Kanawha County textbook controversy

Kanawha County textbook controversy (photos)
Images of the 1974-75 Kanawha County textbook controversy, in West Virgina. Top (left): a video still of Alice Moore, the leader of the protests, on camera during testimony. Top (right): one of the 3,600 to 10,000 miners that went on strike over the textbooks. Bottom (left): a street march, showing a sign "God is Not a Myth", in objection to the teaching curriculum change of how children are asked to compare the Bible story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den to Aesop’s fable “Androcles and the Lion?” (Ѻ), suggesting that both were myths. Bottom (right): a Kanawha County woman (Ѻ) protesting against the deemed anti-Christian textbooks, with the sign "Even Hillbillies have Constitutional Rights".
In textbook controversies, Kanawha County textbook controversy was a tenuous event, which occurred in spring 1974 to 1975 in Kanawha County, West Virginia, involving protest over newly adopted set of course books, for the 46,000 students attending the county’s 124 public schools, that were religion-questioning and ethnicity-broadening in content, resulting in one shooting, bus and school bombings, school closings, reporters being beaten up, police being shot at, some 3,600 miners going on strike, among other non-peaceful events, that has come to be known as the “most violent protest over public school textbooks” in US history. [1]

On 11 Apr 1974, the school board of Kanawha County, West Virginia, met to consider new textbooks that had been recommended by a state selection committee, which included more multiculturalism and diverse authors, such as: John Milton (Paradise Lost), F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby), Ernest Hemingway (The Old Man and the Sea, Plato (The Republic), something by Sigmund Freud, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X and Alex Haley, to name a few.

One board member Alice Moore (c.1936-), a Christian fundamentalist, wife of a local preacher, the only board member without a college degree, but who had been elected for campaigning against the teaching of sex education in public schools, objected over concerns of dialectology. The books were approved against Moore’s objections. After the board approval, Moore’s husband showed her the following quote, from the Autobiography of Malcolm X, which the students would be reading in the coming year:

“All praise is due to Allah that I moved to Boston when I did. If I hadn't, I'd probably still be a brainwashed black Christian.”

He told his wife “look what you just approved!” Thus began the Kanawha County textbook controversy. [2] Moore, single-handedly, via Church and social networking, got 96,000 copies of 300 different “text books”, as she and protestors referred to them, removed from public school classrooms, because of their "anti-Christian slant" passages. Some of these concerns, as Moore latter reported, were the following issues:

“One of the elementary school books had a poem that referenced God, but they used a lowercase g. In another section, they had a plural reference to ‘gods’ capitalized.”

During a rallies, to follow, the reverend Charles Quigley prayed for god to kill the three board members who had approved the books. Families threatened to kill families who did not support the book ban. By Oct 1974, sticks of dynamite were being exploded all over the county, in schools, and around gas stations, and busses; snipers were firing on police who were protecting the buses.

During the event, a newly-minted journalist named Lee Strobel, who then was an “intellectually-fulfilled atheist”, working for the Chicago Tribune, was assigned the job of going to report on the Kanawha County incident; some of which he recounts 2004 The Case For Christ, such as interviews with local residents and business owners. [4]

Textbook Battle Rages in Bible Belt County (1974)
The clipping of Lee Strobel's 20 Oct 1974 Chicago Tribute article on the Kanawha Country textbook uproar; which mentions reverend Marvin Horan, later sentenced to three years on prison for conspiring to blow up two elementary schools over the textbooks. [4]
Dynamics of Language
The book Dynamics of Language, seemed to be a hot button tension spot for man. The following, e.g., is a conversation between Lee Strobel and a local businessman over hamburgers at a Charleston diner: [4]

Strobel: “Why are you so enraged over the new school textbooks?”

Businessman: “Listen to what Dynamics of Language tells our kids. To quote: ‘Read the theory of divine origin and the story of the Tower of Babel as told in Genesis. Be prepared to explain one or more ways these stories could be interpreted.’ [tossing a well-worn clipping on the table] The theory of divine origin! The word of god is not a theory. Take god out of creation and what’s left? Evolution? Scientists want to teach our kids that divine origin is just a theory that stupid people believe but that evolution is a scientific fact. Well, it’s not. And that’s at the bottom of this.”

Strobel: “Are you saying Charles Darwin is responsible for this?”

Businessman: “Let me put it this way: If Darwin’s right, we’re just sophisticated monkeys. The Bible is wrong. There is no god. And without god, there’s no right or wrong. We can just make up our morals as we go. The basis for all we believe is destroyed. And that’s why this country is headed to hell in a handbasket. Is Darwin responsible? I’ll say this: people have to choose between science and faith, between evolution and the Bible, between the Ten Commandments and make-‘em-up-as-you-go ethics. We’ve made our choice—and we’re not budging.”

Businessman: [taking a swig of beer] “Have you seen the teacher’s manual?”

Strobel: No.

Businessman: “It says students should compare the Bible story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den to that [slave and the thorn in the lion’s paw] myth

Strobel: “Androcles and the Lion?” (Ѻ) [from Aesop’s fable]

Businessman: “Yeah, that’s the one. [wagging a french fry at Strobel] What does it tell our kids when they’re supposed to compare that to the Bible? That the Bible is just a bunch of fairy tales? That it’s all myth? That you can interpret the Bible any way you darn please, even if it rips the guts out of what it really says?”

Businessman: “We’ve got to put our foot down. I’m not going to let a bunch of eggheads destroy the faith of my children.”

Video clips, depicted adjacent, show Moore complaining about Dynamics of Language during testimony. [5]
War in Kanawha County (2010)
Local businessman turned activist Don Mean’s 2010 War in Kanawha County, recount of the event. [3]

Situational ethics | Moral relativism
See main: Moral relativism
One textbook included a story of a child cheating a merchant out of a penny. Students were asked:

“Most people think that cheating is wrong. Do you think there is ever a time when it might be right to? Tell when it is. Tell why you think it is right.”

Parents objected, believing these lessons were undermining Christian values. One parent, of an elementary school student, stated in obvious frustration:

“We’re trying to get our kids to do the right thing. Then these books come along and say that sometimes the wrong thing is the right thing. We just don’t believe that! The ten commandments are the ten commandments.”

(add discussion)

Morality | Immorality
The following are quotes representative of "morality turned to sheer immorality", as Goethe (Ѻ) would have phrased things:

“A few extremists among the churchman who wanted ‘godless’ textbooks removed from the schools became so fanatical they discussed bombing carloads of children whose parents were driving them to school in defiance of the boycott.”
— Reporter (1974), article in Charleston Gazette [5]

“They're shooting people because they don't want to see violence in books.”
— Student (1974) [6]

A reverend Marvin Horan was later sentenced to three years in prison for conspiracy to blow up two elementary schools; several other reverends were sentenced to months in jail for violating court injunctions and orders. [6]

The following are related quotes:

“If a parent objects to some particular textbook, they can tell the teacher that their child is not supposed to be involved or to have to use that textbook. What do we do? Does the child hold his hand up and say: ‘I’m sorry Mrs. Smith, my mother doesn’t want me to read that book. I’ve got to leave the room.’ I know what happens to a child like that. I know what happens to students who are the babies in the class, who are too immature to read certain materials: they’re the laughing stock of the schools.”
— Alice Moore (1974), interview commentary, following defeat [5]

1. The Kanawha County Textbook Controversy (introduction) – West Virginia Encyclopedia.
2. The Great Textbook War – AmericanRadioWorks.com.
3. Mean, Don. (2010). War in Kanawha County: School Textbook Protest in West Virginian in 1974. iUniverse.
4. (a) Strobel, Lee. (1974). “Textbook Battle Rages in Bible Belt County” (Ѻ), Chicago Tribune, Sun, Oct 20.
(b) Strobel, Lee. (2004). The Case for a Creator: a Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence that Points Toward God (pgs. 7-18). Zondervan, 2009.
5. Anon. (2012). “Textbook War Video IX” (Ѻ), Dave Flang, Apr 13.
6. Foerstel, Herbert N. (2002). Banned in the U.S.A.: A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries (§1.1: Kanawha Country—by God—Virginia, pgs. 1-6). Greenwood Publishing Group.

External links
Kanawha County textbook controversy – Wikipedia.
The Great Textbook War – UsAndThemPodcast.com.

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