The Scopes Monkey Trial, HL Mencken, and Religion in Public Life—Darryl Hart
If you’ve seen the 1960 Spencer Tracy movie Inherit the Wind, you know about the Scopes Monkey Trial. In this real-life 1925 case, John Scopes was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which had made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school. The case became an enormous media sensation. It was reported on like a boxing match, science vs. fundamentalism. But oddly enough, Scopes was not originally brought to trial by any fundamentalists. The trial was deliberately staged to attract publicity to the small town of Dayton, Tennessee, where it was held. Scopes was unsure whether he had ever actually taught evolution, but he purposely incriminated himself so that the case could have a defendant. In this episode Hillsdale Professor Darryl Hart discusses the Scopes Monkey Trial, the legal parameters of religion in American public life, and the larger-than-life figures of early 20th century America like HL Mencken.
November 20, 2017
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