Life in the Roaring Twenties

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How was the Scopes Trial an example of the battle between traditionalism and modernity in the 1920's seen in differences between rural and urban areas?

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Religious fundamentalism of the kind displayed in the Scopes trial was largely a reaction against certain aspects of modernity. In the 1920s America was changing rapidly, and to many, especially in rural areas, such change threatened their whole way of life. Fundamentalists raged against what they saw as the corrupting influences of modern life exemplified by the movie industry, women's fashion, and even the automobile. In the Roaring Twenties, the United States was becoming more urbanized, and many rural dwellers feared the encroachment of what they saw as corrupt big-city values into their lives and communities.

It wasn't simply Scopes on trial in Tennessee in 1925, nor even Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection—it was modernity as a whole. To William Jennings Bryan and the townsfolk of Dayton, the Scopes trial was an opportunity to take a stand in an increasingly bitter culture war. Modernity represented everything they feared and loathed: an atomized society where...

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