Herr Fuhrer Esley Welsberry's Big Lie
Following the Scopes trial in 1925, popular belief held that the antievolutionists had suffered a defeat and were in retrenchment. This was not so. In the next few years, over twenty other states passed legislation similar to Tennessee’s Butler Act, with the effect of banning the teaching of evolutionary biology in public schools in those states.(emphasis added)
Saying that over twenty other states actually "passed" legislation similar to Tennessee's Butler Act appears to be a gross exaggeration. Here is what the Wikipedia article on the Scopes Trial says:
The trial did not stop the anti-evolution movement. Before Dayton only the South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Kentucky legislatures had dealt with anti-evolution laws or riders to educational appropriations bills. In 1927 there were thirteen states, both North and South, that considered some form of anti-evolution law. At least forty one bills, riders, or resolutions were introduced into the state legislatures, with some states facing the issue repeatedly. While most of these efforts were rejected, both Mississippi and Arkansas put anti-evolution laws on the books after the Scopes trial.
Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 101-102 (1968), notes that bills to ban the teaching of evolution were introduced in twenty states in the period 1921-1929, but lists only four states as actually having had such laws on the books -- Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. In addition, Epperson notes that during that period the Florida and Texas legislatures adopted resolutions against teaching the "doctrine of evolution" (that is what the Epperson opinion called it -- we haven't yet figured out if evolution is a theory or a fact, and here the Supreme Court called it a "doctrine"). The Oklahoma law was repealed in 1926, the Tennessee law in 1967, and the Arkansas and Mississippi laws were struck down by Epperson in 1968. This list might not be complete, as it is partially based on an ACLU report of 1937. Here is what Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 101-102 (1968), actually says --
Only Arkansas and Mississippi have such "anti-evolution" or "monkey" laws on their books [see footnote 8]. There is no record of any prosecutions in Arkansas under its statute. It is possible that the statute is presently more of a curiosity than a vital fact of life in these States.
Footnote 8. Miss.Code Ann. 6798, 6799 (1942). Ark.Stat.Ann. 80-1627, 80-1628 (1960 Repl. Vol.). The Tennessee law was repealed in 1967. Oklahoma enacted an anti-evolution law, but it was repealed in 1926. The Florida and Texas Legislatures, in the period between 1921 and 1929, adopted resolutions against teaching the doctrine of evolution. In all, during that period, bills to this effect were introduced in 20 States. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Gag on Teaching 8 (2d ed., 1937). (emphasis added)
In addition to the above laws that banned the teaching of evolution outright, Arkansas and Louisiana had laws requiring balanced teaching of evolution and creation science. These laws were struck down by the courts in Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987) and McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education , 529 F. Supp. 1255 (1982)
All of the states mentioned by name above are part of what is generally known as the Bible Belt, and all the states mentioned above that actually had anti-evolution laws or legislative resolutions are -- with the exception of Florida -- in a contiguous group of states in the Southwestern and South-and-mid-central parts of that belt.
Ironically, the term "Bible Belt" was coined by H.L. Mencken in a newspaper report about the 1925 Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee. He described the region as "this bright, shining, buckle of the Bible belt." H.L. Mencken was represented by the fictional newspaper reporter E.K. Hornbeck in the play and movies titled "Inherit the Wind".
The name "Herr Fuhrer Esley Welsberry" (pronounced "Velsberry") was coined by Elsberry critic John A. Davison. According to my own experience with Elsberry, it is an accurate description.
A related article on this blog is "Anti-Darwinism strengthens outside Bible Belt".
Labels: Evolution controversy (4 of 4)