William Jennings Bryan still fighting 1925 Scopes Trial — through college in his name

By Tom Boggioni
Sunday, March 2, 2014 19:29 EDT
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A change in a ‘Statement of Belief’ has college professors concerned about their jobs at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee.

According to the timefresspress.com, the board of trustees at the small evangelical college – named in honor of William Jennings Bryan, the man who helped prosecute the 1925 Scopes Trial – recently made a change to the institution’s 80 year-old ‘Statement of Belief’, requiring all school employees to agree that “We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve.”

Some employees are concerned that failure to affirm this belief might cost them their jobs.

The school  issued the ‘clarification’, in a packet delivered to school employees on Friday,  in an attempt to quell a rising tide of belief held  by some professors attempting to reconcile the theory of evolution with biblical teachings.

At the school, some professors, staff  members and students  no longer  identify as young-Earth creationists. They called themselves progressive evolutionists,  theistic evolutionists or  old-Earth creationists as they have found  ways to reconcile their faith with science.

The previous statement of belief contained the passage: ““that the origin of man was by fiat of God in the act of creation as related in the Book of Genesis; that he was created in the image of God; that he sinned and thereby incurred physical and spiritual death.”

The updated passage now states: “We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve. They are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life forms.”

The school’s statement of faith is more than 80 years-old and is not allowed to be amended or changed, according to the school charter.

The clarification, announced by school President Stephen Livesay in a Feb. 23 news release, shocked the school community, including those who agree with the clarification.

“This is an educational institution,” said John Carpenter, a journalism professor at Bryan. “In order for us to do our jobs, we have to be open to a variety of positions on things and many people would see this as a narrowing of a position that doesn’t need to be narrowed.”

1980 graduate David Tromanhauser, who was once the school’s alumni director, says the change will set a new tone at the school, squelching debate, and not just in the study of science.

“I think the professors that stay will be fearful of teaching the way they always have,” Tromanhauser said. “It’s divisive. God’s people should not be doing this.”

Tom Boggioni
Tom Boggioni
Tom Boggioni is based in the quaint seaside community of Pacific Beach in less quaint San Diego. He writes about politics, media, culture, and other annoyances. Mostly he spends his days at the beach gazing at the horizon waiting for the end of the world, or the sun to go down. Whichever comes first.
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