America’s Rejection Of Evolution Reflected In Miss U.S.A. Pageant
The first live radio broadcast from a trial was the Scopes trial in 1925. John Scopes, a Tennessee high school biology teacher, was convicted of violating the Butler Act, which prohibited teaching evolution in schools. His trial highlighted the divide between science and fundamentalist (literalist) religion in the United States.
Flash forward to 2011: only one contestant in the 2011 Miss U.S.A. pageant (out of 51) said that she believed in evolution (“I’m a big science geek”) when asked if evolution should be taught in schools. That was Miss California, Alyssa Campanella, and she was crowned the winner on Sunday. Runner-up, Miss Tennessee, Ashley Elizabeth Durham, on evolution: “that’s not my belief” although she said evolution should be taught in schools. Most contestants said that evolution should be taught alongside other points of view, like creationism (or “Biblical stuff”).
It is almost a full century after Scopes and 202 years after Darwin’s birth, yet evolution remains controversial here, and Americans are scientifically illiterate. Read my complete analysis at The Moderate Voice.
Note: The two articles that tipped me to this story have incorrect headlines/information. Think Progress says two contestants “believe in evolution” — that’s not supported by the video clips on YouTube. USA Today (the primary source for Think Progress) is incorrect on several points.