The Butler Act

The Scopes Trial Jury. Getty/New York Times Co.


The Butler Act was a law in Tennessee making it illegal for public schools to teach evolution. Enacted on March 13, 1925 it remained a law until it was repealed May 13, 1967.

The Butler Act prohibited "...any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." The minimum fine, if found guilty, was $100 and the maximum $500.


The Butler Act was most famously challenged during the Scopes Trial in July of 1925. The court upheld the Act and it continued to be a law for more than 40 years before it was finally repealed.

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Scoville, Heather. "The Butler Act." ThoughtCo, Apr. 10, 2016, Scoville, Heather. (2016, April 10). The Butler Act. Retrieved from Scoville, Heather. "The Butler Act." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 21, 2018).