Seeds: Although Charles Darwin’s theory of Evolution was widely accepted after its initial creation, many Christian religious fundamentalists denied its accuracy and refused to allow it to be taught in classrooms. The arguments now expand beyond evolution vs. creationism; other discussions about teaching religion in schools remain heated today.
Core: On this day in 1925, a Tennessee high school science teacher named John Scopes was tried with violating the Butler Act. The aforementioned law prohibited the teaching of “any theory that denies the story of the divine creation of man as taught in the Bible” (i.e. anything besides creationism). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) actually sponsored Scopes, asking him to test if the law would actually be enforced by teaching evolution in the classroom. The case was passed to the Tennessee Supreme Court after Scopes was convicted by district courts. Ultimately, the proceedings got so messy, that the case was eventually dropped, leaving Scopes to pay a fine for ignoring the law and teaching his students about the theory of evolution.
Skin: This case was highly publicized during the era and many of the proceedings were streamed on the radio, a newly popularized invention. It ignited tensions between the heavily religious and push for secularism in America.
Leaves: The law stood in Tennessee for another 40 years, and several states still allow public schools (schools that are not religiously affiliated and receive taxpayer dollars) to teach creationism in their classrooms. This only adds more tension between those who think religion should be taught in public schools and those who do not.
Food For Thought: Do you think religion should be taught in public schools? Do you think children should be exposed to the theory of evolution?