© 2010

Fundamentalism and Education in the Scopes Era

God, Darwin, and the Roots of America’s Culture Wars

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Introduction

    1. Adam Laats
      Pages 1-7
  3. Fundamentalism and Fundamentalists

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 9-9
    2. Adam Laats
      Pages 11-21
    3. Adam Laats
      Pages 23-40
  4. God and School

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 41-41
    2. Adam Laats
      Pages 43-60
    3. Adam Laats
      Pages 61-75
    4. Adam Laats
      Pages 77-95
  5. Monkeys and Modernism

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 97-97
    2. Adam Laats
      Pages 99-120
    3. Adam Laats
      Pages 121-138
  6. Fundamentalism Transformed

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 157-157
  7. Conclusion

    1. Adam Laats
      Pages 189-192
  8. Epilogue

    1. Adam Laats
      Pages 193-199
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 201-258

About this book


This book takes a new look at one of the most contentious periods in American history. The battles over schools that surrounded the famous Scopes "monkey" trial in 1925 were about much more than evolution. Fundamentalists fought to maintain cultural control of education. As this book reveals for the first time, the successes and the failures of these fundamentalist campaigns transformed both the fundamentalist movement and the nature of education in America. In turn, those transformations determined many of the positions of the "culture wars" that raged throughout the twentieth century.


America Charles Darwin culture education god modernism

About the authors

ADAM LAATS is an Assistant Professor and Associate Director of the Center for the Teaching of American History at SUNY Binghamton.

Bibliographic information


'Where the book is strongest, and the reason historians of education will want to read it, is to see a much more complex, widespread, and effective movement by religious conservatives to address the content and control of education in the 1920s and beyond.' History of Education Quarterly

'Recommended.' CHOICE

'Drawing on a rich field of revisionist studies of American fundamentalism and evangelicalism, Adam Laats has written a nuanced history of the fundamentalist educational campaigns of the 1920s that effectively positions the controversy over teaching evolution in public schools within the broader cultural agenda that fundamentalists were pursuing. Important and timely.' The Journal of Southern History

'Laats has written the definitive history of education and the culture wars of the 1920s, illuminating the diverse character of Protestant fundamentalism and the crisis over religion and the schools that continue to this very day.' - William J. Reese, Carl F. Kaestle WARF Professor of Educational Policy Studies and History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

'Laats has written a first-rate, even-handed introduction to the efforts of fundamentalists to eradicate the teaching of evolution and promote the reading of the Bible in the schools of America. There is no better analysis of the contested meanings of 'fundamentalism' or of fundamentalist attempts to control curricula in the 1920s, from elementary school through college. This book will appeal not only to historians of education, religion, and science but to all persons interested in the so-called culture wars of the twentieth century.' - Ronald L. Numbers, Hilldale Professor of the History of Science and Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design

'In this work Laats breaks new ground with his description and analysis of the surprisingly wide-ranging fundamentalist education campaign of the 1920s, in which 'fundamentalists and their conservative allies sought to turn their implicit cultural assumptions into explicit, legally binding educational policy.' What makes this book particularly valuable is that, as Laats makes clear, we cannot understand the contemporary culture wars without understanding their connection with the battles over education in the Scopes Era.' - William Vance Trollinger, Jr., Associate Professor of History, University of Dayton