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Charles Francis Potter
Rappleyea Byrd Potter..jpg
George Washington Rappleyea, Howard Gale Byrd, and Charles Francis Potter (L to R), July 1925

Dr Charles Francis Potter (1885-1962) was an American Unitarian minister, theologian and author.

In 1923 and 1924, he became nationally known through a series of debates with Dr. John Roach Straton, a fundamentalist Christian. The subjects, which Dr. Potter called "part of a crisis in theology," were the infallibility of the Bible, evolution, the Virgin Birth, the divinity of Christ and the Second Coming

Scopes Trial[edit]

In 1925 he was adviser on the Bible to Clarence Darrow in his defense of John Thomas Scopes, a schoolteacher who was charged with teaching evolution in his classes.


He was born in Marlboro, Mass., where his father was a shoe-factory worker, and received his education at Bucknell University, Brown University and Newton Theological Institution.

Dr. Potter began his career as a Baptist minister. He resigned his position in 1925 because, he explained, even a liberal pulpit did not afford all the necessary freedom of expression. The next year he was professor of comparative religion at Antioch College.


His progressive ideas led him to found, in 1929, the First Humanist Society of New York, whose advisory board included Julian Huxley, John Dewey, Albert Einstein and Thomas Mann. Together with Dewey, Potter was also one of the original 34 signees of the first Humanist Manifesto in 1933.[1] Potter was also the founder, in 1938, of the Euthanasia Society of America.

Humanism as religion[edit]

"Humanism is not the abolition of religion," he was quoted as saying.,[2] "but the beginning of real religion. By freeing religion of supernaturalism, it will release tremendous reserves of hitherto thwarted power. Man has waited too long for God to do what man ought to do himself and is fully capable of doing." It was to be, he said, "a religion of common sense; and the chief end of man is to improve himself, both as an individual and as a race."

Published works[edit]

  • The Preacher and I his autobiography, published in 1951.
  • The Story of Religion
  • What is Humanism?
  • Humanism a New Religion
  • Humanizing Religion
  • Technique of Happiness
  • Beyond the Senses
  • A Treasury of American Folk Wit and Humor
  • Books Jesus Loved
  • The Lost Years of Jesus Revealed
  • The Great Religious Leaders
  • Creative Personality
  • Is That in the Bible?

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Humanist Manifesto I". American Humanist Association. Retrieved September 19, 2012. 
  2. ^ (1962) New York Times Obituary, Charles Potter, Clergyman Dead.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Francis_Potter — Please support Wikipedia.
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5 news items

Wed, 02 Apr 2014 08:22:30 -0700

Charles Francis Potter was founder of the Humanist Society and in 1924 Margaret Sanger wrote an “Introduction for Charles Francis Potter.” Potter was active in the Rhode Island Maternal Health Association, which he served as medical director, as well ...

Tablet Magazine

Tablet Magazine
Mon, 22 Jul 2013 08:55:04 -0700

Rabbi Herman Rosenwasser Teaching Hebrew to the Defense.(W.C. Robinson Collection of Scopes Trial Photographs). This week marks the anniversary of the verdict of one of the most famous trials in American history. On July 21, 1925, a jury in Dayton, ...
Sun, 04 Nov 2007 00:00:00 -0700

In 1930, Charles Francis Potter authored HUMANISM, A NEW RELIGION, in which he boasted: "Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism and every American public school is a school of humanism. What can the theistic Sunday schools meeting for ...

Charisma News

Charisma News
Thu, 06 Jun 2013 08:32:57 -0700

and acumen." -CHARLES FRANCIS POTTER:(The Faith Men Live By, Page 239). "I am...much pleased with this free, frank and vigorous translation(NWT). It exhibits a vast array of sound serious learning, as I can testify...an interesting and 'scholarly' work.

La Voix du Nord

La Voix du Nord
Sun, 18 Oct 2015 10:02:34 -0700

Nous les avons rencontrés autour d'une table et à l'air libre. Ce jour-là, ils n'étaient pas en prison, cet endroit devenu résidence secondaire où ils interviennent chaque semaine, pour tendre l'oreille aux détenus, « ceux qui restent des hommes malgré ...

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