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Textbook War



CLICK HERE for the most important page on this website.

We sounded the alarm: “The liberals are coming!”

Will conservative Christian citizens come to the current muster call?

A version of the song is ready for today’s Tea Partiers.)

“Sweet Alice, Little Avis…”
is one of the original 1974 protest songs.
It is performed by the Avis Hill family.


by Karl Priest, M. A.
April 19, 2009 (updated 4-24-2021)

I was part of the "Textbook War" (TBW) that is referred to in The Case for a Creator. Actually, I think Mr. Strobel (the author of The Case for a Creator) and I sat and talked during a “recess” period at Fair Haven Christian School during the fall of the 1975 school year.

In 1974 an event occurred in West Virginia that has been arguably called the first shot in the Culture War. Fundamentalist Christians and their conservative allies, objecting to anti-Christian and anti-American textbooks shut down West Virginia’s largest school system (about 45,000 students) along with many major businesses and the bus system of the capital city (Charleston) and garnered intense national attention. The 35th anniversary of that event occurred in 2009 and it is time the true story is revealed.

These fine folks (The Courageous Corps of ’74) were the first Culture War victims of Fake News and they suffered the wrath of the vicious left.

The people who formed the grassroots textbook protest were not wild-eyed ignoramuses and some were as educated as the snobs who mocked them. The protesters were good people—the kind of folks most people would want to have as neighbors. The overwhelming majority of them were peaceful and their actions were honorable. (See the pictures below.) I’d rather have a single patriotic protester as a friend than any ten from the cocktail crowd that opposed them.

During preparation for my grievance hearing I received clandestine legal assistance from an elderly retired attorney (ex-judge) who was a liberal evolutionist. He had some doubts about evolution and was a fair-minded man who felt that I deserved legal ounsel. He would not allow me to call him at home due to concern that his wife would discover what he was doing. He told me that he felt the textbook protesters had good points and were poorly treated by the elite "intelligentsia."

Some believe the Kanawha County Textbook War launched the conservative movement that brought conservative professing politicians into power nationwide. For me, the issue had to do with matters far more important than politics. Unfortunately, the protesters were conned and by 1977 most of their noble efforts had been nullified by a system that was built upon a humanistic (i. e. atheistic) foundation. Ray Moore (Exodus Mandate director) correctly said, “The Kanawha Valley battle was a kind of first salvo for an exodus (from the public schools), but it never caught on and was sort of still born due to lack of clear vision and a resolute K-12 Christian education theology agenda. The people were conflicted between public school reform or whether to support K-12 Christian education.”

The Texbook War is not over!

I think that the TBW was the first call for Christians to rescue their children and that now Exodus Mandate is sounding what appears to be the last call. (Also, please see the Exodus Mandate-WV page.) The TBW was about religion (even though there were academic and philosophical issues)--our religion AND their religion.  There cannot be any compromise between the two diametrically opposed belief systems. 

Those textbooks were the spearhead for lower academic standards and much more detrimental public school problems. Illegal drug use, student pregnancies (and abortions), evolutionism, anti-Americanism, and the homosexual agenda swept into Kanawha County Schools. (Proof is provided on the West Virginia News pages.)

As expected from liberals who control the “free” press, the reporting of the TBW has been (as it was in 1974) obviously slanted against the protesters. Unfortunately, the miniscule minority who were violence prone are the ones who receive nearly all of the attention. A typical "history" of the TBW takes facts that only focus on the violence and other "extreme" events and ignores the overwhelming opposing occurrences. There was violence (shootings and car bombs) directed toward the protesters. Media coverage of the protest often featured hot-headed foul mouthed professing (some were probably plants) protesters.  It would not have been difficult to find plenty of soft-spoken articulate folks on the protest lines. As a matter of fact, I distinctly remember a reporter interviewing me as I walked in the first major protester march to the Capitol.  I have no record of her printing anything I said. See “Pure Propaganda & Trembling Truth” for an example of propaganda and a rare taste of the truth.

Other Main Stream Media cohorts (academic researchers, liberal clergy, and left-wing organizations) have also contributed a biased view of that historical event. There are a few sources that provide the other side of the story. A good summary of the event is "Thirty Year War." Two reasonably objective scholarly works are “Books and Bombs: Ideological conflict and the Schools—a Case Study of the Kanawha County Book Protest” and "Godless Book’s: The 1974 Kanawha County Textbook Controversy.

After 35 years, a journalist/researcher finally realized that there were teachers who were against the books. In April of 2009 I was contacted by a journalist researching the history of Kanawha County Textbook War, I had sort of put the event into a category similar to what many Vietnam era veterans ( did with that war. We put it behind us and tried to avoid the “shame” that “enlightened” people wanted to cast upon us. Sure, I had enough “fire-in-the-belly” to make me refuse to totally hang my head because I knew, deep down, that those who thumbed their noses at us (Vietnam era vets and textbook protesters) were wrong. For too many years I just assumed a defensive position instead of advocating for the truth. Talking to the journalist motivated me to look through my files (untouched for over 30 years) and to retrieve some dim memories of the Textbook War. That led to a series of articles (“1974 Textbook War: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”) and eventually, thanks to Avis Hill (one of the preachers who led the protest), the 35th reunion of the protesters and the book Protester Voices: The 1974 Textbook Tea Party.

Prior to the 35th reunion (August 21, 2009) I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from the Associated Press. The reporter compiled a good article ( with only one glaring omission. He referred to the shooting of a UPS driver and failed to report the shooter (not the victim) was the leader of a pro-book group. Aside from that, this AP reporter is the first ever to print something from a teacher protester. He accurately wrote, “‘A lot of the people were passionate, but I want to separate them from the very small number of people passionate enough to do something criminal,’ said Karl Priest, who was at the time a protester and a Kanawha County schoolteacher.” And “‘We thought we were just objecting to a few books in Kanawha County, but really it was a worldview battle that was going on,’ Priest said. ‘The textbook war is not over. It'll go on as long as we have two diametrically opposed worldviews that won't compromise.’" The second quote was picked up by a prominent liberal group (Texas Freedom Network) and posted in their newsletter. (For comments about the lack of conservative and Christian news coverage see “The Slippery Slope.”)

Of major significance is the headline, which is the opinion expressed by Professor Carol Mason. The article headline is “Kanawha County Textbook War was pivotal to life in America today--Events called omen of 'rightward shift' from '60s liberal radicalism.” Dr. Mason was quoted as saying (correctly in my opinion), “Without a doubt, the textbook controversy heralded the post-1960s rightward shift in American culture and politics."

We had our Proud Protester Reunion and were reminded that we were not as dumb as portrayed by most media sources. One reporter reluctantly admitted that truth four years after the protest. In 1978 (September 20, Charleston Daily Mail) columnist Rex Woodford wrote, “Well, I stood with them (Kanawha County book protesters) one evening and felt that I was taking my life in my own hands to do it (they didn’t cotton to outsiders), but I learned that they weren’t so dumb after all. They got me to think and to read some of the books in question, books that I’m convinced many of them knew little of except for choice, damaging passages. Nevertheless, they had some good points indeed.” Woolford, obviously still sneering at the 1974 protesters, was bemoaning how bad some books were in 1978.

History has proven, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the protesters were right. Proof fills the headlines of West Virginia news from 1975 forward. The folks who protested for righteousness and America in 1974, and their offspring, should hold their heads high.

(See notes below.)

(More great photos appear in Protester Voices.)


why we did it





rain or shine

Photo Credits:


"Parents revolt--When Textbooks are Propaganda" by William P. Hoar, Nov. 1974*


Little girl Charleston Gazette 9-13-1974
Bus Garage Charleston Daily Mail 9-4-1974
Prayer Ohio Schools magazine 4-25-1975*
Board (looking) out Charleston Gazette 9-13-1974
March Education Week 1-12-2000*
Board (looking) in Charleston Daily Mail 6-28-1974

*Probably all of the photos were photo-copies of those from either the Gazette or Daily Mail.


See video of these great people.
PART XI: Passing the Torch

Hear audio of these great people.
The Kanawha County Textbook Protest Audio Series.
(Scroll down that page to “Kanawha County Textbook Protest Audio”. There are several tapes.)

Notes (in no particular order):

1. The majority of protesters consisted of a wide array of fundamentalist (See note #7) Christians. There were various Baptist denominations, Independent, Church of God, Evangelical Free, at least one Methodist congregation, Nazarene, Church of Christ, Wesleyan, Church of God Mission, various Pentecostal denominations and more, but other groups also objected to the books. I was part of the protesters as a fundamentalist Christian and as a teacher I worked with the Business and Professional People’s Alliance for Better Textbooks. (See note #4.) Other, not specifically Christian groups, against the books were the Executive Committee of the Kanawha Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Council. The Upper Kanawha Valley Mayors Association, and a theistic (“not been born again”) group called the Non-Christian American Parents. Also, there were opportunist radical groups who claimed to oppose the books.

2. The School Board member Mrs. Alice Moore, who was the “hub” of the protest, was re-elected by a huge majority and retained her seat until she moved out of state.

3. During the 1974 protest, a local television station allowed Alice Moore to read from one of the books only after broadcasting a statement that the “subject matter might be inappropriate for children (Manzo, Kathleen. “Book Binds” Education Week 12 January 2000: 30). A prime example of why I say that the public schools cannot be redeemed is that in 2000, during the Pandas battle, I went to a Board meeting to request the Board to adopt a supplementary science book. I was the first speaker and urged the BOE not to censor the book Of Pandas and People. Shortly after me, a very professional looking and well-spoken parent addressed the BOE. (I had received email from this fellow, but had never met him and had not planned any strategy with him.) He began to read from a book which had been assigned to his daughter (a high school junior). Before he completed a paragraph the Board president stopped him because of the sexually explicit material. Board member Betty Jarvis started a discussion about why students were required to read material that could not be read at that meeting (which was televised ocally by tape delay). In the discussion, Ms. Jarvis pointed out the BOE was preventing teachers from being exposed to Pandas while allowing students to read material that is highly offensive. The Board rejected Pandas and deferred the obscene book to a committee which meant that nothing would be done about it.

A newspaper article had this to say:

In other business, the board agreed to place a written parental warning on the televised version of a regular school board meeting taped last Thursday, during which a delegation read aloud from the John Irving novel, "A Prayer for Owen Meany."

"I thought we should bleep out the offensive words since children are going to be watching," Luoni said, before conceding that he probably didn't have the votes for such an action. Luoni halted Nitro parent Brad Liston in mid-reading last week when the text he read began making reference to male genitali

(Daily Mail April 25)

For more about this book see Chapter 4 of Protester Voices.

4. The Business and Professional People’s Alliance for Better Textbooks sought “to provide a forum for the moderate sector of the community that is distressed over educational trends and would like to take constructive actions.” I was the spokesman for the Teachers’ Chapter of the that group. I addressed a group of teachers and media during and my remarks are in Chapter 5 of Protester Voices.

5. The NEA had a hearing during the controversy. I spoke at the hearing. An expose' of the NEA report is in Chapter 7 of Protester Voices.

6. There is evidence that there was some unethical maneuvering involved in selecting the books and, as is often the case, the adage “follow the money” is likely a factor in the book selection. See Chapter 2 of Protester Voices.

7. For a brief explanation of fundamentalism see FIRMly FUNdamentalist.

8. A connection with the “Evolution Resolution” battle is in a national article:

“Book Binds”
Jan. 12, 2000 Education Week Vol. 19, Issue 17, Pages 29-33 pgs. 29-33

9. Chapter 4 of Protester Voices has a report on the elementary level of the protested books. Here are some excerpts.

10. A Powerpoint presentation has been prepared to portray the truth about the 1974 textbook protesters to parry the pompous people who have poured propaganda into the public’s perception. See Textbook Protester Truth.

11. A PROUD PROTESTER REUNION was held on August 22, 2009 at South Charleston, WV.  

12. The Kanawha Valley Historical and Preservation Society sponsored a forum, featuring people from both sides of the Textbook War, on October 6, 2009 at the West Virginia Culture Center located at the Capitol Complex in Charleston, WV. My detailed report is in Chapter 9 of Protester Voices. See photos of the Textbook War Forum.

13. A program about the Textbook War (called “The Great Textbook War”) aired on West Virginia Public Radio (WVPR) on October 22, 2009. The PEABODY AWARDS (the most prestigious honor in electronic media) designated that program as a “thoughtful, balanced and gripping radio documentary that shows how a 1974 battle over textbook content in rural West Virginia foreshadows the ‘culture wars’ still raging.” I wrote a review of that documentary in Chapter 10 of Protester Voices. The Great Textbook War documentary can be listened to at the “Great Textbook War” link above. A condensed version of this documentary is at Studio 360. You can read the complete transcript to The Great Textbook War

14. There is a traveling exhibit (“Books and Beliefs” by Stan Bumgardner) consisting of “four lightweight panels that tell the story of the Kanawha County Textbook Controversy from chronological and topical perspectives with archival film footage.” If more information becomes available on line I will post it here. Photos of the Textbook War Exhibit can be viewed on this website.

15. In November 2012 West Virginia University’s College of Human Resources Office for Global Initiatives and Diversity announced, with much fanfare, a Great Textbook War curriculum for public schools.

16. The Division of Culture and History publishes Goldenseal, “the magazine of West Virginia traditional life”, ran an article about “The Great Kanawha County Textbook War” in the Fall 2011 edition.

17. On October 7, 2010 THE TEXTBOOK PROGRAM TRUTH PROGRAM was held in South Charleston, WV. This led to the TEXTBOOK PROTESTER TRUTH webpage.

18. A monumental video documentary features the Textbook War. In the following description liberal bias is apparent, but the conclusion is correct. The Kanawha County Textbook War gave birth to America’s first modern Tea Party.

With God on Our Side Episode II: The Zeal of Thy House, 1969-1974 (Calvin Skaggs, Executive Producer) “The symbiotic alliance between Billy Graham and Richard Nixon foreshadows the coming union of religion and politics. The marriage is consummated in Kanawha County, West Virginia, where national conservative strategists help escalate a local textbook controversy into a major conflagration of jailings, bombings, and a miners' strike. Meanwhile, Watergate teaches Graham the perils of political entanglement. But from Berkeley's Jesus People to Kanawha’s fundamentalists, the die has been cast -- and the Religious Right is born.”

19. In 2011 Alice Moore was recognized as a Culture-war heroine.

20. The Textbook War was featured in the dramatic documentary IndoctriNation. Here is my chapter in the book INDOCTRINATION. At the top, to the left of "Search in this book" see "Front Cover" with a down arrow.  Click the down arrow and scroll down to page 107.

21. What the Courageous Corps of ’74 did to slow the slide into the sewer lasted less than twenty years before Public School Obscenity became the norm.


Hear Avis Hill and Karl Priest interviewed on 9-11-14.


Other related articles are "They Won" and "Proud Protesters" at My Articles (2009).


For a secular source that explains the problem see the Deliberate Dumbing Down of America and her videos on YouTube.


Also see: Why Christian Education Is Important.



CLICK HERE for the most important page on this website.