Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Scopes Trial (July 10 to 21, 1925)

There's no particularly Jewish angle to the Scopes trial, but the fundamental issues of religious separation from government and academic freedom are of great interest to any secular citizen of the US, and to many others also who believe strongly in keeping religion out of government and its institutions.

Scopes, the teacher who defied the Tennessee anti-evolution law, was defended by the relatively new ACLU. The ACLU (which had been founded during World War I and renamed American Civil Liberties Union in 1920) had advertised that it would fund a challenge to the anti-evolution law; Scopes accepted the offer. Clarence Darrow defended Scopes's right to academic freedom in the public school system. It is said that the play "Inherit the Wind" has created a somewhat fictitious general idea of the trial in most people now, nearly 90 years later.

To me it's painful that this issue is not dead, but needs to be fought again and again, as discussed by Stephen Jay Gould in several books.

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