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"Why the Opposition"

Opinions: In Favor of the Poole Bill

D.Scott Poole, "Why the Opposition"

After D. Scott Poole, sponsor of the bill to ban the teaching of evolution in North Carolina's public schools, canceled a scheduled speech at the University of North Carolina, he sent this copy of his speech to the university magazine.

[Source description: D. Scott Poole. "Why the Opposition." Carolina Magazine 57 (October 1926), pp. 19-20. About this source.]

Why the Opposition

D. Scott Poole

Prevented by illness from making a scheduled address before the student body of the University, Mr. D. Scott Poole, originator of the famous "Poole Bill," replied to a request for the manuscript of his address with the brief presented on this page.

In printing this article, which should represent the candid opinions of the fundamentalists of this state as held by their acknowledged leader, there has been no attempt at editing. The brief was printed as it came to the office.

I object to a mode of creation being taught in the public schools of this state for the following reasons:

1. Because parents, not the state, have the right to teach their children religion. Parents are responsible for the religious training of their children.

2. Because Evolution as taught in the schools, teaches a mode of creation, of the Creator, the Bible, and the philosophy of life, may be classed as religion.

3. Because state schools have no right to teach religion.

4. Neither the Evolutionist, nor the Christian Fundamentalist has a right to teach his peculiar views at public expense.

5. Because debarring Evolution from the public schools will not infringe upon the right of any Evolutionist from teaching or writing at his own expense.

This is the reasons for debarring evolution, legally, and now as further reasons, it is not fair to taxpayers to defray the expense of teaching their own peculiar doctrine, and then by a state supported educational system have all their work undone, and that also at their expense.

It is plain to be seen, that this conflict of view will amount to a menace of the welface of the Commonwealth if allowed to go on.

From the writings of evolutionists we make the following deductions:

1. All gods and devils are the creations of human imaginations.

2. There never has been a divine relation of God's will to man.

3. No extant moral code possesses Divine authority.

4. The Christian's hope of heaven is based on myth.

5. The fall of man is mythical.

6. Conscience is the product of group opinion.

7. Christianity is wrong in its basic purpose of moral conduct.

8. Christian teaching as to purity and modesty is wrong, based on mysticism and superstition.

9. Christianity has degraded woman, and retarded progress.

10. The world has no true code of morals.

In reviewing these extreme views, you may call them, is it any wonder that Church has arisen to oppose such teaching? Scientists say the Bible was not given to teach science. I grant this. Neither should scientists undertake to teach the Bible. The Bible is supernatural. It must be what it is believed to be, the revelation of God's will to man. The Scriptures teach what a man is to believe concerning God, and what duties God requires of man.

By following the teaching of the Bible a man does not become a worse citizen; but rather, he who follows more closely the teaching of this wonderful Book is the highest specimen of the race. The Bible is the only source of light that shines across the cold, dark silence and shadow of the death. Surely none would extinguish this.

About this Source:

The Dialectic Society, one of the campus debating groups at the University of North Carolina, invited Representative Poole to speak on campus about the anti-evolution bill that he had introduced. Poole accepted, agreeing to address the students in a talk at Memorial Hall on May 18, 1926. On the morning of the 18th, Poole canceled, writing to the Dialectic Society that he was unable to keep the engagement due to the serious illness of his brother. The Tar Heel, the campus newspaper, reported that Poole "hopes to be here and speak on the subject of evolution at a later date." It does not appear that Poole ever spoke on the UNC campus.

The article here appears to be working notes for the speech that Poole would have given. The Carolina Magazine is careful to note that the piece appears exactly as it was given to them, an important point to make for a journal that was at the time much more likely to reflect the views of the faculty and administration of the University, which opposed the Poole Bill.

"Dr. Pentuff on Poole Bill" "Dr. Pentuff on Poole Bill"

J.R. Pentuff, "Pentuff on the Poole Bill"

Rev. J.R. Pentuff of Concord, N.C., follows up on his testimony before the House Committee on Education in this letter to the Biblical Recorder.

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

Excerpts from the article:

"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.

I Did Not Come from Him, Neither Did You! I May Look Like Him, But I Refuse to Claim Kin On This I Stand! J. Sherwood Upchurch.  They Are Going to Talk About Him in the Next Legislature, So They Say I Want to Be There!

J. Sherwood Upchurch, "I Did Not Come from Him, Neither Did You!" (opens in a new window).

In this campaign poster, J. Sherwood Upchurch, Democratic candidate for the state legislature, makes his stance on the evolution debate clear.

I Did Not Come From HIM

I May Look Like Him, But
I Refuse To Claim Kin
On This I Stand!

J. Sherwood Upchurch

They are Going to Talk About Him in the Next
So They Say


For House of Representatives



        If you will vote for me, in return I will give you action. 14 years member Board of Aldermen; 2 years City Auditor; 3 years in charge of Sanitary Department, City of Raleigh. During the 14 years as Alderman I never cast one vote against the people. I will thank you for your support.

J. Sherwood Upchurch

P.S.--I am positively against the Salary and Slave Commission.Mitchell Printing Co., Raleigh, N.C.

"Current Topics" "Current Topics"

Biblical Recorder, "Some Comments on the Poole Bill"

After the Poole Bill is voted down in the House Committee on Education in 1927, the Biblical Recorder weighs in on the two year struggle.

Excerpts from the article:


The Poole Bill-- The Poole Bill has gone through several stages, but we have reserved comment until it was finally disposed of, in order to let our people know just what disposition was made of it. There was a public hearing on the bill in the House of Representatives on February 10 [1927] . . . A young man came to the front stating that he was never so badly scared in his life, but felt it his duty to speak a word in behalf of the young people. His name is Paul J. Ranson, of Huntersville. He said he was reared in the A. R. P. [Associate Reformed Presbyterian] Church. He believed the bitter discussions among Christian people was doing far more harm than the teaching of evolution. He did not know anything about evolution and never expected to know anything about it, but he knew he was a Christian, and pleaded for more of the spirit of Christ among our people, which would settle all our difficulties . . . .

The Committee Report--The committee met on Tuesday 15 [February 1927], and after a short speech by Mr. Poole, who was crowded out at the public hearing, Mr. Townsend of Harnett moved that the bill be reported unfavorably. This motion was adopted by a vote of 25 for and 11 against . . . The vote of the committee this year was quite a surprise. Many thought there might be a favorable report, and none, perhaps, thought the majority against the bill would be so large--more than two to one . . . .

Some Comments on the Poole Bill--The defeat of the bill does not mean that the people of North Carolina do not believe in the Bible as strongly as they ever did. It is safe to say that most, if not all, of those who opposed the bill are as firm believers in the Bible as those who favored it. They simply thought that it was a dangerous thing to begin to legislate on matters of religion, as that is a long step toward union of church and state. So let no one interpret the action of the Legislature as an endorsement of Modernism. The people of the State are true to the old faith, and the Bible is the most popular book here, as it is everywhere it is known.

While the Legislature defeated the bill for the reason given above, the teachers in our schools must not take this action as giving them license to teach anything that denies the Bible--not the interpretation that men may put on the Bible--but the Bible itself. Teachers of science have no business attempting to teach theology, any more than a theologian has business teaching science, unless he has studied the subject sufficiently to treat it intelligently . . . .

About this Source:

The Biblical Recorder usually took an editorial stance firmly against the teaching of evolution in public schools, however, this summary of the legislative actions regarding the Poole bill is very even-handed. The author of the article suggests that the failure to ban the teaching of evolution in schools does not suggest that the majority North Carolinians supported Darwinism. On the contrary, most North Carolinians remained staunchly conservative, but were discouraged by the tenor of the debate over the Poole Bill and were uncomfortable with the idea of legislating what could and could not be taught in schools.

"Evolution, The University and the People"

Opinions: Against the Poole Bill

Frank Porter Graham, "Evolution, The University and the People."

In this article in the Alumni Review, published in April 1925, faculty member Frank Porter Graham, who would later become president of the University of North Carolina, states his case for opposing the Poole Bill.

[Source Description: Frank Porter Graham, "Evolution, The University and the People." Alumni Review 13 (1924-1925), pp. 205-207. About this source.]

Excerpt from article: ". . . Evolution was taught at the University by North Carolinians before President Chase was born. Though modified from time to time with the increase of knowledge, the theory of evolution has moved from conquest to conquest and is now an important part of the teaching of geology, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, and sociology. It is taught in most of the colleges in every civilized nation in the world. It is taught by Christian missionaries in the colleges of Asia and Africa. Today students in many of the high schools in both hemispheres accept the theory as freely as they do the Copernican system and the circulation of the blood. By papal edict it was handed down that the earth did not move around the sun and by solemn law it was enacted that the blood did not circulate from the heart through the body. But fortunately for the human race the earth continued on its celestial course and the blood went on its arterial way. Despite reports to the contrary, ex cathedra in medieval times and ex lege in modern times, the earth revolves, the blood circulates, and life evolves not only biologically, from simpler to more complex organisms, but also socially, with restless searchings of men for the kingdom of God. The great evolutionary process wins its way to acceptance around the world in accordance with laws higher than the constitution, whether joined or opposed by the misconceptions of men and the laws of states.

"The Poole Bill raises issues older than the State of North Carolina. The inquisition, the index, and the stake are the unclaimed ancestors of the Poole Bill. Bruno chose to be burned to death rather than be saved on ecclesiastical terms. The teachers and the youth of North Carolina today would revolt against this ancient tyranny in its latest form. A tyranny that commanded them to be dishonest with themselves is not their idea of the way of salvation. All honor to President Chase for speaking clearly and standing squarely to the issues raised. May we also salute with equal respect President William Louis Poteat, who, by his stand at Wake Forest, as been, for all our colleges, the buffer state against unreason, the shock absorber of intolerance, and the first line trench against bigotry lo! these many years. President Chase, confronted with the issue, went out to meet it - 'God helping him, he could do no other.' Then and there he revindicated his leadership and holds more tightly to his side the fighting loyalty of university men. Let us all close ranks solidly about him. He has raised the University standard to be seen of all our people. Freedom to think, freedom to speak, and freedom to print are the texture of that standard. That freedom the great Virginians led the way in writing into the first amendment to the constitutions of the United States. It was one of the conditions of North Carolina's ratification of the federal instrument. Upon this three-fold freedom Thomas Jefferson founded our oldest national political party. It is the cornerstone of the motto of the first American university to open its doors in the name of the people - in a little North Carolina village one hundred and thirty years ago. . . ."

About this Source:

Frank Porter Graham, a popular faculty member at the University of North Carolina, wrote this article for the UNC Alumni Review, published in April 1925. Graham has a couple of objectives in this piece. He is strongly opposed to restrictions from the legislature on what may or may not be taught in the classroom, particularly in the case of evolution, which he regards as a well-established fact. Graham also comes to the defense of Harry Woodburn Chase, who was at the time the President of the University of North Carolina, and who had been sharply criticized after speaking out in opposition to the Poole Bill.

Frank Porter Graham would later succeed Chase as President of the University of North Carolina, serving in that role for nearly twenty years, becoming one of the most beloved figures in UNC history.