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.
The Devil in Dover: An Insider's Story of Dogma V. Darwin in Small-town Americaby Lauri Lebo
Local newspaper reporter Lauri Lebo was handed the story of a lifetime when the Dover (Pennsylvania) School Board adopted a measure to require its ninth-grade biology students to learn about intelligent design. In a case that recalled the famed 1925 Scopes monkey” trial and made international headlines, eleven parents sued the school board. When the case… See more details below
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Local newspaper reporter Lauri Lebo was handed the story of a lifetime when the Dover (Pennsylvania) School Board adopted a measure to require its ninth-grade biology students to learn about intelligent design. In a case that recalled the famed 1925 Scopes monkey” trial and made international headlines, eleven parents sued the school board. When the case wound up in federal court before a George W. Bushappointed judge, Lebo had a front-row seat.
Destined to become required reading for a generation of journalists, scientists, and science teachers, as well as for anyone concerned about the separation of church and state, The Devil in Dover is Lebo’s widely praised account of a perfect storm of religious intolerance, First Amendment violations, and an assault on American science education. Lebo skillfully probes the compelling background of the case, introducing us to the plaintiffs, the defendants, the lawyers, and a parade of witnesses, along with Judge John E. Jones, who would eventually condemn the school board’s decision as one of breathtaking inanity.”
With the antievolution battle having moved to the state leveland the recent passage of state legislation that protects the right of schools to teach alternatives to evolutionthe story will continue to be relevant for years to come.
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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".
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.
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.
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.
This is a great read and would make a wonderful holiday present for people of all faiths.
As much a story about a great case and court decision as the poison and bigotry from religion and the rule of law and Constitution. A must read.
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.