International Journal of Social Policy & Education

ISSN 2689-4998 (print), 2689-5013 (online)

DOI: 10.61494/ijspe

Something Else—the Evolution of Faith-Based Opposition to Teaching Evolution in America’s Public Schools

Malcolm L. Cross


In 1925 John Thomas Scopes, a high school football coach and substitute teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, was put on trial for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in a high school biology class, in violation of state law. One of the prosecutors was none other than William Jennings Bryan, former Secretary of State in the Woodrow Wilson administration, three-time Democratic Party presidential nominee, and a leading Christian lay evangelist. Scopes’s chief defense lawyer was the most eminent defense attorney of the day, Clarence Darrow. The celebrity status of the two main legal protagonists guaranteed the trial’s sensational press coverage. At the conclusion of the trial Scopes, who had initially pleaded not guilty, switched his plea to guilty to guarantee that the case would be appealed, and the trial passed into American history and folklore.