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Devil in Dover: An Insider's Story of Dogma V. Darwin in Small-Town America


The page-turning story behind the 2005 intelligent design case in Dover, Pennsylvania—the case that made front-page news around the world.

"What happened in Dover is a tiny sliver, a broken shard of glass mirroring what plays out across the country. A war of fundamentalist Christian values versus secularism. A battle between evangelical fanaticism and tolerance."—from The ...
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The Devil in Dover: An Insider's Story of Dogma V. Darwin in Small-town America

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The page-turning story behind the 2005 intelligent design case in Dover, Pennsylvania—the case that made front-page news around the world.

"What happened in Dover is a tiny sliver, a broken shard of glass mirroring what plays out across the country. A war of fundamentalist Christian values versus secularism. A battle between evangelical fanaticism and tolerance."—from The Devil in Dover

In December 2004, following the Dover area school board's decision to teach intelligent design in ninth-grade biology classrooms, eleven parents sued, sparking a federal constitutional challenge. Lauri Lebo, a small-town reporter who covered the trial, knows not just the legal case and science, but the people on all sides of the divisive battle.

In The Devil in Dover, Lebo traces the compelling backstory of this pivotal case described by some as a perfect storm of religious intolerance, First Amendment violations, and an assault on American science education. In a community divided across unexpected lines, the so-called activist judge, a George Bush-appointed Republican, eventually condemned the school board's decision as one of "breathtaking inanity."

Lebo follows the story through its surprising twists, pondering whether this was a national war playing out in a small town or a small-town political battle playing out on the national stage. As a "local girl" with a fundamentalist Christian father, Lebo provides an account that is both fascinating and moving, as she thoughtfully probes one of America's most divisive cultural conflicts—and the responsibility journalists have when covering such a controversial story.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595584519
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 4/14/2009
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Lauri Lebo has been a journalist for twenty years. As part of an investigative reporting team, she helped solve two civil rights-era murders. As the York Daily Record's education reporter, she covered intelligent design's First Amendment battle. The winner of numerous state and national awards, she lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
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Table of Contents

1 You Have Much Skill 1

2 Neighbor Against Neighbor 8

3 Met on the Battlefield 26

4 Myth of Separation 48

5 "Never Said It" 69

6 Kidnapped by Baptists 87

7 A Little Constitutional Violation 108

8 Where Every House Is a Palace 131

9 Forty Days 149

10 Seeking Comfort 177

11 "Breathtaking Inanity" 192

12 The Sheep and the Goats 206

Acknowledgments 225

Notes 227

Index 231

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2008

    The Devil in Dover

    Much has been written about the 2004 trial and drama that ensued in Dover PA between members of a local school board who wanted to introduce "intellegent design", a re-packaged form of creationism, into the local public high school and the parents and teachers who resented the intrusion. It has been called the Scopes Monkey Trial of our century and attracted international attention, even prompting a book by Charles Darwin's great grandson. But in all the accounts of this battle between science and religion, no one has touched on the personal stories that were woven into the public record better than a local newspaper reporter, Lauri Lebo, in her account, "The Devil in Dover".<BR/> What makes Ms. Lebo's story so interesting is that a few years before, her own father, a local AM radio station owner, Dean Lebo, in a moment of financial and spiritual despondency, fell to his knees and asked the lord to save him. Overnight, Dean and his radio station were converted into a full time Christian format. So while Lauri, the pragmatic journalist covered the story daily in the York Dispatch, she was still Dean's dutiful daughter and had to present to her father and to her readers, her observations. <BR/> This is a very American story. It is a story of values, of faith, of tradition, of law, of science of truth and that which is sometimes mistaken for truth. Lauri chooses her words carefully in her telling of the accounts of the trial and becomes part of the story as she gets to know the plaintiffs, plain folk like her, who stood up, against the majority, to defend the first ammendment that prohibits an establishment of religion. She describes the judge, a Bush appointed Republican, in terms that befit the title of The Honorable John E. Jones as he refers to the tactics of the defendants as "breathtaking inanity". Defendents who betrayed their community and put their right hands on the book they so admired, and swore to God to tell the truth,the whole truth and nothing but the truth and how the brilliant young ACLU lawyers, Vic Walczak and Eric Rothschild, dissected their testimony and the testimony of the intellegent design experts to reveal their true motives, which was to violate the establishment clause of the US Constitution.<BR/> If I have a critisism of the book it is that Lauri did not delve deep enough into her own personal conflicts with her born again dad and his next world values because as the trial ends, Dean makes a visit to the county jail to read scripture to an inmate and has a heart attack and dies. At this point in the book, Lauri could have brought the community together at the funeral of her father and had us feel for the man who raised her and tried in vain to convert her. But instead, she stuck to the trial and the verdict and wrapped up the story neatly.<BR/> This is a great read and would make a wonderful holiday present for people of all faiths.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2012

    Scary, but very well done

    It is hard to believe that there are people in this country, who believe that man is only 6000 years old. It is even harder to believe that these people want this misinformation to be taught in the public schools.
    This book is a wake up call to people who believe this is just a quirk, or who don't realize the attempts by these people to ignore scientific discoveries, in order to champion their fundamentalist view of the Bible.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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