I wrote and posted the following piece last November 4th after hearing this story from my Dad for the first time. It’s a story of zealotry, and courage and levelheadedness. It’s the kind of thing that probably happens all the time and doesn’t make headlines. I’m posting it here, in the spirit of Banned Books Week. Here’s “The meddlesome preacher and the school board that refused him”
I and the family had a great time at my parents’ place this weekend. We roasted weenies, drank soda pop, watched a horror movie, and played, oh and there were pancakes. Nice.
At one point my Dad and I were talking about his time spent on our little town’s little school’s school board, back when my little brother and I were attending the Kindergarten through 8th grade institution (which btw I think was a pretty good one).
He told me a story that I didn’t remember hearing before. He said that the preacher for the biggest church in town (Fundamentalist, biblical literalist, hellfire, brimstone, church I went to with my best friend) attended a school board meeting and petitioned the board to remove some book on dinosaurs from the school library. Apparently the book mentioned evolution via natural selection.
My Dad said that one of the other school board members, a man I remember from that time, defended the book’s place in the library in an elegant fashion. The preacher’s request was denied.
I was glad to hear that the school board did the right thing back then. I was glad to hear that there were people in the community who knew the value of a secular education. And while not surprised I’m nevertheless angered at the actions of the cleric. He was working to limit us and our community with his bumpkinesque superstition.
We students (or at least this student) didn’t know about the people standing up for our right to learn free of superstition. Stories like this make me appreciate secularism and modernity and those who have stood up for it even more.