Today in Texas History – December 13

From the Annals of Higher Education – In 1930, J. Frank Norris, Baptist pastor and editor of The Fundamentalist, denounced Professor Joseph Leo Duflot of West Texas State Teachers College (now West Texas A&M University) at a rally in the courthouse square in Canyon.  Norris attacked  Duflot. the chairman of the sociology department, for teaching evolution and for his “modernist” philosophy. Duflot had already been dismissed by the First Presbyterian Church of Canyon in 1921 for attempting to reconcile evolution with the biblical account of creation and questioning the complete veracity of the Bible. Norris had invited Duflot to a debate on December 12.  Duflot cordially declined and instead played golf that day. At the rally Norris condemned Duflot as “an orangutang, God-denying, Bible-destroying, evolutionist professor” and called for him to be fired by the College.  In reaction, the board of regents conducted a hearing into the issue, but Duflot emerged unscathed and continued to teach until he retired in 1955.  Norris was a notorious scumbag who was charged with arson and murder (escaping conviction each time) and an ardent racist who supported the Ku Klux Klan – but all that is for another day.  The nine-iron is mightier than the demagogue.

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