Bryan and the Cross of Gold Speech

In 1896 William Jennings Bryan gave a famous campaign speech analogizing the gold standard to a "crown of thorns" and describing it as a means to "crucify mankind."  While propelling him to the Democratic Party's presidential nomination and to great prominence it was insufficient to propel him to the White House.  His views on economics were questionable and fully discredited by events

Some considered his use of these religious metaphors, while vivid, impious.


This political cartoon, for instance, graced the cover of a magazine named Judge

Its original caption?

"THE SACRILEGIOUS CANDIDATE.  No man who drags into the dust the most sacred symbols of the Christian world is fit to be president of the United States." 

Bryan enjoyed a long and distinguished career in public service.  Nevertheless, today he mostly is remembered today for Clarence Darrow's cross examination of his Creationist views in the famous "Scopes Monkey Trial."

As summarized in the Wikipedia:

On the seventh day of the trial, Clarence Darrow took the unorthodox step of calling William Jennings Bryan, counsel for the prosecution, to the stand as a witness in an effort to demonstrate that belief in the historicity of the Bible and its many accounts of miracles was unreasonable. Bryan accepted, on the understanding that Darrow would in turn submit to questioning by Bryan. Although Hays would claim in his autobiography that the cross-examination of Bryan was unplanned, Darrow spent the night before in preparation. ...

An area of questioning involved the book of Genesis and if Eve was actually created from Adam's rib, where did Cain get his wife, and how many people lived in Ancient Egypt. Darrow used these examples to suggest that the stories of the Bible could not be scientific and should not be used in teaching science with Darrow telling Bryan, "You insult every man of science and learning in the world because he does not believe in your fool religion." Bryan's declaration in response was "The reason I am answering is not for the benefit of the superior court. It is to keep these gentlemen from saying I was afraid to meet them and let them question me, and I want the Christian world to know that any atheist, agnostic, unbeliever, can question me anytime as to my belief in God, and I will answer him."

Stewart objected, demanding to know the legal purpose of Darrow's questioning. Bryan, gauging the effect the session was having, snapped that its purpose was "to cast ridicule on everybody who believes in the Bible". Darrow, with equal vehemence, retorted, "We have the purpose of preventing bigots and ignoramuses from controlling the education of the United States."

A few more questions followed in the charged open-air courtroom. Darrow asked where Cain got his wife; Bryan answered that he would "leave the agnostics to hunt for her". When Darrow addressed the issue of the temptation of Eve by the serpent, Bryan insisted that the Bible be quoted verbatim rather than allowing Darrow to paraphrase it in his own terms. However, after another angry exchange, Judge Raulston banged his gavel, adjourning court and bringing the drama to a sudden close.

It is not without irony that Bryan's monetary "Creationism"" should be embraced by some of the most apparently secular thinkers of the present day.