Less than one hundred years ago in my old home state of Tennessee there was a state representative who feared the teaching of human evolution could turn his children and the children of others into raving atheists. The obvious solution to him was to outlaw this teaching in the public schools.
This man, John Washington Butler, was an admirer of anti-evolutionist champion William Jennings Bryan. His "Butler Act " was passed in 1925 and was promptly challenged by the ACLU. The story of the "Scopes Monkey Trial" is well enough known. The clash between agnostic attorney Clarence Darrow and the before mentioned religious conservative Bryan is legendary.
Here is the bill's text:
AN ACT prohibiting the teaching of the Evolution Theory in all the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of Tennessee, which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, and to provide penalties for the violations thereof.
Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That it shall be unlawful for any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.
Section 2. Be it further enacted, That any teacher found guilty of the violation of this Act, Shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction, shall be fined not less than One Hundred $ (100.00) Dollars nor more than Five Hundred ($ 500.00) Dollars for each offense.
Section 3. Be it further enacted, That this Act take effect from and after its passage, the public welfare requiring it.
Passed March 13, 1925
Isn't that something?
The Supreme Court of the State of Tennessee upheld the constitutionality of the Butler Act in 1927!
It was much later, during my childhood, May 17, 1967 to be exact, that Tennessee Governor Buford Ellington put his signature to the Act that repealed the Butler Act.
I can't see that the public welfare was damaged in any way by allowing Tennessee public schools to be forcibly dragged into the modern age. Conservative Christian homes and churches have kept anti-evolutionism alive and thriving in Tennessee and throughout the Bible Belt.
Why are ignorance and superstition not feared while scientific knowledge is?