Fundamentalism and Education in the Scopes Era

Paul Harvey

Now on to the 2nd review from this month's Choice. Haven't seen it yet, but I bet this book draws a lot of interest:

Fundamentalism and Education in the Scopes Era: God, Darwin, and the Roots of America's Culture Wars, by Adam Laats

Laats, Adam. Fundamentalism and education in the Scopes era: God, Darwin, and the roots of America's culture wars. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 258p index; ISBN9780230623729, $85.00. Reviewed in 2011jan CHOICE.

Laats (education, Binghamton Univ., SUNY) argues that a significant transformation in US religion and culture can be traced to the 1920s and the Scopes trial. Fundamentalists began the decade aggressively defending their majority conservative Protestant domination of public schools not only against Darwin, but also for prayer and Bible reading. They ended the decade a vocal minority, sometimes embracing and sometimes rejecting the pejorative stereotypes that the trial and media coverage created. Chronological chapters trace the rise, then fracturing, of fundamentalism, focusing on a handful of major figures and charting their responses to educational issues through their publications. State legislative battles trace the little-known advances of fundamentalist school reform in the years after Scopes and before the 1960s court decisions that reversed them. Laats pays little attention to the content of textbooks, curricula, and classrooms. The legacy of the era, he argues, was the creation of a separate system of education in the growth first of seminaries and Christian colleges--such as Dallas Theological Seminary, Bob Jones University, and Wheaton College in Illinois--and later of conservative Christian private schools founded to preserve biblical authority as much as racial segregation. Extensive notes. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. -- K. Gedge, West Chester University of Pennsylvania


John G. Turner said…
I haven't seen the book, but I read Laats's dissertation and found it very astute (and full of useful information about fundamentalism more broadly).