The history of eugenics and Buck v. Bell
Eugenics. It’s one of those words that gets thrown around these days, often by people accusing “the other side” of wrongdoing. But what is eugenics?
I invited law professor Paul Lombardo, author of “Three Generations, No Imbeciles”, to join me to try to answer that very question. It turns out that that question is harder to answer than you’d think. In the early 1900s, the word “eugenic” was often used to mean “pure” or to imply that a product was healthy for babies. But that word also extended into segregating certain populations from society and forced sterilizations.
It is important to understand the history of eugenics because some Christians use the fear of eugenics as a lens to understand the Scopes “Monkey” trial. I think that is an accurate connection, but we really should understand it. Did William Jennings Bryan support eugenics? Can Christians support eugenics? Many did. There were even competitions that rewarded pastors for writing pro-eugenics sermons. That was especially true for liberal pastors.
In this episode, we attempt to answer some tough questions. I hope you enjoy it!
- “Three Generations, No Imbeciles” by Paul Lombardo
- “Preaching Eugenics” by Christine Rosen
- “Summer for the Gods” by Edward Larson
- An article from Smithsonian Magazine about Herbert Spencer
- Paul’s article about William Jennings Bryan’s support of the WCTU and eugenics
- CDC article about syphilis
- Helpful article about the immigration act
- Helpful Focus on the Family article about how some Christians don’t believe that the sins of the father carry over
- Washington Post article about the “welfare queen” of the Reagan era
- What is eugenics?
- How did the term “eugenics” differ in the early 1900s from today?
- Are you in favor of eugenics? Why or why not?
- How is eugenics tied to evolution? How is it not?
- Do Christians have a responsibility to play when it comes to protecting people with special needs?
- What can we do to help those with special needs?