Edd Doerr, Church-State Separation and Education Advocate, Dies at Eighty-Nine

Nicole Scott

Edd Doerr was born on December 21, 1930, in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of Eugene Henry and Mary Catherine (Burk) Doerr. He received his Bachelor of Science from Indiana University in 1956.

A former teacher of history and Spanish, he is the author, coauthor, editor, or translator of twenty books, including My Life as a Humanist. Most of his books were on religious liberty and reproductive rights, but also among them were five books of poetry and fiction, including Timely and Timeless: The Wisdom of E. Burdette Backus. Doerr was the compiler, with Albert J. Menendez, of the 2002 book Great Quotations on Religious Freedom. He joined Burdette Backus’s All Souls Unitarian Church in Indianapolis in 1951, was a member of River Road Unitarian Church in Bethesda, Maryland, and was a frequent delegate to Unitarian Universalist Association General Assemblies. An accomplished speaker, he spoke in over a hundred Unitarian Universalist churches in thirty states. Doerr served on the governing body of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice since 1973 and on the boards of NARAL, the ACLU of Maryland, and the National Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty. More than 3,000 of his articles, columns, reviews, and letters have been published in The Humanist magazine, Free Inquiry, and many other publications.

Doerr was president of the American Humanist Association from 1995 to 2003, serving previously as vice president and board chair under Isaac Asimov from 1985 to 1991. He was executive director and then president of Americans for Religious Liberty, as well as its CEO, since 1982. He wrote the 1982 Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly resolution on church-state separation. Doerr served on the board of directors of the International Humanist and Ethical Union in London since 1985 and the North America Committee for Humanism in Farmington Hills, Michigan, since 1985.

Doerr was a regular columnist for Free Inquiry since 2006, first for the Church-State department and then with his Doerr’s Way column. He frequently contributed other articles, including many book reviews.

Doerr passed away on February 6, 2020, and is survived by his wife, Herenia, and children, Helena and Eric.

Edd Doerr’s contribution to the separation of church and state in government, reproductive rights, and public education is unmatched. He will be especially missed by his Free Inquiry family.

Nicole Scott

Nicole Scott is the managing editor of Free Inquiry.


Edd Doerr was born on December 21, 1930, in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of Eugene Henry and Mary Catherine (Burk) Doerr. He received his Bachelor of Science from Indiana University in 1956. A former teacher of history and Spanish, he is the author, coauthor, editor, or translator of twenty books, including My Life as a …

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