Bill Schulz

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Schulz, Bill (1949– )

When he signed Humanist Manifesto II, Schulz was a Ph. D. candidate at Meadville/Lombard, the University of Chicago. For his 1954 doctoral dissertation, he wrote “Making the Manifesto: A History of Early Religious Humanism,” published as a hardcover book in 1975. He interviewed many of those who had written Humanist Manifesto I and observed about the John Dewey philosophy that, coming as it did

  • . . . on the explosive heels of the technological revolution, it quite readily reinforced the “rumor” already spreading for several decades (since Huxley’s time and before) that science could transform Being. Man was flexing his muscles in Nature’s face; intelligence, judgment, and the scientific input could regulate and direct her. Lacking the obstacles which a deity might provide, and confident that the universe (matter) was just waiting to be exploited for man’s benefit, humanity stood in awe before the possibilities with which its new Weltanschauung presented it. Religious humanism institutionalized that awe.

Schulz in person and in his writings argues that humanism might have been a stronger movement if the Unitarians had expelled their humanists much as the Jews expelled Felix Adler and the Ethical Culturalists. Within Unitarianism and Unitarian-Universalism, humanists tend to file the rough edges off their skepticism in order to get along with theists, deists, liberal Christians, pagans, mystics, and others. As a separate group or as part of Ethical Culture, he and others think Unitarians might have been a stronger and more forceful entity.

At the Tenth International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) World Congress held in Buffalo (1988), Schulz addressed the group. In 2000 he was named "Humanist of the Year" by the American Humanist Association.

In 1985, he was elected the fifth President of the American Unitarian Universalist Association, a position he held from 1985 to 1993. He then was named executive director of Amnesty International U.S.A., the human rights organization which received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1977, a position he held since retiring in 2006.

As President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Schulz was involved in a wide variety of international and social justice causes. He led the first visit by a U. S. Member of Congress to post-revolutionary Romania in January, 1991, two weeks after the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu. That delegation was instrumental in the subsequent improvement in the rights of religious and ethnic minorities in Romania.

Schulz spent February, 1992, in India in consultation with the Holdeen India Fund, a fund dedicated to ending communal violence and to the political and economic empowerment of women, bonded laborers and others. He led fact-finding missions to the Middle East and Northern Ireland and was instrumental in his denomination's opposition to U. S. military aid to El Salvador.

In September, 2004, Schulz participated in an Amnesty mission to Darfur, Sudan, to help redress the humanitarian crisis in that region. In 1997 he led an Amnesty mission to Liberia to investigate atrocities committed during the civil war there and in 1999 returned to Northern Ireland with Amnesty to insist that human rights protections be incorporated into the peace process. During his years with Amnesty he has traveled extensively, both in the US and abroad, including a 2004 trip to Cuba under the sponsorship of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

From 1985-93 he served on the Council of the International Association for Religious Freedom, the oldest international interfaith organization in the world. Throughout his career he has been outspoken in his opposition to the death penalty and his support for women's rights, gay and lesbian rights and racial justice, having organized, participated in demonstrations and written extensively on behalf of all four causes.

Schulz has served on the boards of People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Communitarian Network and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, among others. He is currently a member of the International Advisory Committee for the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award and the Board of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

He has appeared frequently on radio and television, including "60 Minutes," "20/20," "The Today Show," "Good Morning, America," "All Things Considered," "Talk of the Nation," "ABC World News," "Larry King Live," "Nightline," "Politically Incorrect," and on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, FOX News and Bloomberg News.

He has published and is quoted widely in newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Review of Books, The Nation, The National Interest and Parade, and is the author of several books, including In Our Own Best Interests: How Defending Human Rights Benefits Us All (Beacon Press, 2002) and Tainted Legacy: 9/11 and the Ruin of Human Rights (Nation Books, 2003).

A familiar speaker at colleges and universities, Schulz has delivered lectures at the Yale Political Union, Oxford University, McGill, Columbia, Penn, Northwestern and many others and taught a seminar on the role of religion in international social and political conflict at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government (Institute of Politics) in the fall of 1993. He is a frequent speaker at World Affairs Council meetings, before corporate groups and in international settings and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

He has received the Public Service Citation from the University of Chicago, the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Oberlin College Alumni Association, been included in Vanity Fair's 2002 Hall of Fame of World Nongovernmental Organization Leaders, and been honored with the Human Rights Award from Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, the Harry S. Truman Award for International Leadership from the Kansas City, MO, United Nations Association, the Cranbrook Peace Award from the Cranbrook Peace Foundation, and the Humanitarian Award from Marylhurst University in Portland, OR, among others.

Dr. Schulz is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Oberlin College, holds a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago and the Doctor of Ministry degree from Meadville [pronounced "Meed-vil"]/Lombard Theological School (at the University of Chicago). He was awarded an honorary D. D. (Doctor of Divinity) from Meadville/Lombard in 1987, and has received honorary L. H. D.s (Doctor of Humane Letters) from Nova Southeastern University in 1995, Grinnell College in 2004 and Willamette University in 2005. He is listed in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the East.

He is married to the Rev. Beth Graham, also a Unitarian Universalist minister, and they live on Long Island where Ms. Graham serves a congregation. Dr. Schulz has two grown children from a previous marriage.

{EW; HM2; U}