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During the 1920?s there was much tension between the traditionalists and the modernists.
The best example of this conflict was that of the Scopes trial and the changes in the
lifestyles and values of the American youth. In both cases the traditionalists and the
modernists were at odds.
The first example of the tension between the traditionalists and the modernists was
the unfriendly fire from the fundamentalists on the new science and progressive education
in the 1920s. These old time religionists believed that the teaching of Darwinian evolution
was destroying faith in God and the Bible. They believed this new teaching was
contributing to the moral breakdown of youth in the jazz age. They tried to create laws
to prohibit the teaching of evolution in public schools. Three southern states adopted
some of these laws. The three states were in the heart of the Bible Belt South were
religion is the strongest, including Tennessee. In 1925, John T. Scopes was indicted for
teaching evolution in a Tennessee pubic school. The press came out in full force to cover
the Scopes ?monkey trial?. The famed criminal lawyer Clarence Darrow defended
Scopes while William Jennings Bryan, (a fundamentalist) joined the prosecution as an
expert on the Bible. Scopes was fond guilty and charged a fine of $100. The
fundamentalists won a small victory, but soon Christians began combining science with
religion and accepting the new discoveries of science. Thus crediting the overall victory
to the modernists.
The second example of the tension between the traditionalists and the modernists
was the changes in lifestyles and values of the youth. Modernists believed that God was a
good guy and the universe was a place for fun, while the fundamentalists stuck to old time
believes. ?Flappers? and other youth began to wear more revealing outfits and began to
cut their hair short and explore in new fields. Taboos of the past flew out the window,
such as monogamy as teenagers explored new sexual frontiers. They danced to jazz music
and let themselves go. The modernist were appalled, they began to combat the new dance
music, cars, and the devil, by creating wholesome entertainment. They showed religious
movies and posted billboards to attract the youth to church. Their effort was not enough,
the new crazes of the modernists in the ?20s was to strong for the traditionalists.
The tension between the traditionalists and the modernists was at some times
extreme in the 1920s; the bizarre Scopes trial that was fed upon by the media and the new
morals and values of the youthful modernists caused allot of heat. Both sides fought hard
for their believes but the modernists were overall triumphant in changing society from the
old values and beliefs of the traditionalists.
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