attorney asked him why he went to the Fellowship; was he in sympathy with their objectives?  He said it was his patriotic duty to make them trouble.  The Attorney said that since he wasn’t a member he had no right to go without an invitation.  He said George Smart had invited him!  Mrs. Ernst (who had been responsible for Smart’s nomination to succeed himself) told Smart a-plenty.

        While I was in the throes of breaking up my home in Berkeley, packing for the move to Yucca Valley, we continued to work with committees of the Fellowship considering new Constitution and By-laws.  Leaving our apartment rented, as well as the one below it, we set out in an overloaded car on the afternoon of February 1, 1951, arriving at Yucca Valley on the 3rd.  Until we could build our house, for which I had remade my plans and had them blue printed, we lived in one side of a duplex.  On May 28, 1951, while I was at work varnishing the interior knotty pine walls, Al Gonsalves together with his son and nephew — both in their early teens — drove up in his truck bringing the furniture and goods we had left stored in the basement of our Berkeley house.  We had the goods put in the finished bedroom and set up beds for the three to spend the night.  It was good to see Gonsalves and receive news of the Fellowship.

        On September 12, 1951, we drove to Oakland to spend a week with friends and attend the Fellowship election scheduled for September 16th.  Mrs. Jessie Bradley and son Theodore, showed us the hospitality of their new home.  Theodore, though hunch-backed and badly deformed, since one side grew while the other did not, had done the building even to plumbing and wiring (which had passed inspection) with only his mother to help him.  While there, I assisted Mrs. Bradley and Mrs. Pedrick in making up and pleating a new curtain for the stage of the Fellowship, which Theodore and Harry McLellan put up on a specially constructed transverse rod.  At a Fellowship dinner, which Mrs. Mueller managed on Saturday evening, Sept. 15, 1951, we met many friends, and afterward the A.S.P. Players put on Chekov’s The Proposal and a tragedy about war.

        Then word came that Dittmar et al had secured an injunction forbidding the next day’s election.  We attended the Sunday meeting, but no election could be held.  On Tuesday evening Clabe spoke to a meeting of the Peace Committee.  We were invited to luncheons and dinners and Clabe was lionized and called on to speak until he was worn out and hardly in condition to make the return trip on the 20th.  On December 12, 1951, Jessie Bradley and Theodore drove to our house, guided by Thelma Barth, whom Theodore recognized as a girl who had not shied away because of his deformity — now a hard working, hard pressed mother of two sons she had raised while a widow.  In spite of his balding, she saw in him the boy she had known years ago in Oakland.  Mrs. Bradley was about sick with a cold and sore eyes but after a day was well enough to enjoy being shown the sights of the desert, and a trip to Desert Hot Springs to see Rose Giltsch, who was a Fellowship member who came to the desert shortly before Clabe and I did.  They set out for home on Jan. 18, 1952, and in the year to follow, we were again their guests when we visited the Fellowship and many old friends of the Bay Area during October.

        The following year on a visit to the Fellowship hall on October 19, 1952, we noticed that it had been attractively re-decorated with paint and new curtains — Mrs. Bradley’s planning — and there was a complete set of attractive lights from the ceiling.  A goodly audience heard Clabe’s address on The Origin and Development of the Constitution of the United States in which he presented the clash of opinions of the various members of the Convention, and the historic basis of the ideas embodied in the resultant compromises.  After a luncheon, we attended the business meeting at which Mr. Dittmar and Mrs. Ormsby were expelled.  The following month, on November 22, 1952, Mrs. Bradley and Theodore came to our house bringing Harry McLellan, who had been stricken with asthma and was looking badly.  They had made the trip for his health to the Mountain View Rest Home near San Jacinto.  While they were here, we awakened to more than a foot of snow which thrilled them.  The dry air and higher altitude improved Harry’s health.  He came here several times later, once bringing Mrs. Marguerite Roselle of the Fellowship; another time helping me build a car shelter and tool shed combination.  He was always cheerful and helpful.

        During that year and the years following, we enjoyed many visits from the Fellowship and Peace Committee groups — Mr. and Mrs. Capelle, her sister Mrs. Valeri Lounkin and daughter Louise — a lovely child; Miss Anna Meier, A. E. (Ted) Boutelier; Myrtle Dickie; Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Vickland; Mrs. Janet Faupell Baker and Mr. Baker; Jack Morton and Hazel Richberger who soon afterward were married.  On March 5, 1953, Jessie Bradley suffered a stroke which disabled her badly.  On the forenoon of May 26, Theodore Bradley, Ted Boutelier, and George Mayer who drove Theodore’s car, came from the Mountain View Rest Home, where Jessie was a nursing patient while they occupied cottages.  Theodore looked shockingly ill, but was anxious to see Thelma Barth, whom he planned to marry as soon as well enough.  A letter from Harry McLellan wished us to care for Theodore here, but we replied that he should be near a doctor, and probably in a lower altitude.  On Monday, June 1, we drove to the Mountain View Rest Home and saw Mrs. Shaw, who cared for the patients there, with Mrs. Bradley, whose mind at times seemed normal and bright, then confused, vague, forgetful.  Theodore was then in the hospital at Hemet.  A week later, June 8, Thelma Barth told us that Theodore had died at the hospital the night before.  Two days later, at the funeral in a Hemet funeral parlor, poor, brokenhearted Jessie Bradley sat supported between Thelma Barth and Mrs. Shaw while a preacher droned the usual cant.  She said, “Theodore wouldn’t like that.”  Later Harry McLellan, who felt grateful to Mrs. Bradley for help she had given him while ill, married her and took her to her home (though he was young enough to be her son) while she was helpless and in her uncomfortable state, always wished to be some other place than where she was.

        The last time Clabe and I visited Berkeley was in March 1954, when we went to conclude the sale of my old home.  On March 14th we attended the Fellowship and were greeted warmly by many old friends — Bolton, Mathews, Morton, the Knickerbockers, Lind, Kennon, Avedik, Staats, etc.  We were told that Jessie Bradley McLellan had suffered another stroke the night before, which impaired her speech.  Leo Huberman made an excellent speech in which he pulled no punches.  He was editor of the Monthly Review and former Columbia professor.  He showed up the McCarthy Policy of Terror — and that it aimed at breaking labor unions, and that the millionaire labor leaders like Dave Beck, who talk of harmony of interests between labor and capital, are phonies.  At the McLellan (Bradley) home, Harry told us of Jessie’s stroke and that she was in a rest home near the lake.  We later visited her there on the 19th.  She was able to speak fairly well but wished to go home, which the doctor would not yet permit.  On March 21, 1954 we attended the Fellowship for the last time together.  Clarence Vickland presided and Mr. Eden, former economic advisor to the C.I.O. spoke on The Present Situation of Capital and Labor

        My husband was never able to visit the Bay region again, but after his death June 18, 1962, with the help of his son, I wrote a brief biography of him and compiled a book of as many of his writings as I could find with it as an introduction.  I printed the book on a spirit duplicator and bound it in brief covers; then took a number of them to his old friends of the Fellowship.  With Myrtle Dickie and Lillie Tabler I drove to the Fellowship on Dec. 2, 1962.  I left books for Dr. Orr, Kennon, Lind and the library.  I had given one to Ted Boutelier, who seemed to be near death, tall frame gaunt, eyes sunken, he sat in a nursing home.  He said he would leave the book to Harry McLellan.  Dr. Frances Herring gave an informative talk about a peace convention in Ghana, where she met Nkruma and learned much about the country and its problems and advances.

        Once more I have visited Oakland and Berkeley and attended the Fellowship, first taking my carload of books for their library, since I had to dispose of them before going to live with my sisters in Florida.  On Thursday, October 20, when I drove in, Harry McLellan opened the gate and guided me; then enlisted another man to help and they unloaded the heavy boxes of books, piling them in the building.  Mr. and Mrs. Orr and some newer members were there to plan for Thanksgiving.  The following Sunday at the Fellowship meeting, Frona Ernst was there, looking frail, and Harriet Vickland youthful yet.  Mr. Orr spoke well on The Trojan Women of Euripides showing that Euripides made himself unpopular by sympathizing with the enemy.  On Sunday the 30th I saw Lillian Wright — no longer our solo pianist and accompanist — and again Mrs. Frona Ernst, Harry, and the Orrs, but most of my old friends were gone, and since then Frona Ernst, Mr. Orr, and Harry McLellan have gone to the beyond.  Still I have lovely memories of the Fellowship and wish the group that is in it now can recruit youths who will rejoice in the freedom to think and build its future.





Excerpted from the Bulletins
  Walter F. Kennon
of the
Fellowship of Humanity
March 1965

Dear Members:

        Almost ten years ago the
Fellowship of Humanity won a nationwide historical decision in the California State Supreme Court.  Many new members have joined our organization since that time and I feel I would be remiss in my duties as President of the organization if I did not occasionally review this very important chapter of our history.  In the next few issues of the bulletin, therefore, I intend to cite from the legal record the highlights of this important decision.

“In the fiscal year 1952-1953 the Fellowship of Humanity, a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of California, owned certain real property in Oakland.  It claimed exemption from city and county property taxes on the ground that the property was used ‘solely and exclusively for religious worship’ within the meaning of Article XIII, section 1-1/2 of the State Constitution.  Its claim for exemption was denied. After unsuccessfully pursuing its administrative remedies, the Fellowship paid the taxes and penalties under protest, filed its claim, and commenced this action to recover the amount so paid.  The trial court determined that the Fellowship did use its property ‘solely and exclusively for religious worship’ and was entitled to the claimed exemption.  It ordered the taxes refunded.  The County of Alameda and the City of Oakland appeal from that judgment.... 'Article XIII, Section 1-1/2 of the California Constitution provides, in part: ‘All buildings, and so much of the real property on which they are situated as may be required for the convenient use and occupancy of said buildings, when the same are used solely and exclusively for religious worship.... shall be free from taxation.’'  The basic problem involved is whether or not, under the findings, the respondent (Fellowship) is entitled to this exemption.  The solution to this problem turns upon whether or not the conclusion that respondent uses its property ‘solely and exclusively for religious worship’ as these terms are used in Article XIII, Section 1-1/2, is supported by the findings.”

        To quote further from Mr. Kennon’s President’s Letter, the following is the third installment of the transcript of the trial:

“The next finding is to the effect: 'That the purpose of plaintiff is to establish and maintain a free fellowship for the study of human relationships from the viewpoint of religion, education and sociology; establishment and the propagation and nurture of the ideals of the brotherhood of man, and without any distinctive creed or religious formula; that a further purpose of plaintiff is to promulgate humanism by means of public meetings, lectures, programs, study classes, publishing and distributing literature and such other means as may be deemed practical for the dissemination of constructive and progressive thought.  The court also found that 13 other churches in Oakland, admittedly entitled to the tax exemption, conducted in the tax exempt property discussion of topics of current political and economic interest and held social gatherings, as well as authorizing on the property meetings auxiliary to such churches, and occasionally permitted outside organizations to use the tax exempt property for social gatherings, discussion groups, and lectures.  Based on these findings, the court concluded that respondent used the property in question ‘solely and exclusively for religious worship’ and that respondent was entitled to the exemption...  It will be noted that the court did not make detailed findings as to the beliefs and aims of respondent.  For the purpose of this opinion, however, the court will assume that respondent adheres to the beliefs of humanists, and will further assume that under humanistic doctrine a belief in and reverence of God is not essential to membership.  We will further assume that humanists believe that man contains within himself infinite goodness and controls his own destiny, and that a divine or superhuman being has no place in their beliefs.  We will assume these things, although the actual findings, while implying that respondent adheres to the tenets of humanism, do not expressly find that respondent rejects the concept of a deity.  From a reading of several non-legal texts on the subject, it may be that a deity actually has a place, although a subtle one, in the beliefs of at least some humanists, and the findings are not necessarily inconsistent with such a concept.  But for the purposes of this opinion, in order to meet the issue directly, we will assume that the findings, properly interpreted, are to the effect that the adoration of, and reverence to, a deity have no place in the beliefs of respondent.  That presents the fundamental question – is a belief in God or gods essential to ‘religious worship’ as those terms are used in the State Constitution?”

[The following is contributed by the Editor.]

        Space does not permit quoting from the voluminous details of the transcript, which deal largely with definitions of religious worship and interpretations of the language, also findings in respect to other cases regarding tax exemption.  We will, therefore, skip over to the concluding arguments.

“We should interpret Article XIII Section 1-1/2, if possible, so as not to offend the federal Constitution. If the words ‘religious worship’ are given a narrow, limited meaning, so as to require a belief in and adoration of a Supreme Being, then grave doubts would exist as to the constitutionality of the section.  On the other hand, a definition which emphasizes the ‘nonreligious’ facets of the conduct of respondent will serve to sustain the constitutionality of the section.  Our interpretation of the tax exemption provision must be as broad as is reasonably necessary to uphold it.  If we limit the exemption to those who advocate theism then it is quite possible that the Supreme Court of the United States may hold that such an interpretation encourages particular religious doctrines and practices and thus violates the division between church and state.  Theism is a concept which is peculiar to religious theory and practice in the technical sense.  It is not a feature common to those advantages gained by the state and supportable by it, through the activities of private educational and charitable institutions.  The problem can be reduced to a simple formula.  If the state cannot constitutionally subsidize religion under the first Amendment, then it cannot subsidize theism.  If the state can constitutionally subsidize those functions of religious groups which are not related to ‘religion’ in its narrow sense, then it must subsidize those non-theistic groups which perform the same functions.  The first Amendment precludes a classification based on them.  The basic question then is not whether theism is necessarily the basic element of ‘religion.’  It can be assumed that the words ‘religious worship’ in the ordinary and commonly used sense require a belief in a Supreme Being.  But the United States Constitution prohibits a subsidy to foster ‘religious worship’ used in this sense.  The real question is whether the activities of the Fellowship of Humanity which in the above sense are ‘non-religious,’ and which include all of the Fellowship activities, are analogous to the activities, serve the same place in the lives of its members, and occupy the same place in society, as the activities of the theistic churches.  In the present case, it is conceded that in all respects the Fellowship’s activities are similar to those of the theistic groups, except for their belief or lack of belief in a Supreme Being.  It therefore follows that the constitutional exemption is equally applicable to both groups.  Respondent is therefore entitled to the exemption."




  Hegel Kirk

        Dancing has been a hobby of mine, since my high school days.  In addition, it was a part-time profession, for eleven years, when I was employed as old-fashioned dancing host, by El Patio ballroom, the largest ballroom in San Francisco.  Some time in 1936, as I recall it, I was dancing in one of Oakland’s public ballrooms, when a dancer informed me, “You ought to hear
A. D. Faupell preach, at the Fellowship of Humanity.  I think you would like it, and it would be good for your soul!”  I did not think I had a soul, since I shocked everyone in my first year of college, by announcing that I was an “atheist.”  In those first days of college I felt very lonely in my opinions, because it seemed I was the only atheist in the world.  All my friends, and relatives, said I was wrong.  They didn’t answer my arguments, but they said I was sinful.  Only my mother wasn’t shocked.  She said, “I am glad you have a mind of your own.”  She was a nominal Christian, but had too great a sense of humor to swallow Bible miracles.  She was always making fun of them.  However, I thought this “Fellowship of Humanity” might be a cult, and might be amusing, so out of curiosity, I dropped around. 

        I could not determine from A. D. Faupell’s warm, human talk, what his creed was, if any.  After the meeting, Faupell, as was his unvarying custom, stood at the door, and shook hands with everyone.  He inquired the names, and addresses, of newcomers, and asked if he could call.  The man had a phenomenal memory.  I once asked him how he could remember names so well, and he replied, “That’s part of my business.”  When he called at my residence, I opened up, thinking to greatly shock him, “I want to speak frankly.  I like you — but I am an atheist!”  But, he shocked me, by coming right back with, “That is substantially my position."  A. D. Faupell and I became fast friends.  He visited me, often, and I was invited to his home, many times.  I was listed as a charter member on the front page of a book Faupell kept.  He put me right to work as the librarian of the Fellowship, a post I held until I left Oakland.

        At the start of World War II, I left Oakland to take employment at the Army Signal Corps at Stanford University.  Later, I was transferred to the Presidio at San Francisco, where I happened to notice a sign advertising Hugh Robert Orr’s Humanist meetings at the Women’s City Club.  I joined and was issued a card as a charter member.  Soon we branched out to conducting our meetings in a theater.  At one time we were backed by a financial “angel” and made quite a “splash” in San Francisco.  Hugh put me to work as an usher.  We became very good friends, and I remained a loyal member of the Humanist Society until Hugh left the city and the local organization practically collapsed.

        In 1963, I came back to the place that has always been “Home, Sweet Home” to me.  I refer to the beautiful little building at 411 - 28th Street, Oakland.  I rejoined.  My dear friend, Bob Bolton, was managing the dance at the Fellowship Hall and I danced there.  He was stricken with cancer and had to go to Chicago for an operation.  Before he went, he came to me with real tears in his eyes and begged me to manage the dance.  He said he did not know how long he would have to stay in Chicago, and he wanted the dance to go on.  I consented and told him I was loyal to the Fellowship and hoped I could make money for the organization.  He said, “That’s impossible.”  I found out he was right.  Bob wanted me to run for a seat on the Board of Directors and others, including Walter Kennon, also urged me.  At the second election, I landed the great honor when Sam Blackman graciously withdrew.

        It was with the greatest regret that I resigned from the Fellowship, and the dance job.  I thought I had someone to carry on in my place at the dance, but it did not work out and the dance “folded.”  The reason for my resignation was purely an economic one.  The San Francisco building where I had my own business for twenty years was sold, and I was forced out.  Fortunately I leased a better location across the street but I had to devote all my time to moving, and building my own business.  Recently, I rejoined the Fellowship.  I love the place, which has many happy memories for me, and I have a great affection for my fellow Humanists.

Absolom David Faupell

A. D. Faupell would never tell me what the initials in the front of his name stood for, but jokingly said they meant, “After Depression.”  He started the Humanist movement in Oakland during the depression, and he did have great dreams for the movement “after depression.”  He lived to see part of the dream come true.  In his many confidential talks with me, he related how he started as a very orthodox Methodist minister.  He said he regretted he never learned to dance.  It was then regarded as “sinful” by his church.  In fact, anything was regarded as sinful if it was pleasurable.  He came to the point where he could not swallow the orthodox nonsense and broke away to join the Unitarian Church, which was the most liberal church in existence in those days.  Finally, he became too liberal for the Unitarian Church and started the Humanist movement in Oakland, speaking from a rented hall.  He called the movement, “The Fellowship of Humanity.”  He was inspired by Upton Sinclair’s book, in which the author said the church of the future would be called “The Church of Humanity.”  Faupell substituted “Fellowship” for the word “Church.”

        When using the Jenny Lind Hall for a meeting place, one member died and left his entire fortune to the Fellowship.  With it, we bought an old run down orthodox church building at 411 - 28th Street.  Many changes were made in the property and when Faupell dedicated it, he said he had dedicated churches in his old Methodist days, but this was the first time he dedicated a church that was paid for, with some money left over.  The bequest was supplemented by the work and money of the members.  The old church had heavy wooden pews and a wooden floor, which sloped toward a pulpit in front. The pews were torn out and junked and a dance floor was put in.  Faupell said he thought the young folks in the Fellowship should dance.  He said dancing was a healthful and pleasant exercise that promoted friendship.  Instead of pews, he had members subscribe to the purchase of portable metal chairs, which are used to this day.  These chairs could be stacked away for the dance, or they could be used in conjunction with tables for the monthly banquet, which was an enjoyable feature of the Fellowship.  One of the pleasant features of the banquet, instituted by Faupell, was to have each diner rise in turn and recite his name and occupation.  He also provided a stage, which he thought could be used for dramatics.  An outside barbecue pit was built for picnic use.  The trees and landscaping make the Fellowship property the prettiest spot on the block.

        To have counted A. D. Faupell as my close friend was one of the greatest privileges of my life.

Hugh Robert Orr

Hugh Robert Orr came to the Humanist movement almost by the same route as A. D. Faupell, having started his professional life as a Methodist minister.  He told me how much he enjoyed the friendship of the members of his first church.  One day, the janitor of the church came to him, all white-faced with fear, and said he wanted to speak privately.  He said an ugly rumor was going about the church that: “You don’t believe in Hell!”  Hugh thought that over and decided he really did not believe in Hell.  In consequence, he wrote a letter of resignation to his Bishop.  That worthy replied and said Doctor Orr had been reading too many books, and “Forget it. Stay where you are well liked.”  But Hugh was firm and deserted the Methodist for the Unitarian church.

        When he became too liberal for the Unitarians he changed his occupation to a college teacher of English literature.  There he met one of his pupils, Frances, whom he married, not without great opposition from her parents, because of the great age difference.  Hugh said to me, “I had great trouble getting her, and now that I have her, I intend to hang on to her.”  When he left college work, he and his family migrated to San Francisco, where he started the Humanist movement, the Sunday the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  The marriage of Hugh and Frances was ideal.  They had one child, Kathleen, a very bright girl, who was raised as an adult.  She always sat with her mother at her father’s meetings.  When she was but a tiny girl, she got up and said, “Good morning, fellow Humanists!

        I remember Hugh for his wonderfully refreshing humor, and his great wit.  I could write a long story about his humor and not cover the many instances; I shall give a few.  I was seated two rows directly behind Frances Orr and her little daughter, Kathleen, one Sunday morning.  In the seat in front of me was an “old time religion” woman who was expressing her horror, in shocked whispers, of the heretical words being spoken by Dr. Orr on the stage.  Her escort was vainly trying to silence her.  She pointed to little Kathleen, and said, “What a scandal!  That innocent little girl is listening.  Why, she’s only a child!”  When the meeting was over, I followed this woman out to the door where Hugh was shaking hands with the departing members of the audience.  When this religious fanatic reached Hugh, she cried out, “Those were the most sinful, immoral, words I ever heard spoken, in public!  But I am a better Christian than I ever was, for having my faith strengthened!”  Hugh smiled, faintly, and said, very smoothly and politely,  “Perhaps you came to the wrong place!”  She stomped out, indignantly.

        At that time, Hugh published a weekly newsletter called The San Francisco Humanist.  One week, I noticed a religious joke on the front page.  Next Sunday, I told Hugh,  “I recognized that joke on the front page of The Humanist.”  He replied, “You should, for I got it from you.  Let’s have more of them.” Hugh’s witty quips in the Progressive World which he edited for many years, brought many a chuckle to me.  One Sunday I told him, “I honestly think Progressive World is the finest magazine in existence!”  He came back, enthusiastically, “I think so, too!

        At the time, I was managing the dance for the Fellowship, Hugh was the Leader of the organization.  Our greatest dance competitor was a Methodist church in Oakland.  Their dance made money for their church, for two reasons.  First — they undersold us.  Their admission price (called “donation” of course) was 50 cents.  Ours was 75¢.  They paid their musicians nothing, because they were church members.  We had the finest union musicians, and after we paid them, there was nothing left for the Fellowship.  I told Hugh that when I was a boy, I actually heard all dances characterized by Methodists as “The Devil’s recruiting ground!”  I asked him, “Was the Methodist church against dancing when you were a minister?”  He said, “They frowned on it.”  I said, “It’s a fine thing that the Methodists used to call a dance the Devil’s work, and then make money from dances given right in the church!”  Hugh’s witty reply, “It only goes to show that the Devil always wins out in the long run!



  Alfred G. Martin (Gonzalves)

Fellowship of Humanity grew out of one of the most unique political crusades in the history of our country — Upton Sinclair’s great campaign to “End Poverty in California” (EPIC).  At that time, Sinclair, a lifelong Socialist, decided upon a new line of political strategy and changed his registration from Socialist to Democrat;  then announced his candidacy for Governor of California.  Along with Sinclair were many others who later were to make political history in California — Culbert Olson, Sheridan Downey, Ellis Patterson, Robert Kenny, Jerry Voorhis, George Miller of Richmond and others.  Likewise many old line Socialists and radicals throughout the state joined in the effort; while others stood aside mocking, sneering, and ridiculing.  Previously Sinclair had run for Governor four times as a Socialist and the most votes he ever received were 50,000.  Now, as a Democrat, he received about 300,000 votes and won the nomination — thereby taking over the Democratic party.  This great victory marked a milestone in the course of progressivism, from which a valuable lesson was learned in the techniques of political strategy.  Soon thereafter a tremendous new movement was under way, attracting many honest and dedicated people to its fold... many who had never voted before or participated in political action of any kind.

        Among the many dedicated people to come into the movement in the East Bay was A. D. Faupell — a former Methodist Minister who had left the church because he felt it was not serving its role as a viable entity in the process of helping to elevate society.  Moreover, by remaining in the abstract and failing to take cognizance of human needs, or to participate in the political effort to alleviate the social problems of the times, the church had missed its mark and failed in the moral duties for which it was primarily dedicated.  Now participating in the political area — to help effect meaningful social changes — he had at last found his place and was doing what he knew to be the most important and effective work a moral teacher can ever undertake or be involved in.

        He plunged into the work wholeheartedly to teach and lead the people to understand their democratic privileges and to fully utilize and wield their political powers in their own interests, by vigorously participating in the political processes of electing moral men to government, that government may become moral and exercise its duties and responsibilities in the best interests of the entire people — in keeping with the Constitutional mandates of “promoting the general welfare”... and the precept that “all men are created equal and endowed with those inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Working in the EPIC campaign he was at the height of his glory and soon became imbued with the idea that honest moral leadership — whether in the church, in politics, in social, or philosophical, or any intellectual pursuits — must become involved in the social and civic duties necessary for the promotion, the elevation, and evolvement of a higher social order.  And that political participation was a prime and imperative requisite in this most important endeavor.

        Since he was an eloquent speaker and lecturer as well as a great teacher he was in great demand and was called upon to address numerous meetings throughout the East Bay.  As a result he was soon to establish a good rapport and lasting friendship with great numbers of people who highly esteemed and respected him as soon as they came into contact and acquainted with him.  After Sinclair’s defeat in the General Elections, the EPIC movement began to decline, but it did not disintegrate.  The stalwarts held together and continued to meet.  Since Faupell was looked upon as a brilliant and honest and devoted teacher and leader he was urged to take the responsibility and initiative of holding regular weekly meetings.  Soon thereafter he made arrangements with the Theosophical Church on Madison Street, near Lake Merritt, where regular meetings were held every Sunday morning.  In the process he would give a series of lectures on various subjects, ranging from the important political, social, and international issues of the day, to philosophical, psychological, and moral discourses.  With every lecture his popularity continued to grow and respect and admiration for him bordered on reverence, as the meetings increased in attendance.  Later he arranged to continue the meetings at the Norway Hall on Piedmont Avenue.

        At that time the Spanish Civil War was in progress and became the major issue of discussion.  At every meeting Faupell would outline the highlights of the latest developments in that war.  Resolutions and Petitions were frequently initiated and circulated denouncing fascism, Franco, Mussolini, and Hitler who were actively supporting Franco in violation of the London International Pact which was supposed to supervise a hands-off policy in that war.

        In 1938 a great new political campaign was under way in which former EPIC people were involved.  Culbert Olson was now the candidate for Governor; Ellis Patterson for Lieutenant Governor; Sheridan Downey for U.S. Senator.  This was the year in which the progressive Democrats won a resounding victory and things began to look up for the progressives with promises of a brighter future.  Flushed with the aura of victory and knowing the role which the members of our group had played in that campaign, Ellis Patterson was a frequent visitor at our meetings — since he lived in Oakland at that time.  Many other political leaders attended meetings at Norway Hall.  Among the stalwarts who with Faupell were responsible for the success of the group, the foremost were Robert Bolton, Kullmer, Samuel and Mrs. Fell, Earl Noldin, “Jake” Jacobson, Eric Lind, Jack Morton, Harry McClellan, Fred and Mrs. Mathews, Walter Kennon, Alfred Hansen, Frona Ernst, Jessie Pedrick, J. I. Mclntosh, Jessie Bradley and her son Theodore, and many others.  Even old Fred Reed — before he became rich — was a regular member, attending every Sunday meeting.  He often complained that he was “land poor” but that “some day” his land would be worth something.  After he became a millionaire he forgot all about the group and even denounced them as “communists,” etc.

        Old Mr. Kullmer attended every meeting religiously and was very devoted to the group.  One day he told me in confidence: “I have been a Socialist all my life.  During my younger days I used to work hard for Socialism and would talk to all my friends about Socialism, but no one seemed to care, or to do anything to help out the cause.  So I got disgusted and decided to go out for myself.  I worked hard and saved my money, and I have something.  And some day I will do some good with it.”  Little did I realize what he meant by that last statement, until after he had died.  Later I learned that he had left a good share of his money to the group.  This money was used by Faupell and the Board of Directors to buy the present property at 411 - 28th Street.

        With this new acquisition of property, things began to change, and Faupell was not to continue to enjoy the free hand he formerly had in determining and planning the affairs of the Fellowship.  His plans and ambitions were constantly blocked and frustrated, and being a highly sensitive man, the tensions and strains of these frustrations soon developed into melancholia and a loss of morale; later into a complete mental and physical breakdown.  He lingered in this condition for months on end and never recovered.  Finally this most brilliant and beloved Teacher and Scholar — who had inspired and encouraged so many — gave way to the elements and passed on into eternity... to the heartfelt sorrow and sad dismay of those who had loved and admired and respected him.

        In the meantime the same forces responsible for Faupell’s demise were making steady encroachments into assuming dictatorial control over the affairs of the Fellowship, and finally succeeded.  It took years of hectic battling in order to break this control.  With this accomplished the ousted dictatorial forces began instituting legal action in the Courts against the Fellowship.  The case dragged on for many months at great expense to the Fellowship.  The final result was victory for the liberals and ejection for the instigators.  Having broken the restrictions imposed by the dictatorship, the members were now functioning freely and engaging in a great deal of meaningful activity and positive accomplishments.  Philip Mayer was then Leader of the Fellowship and did much to enhance the prestige of the organization.

        During this period the campaign for Henry Wallace for President was under way and much action took place in the Fellowship by the more active members, in the effort to enhance the campaign.  One of the highlights of the Fellowship’s accomplishments was the sponsoring and initiating of the first Peace Committee and Peace Demonstration in this area.  Since Wallace’s Platform contained a proposal for “Peace and Worldwide Disarmament” the members took advantage of this plank to project the formation of a Peace Committee, and quickly organized a Social Actions Committee to facilitate the work.  Its first action was to send communications to all churches in the East Bay to attend a conference on peace and disarmament.  Having been endorsed by the Oakland Council of Churches, many religious Ministers and laymen were quick to respond.  Out of the conference a Peace Committee was formed which was titled the “Citizens Call to Peace.”  Arrangements were immediately made for a Peace Demonstration in Oakland and an Executive Committee was elected to carry out the work and to plan future activity.  By the time the demonstration was to be held, many of the church people had dropped out, due to rumors that this was simply a maneuver for Wallace — instigated by the “Communists” and “Atheists” of the Fellowship.  However many of the more sturdy and dedicated Christian Ministers and their followers answered the Call to peace and the demonstration turned into a great success.  About a hundred cars with hundreds of persons took part in a Peace Caravan through downtown Oakland on a busy Saturday afternoon.

        Later the Committee met at the Fellowship and adopted a motion calling on the Labor Day Parade Committee in San Francisco for permission to include a Peace Section in the Labor Day Parade.  After waiting several weeks without an answer, or even an acknowledgment of the request, the group had abandoned hope.  Then suddenly, a few days before the parade, a letter was received, granting such permission.  Since the time was short in which to make adequate preparations, the members were divided as to the wisdom or feasibility of continuing with the plan.  During a meeting at the Fellowship the majority consensus was against participating.  However a little later — after an impassioned plea by Philip Mayer and an elderly Quaker, declaring that even if they had to “march alone” they would participate in the parade — the final decision was made to go full speed ahead and to make whatever arrangements were necessary for the best possible showing — under the circumstances.

        By this time the Wallace campaign was gathering momentum and adding numerous supporters to the fold, so that it was not difficult for word to spread quickly among them to fall in line.  Surprisingly, on Labor Day — after only three days of preparation — many more people showed up than were expected.  Of particular significance — and the brightest feature of the Peace Section — was the countless numbers of young men and women from the University of California who participated enthusiastically and cheerfully, carrying huge banners for “Peace and Disarmament” stretching out for 20 feet or more.  When it was over, the Chairman of the Parade Committee congratulated the Citizens Call to Peace for having the most impressive and colorful section of the parade.



  J. Arthur Ragsdale

Humanism, seen as a philosophy, as a faith, and as a religion, presents itself in three different aspects, or appearances, of the same ideology, or body of thought.  Each of these aspects presents itself in characteristics that intertwine and are inter-related to the characteristics of the other two aspects.  Thus the philosophy of Humanism envisions Man as the highest form of life in the known universe.  Man is, therefore, free to rule the universe as the supreme power, limited, of course, by the natural laws governing his physical environment, and by his own capacity for understanding and directing natural law to modify his environment, and by the degree to which he is able to exercise and direct the application of his will power.

        The American College Dictionary defines faith as “Confidence or trust in a person or thing.”  Religion is defined as “The quest for the values of the ideal life.”  Humanism as a faith believes in Man’s potential, or capacity, or ability to collectively develop on this earth, a better human society for all the people of the world, a society in which war, poverty and human suffering will be abolished forever, and security and happiness will prevail for all.  And Humanism believes that this will be brought about by the use of the scientific method and by the exercise of the democratic process to alter, not only the natural environment, but also the social environment.  This faith, or belief, is not the same as a supernatural faith.  The faith in Man’s potential which Humanism expresses is based partly on fact, the fact of Man’s past and present performance and strivings toward the future.  Nevertheless it is a faith, because it contains an element of hope, and as we all know, the future is unpredictable...  The faith expressed is in Man’s potential, but it is no guarantee of performance.

        Humanism as a religion is a continual quest, or search for ways in which to construct, in this life and on this earth, a better human society.  Humanism continually asks itself the question: “How can we best advance toward the ideal life?”  and Humanism continually puts forth answers to its own question.  Humanism strives to advance on all fronts the religious front, the political front, the trade-union front, the medical front, the psychological and psychiatric front, the ethical front, the cultural front.  In all these human endeavors Humanism lends its influence.  Humanism strives especially for world peace as the first step to the Brotherhood of Man.  Humanism says: “Everything for the good of Man.”  A religion needs an organization with which to put forth its ideas before the public.

        And this is what the Fellowship of Humanity is.  “First incorporated under the laws of the State of California on January 28, 1935, under the name of the Church of Humanity,”  it is probably the oldest continually existing Humanist organization in the U.S.  For the past 32 years or more it has carried on the work of Humanism in the San Francisco Bay Area according to the purposes expressed in Section 4 of its Constitution.  Of this splendid history our members may well be proud.  It has established a tradition, and its record of Humanist achievement cannot be disputed successfully by anyone.  The Fellowship of Humanity has been, is, and will continue to be an outstanding exponent of Humanism as long as it operates under its present Constitution.



  Douglas Rees

        These pages tell the remarkable story of what is probably the oldest
Humanist group in the United States: the Fellowship of Humanity in Oakland, California.  Almost 35 years have elapsed since the book was originally published in 1971, and a great deal has happened in the interval — to the Fellowship itself, to Humanism in general, and to the world as a whole.  History gives us all the benefit of hindsight; so that by seeing where we have been, we can get a clearer picture of where we are, and a better idea of where we should go.  And thus it is that the history of the Fellowship — so reflective of its own times — casts a powerful light upon present-day realities.

        The Fellowship grew out of the ideas of two great men: Upton Sinclair and Absolom David Faupell Sinclair was a famous “muckraking” journalist, whose great book, The Jungle, laid bare the inhuman conditions of the meat-packing industry, where workers were treated scarcely better than the animals they slaughtered, and where unsafe meat was routinely offered to the public.  Reporting this and other horrors turned Upton Sinclair into a committed socialist, and he ran unsuccessfully for Governor four times on the Socialist ticket.  But the Socialist Party could make no real headway in two-party America; so in 1934, during the Great Depression, Sinclair changed his political registration and captured the Democratic nomination for governor of California.  He ran on a platform called “EPIC”, which stood for “End Poverty In California.”  It was one of the most significant radical movements in American history, and seemed for a time almost on the verge of capturing power in one of the nation’s largest states.  In Sinclair’s own words:

“The... movement proposes that our unemployed shall be put at productive labor, producing everything which they themselves consume and exchanging those goods among themselves by a method of barter, using warehouse receipts or labor certificates or whatever name you may choose to give to the paper employed... To meet the immediate emergency in our State and get the money to start our new cooperative system, we propose what we call an ‘EPIC’ tax.  That is an ad valorem tax on property assessed above $100,000, which means about $250,000 of actual value.”

Sinclair’s candidacy aroused great enthusiasm among the state’s unemployed, and an equal amount of opposition from the well-to-do.  In the end, President Roosevelt refused to endorse Sinclair, and wealthy interests managed to elect a reactionary Republican.  But the defeat did not destroy the hopes of millions of Californians, who wanted to continue the “EPIC” struggle.

        Among those millions was an articulate and charismatic minister in the East Bay named A. D. Faupell.  Rev. Faupell began his career as a Methodist minister, but quickly became disillusioned with orthodox Christianity and shifted to the Unitarian Church.  During the Sinclair campaign, after that church disapproved of his political involvement, Faupell left the Unitarians and struck out on his own.  He had a powerful and magnetic personality, together with strong personal integrity, and those qualities soon gained him a significant following.  Borrowing one of Sinclair’s ideas, Faupell and several of his friends incorporated the “Church of Humanity” on January 28, 1935.  It was the beginning of something that has continued until the present day.

        At first, the group met in various rental halls, and even a cafeteria.  On most Sundays, Faupell gave a sermon on Humanist ideals, though he often invited outsiders with interesting knowledge or ideas to speak.  His lectures had a rare ability to attract listeners of every background and social class — professors, business people, machinists, artists, housewives, and the unemployed.  Faupell could have been a successful demagogue, but instead chose to be a democrat in the best meaning of the term, elevating everyone’s lives and sense of social responsibility.  No one ever felt put down or slighted by A. D. Faupell.

        One of those who listened most intently to Rev. Faupell was a quiet, elderly German immigrant named George Kullmer. Kullmer had been a socialist since his youth, and thrilled to Faupell’s impassioned pleas for social justice.  Although not wealthy, Mr. Kullmer had built up a sizeable estate, which he bequeathed to the group (now renamed the “Fellowship of Humanity”) in its entirety. George Kullmer died on April 23, 1940, and the Board of Directors used the money to purchase the property located at 411 - 28th Street in Oakland, which is still the Fellowship‘s home.  The wooden structure there had previously belonged to the Lutheran Church, and contained pews and a pulpit.  Members of the Fellowship were thrilled to finally have a place of their own, and eagerly contributed their money and labour to renovate the building and grounds.  In dedicating the building, Rev. Faupell remarked that it was the first time he ever dedicated a church that was completely paid for, with some money to spare.  The pews and pulpit were removed, so that the Hall could be used for dancing and other forms of entertainment.  Faupell wanted the members to enjoy themselves, and considered pleasure a legitimate pursuit.

        Rev. Faupell suffered a series of strokes, beginning in 1944, and was forced to retire.  Deprived of his leadership, the Fellowship declined for many years, and suffered a serious internal dispute in the late 1940s.  Yet members continued to hold fast to their founder’s ideals of world peace and social justice.  They participated in the Henry Wallace campaign of 1948, spoke out against “red-baiting.” and actively opposed the wars in Korea and Vietnam.  During the 1950s, the Hall was one of the few places in the Bay Area where communists and other blacklisted “subversives” could speak, so the Fellowship acquired the reputation of being “pro-Communist.”  In reality, most of the members were never Communists, but they did insist on maintaining civil liberties in spite of opposition from both liberals and conservatives.  Not for the first time — or the last — the Fellowship stood up to the powerful and spoke for powerless and despised minorities.  A. D. Faupell would have wanted it that way.

        In the 1950s, the Fellowship acquired a second great leader, Hugh Robert Orr, whose impact on the Fellowship rivaled that of Rev. Faupell himself.  Like Faupell, Dr Orr had begun his career as a Methodist minister, but became disillusioned with Christianity and turned to Humanism.  He later served as Professor of English Literature at both the University of Chicago and San Francisco State College, and founded the secularist magazine Progressive World.  Orr was that rarest of creatures — a learned crusader.  He was witty, erudite, and compassionate; and inspired enormous respect during his tenure from 1958 to his death in 1967.  Dr Orr could often crack a joke and inspire a smile, even from his bitterest opponents, yet he never yielded an inch on matters of principle.

        The Fellowship has had other great leaders in the years since Dr Orr’s death.  Particularly notable was Oiva Nurmela, a jovial Finnish communist who served as President during the 1980s.  Oiva could never speak for any length of time without breaking into song.  The current President, Florence Windfall, and the Treasurer, David Oertel, continue the tradition of making the Fellowship a haven for activism, while working hard to provide affordable rental space to progressive and minority groups and individuals.  As I write, the Fellowship is engulfed in another internal struggle as serious as the one which took place in the late 1940s.  How it will turn out is anyone’s guess; but, as these pages show, such disputes have happened before, and every time the group has recovered and progressed.

        Throughout its history, the Fellowship has been shaped by remarkable leaders, gifted with the ability to inspire others, and possessed of the integrity to use that gift for noble ends.  It has also been shaped, as these pages show, to an inestimable degree by the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice of ordinary members, such as George Kullmer, who asked for nothing but the opportunity to serve humanity.  Both the leaders and the members were brave and dedicated people, with great minds and great hearts.  But that very fact makes the disparity between their vision and present-day realities all the more poignant.

        “End Poverty In California.”  Think of that slogan the next time you walk down the street and see people living in cardboard boxes in doorways, or standing in line for blocks, waiting for free meals at Glide or St Anthony’s.  And think of the vision that so many courageous people at the Fellowship have had of “a world without war” the next time you turn on the nightly news and watch the latest events in Iraq.  A “world without war” seems to be the last thing the leaders of this country have in mind.  Think of the Fellowship’s brave and lonely struggle for civil liberties the next time you read about our government’s secret trials and torture chambers at the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba.  Think of its commitment to civil rights when you hear Administration spokesmen defend racial profiling of Arab-Americans.  Think of Faupell and Orr, and their struggle for rational thought, and then consider that the “religious right” — devoted to the suppression of such thought — has recently put two of its supporters on the Supreme Court.

        Both Rev. Faupell and Dr. Orr were atheists.  Neither believed in the existence of God, but neither made that a condition for membership in the Fellowship.  The Fellowship did indeed sponsor lectures devoted to attacking Christianity in general, and the Catholic Church in particular, in the context of an atmosphere in which all forms of free thought were encouraged.  But one of the contributors to this volume was Albert Martin, a devout Catholic; and the book refers to an unnamed “elderly Quaker” who insisted that the Fellowship participate in a Peace March held in 1948.  What unites and defines Humanists is not a disbelief in God, but rather a positive belief in the potential of humanity.  Since it contains elements of faith and reverence, Humanism is a religion in its own right — a fact recognized by the Supreme Court of California in an historic decision (portions of which are printed here).  The proposition that Humanism is a religion, rooted in a faith in humanity, is also upheld by the American Humanist Association, with which the Fellowship is affiliated.  It is expressed in the three Manifestoes of that Association.

        But it is fair to say that Humanism, as a religion, has not caught on in the United States.  Upton Sinclair’s prediction that the “Church of Humanity” would be the religion of the future has not been borne out by events.  Nor have broad humanistic principles prevailed in our society, or in the world at large.  It is fair to ask: “What went wrong?” so that we Humanists might, perhaps, do better in the future.  I believe that part of the answer to the question “What went wrong?” can be found in “what went right” at the Fellowship.  For all of their staggering erudition, neither Rev. Faupell nor Dr Orr were dry academic theorists.  They both possessed the ability, not merely to reach their listeners’ minds, but to captivate their hearts and inspire their souls as well.  As much as Faupell and Orr revered science, they did not put humanity in a test tube.  They loved rationality, but their faith was not in rationality as an end in itself, but rather in real human beings, with real lives, real hopes, and real problems.  Their vision possessed enough intellectual integrity to attract learned professors, but it reached into the guts of ordinary working people too.  They could appeal to the best facets of human nature with even greater emotional force and intensity than their opponents could lavish on the worst.  Above all, Faupell and Orr appreciated the truth of the adage that “action without thought is blind, but thought without action is mute.”  Their philosophy married the two.  Both men encouraged activism, and managed to convey the intangible sense that “something was happening” for the better. 

        I believe that, with some exceptions, those qualities are missing from contemporary Humanism.  Gone is the spirit of the “Bonus Army” of veterans, who marched on Washington, D.C. in 1932 and said to their government: “We helped you when you needed us, now help us when we need you!”  Gone is the passion that moved Paul Robeson’s great voice, and inspired Woody Guthrie to write “This land is your land.”  He meant: it is your land, not their land.  Gone too is the spirit of Martin Luther King and the Berrigan brothers (whom I regard as true Humanists despite the fact that King was a Baptist minister and the Berrigans were Jesuits).  King has been turned into a harmless icon — a fate he himself would probably have regarded as worse than being locked in a Southern jail — and the Berrigans are mostly forgotten.  What we have, instead, in our society is “PC liberalism,” of interest mostly to coffee-table progressives and faculty-lounge activists, plus assorted forms of “New Age” mysticism, almost as bad as the superstitions they replace.  The “sound of one hand clapping” is not going to save humanity.  Humanists need to come to grips with the society in which we hope to thrive; and, in so doing, need to rekindle a fire that has been nearly extinguished. 

        In preparing this book, I was struck by the fact that people who were involved with the Fellowship in the past, of whatever background, had a much greater level of intellectual sophistication than most Americans today.  They knew about history and philosophy, could intelligently discuss Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, and were interested in topics such as the parallels between Christianity and Norse mythology.  I came away from the experience with the sense that I had been looking in on a different age, in which enlightenment was the rule and not the exception.  Perhaps it was the tail end of the renaissance.  Things have changed, and people have changed.  The “dumbing down” of our culture is a fact we cannot afford to ignore.  It has made the task of Humanists (and progressives generally) immeasurably more difficult.  So part of the job of Humanism is to spark a new renaissance — a rebirth of knowledge and free thought sufficient to at least give the voice of reason a chance to be heard. 

        The last renaissance began with the reintroduction of Aristotle into European thought in the 14th century, when “Averroes Clubs” sprang up like mushrooms throughout Europe.  There were no entrance requirements.  You did not need good grades or a high test score to participate — only an enquiring mind.  The same kind of thing should happen today, under the auspices of Humanist groups everywhere.  In this process, we should not be “selective.”  We should scatter the seeds of knowledge with the wind, and let the flowers of enlightenment bloom wherever they might.  I believe that such a scattering of knowledge did happen, to some extent, at the Fellowship of Humanity during the time of Rev. Faupell and Dr. Orr.

        Humanists in the last renaissance were not averse to innovation. They did not say that books had to be hand-copied by scribes in monasteries.  Instead they exploited the new technology of printing for all it was worth, and used it to create the scientific revolution.  Humanists today should likewise be open to the new technology of the computer era, and should use it to spread knowledge and enlightenment.  There is a potential for online universities — accessible to anyone with access to the Internet — and such institutions can even allow for a considerable amount of interplay between students and their instructors (and between the students themselves).  Such a technique would be an excellent supplement to discussion groups and other activities in the local churches, and would have the additional benefit of allowing Humanists worldwide to get to know each other.  We could also set up an online International Travel Registry, allowing people in different countries to make their homes available to visiting Humanists.  Like the online university, this would be a revival, in modern form, of an idea going back at least to the renaissance.  By facilitating low-cost travel, as well as the sharing of cultures, the Registry would contribute to world peace, enlightenment, and education.  It would encourage worldwide activism — and would attract new members to our ranks.

        In that connection, I suggest that American Humanists openly and flagrantly defy the law and travel to Cuba.  Perhaps we could arrange for Humanists on that island to provide accommodations during our stay.  The government of the United States has no right to prohibit such travel.  Let them put us all in jail — if they dare.  We need to recognize that Humanism is a starting point, and not a resting point.  While we should not be partisan in the narrow sense of the term, we cannot afford to be “apolitical.”  Rev. Faupell understood that.  He quit the Unitarian ministry, and threw away his livelihood during the Great Depression, in order to participate in the struggle for justice.  We must be part of the same struggle, which is even more urgent today than it was in 1934.  We can learn from past experience, and should not be doctrinaire about government ownership and regulation of the means of production.  But, to the extent that “neo-liberalism” advocates a philosophy of “dog eat dog and let the Devil take the hindmost” we must stand against it.  We should make it crystal clear that real Humanism implies that society needs to take care of the least of its members, by whatever means are most appropriate to the situation.  We should also make it clear to government officials that a policy of forcing the homeless to move “somewhere else” is not an adequate response to social problems.  A great American Humanist, Oliver Wendell Holmes, once said that “the law, to be respected, must be respectable.”  It is so today.

        Members of the Fellowship of Humanity, and Humanists in general, have always been in the forefront of the struggle for world peace.  They have set up Peace Committees, marched, and demonstrated.  During the Korean and Vietnam wars, many of them broke the law and some of them went to jail.  In a world where the existence of humanity is at risk because of environmental degradation, war itself is the supreme form of lawlessness.  It is the Bush administration, and its stooges in Congress, who are defying the rule of law.  Humanism should spark a movement to stop the war-making policies of that administration, comparable to the one that put millions of people into the streets to stop the Vietnam War.  There must be civil disobedience on a massive scale — not to destroy the law, but to uphold it.  All of these things, and many more — environmental protection, animal rights, prison reform, opposition to the death penalty — are part of the same package:  the struggle for humanity.  If Humanism is to live up to its potential, it must be true to its name.  These pages have told the story of a remarkable group in Oakland, California, that was created, built, and sustained by great people for that great purpose.  It is up to us, their successors, to carry on the task they so nobly began.


Copyright © 2006 by The Fellowship of Humanity
Book and Cover Designed by Douglas Rees
Printed in the United States of America
By Quincunx Press, Berkeley, California
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 0-9773640-1-1



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