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Battleground

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In Church Hill, a devoutly religious community in the mist-shrouded mountains of East Tennessee, housewife Vicki Frost detected the influence of Satan in her children's schoolbooks. Horrified, she complained to the school board that texts with such themes as evolution, feminism, and telepathy could turn children away from God. But the board members rebuffed Frost and her handful of allies. A principal ridiculed them. When she tried to remove her second-grade daughter from class, Frost was arrested and jailed. So ...
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Overview

In Church Hill, a devoutly religious community in the mist-shrouded mountains of East Tennessee, housewife Vicki Frost detected the influence of Satan in her children's schoolbooks. Horrified, she complained to the school board that texts with such themes as evolution, feminism, and telepathy could turn children away from God. But the board members rebuffed Frost and her handful of allies. A principal ridiculed them. When she tried to remove her second-grade daughter from class, Frost was arrested and jailed. So she and some other parents filed suit in federal court. What began as a ragtag schoolbook protest quickly escalated into a ferocious proxy war between two Washington behemoths, powerful outsiders who intensified, reshaped, and exploited the conflict. Concerned Women for America, a religious-right organization dedicated to "protecting the rights of the family," squared off against People for the American Way, the liberal, media-savvy organization founded by Norman Lear to combat "the greatest immediate threat to our pluralistic society: the growing power of the Religious New Right." At stake were profound issues that a democratic society must continually confront, among them the limits of tolerance, the separation of church and state, and the rights of parents in their children's education. The dramatic, bitterly fought "Scopes II" trial (as journalists dubbed it) became front-page news across the country. The courtroom battle pitted one of the preeminent lawyers of the religious right, a scrappy former Moral Majority official with a quick wit and an even quicker temper, against a highpriced, smooth-talking Washington litigator. Star witness Vicki Frost and her allies were denounced by The New York Times, chided by George Bush, mocked by Lewis Grizzard, and lauded, to their dismay, by the Ku Klux Klan. With consummate skill and scrupulous fairness, Stephen Bates vividly recounts this riveting saga. He depicts the leading figures on both sides in full hum
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In fundamentalist Hawkins County, Tennessee, the ``Scopes II'' textbook trial made national headlines as conservative parents, spearheaded by alarmed mother Vicki Frost, fought to ban reading materials which they deemed anti-Christian or harmful to their children. In this investigative report based on interviews with participants and on court records, Bates ( If No News, Send Rumors ) delivers a centrist analysis of the case which will irk liberals and supply ammunition across the political spectrum. ``Scopes II'' (named after the famous 1925 ``monkey trial'' over the teaching of Darwin's theory of evolution) climaxed in 1986 with a decision that parents could opt out of a public school reading program by teaching their children at home. But an appeals court reversed the ruling. Critical of the reversal, Bates suggests that schools, as part of a pluralistic society, should in certain situations accommodate parents' religious objections to the curriculum. Faulting Concerned Women for America, a fundamentalist pressure group that supported the parents, and its arch-rival, People for the American Way, Bates finds both outfits divisive and inflexible. Photos. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In rural Tennessee, a fundamentalist Christian mother took a peek at her daughter's reading textbooks and was horrified to find materials that, in her mind, not only conflicted with her religious beliefs but made her suspicious of a conspiracy from antireligious establishments. Claiming that the texts represented secular humanist or New Age thought, the mother sought to have the books removed. Her crusade, sanctioned by the Moral Majority and other conservative groups, became the case of Mozert v. Hawkins County Board of Education and was dubbed ``Scopes II'' by the press. The author's evenhanded treatment of the ensuing volatile public debates throughout the United States is commendable. This is essential reading for educators, religious leaders, and anyone concerned about book banning and the limits of tolerance. For most collections.-- Arla Lingren, St. John's Univ., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671793586
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 8/3/1993
  • Pages: 365

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