Tension of The 1920’s
Following the First World War, the United States went in search of a, “return to normalcy,” which many agreed was exactly what it needed. However, to the dismay of many, all the United States could find was a significant amount of tension that had developed between, “Old America,” and, “New America.” All in all, this tension that arose between old and new traditions and ideas did so in the form of religion, conflicts within society, and cultural values. Religion was perhaps the biggest source of this tension in America. The most prominent of this conflict was that between fundamentalists, who interpreted the Bible literally, and modernists who were more readily willing to interpret the Bible more flexibly. The most notable of these conflicts was undoubtedly the Scopes Trial, in which high school biology teacher, John Scopes, was arrested for teaching the theory of evolution, rather than the bible. Document C shows Scope’s attorney, Clarence Darrow, skillfully cross-examining prosecutor and Bible expert, William Jennings Bryan. Darrow's cross-examination forced Bryan to explicitly state the incredible inflexibility and rigidity of fundamentalist beliefs. As a result of the trial, which was broadcast across the nation via radio and newspaper, many Americans were more readily willing to consider modernist religious interpretations. Another example of this fundamentalist idea was the WCTU's arguments against smoking, which is shown in Document G. Although the content of their message is unsurprising, the fact that the religious organization relied upon scientific evidence for its appeal represents the growing respect for science, even in religious circles. Other conflicts, however, also arose within religion. Aimee Semple Macpherson was simultaneously revered and criticized for her superficial, glamorous religious services, as detailed in part by Document I. Predictably, conservative religious groups condemned her non-traditional...
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