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Fire-breathing preacher indicted for murder

July
29
1926

On this day in 1926, J. Frank Norris, the controversial minister of the First Baptist Church of Fort Worth, was indicted for murder. He had been zealous in promoting prohibition, condemning gambling, and attacking the alleged teaching of evolution at Baylor University. Though he had begun the first regular radio ministry in the United States in 1920, he also openly supported the Ku Klux Klan and attacked the Catholic Church. His unrelenting criticism of Baylor, Baptist leaders, and state Baptist policies caused the Baptist General Convention to deny seats to Norris’s congregation at the meetings of 1922 and 1923. In a quarrel with Mayor H.C. Meacham, Norris shot and killed Meacham’s friend D.C. Chipps. The fiery fundamentalist was acquitted on grounds of self-defense.

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