Eldred C. Vanderlaan

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Vanderlaan, Eldred C. (20th Century)

Vanderlaan was a lecturer who signed both Humanist Manifesto I and II. He once wrote to Warren Allen Smith concerning humanism:

  • After one pastorate in the Dutch Reformed Church at Kinderhook, New York, I decided I wanted to be a theological professor rather than a pastor. I took some work at Union Theological Seminary in church history, also some work in Marburg, Germany, and in 1924 got a Th. D. from Union—which is now comical, for how can a man be a Doctor of Theology after he has lost his theology! Then I got located in Berkeley in a combined post as Professor in the Pacific Unitarian School (now Starr King School) and minister of the Berkeley Unitarian Church. The school had a financial crisis owing to embezzlement by the Treasurer of the Board, and my position was abolished. For a few years I continued in the church. I imagined I was a darn good preacher, but I lacked other qualifications for making a church prosper. Thanks to the generosity of my wife, I then went to Stanford and acquired a teaching credential, spending 20 years as a high school teacher. A few years ago I reached retirement age. My wife died soon after, and I am living in our house alone, taking my meals out. Some time during this last period, Ed Wilson got me on the staff of The Humanist . . . . I found in Saul Padover’s big volume, The Complete Jefferson, that Dr. Benjamin Rush reported to Thomas Jefferson around February 1, 1799, that on the occasion of Washington’s leaving office a group of clergy sent him an Address containing some wording designed to make him declare once and for all whether he was a Christian. Dr. Rush then said, “The old fox was too clever for them. He answered every point in their address but left this matter untouched.” Jefferson then comments: “I know that Gouverneur Morris, who pretended to be in his secrets and believed himself to be so, has often told me that General Washington believed no more of that system (Orthodox Christianity) than he himself did.”

In the mid-1950s, Vanderlaan was a consulting and contributing editor for The Humanist. He wrote Fundamentalism vs. Modernism (1925).

{HM1; HM2; HNS; WAS, 4 November 1958}