In its place, teachers were to only teach the story of Creation as found in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. This, and thirty-six similar laws, was seen as an infringement on civil liberties. Upon learning of this new law, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), located in New York, placed advertisements in Tennessee newspapers in an attempt to find a teacher willing to stand up to the law. John Thomas Scopes, a math teacher and football coach for Rhea County High School in Dayton, Tennessee, was pressured into taking the challenge by a friend, George Rappleyea, who saw the advertisement. With the school’s biology teacher out for the last two weeks of class, Scopes took over and began teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Individual Liberty Versus Majoritarian Democracy in Edward Larson’s Summer For the Gods The Scopes trial, writes Edward Larson, to most Americans embodies “the timeless debate over science and religion.” (265) Written by historians, judges, and playwrights, the history of the Scopes trial has caused Americans to perceive “the relationship between science and religion in . . . simple terms: either Darwin or the Bible was true.” (265) The road to the trial began when Tennessee passed the Butler Act in 1925 banning the teaching of evolution in secondary schools. It was only a matter of time before a young biology teacher, John T. Scopes, prompted by the ACLU tested the law.
In the beginning, religion was dominant in the colonies, especially since “God” and “Christianity” are the most common words in most of the documents that have framed our country. It comes as no surprise that even though religious freedom is the root of the foundation of our country, other religions have yet to establish a confident stronghold. Because of the aforementioned reasons, America appears as a strictly religious nation. The definition of an American citizen was dominated by religion since the origin of our nation, despite the claims of religious freedom, which seemed limited to Christianity. Roger Williams, a minister who migrated to America, also noticed this, and stated that a uniform belief system is not necessary to maintain a stable body politic (Williams 1).
Even many Christians who have deep trust and faith in the Bible have never really understood the claims of the creation account (McLean 11). Over the past several years, a great deal of controversy surrounding the creation-evolution issue has been generated by scientists who have based their claims on the creation model and have been willing to let their reputations stand. Creationists have openly requested that when the discussion of origins occurs in the public school system, both the model of creation and evolution be presented side by side. Initially, scientists and educators who have accepted the theory of evolution without question were reluctant to pay any serious attention to creationism; however, it has now become apparent that substantial numbers of people are taking creationism seriously. Many evolutionists view this trend as a serious threat to the advancement of science and have vowed to do everything in their power to stop the teaching of creation in the public school system.
to construct their curriculum according to their standards and beliefs, because to not be allowed to do so would be to go against their freedom to choose for themselves (Pennock, R. T. Should Creationism Be Taught in the Public Schools). The Constitution is clear on that point. It is true that for a long time even after our Constitution was put into place people seemed to generally feel that creationist ideas that coincided with the Bible should be intergrated with the lessons of public schools. For a long while this majority rule lasted, decades upon decades, but then eventually the law begun to be challenged by those who knew and understood the law for what it is. In 1925 the first legal battle of evolution versus creationism in schools would take place, The Scopes Trial (Cornelius, n.d).
Scopes Trial In March 1925, Tennessee passed the nations first law that made it a crime to teach evolution. The state legislature passed a law forbidding public schools to teach the theory that humans had evolved from lower forms of life rather than from Adam and Eve. Immediately the American Civil Liberties Union promised to defend any teacher who challenged the law. John T. Scopes a biology teacher in Dayton, was arrested for violating the law; he had volunteered to serve in a test case. In his biology class, Scopes read this passage from Civic Biology, "We have now learned that animal forms may be arranged so as to begin with one- celled form and culminate with a group which includes man himself.
In the most recent court case, Engel vs. Vitale it was decided that requiring students to recite the Lord's Prayer infringed on their First Amendment rights to have freedom of religion. Being required to pray the Lord's Prayer was forcing them to be Christian-like. But the required Bible reading had not been eliminated in that court case so Edward Schempp made an attempt get rid of it. Edward Schempp had a son in the public school in the Abington school district who said that he did not believe in Jesus, his birth, or in the Trinity so the Bible readings were against his belief. Since he was forced to attend the devotions in the morning he was being denied his First Amendment rights.
1). Many outsider views have changed negatively since the enlightenment (McConnell, 10) however, the fact still stands that religion is one of the most powerful influences on a person’s decisions throughout whether it is an actual religion or the lack thereof. The Supreme Court even states that “it is legitimate for the public schools to inculcate values” and most values of present day society are often based on religious beliefs. Inculcating religion into the lives of students in the public school is not only both historically and presently permissible but also beneficial to the three main areas of a school system. Through many Supreme Court cases, decisions, and official statements, the United States Government has made it clear that study about religion is constitutional (Haynes 2).
The traditionalists would see this as a threat to their interests and the issue hit the country stronger than a tornado. Everyone was glued to their radios—it was the first broadcasted radio trial--except the campers and hundreds of reporters near the Dayton, Tennessee courthouse. Traditionalists would be outraged by the appearance of speakeasies, flappers, illegal boozing, popular activities of the Roaring Twenties and especially the Darwinian Theory. Their strong Christian beliefs from the Holy Bible stated how God created the world and man and woman. A traditionalist’s beliefs would not accept the idea of evolution because the Bible said that Man did not evolve but was created by God—the Divine Creation in one day.
Creation’s Contest with Evolution It began in Dayton, Tennessee-1925. A high school teacher by the name of John Scopes was charged with teaching evolution, which was illegal at the time in Tennessee. The court found Scopes guilty, and he was fined one hundred dollars. However, the Scopes trial immediately sparked one of the largest controversies in today's public school systems: should creationism still be taught in public schools? In the trial, Clarence Darrow argued that teaching creationism in public schools defies the separation of church and state (which is pulled from the first amendment).