The events of Sunday provided us with an interesting insight into the local climate of opinion. Charles Francis Potter, a liberal Unitarian minister and writer who had been invited to conduct services at the Methodist-Episcopal church, was barred from the pulpit by the parishioners. Meanwhile Bryan addressed an overflow house at the Southern Methodist church. That afternoon, in an open courtyard in the center of town, Bryan talked to an immense audience. He said he welcomed the opportunity to bring "this slimy thing, evolution, out of the darkness .... Now the facts of religion and evolution would meet at last in a duel to the death." It was a fine example of Bryan's oratory, and it swept the crowd.
The court opened on Monday with a prayer in which a local clergyman urged God to preserve his sacred word against attack. It was a scarcely veiled plea to the jury.
The Defense filed a motion to quash the indictment on the ground that the act violated the Constitution of the State of Tennessee and Section I of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which extends the Bill of Rights to limit action by the governments of the states. The Defense argued further that the indictment 'was contrary to a U. S. Supreme Court decision which says: "The law knows no heresy, and is committed to the support of no dogma, nor to the establishment of any sect." In support of this attack on the indictment, the Defense declared that it "wished to offer the testimony of scientists and biblical scholars. These expert witnesses,t he Defense contended, would show that there was no necessary conflict between evolution and Christianity.
Though the Defense. asked that judgment on its motion to dismiss should be reserved until its witnesses had been heard, Judge John T. Raulston ordered the argument to proceed. On motion of the Prosecution, he sent the jury from the courtroom. Apparently the introduction of scientific witnesses had taken Bryan and his associates by surprise. Their ultimate response to our efforts to argue the underlying issues of the case was to lose them the trial in the minds of the American people.
That afternoon Darrow pressed for dismissal with an eloquent attack on ignorance and bigotry. Coatless in the sweltering courtroom, tugging at his suspenders, he paced up and down, firing shot after shot at the Prosecution. He stressed the danger to freedom of press, church and school if men like Bryan could impose their opinions and interpretations on the law of the land. "The fires of bigotry and hate are being lighted," he said. "This is as bold an attempt to destroy learning as was ever made in the Middle Ages. . . . The statute says you cannot teach anything in conflict with the Bible." He argued that in the U. S. there are over 500 churches and sects which differ over certain passages of the-Bible. If the law were to prevail, Scopes would have to be familiar with the whole Bible and all its interpretations; among all the warring sects, he would have to know which one was right in order not to commit a crime.
Darrow said: "Your Honor, my client is here because ignorance and bigotry are rampant, and that is a mighty strong combination . ... If today you can make teaching of evolution in the public schools a crime, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools. At the next session of the Legislature you can ban books and newspapers. You can set Catholic against Protestant, and Protestant against Protestant, when you try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men. If you can do the one, you can do the other. After a while, Your Honor, we will find ourselves marching backward to the glorious days of the 16th century when bigots lighted the fagots to burn men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment to the human mind."