The United States are often presented as ‘one nation’, but that is far from the reality.  One of the most exemplary of the Vanderbilt Agrarians, Donald Davidson, even spoke of a cultural ‘cold Civil War’ that began between the North and the South after WWI drew to a close (Southern Writers in the Modern World, U of Georgia Press, Athens, Ga., 1958, p. 34).

The latest instance of this propaganda war against the South is Fox News journalist Greg Jarrett’s new book Trial of the Century, which rehashes the events of the John Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925.  His central claim is that Tennessee’s law against the teaching of evolution was an evil restriction upon the sacred right of freedom of speech.  The rather unmistakable message that emanates from this is that laws upholding Christianity are bad; the untrammeled ‘free exchange of ideas’ is much better.

Southerners should recognize his book for the attack on their Christian culture that it is.  Prof. Davidson and the other Agrarians recognized the Scopes trial itself as such.  Prof. Davidson describes windbags like Mr. Jarrett as ‘vain-minded modernists, all resolved to define God as science and to give the theory of evolution the status of quasi-religious dogma’ (Southern Writers, p. 40).  He adds, ‘ . . . the Dayton episode dramatized, more ominously than any other event easily could, how difficult it was to be a Southerner in the twentieth century . . . .  It was horrifying to see the cause of liberal education argued in a Tennessee court by a famous agnostic lawyer from Illinois named Clarence Darrow.  It was still more horrifying—and frightening—to realize that the South was being exposed to large scale public detraction and did not know or much care how to answer’ (Ibid.).

Hopefully Southerners will know and care how to answer to this reprise of the Scopes trial that Mr. Jarrett is trying gin up.  We can start by learning from how the Southern Agrarians reacted to the Scopes trial.  John Crowe Ransom became a defender of orthodox religion:

‘John Ransom astonished his campus friends at Vanderbilt by openly challenging the modernist position and defending Fundamentalism in religion. I recall a tense scene on the third floor of Calhoun Hall at Vanderbilt during which Ransom, more excited than I had ever seen him, opposed Dr. Edwin Mims in vigorous argument over the issues raised at Dayton. Out of the bold and somewhat grim conviction of such moments, I should guess, grew the exacting study and thought that went into the composition of Ransom’s great book about science and religion, God Without Thunder: An Unorthodox Defense of Orthodoxy’ (Ibid., p. 41).

Prof. Davidson wrote searing lines of poetry warning about the idolatrous worship of science.  These are from ‘Fire on Belmont Street’:

‘But who will stand tonight
Holding this other door against the press
Of fiery muscles?  Who can conquer wheels
Gigantically rolling with hot breath of iron
Against frail human fingers?  Who can quench
The whitehot fury of the tameless atoms
Bursting the secret jungle of their cells?
. . . Yet maybe it were better,
Climbing the tallest hill, to cry at night:
“Citizens, awake!  Fire is upon you, Fire
That will not rest, invisible Fire that feeds
On your smooth brains, your beds, your homes, your steeples,
Fire like a dream of Hell in all your world.
Rush out into the night, take nothing with you,
Only your naked selves, your naked hearts.
Fly from the wrath of Fire to the hills
Where water is and the slow peace of time”’ (Ibid., pgs. 41-2).

Prof. Richard Weaver, a later Southern Agrarian, explained the wisdom, in his essay ‘The Older Religiousness of the South’, of relying on unchanging divine revelation rather than mutable scientific theories.  This was not written specifically in response to Dayton as were the afore-mentioned, but it seems likely to have played a role in its creation:

‘Reverence for the “word of God” is a highly important aspect of Southern religious orthodoxy.  Modern discussions of fundamentalism usually overlook the fact that belief in a revealed knowledge is the essence of religion in its older sense.  The necessity of having some form of knowledge that will stand above the welter of earthly change and bear witness that God is superior to accident led Thomas Aquinas to establish his famous dichotomy, which teaches, briefly, that whereas some things may be learned through investigation and the exercise of reasoning powers, others must be given or “revealed” by God.  Man cannot live under a settled dispensation if the postulates of his existence must be continually revised in accordance with knowledge furnished by a nature filled with contingencies.  . . .  It is therefore imperative in the eyes of the older religionists that man have for guidance in this life a body of knowledge to which the facts of natural discovery are either subordinate or irrelevant.  This body is the “rock of ages,” firm in the vast sea of human passion and error.  . . .  If moral philosophy must wait upon natural philosophy, all moral judgments become temporary, relative, and lacking in those sanctions which alone make them effective, as the more perspicacious Southern theologians pointed out’ (The Confederate South, 1865-1910; A Study in the Survival of a Mind and a Culture, LSU Dissertation, 1943, pgs. 89-90.  Published by ProQuest LLC, Ann Arbor, Mich., 2015.  Now available as The Southern Tradition at Bay.).

This Southern intuition about the instability of science has been proven right once again, in a new analysis of Darwinian evolution no less.

When Prof. Weaver did address the Scopes trial directly, he found that, contrary to Mr. Jarrett, the result of the trial was not a ‘sweeping victory’ for science, free speech, civilization, etc.  Rather,

‘ . . . science received, in the popular estimation, a check in the trial but a moral victory, and this only led to more misunderstanding of the province of science in human affairs.  The law of the State of Tennessee won a victory which was regarded as pyrrhic because it was generally felt to have made the law and the lawmakers look foolish.  This also was a disservice to the common weal’ (The Ethics of Rhetoric, Hermagoras Press, Davis, Cal., 1985, pgs. 53-4).

From the strictly Christian point of view, many holy elders have also appeared since Darwin’s time to warn us about the falseness and the destructive effects of his theory of evolution.  We will quote only one, St. Theophan the Recluse (+1894), but these warnings could easily be multiplied:

‘People have suddenly had a thought and have started to write about preserving faith.  But they don’t want to block the source of unbelief.  This source is the spread of the teaching that the world formed by itself, according to which there is no need for God and the soul does not exist—it’s all atoms and chemistry, nothing more.  This is being preached at [university] rostrums and in literature.  He who breathes these fumes is inescapably stupefied, and loses his sense and faith. . . .  Until these books are destroyed; until professors and literary men are forced not only not to hold to this theory, but even to demolish it—until then—faithlessness will grow and grow, and with it, self-will and the destruction of the present government.  That’s the way the French Revolution went’ (Fr. Seraphim Rose, Genesis, Creation, and Early Man:  The Orthodox Christian Vision, 2nd edn., Hieromonk Damascene, edr., St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, Cal., 2011, p. 792).

From all of these sources and others, Dixie may draw ideas for how to challenge this renewed attack on the Biblical account of creation that she has consistently defended.  In the near term, though, we ought to declare quite forthrightly to Mr. Jarrett that we simply don’t need his book around here at the South.  We would be just as pleased if he threw it into the pit of hell where its celebrated atheistic evolution originated.  Freedom needs limits to be enjoyed properly:  Southerners, by and large, want only the freedom to live life in Christ; Mr. Jarrett wishes for us to accept a more liberal freedom that would make that impossible.

And while we’re at it, isn’t it about time for the South to form her own news network?  With the ease of recording videos and with the growing number of sharp Southern commentators, could we not produce at least a weekly show presenting news stories from the traditional Southern perspective?  Fox News obviously has a high degree of disdain for Dixie and her Christian culture – from the South-slandering Victor Davis Hanson to Brett Baier’s book with its slobbering approval of General Grant to the ‘conservative transgender’ commentator Bruce Jenner.  The positive ramifications of a Dixie-centric news/commentary channel for the South would likely be many.

Walt Garlington

Walt Garlington is a chemical engineer turned writer (and, when able, a planter). He makes his home in Louisiana and is editor of the 'Confiteri: A Southern Perspective' web site.


  • Paul Yarbrough says:

    “Fox News obviously has a high degree of disdain for Dixie…”
    Without reservation.

  • James M Persons says:

    There is no doubt that Fox ‘News’ has high disdain for Dixie. It’s pretty routine for Fox employees to write or verbally spew anti-Southern disinformation/lies. Brian Kilmeade is their number one propagandist. The fact that Fox obviously works hard at disseminating non-history about the South, ignores the Jeffersonian tradition of government, and suppresses the complete facts surrounding Mr. Lincoln’s war while ginning up hostility toward the South and Southerners amounts to nothing less than bigotry toward the South. Fox it seems is afraid of a resurgence of nullification and secession. Ironically Fox is one of the reasons for, and an important one, the resurgence favoring nullification and secession.

  • Earl STarbuck says:

    Neocon hacks gonna neocon hack. The amount of lies and misinformation disseminated about the Scopes Trial is disgusting. Answers in Genesis has good stuff on the subject.

  • Bill says:


    Southern News Network

  • Valerie Protopapas says:

    People like this don’t hate “the Christian South,” they hate Christ and His Church wherever they are located. The South is just a rather easy target at least when looking in the past. However, as time goes on, there is a great (and wicked) “leveling” of the nation’s and the world’s moral foundation.

  • Lewis says:

    Thank you Mr. Garlington for your excellent post.

    The decline of traditional Southern Christianity in the new South results in a depressing environment in which to live. It seems that fewer and fewer people are willing to look at the negative results of the “new South”.

    I have enjoyed and benefitted from your writing on this and other blogs.

  • I have an Idea! Create a real tv channel made by Southerners and for Southerners and other interested people. Why, even have as a requirement that all of the news desk speakers have a real Southern accent!

    • Billy P says:

      Amen to that. Nothing worse than yankee accents on local tv. They purposely avoid hiring anyone with a southern accent.
      It’s so important to the network suits to “fit in” with yankeedom.

  • Greg says:

    I stopped watching Fox News some time ago. Honestly can’t stand watching any of them. I absolutely agree we need a southern based news network/channel!

  • Barbara says:

    Thanks for making mention of the fact that we need our own tv network and to control our local channels. Every bit of news we get comes out of NYC from a member of the tribe who controls everything. The moral standard has been lowered everywhere because in no white country do the host people control any of the major propaganda machines.

    Please help us get a handle on this issue and figure out where to begin and how to go about it and get it done. I’m sick of the lies, propaganda and filthy godlessness of our public airwaves and entertainment. Without control of all propaganda tv, movies, publishing etc they could never carry off their Great Reset nor kill us with vaccines or open our borders. There should be no central control of any news or entertainment.

  • Me again.
    There was an “opinion” writing, in the opinion section, that got my blood to boil momentarily! A retired liberal professor wrote that as some people want to return education back to “classical” education, like in the 1950s…1960s. This here classical education is seen to be filled with racism at every turn! He is angry at Desantis for banning Critical race Theory being taught in schools.
    The writer, to me, insinuates that classical education should be axed as it teaches racial biases.

    Yeah. To be replaced with *what*, I ask.

    Yet *another* shot being fired from a Union Army rifle, at the South. Backed by liberal media.
    what a clever idea, you all. a “demonic” clever idea. Messages are being told to us all that anything of our culture that existed, in our past, is corrupt, racist, and outdated. Such that they will think that no one will want to go back to, say, Humanities college courses of the 1950s as these ideals are filled with terrible teachings.

    You are walking in the rain so you want to go back to the barn for shelter only to be told that this barn is now collapsing so that the *only* way forwards, for health, sanity, and enlightenment, is to get onto the bus awaiting you, ahead. A bus that might could take you to such lovelies as extreme leftist culture with no marriages, religion, or personal beliefs.

    Relentless these bullets come from the liberal Union rifles!

    Remove religion, family, and culture, then what? The South has these in spades. Or…used to!

    And… the no-southern accents in news reporting! I read that in many Northern white-collar media jobs, a Southern accent is a career killer per excellence!
    *got* to homogenize.

    Just *what*, indeed, is in the South that the liberals and intellectuals dislike so much?! my own suspicion is that the South represents the Shadow, of these liberals. The part of themselves that they dislike within themselves.

    Comments please: what does the South have that they dislike so much?

    Freestone Wilson

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