Mr. Charles T. Gorham writes in “The Literary Guide”:-

Only the resolute reasoner knows what Humanity has suffered from religion. The typical Christian is not interested in his faith and does not study its developments. To-day religion presents itself in two outstanding forms, widely differing in details, but each clinging firmly to the broken reed of authority: Rome on the one side, Protestant Bible-worship on the other. The Fundamentalist movement, which has been of late years, and still is, in full swing in the United States, is a religious phenomenon at once amusing and alarming. It is amusing because of its singular faith in human stupidity; alarming because it is trying hard, and with much success, to stifle human thought. It appears strange, but is not really so, for no one need be surprised at anything, however absurd, which springs from the union of pious zeal with invincible ignorance.

In his “War on Modern Science”, published last year in New York, Mr. Maynard Shipley, the well-known President of the Science League of America, relates the story of this remarkable outbreak of fanaticism. Religious intolerance is always with us, but only during the last few years has it taken in America the organized form known as “Fundamentalism,” which is substantially the old Inquisition with modern trimmings. It now claims to number more than twenty-five millions of the adult population of the United States, and is made up largely of the notorious Ku Klux Klan and two other organizations, the Bible Crusaders and the Supreme Kingdom, each of which is said to number at least five million supporters.

The avowed aim of the Fundamentalist movement is to kill the doctrine of Evolution – in fact, to suppress all knowledge which does not completely square with the teaching of the “Word of God.” One of its leaders has said: “Any man that does not believe the Bible… is a traitor to his country.” It is true the country has no State Church, but then it ought to have, and the Fundamentalists are out to make good that deplorable omission. Frantic efforts are being made to secure “compulsory teaching of the Bible in public schools and the establishment of Christianity as the State religion.” To the Fundamentalist there is, of course, only one form of Christianity, and that is his own. He has not the faintest doubt that translations of ancient documents produced long, long ago by unknown writers are in very truth the final authority in morals, history and science. There are, said one sage, only three books which are “necessary for any one to read”

– the Bible, the hymn book, and the almanac – “therefore I am opposed to all libraries.” Charming husband and father! Men like that are ruling millions.

Here are the “minimum basic doctrines” of this cheery faith: “The inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible; the Virgin Birth and the complete Deity of Christ Jesus; the resurrection of the same body of Jesus which was three days buried; the substitutionary atonement of Jesus for the sins of the world; the second coming of Jesus in bodily form, according to the Scriptures.” Some of these doctrines may be in accordance with the Scriptures, but all of them are not, presuming, of course, that “the Scriptures” are rationally interpreted, a feat of which no Fundamentalist has yet proved him capable.

The teaching of Evolution and allied branches of science is to be absolutely suppressed, and in school text-books every reference, even indirect, which in any way countenances or recognizes Evolution, is to be struck out. In two States, Tennessee and Mississippi, these drastic measures have been passed, and for their violation penalties up to five hundred dollars may be imposed. Other Southern States, Mr. Shipely apprehends, are likely to fall victims to the foolish but splendidly organized forces of reaction; and even the more enlightened North is not beyond the danger zone. Anti-Evolution Bills have been introduced into the legislatures of many States, and lost only by small majorities. Texas has decreed that “no infidel, Atheist, or Agnostic shall be employed in any capacity in the University of Texas,” and such books as Mr. Well’s Outline of History have been publicly burnt. It is hoped by the fanatics, and feared by saner people, that at the Presidential elections next year the Fundamentalist octopus will clutch the greater part of the country in its tentacles. Should it do so, what will be the outcome? A State Church? If so, will it mean a Church which will insist on teaching Fundamentalist doctrines, or a Church pledged to obey the orders of the Vatican? On may expect difference of opinion on that matter.

How do these petrified bigots go about their work? By means of abuse, misrepresentation, and suppression of facts – by the methods of force.

One clerical gentleman terms the Modernists “a gang of Infidels... an insane set of ignorant educated fools who insist on lowering their own organic life to that of a monkey or animal. Take a jackass, a hog, and a skunk, and tie them together, and you have a scientific evolutionist or a Modernist.” This gang “should be exiled out of our country”. In one city the Ku Klux Klan, “decided definitely and positively that no Atheist should speak in that city.’ To the Fundamentalist every Modernist, every science teacher, is an Atheist like Voltaire and Paine, only far worse (admire the accuracy!), and his form of Christianity is the only one worth a red cent. One representative in Georgia declared: “My children shall not be subject to the inroads of scientists. We must protect them from the poison that is being injected.” Said another shining light: “If the Bible and the microscope do not agree, the microscope is wrong” It is so easy to prefer a theological inference to the testimony of one’s own senses. A minister whose name need not. be given, because charges of arson and murder have been laid against him, stated that Evolution is “the most damnable doctrine that has come out of the bottomless pit.”

These aberrations of the human mind form a curious psychological problem. Is it not astonishing that persons looking just like normal human beings, with some small particles of grey matter in their craniums, can thus rave against what they do not understand? For, be it observed, the fury is not the result of candid examination, but of willful ignorance. They fling aside with contemptuous abuse the idea of applying rational criteria to writings which they ignorantly revere as divine. They are blind to questions regarding the mental status of the writers of the Jewish Scriptures and the circumstances and times in which they were written, the criticism which might throw a great light upon them being regarded as impious. If such a nonsensical attitude were to become general in the United States, the future of that country would be indeed grave. The attitude will not, I think become general; but what limit can be put to the babblings of the willfully ignorant pietist? What is involved is a serious menace to human liberty in a country which was once called the land of liberty. A huge and thoroughly well organized revival of religious bigotry is in progress, and many people in Great Britain will give it a hearty welcome. The spirit of the Fundamentalist is the spirit of the persecutor, who would punish all opinions that differ from his own, and who relies upon an authority as fallacious and absurd as that of Rome. Does he realize what would be the effect on human welfare of the assassination of thought and the enthronement of stupidity? Does he suppose it possible to suppress Reason for ever? It cannot be. The intelligence of the United States is surely strong enough to meet this revolt of the intellectually unfit. Knowledge must be organized as ignorance has been. Who can doubt the issue of the struggle? Great is truth, and the hosts of ignorance shall not prevail against it. The Republic will be free when it proves itself worthy of its heritage.

- Revolt, 7 November 1928

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