Community Theater Cancels Production of ‘Inherit the Wind’ After Local Creationists Complain

The New Ulm Actors Community Theater in Minnesota was planning to stage a production of “Inherit the Wind” next week, but the classic play about the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial has been postponed indefinitely:

The reason? Local Creationists were offended:

NUACT originally slated the play as its fall production with [Martin Luther College] student Zach Stowe as director. The play deals with a fictionalized version of the evolution/creationism debate in the 1925 Scopes “Monkey Trial.” The play is also a metaphor for criticizing the suppression of free expression under the McCarthyism of the 1950s.

The play was not slated to be performed at MLC, but a final audition was scheduled on campus on Friday, Aug. 30. NUACT previously used MLC for auditions, rehearsals and performances.

After seeing the poster for the audition, several MLC professors raised objections about the play’s subject to the administration.

“We felt it was not compatible with what [the school] teaches the Bible says about the universe and the world,”? said [MLC's VP of Student Life Jeffrey] Schone. “This is a ministerial school. People employing our students need confidence about their views.”

I love that final line. As if what potential employers seek from these students is not a weakly-held truth but a confidently-held lie. Students won’t be employable if we keep challenging their firmly-held and completely-discredited views! So stop making them think! (Though I guess the statement makes sense, given what pastors say from the pulpit on a regular basis…)

The pressure from MLC led to Stowe dropping out. Six actors followed his lead for the same reasons or because they didn’t want to be part of the production if Stowe wasn’t there to direct it. The theater couldn’t replace everyone in time and so the show is stalled for now.

Stowe told the media that he was a Creationist, but the play was all about the importance of “open, free discussions,” something his school seems to oppose.

“The play does not just say evolution is right. It treats Christians with respect. The entire point of the play is both sides need open, free discussions,” [Stowe] said. “But I don’t have any negative feelings about it. Everyone acted how their conscience directed them in this situation. I can respect it.”

Incidentally, MLC is affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a denomination so fundamentalist that Rep. Michele Bachmann quit it so the church’s belief that the Pope is the anti-Christ wouldn’t hurt her when campaigning for President in 2011. (How messed up do you have to be if Bachmann is calling you crazy…?)

Another church in the system once fired its religious school’s principal for questioning church teachings… in a meeting during which women weren’t allowed to speak.

I’d make a suggestion to the actors who are still open to putting on a show. Replace “Inherit the Wind” with something even more controversial-yet-redeeming. How about “The Vagina Monologues”?

(via City Pages — Thanks to Muggsy for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X