Freedom From Religion Foundation erects Darrow statue

Clarence Darrow, who went toe to toe with William Jennings Bryan in the Scopes Trial in Dayton back in 1925, is represented by this statue that now stands on the courthouse lawn across from William Jennings Bryan.(Photo:GaryBolden/RheaReview)

Clarence Darrow Statue sculpted, erected and celebrated by FFRF

July 14, 2017

Dayton, TN —  The Freedom from Religion Foundation sculpted, erected and celebrated the statue of Clarence Darrow on the north side of the Dayton, Tennessee courthouse lawn on Friday morning.

The FFRF promotes non-theism and defends the constitutional separation between religion and government.  The organization has more than 27,000 members.  There was a decent crowd was on hand for the ceremony to “balance history” with the erection of Clarence Darrow statue just across the lawn from the one of William Jennings Bryan.

Much like back in 1925 it was hot and lots of throwback fans were in use by the audience.  A large number of out of town media were also in attendence.

The statue’s presence coincided with the beginning of the Scopes Festival in Dayton, an annual event that looks back at the trial that brought Dayton national recognition and sometimes ridicule.

Darrow and Bryan squared off inside the Dayton courthouse back in 1925 with the battle over the right of a teacher John Scopes to teach evolution in the Dayton school.  Though William Jennings Bryan won the battle, the war has continued to be waged by those who feel religion should not affect the decisions people make regarding the country.

There were no protest, no controversy, just a crowd of mostly people from out of town celebrating one of their heroes in their fight for freedom in the form they view it.

So from today on, there will be balance on the Dayton courthouse lawn, but that does not mean there will be balance in society.

Like Darrow and Bryan, the religious and those who are against religion outside the walls of a person’s heart will be at odds.   The religious vs the non-religious will continue to coexist but it would be hard to see the two coming together in agreement.  When you cannot take your beliefs beyond the wall of your heart, and apply them to society and everyday life then those beliefs tend to be useless.

The ceremony went without interruption or protest.  Margaret Downey, founder and president of the free thought society and the master of Ceremonies opened the ceremony. Margaret recognized the sculptor of the Darrow statue, Zenor Frudakis.

Several important people in the audience, who were not speakers were recognized.  Downey spoke about the cordial relationship between Darrow and Bryan.  The sculptor De-Cosimo, the sculptor of the William Jennings Bryan statue was recognized.

The next speakers were Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker, co-presidents of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  Andrew Kersten, historian and author of the book Clarence Darrow: American Iconoclast.  Zenos Frudakis, a sculptor for over 40 years was the next speaker.

Zenos has created over 100  bronze monumental works in public and private collections.  The speech was much positive and touted the freedom of America gained by those founding fathers who probably never envisioned how that freedom would exhibit itself today.

After Frudakis spoke, Annie laurie Gaylor, Dan Barker and John de Lancie joined Frudakis to unveil the statue.

Now when visitors come to the Dayton Courthouse, they will have the opportunity to enjoy one or both statues as suits their preference.

During the ceremony Margaret spoke about the relationship between Darrow and Bryan.

“We are recognizing the cordial relationship between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan.  Philosophical differences prevailed during the famous scopes trial that took place on this spot in 1925.  As decent human beings, William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow treated each other with respect.”


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