“The Devil in Dover” by Lauri Lebo

YOU ALL know about the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. One of the local reporters in Dover was Lauri Lebo, who did a great job of reporting the trial for the York Daily Record.

She’s written a book, The Devil in Dover: An Insider’s Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-town America, described at that Amazon listing like this:

In The Devil in Dover, Lebo traces the compelling backstory of this pivotal case described by some as a perfect storm of religious intolerance, First Amendment violations, and an assault on American science education. In a community divided across unexpected lines, the so-called activist judge, a George Bush-appointed Republican, eventually condemned the school board’s decision as one of “breathtaking inanity.”

Lebo follows the story through its surprising twists, pondering whether this was a national war playing out in a small town or a small-town political battle playing out on the national stage. As a “local girl” with a fundamentalist Christian father, Lebo provides an account that is both fascinating and moving, as she thoughtfully probes one of America’s most divisive cultural conflicts—and the responsibility journalists have when covering such a controversial story.

Lebo has been interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, and that interview has been posted here: Lebo’s front-row seat at modern ‘monkey’ trial Excerpts, with bold added by us:

Q: The U.S. Supreme Court has outlawed teaching creationism in public school. Why did the school board think it could get away with intelligent design?

A: They were getting help from the Thomas More Law Center, (which) pledges to be the “sword and shield” for Christians. The district’s attorney said, “You can’t do this – you’ve been talking about creationism – and that you are motivated by religion is quite clear.” The brazenness of what the school board was doing was amazing. The goal was to take this case to the Supreme Court.

You’ll want to read the entire interview at the site of the San Francisco Chronicle, but here’s one more excerpt:

Q: You’re saying they pretended it wasn’t creationism.

A: Very much so, yes. At first, they had been talking about creationism. They said the Earth is 6,000 years old. They believe man walked with dinosaurs. They also knew they could not push God into science class. They needed something a little sneakier. This is what intelligent design was.

In covering the story, Lebo also had conflicts with her father, who feared that she was going to hell. That’s in her book, and she mentions it in the interview. It’s good stuff.

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