Texas Day by Day
On this day in Texas history…
Fiery preacher denounces professor
December 12th, 1930
On this day in 1930, at a rally in the courthouse square in Canyon, J. Frank Norris, Baptist pastor and editor of The Fundamentalist, denounced Professor Joseph Leo Duflot of West Texas State Teachers College (now West Texas A&M University) for teaching evolution and for his "modernist" philosophy. Duflot, the organizer and chairman of the sociology department, had already been dismissed by the First Presbyterian Church of Canyon in 1921 for allegedly mixing evolution with the Genesis account of creation and questioning the veracity of certain passages in the Bible. As part of a series of revival meeings held in December 1930, Norris invited him to a debate on December 12, but the professor had politely declined, preferring instead to play golf that day. At the rally Norris condemned Duflot as "an orangutang, God-denying, Bible-destroying, evolutionist professor" with atheistic tendencies, and urged that he be dismissed from the West Texas State faculty. Although Duflot was called in for a hearing by the college's board of regents, he ably exonerated himself. He retired in 1955, after serving as department head for thirty-three years.