Tennessee Governor Austin Peay signed into law a prohibition against the teaching of evolution in public schools. Later this year John Scopes will violate the law, leading to the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial.
Opposition to evolution is a critical component in the ongoing development of American fundamentalism. Opposed to "modernism" (the intellectual aspect of modernity) in all its forms, fundamentalists are actively working to eliminate any theological, philosophical, or scientific ideas which they think challenge or undermine what they believe to be orthodox, traditional Christian beliefs.
Fundamentalists are fighting for what they believe to be the "fundamentals" of their faith, and evolutionary theory seems to them to be playing an important role in degeneration of a society that has abandoned true Christianity. All of this only intensified after World War I, leading to laws like this.
The text of Tennessee's anti-evolution law reads:
"An act prohibiting the teaching of the Evolution Theory in all the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of Tennessee, which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, and to provide penalties for the violations thereof.
Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That it shall be unlawful for any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.
Section 2. Be it further enacted, That any teacher found guilty of the violation of this Act, Shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction, shall be fined not less than One Hundred $ (100.00) Dollars nor more than Five Hundred ($ 500.00) Dollars for each offense.
Section 3. Be it further enacted, That this Act take effect from and after its passage, the public welfare requiring it."