The Evolution Controversy in North Carolina in the 1920s

[Source description: J.R. Pentuff, "Dr. Pentuff on Poole Bill." Biblical Recorder, 4 March 1925, p. 10. About this source.]

Biblical Recorder, March 4, 1925

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"Dr. Pentuff on Poole Bill"

Dear Dr. [Livingston] Johnson:-- In the main I agree with you in what you say about the Poole Bill in your historical sketch. But there are two points on which I do not agree. To my mind the Poole Bill was not and is not in any sense a religious Bill and that is the main reason I spoke in favor of the Bill. The Bill, so far as I observed, made no reference to religion, no reference to the Bible, no word about any body's faith. To claim "blood kin" to the lower animals places the one who claims it out side the Bible, for it makes no such claims. It is begging the whole question to say that the Legislature cannot bar the teaching of such "blood kin" without infringing on somebody's religion, on the Bible, or on Christianity.

The Darwinian Theory of Organic Evolution and Descent of Man from the animals is Scientific, or it is pseudo-scientific and has no connection with the Bible, except that it was invented as a weapon with which to fight the Bible . . . Mr. [D. Scott] Poole's aim was to try to stop the State from teaching things that are against the Bible, and irreligious propaganda . . . .

Dr. [Harry W.] Chase endeavored to twist the whole discussion over to his fallacious interpretation of the freedom of speech and over on religious grounds . . . That is a favorite dodge of Evolutionists when asked to give a sensible argument for their theory. They at once pose as martyrs to the cause of science. And they begin to call us "pious hoodlums," "religious bigots," "suspicious," "prejudiced," and "uninformed," while they are the wise, good, and the persecuted . . .

. . . In the second place, the legislators were made to believe that the passage of such as Bill would violate the freedom of speech measure in the Federal Constitution. The good men of those days when the Constitution was made, probably did not dream that the time would ever come in our country when Agnostics, Atheists, or traitors, or others who would destroy our homes, subvert our government, destroy peoples' faith in the Bible, would invoke the protection of the Constitution and Stars and Stripes while doing such work . . . .

J. R. Pentuff
Concord, N. C.

About this Source:

James Robert Pentuff, pastor of McGill Street Baptist Church in Concord, N.C. wrote this letter to Livingston Johnson, editor of the Baptist state paper, the Biblical Recorder, in response to a previous article by Johnson about the Poole Resolution debates of January and February 1925. An anti-evolutionist, Pentuff takes this opportunity to explain his view of the deliberations and arguments in the General Assembly and at the resolution's public hearing, the methodology of the Poole Resolution's opponents, and the "pseudo-scientific" nature of the Darwinian theory evolution.

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