Fundamentalism V. Modernism

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Fundamentalism v. Modernism

Fundamentalism beliefs, strictly following the Bible, creationism, nativism, and old values, clashed against Modernist ideas, primarily evolution and application of science, in the early 1900s due to differences of opinions. Four issues that reflect this ideological clash are the rise of the KKK, who harbored Fundamentalist and nativist beliefs; the Scopes trial, which pitted the curriculum of John T. Scopes and evolution against Fundamentalism creationism; the Sacco and Vanzetti trial, epitomizing racial bias and prejudice against immigrants; and the Prohibition movement, stemming from the World War I German scare and modernist acceptance against Fundamentalist resistance to alcohol. The clash between Fundamentalism and Modernism bitterly fought to prove one side or the other right, and eventually Fundamentalism would give way on their points to the advances and irrefutable proof offered by science.

The rise of the KKK idealized the Fundamentalist and Modernist clash because of the growing membership and forthright ideals of the group, holding nativist and creationist attitudes and denying evolution. Largely focused in the Midwest and the Bible Belt, the Ku Klux Klan, headed by members such as the Imperial Wizard, Grand Goblins, and King Kleagles, held firm Fundamentalist beliefs and denounced Modernist ideas such as evolution and progression found in alcohol and birth control “experiments.” The KKK was against gambling and adultery as well as anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, anti-black, and anti-Communist. On the other hand, the KKK was nativist, isolationist, Protestant, pro-aggression, and pro-Anglo-Saxon. These stalwart stands were strictly followed by Klan members and those opposed to these principles would be harshly dealt with, to the point of violence and murder. The KKK idealized the clash between Fundamentalists and Modernists with its old values and scare tactics used to bolster support for a cause that was quickly losing validity. Ultimately the Klan collapsed after the pyramid scheme was exposed and undermined, leading to a sharp decline in membership and the death of a public and widespread Klan existence.

The Scopes trial portrayed the clash between evolutionary ideas of the Modernists and the opposition propositioned by Fundamentalists. Education advances in the 1900s led to higher public health standards due in part to the Rockefeller Foundation, which eradicated hookworm, and education through experience, championed by John Dewey. In response to these advances, John T. Scopes, a science teacher from Dayton, Tennessee, was charged and tried by Fundamentalists for educating his students about evolution and the ideas of Darwinism and modern science. The charges held that these principles opposed God and the Bible as well as corrupted youth with false ideas about science and the creation of life and the world. Former presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan led the Fundamentalist case against the fiery lawyer for the Modernists, Clarence Darrow. The intensity of the evolution issue led to the degradation and eventual death of Bryan, but vaulted Darrow into fame and success in the field of law. Although Scopes lost the trial and was fined one hundred dollars, the absurdity of the Fundamentalist position created a false victory for them and enlightened the populace about the ideas of Modernism.

Fundamentalist ideas of nativism clashed with Modernistic ideals over the trial of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants accused of murdering a Massachusetts paymaster and guard. The case dragged on for six years until the two men were electrocuted, but were later found to be innocent and officially cleared of all charges. The men were convicted because of the wave of anti-foreignism and nativist ideas bred by Fundamentalist uprisings and Communist outbursts that frightened the public. The jury was prejudiced against Sacco and Vanzetti because they were...
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