The Evolution Controversy in North Carolina in the 1920s

[Source description: "300 Gather in Charlotte for Opening Fight in Bible Issue." Charlotte Observer, May 5, 1926, pp. 1, 10. Republished with permission of The Charlotte Observer. Copyright owned by The Charlotte Observer. About this source.]

Charlotte Observer, May 5, 1926

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Excerpts from the article:

300 GATHER IN CHARLOTTE FOR OPENING FIGHT IN BIBLE ISSUE

Adoption Of Platform Marks End of Hectic Gathering.

MINISTERS, LAYMEN CLASH.

Officers Elected With Judge Neal as Chairman; Heated Arguments Mark Day.

Adoption of a platform of principles nearly identical with the statement issued by the "Committee of One Hundred" at its organization meeting here three weeks ago was the final achievement of that body at a stormy meeting here yesterday.

The adoption of the report of the "committee on constitution and platform," was accomplished near the end of one of the most hectic days ever spent by any body of men in North Carolina dealing with a religious idea or with any idea wherein the aged-old conflict between religious dogma and unrestrained freedom about matters religious were concerned.

Before the day was over supposedly sedate and self-controlled ministers of evangelical faiths had so far cast aside their customary restraint and decorum that bodily encounters seemed imminent once or twice and the unique spectacle of a Christian layman stepping out into the aisle of a house of worship -- the Second Presbyterian church -- to step between a minister advancing with apparent belligerent intent toward a man addressing the audience and quieting the disturbance was furnished.

. . . The report of the platform committee, drawn by Judge [Walter H.] Neal, ex-officio member; Dr. A. A. McGeachy, paston of the Second Presbyterian Church, Charlotte; Hon. Z. V. Turlington, of Mooresville, attorney-at-law; Dr. W. C. Barret, Baptist minister of Gastonia; Dr. A. R. Shaw, pastor of Williams Memorial Presbyterian church in Mecklenburg county, included opposition to the union of church and state, to attack from any source on anything calculated to discredit of the Bible as inspired word of God, to a denial that the body wished to cripple state schools, and opposition to employment of anyone as a teacher who holds views contrary to the ideas expressed in the resolutions . . . .

. . . W.T. Shore, Charlotte lawyer, gave the meeting a moment of pause during the discussion of the platform after it was read by Dr. McGeachy, on behalf of the committee, when he asked if the committee meant to make a man's religious belifs a test as to his fitness for teaching in state schools.

"How about a Jew, or a Catholic, or men of no expressed religious affiliation?"

"DANGEROUS GROUND"

Presently Thomas M. Glasgow, business man of Charlotte, was on his feet expressing the belief that the meeting was treading on somewhat dangerous ground in going so far as to provide in its platform that religious views should be a test for teaching. He was asked to come to the front. He urged that a man's innermost thoughts are his own that the body was going too far in this respect. Rev. J. C. Betts, of Raleigh, heartily agreed with him. . . .


About this Source:

The "Committee of One Hundred" was formed in early April, 1926, with the goal of organizing opposition to the teaching of evolution in North Carolina's public schools. The "one hundred" in the group's title referred to the state's one hundred counties, from which it hoped to attract members. The committee was initially organized by a group of ministers and laymen from various denominations. The meeting described in this newspaper article was the largest public gathering held by the group and shows that their determination to fight the teaching of evolution extended not just to the primary schools in the state, but to the public colleges and universities as well.

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