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Apr 18 2014

Hobby Lobby Owner Develops Bible Curriculum

Steve Green, the owner of Hobby Lobby, has developed and begun to implement a Bible curriculum for public school classrooms. He’s got a school district in Oklahoma a few miles from the company’s corporate headquarters that is going to start teaching this curriculum next year:

The Mustang, Okla., school board voted Monday (April 14) to adopt a Bible course developed by Steve Green, clearing the way for the Hobby Lobby president, whose suit against the Affordable Care Act is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, to enter another charged arena at the borderline of church and state.

The board, whose district is practically in Hobby Lobby’s Oklahoma City backyard, agreed to beta-test the first year of the Museum of the Bible Curriculum, an ambitious four-year public school elective on the narrative, history and impact of the Good Book.

For at least the first semester of the 2014-15 year, Mustang alone will employ the program, said Jerry Pattengale, head of the Green Scholars Initiative, which is overseeing its development. In September 2016, he hopes to place it in at least 100 high schools; by the following year, “thousands.”…

The Green curriculum ”is like nothing we’ve seen before,” said Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center and editor of a booklet sent out to all schools by the U.S. Department of Education in 2000 on teaching religion in public schools. “It’s unique in its ambition and its scope and its use of the latest technologies. I think school districts far from Oklahoma will take note.”

So will civil libertarians. In an award acceptance speech last April before the National Bible Association, Green explained that his goals for a high school curriculum were to show that the Bible “is true,” that it’s “good” and that its impact, “whether (upon) our government, education, science, art, literature, family … when we apply it to our lives in all aspects of our life, that it has been good.”

That should raise a huge red flag. I haven’t seen this curriculum, which is apparently very sophisticated, but when the guy who paid for its development says his goal is to make people believe it, that’s pretty obviously in conflict with the Supreme Court precedent that allows the teaching of courses on the Bible as history and literature as long as it is taught in an objective, scholarly way. Speaking of that curriculum, Green says:

That is what our goal would be, so that we can have reintroduced this book to this nation. This nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught. There is (sic) lessons from the past that we can learn from the dangers of ignorance of this book. We need to know it. And if we don’t know it, our future is gonna be very scary. So we need to be able to teach and educate students.

You’ll pardon me if I’m very skeptical of Pattengale’s assertion that, “The last people (Green) wanted to hire were scholars who would embellish the facts to support his religious position.” He’s made it quite clear in the video I’ll post below that his entire goal is to proselytize students to convince them to believe in the Bible.

24 comments

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  1. 1
    Pierce R. Butler

    Good luck getting that one its just deserts in any Oklahoma courtroom.

    On a strictly pedantic note: what the hell grammatical tense applies to “… so that we can have reintroduced this book …”?

  2. 2
    Michael Heath

    We got a Hobby Lobby store in our town a few years ago. Since then this company’s taken out full-page newspaper ads promoting a false history of the U.S. even more dishonest than what David Barton publishes; these come annually to perhaps a handful of times a year (I’m not counting).

    The motivation for the ad is clear, to rally people to submit to a Christianist state. But unlike actual Christian reconstructionists, he’s too cowardly and probably delusional to make this clear.

  3. 3
    eric

    I’m highly skeptical this will impact many public schools. They can already offer biblical electives and the bottom line is that the vast majority don’t because there isn’t the interest in the subject to support it. To justify hiring a teacher, a school firsts needs 20-30 kids to say they want to take it. Every year. I just don’t see that happening in 99% of public schools. Maybe he can sell this curricula to private evangelical schools, but there is no civil libertarian issue there.

    Having said that, if it’s proselityzation and it shows up in even one public school, the ACLU, FFRF, etc. should oppose its use in that school.

  4. 4
    raven

    Green explained that his goals for a high school curriculum were to show that the Bible “is true,

    It’s known to be mostly fiction.

    ” that it’s “good”

    It’s a horrible book of obsolete morality and atrocities. I suppose they are going to explain how selling your kids as sex slaves is good, slavery is good, and stoning disobedient children to death is good.

    and that its impact, “whether (upon) our government, education, science, art, literature, family … when we apply it to our lives in all aspects of our life, that it has been good.”

    Yeah, like how all of modern science is wrong, the earth is 6,000 years old, and Noah had a Big Boat full of dinosaurs. How the bible was used to justify slavery during the US Civil War.

    I don’t believe this course is legal due to separation of church and state. I suppose there will be a court case and sooner rather than later.

  5. 5
    notmyrealnameforobviousreasons

    @4:16 he says “we have the most ignorant population ever” And goes on to say that 90% of us have a Bible on the bookshelf. Anyone else need me to pick up an irony meter while I’m out?

  6. 6
    Modusoperandi

    Finally, people will have a place to learn about the bible.

  7. 7
    eric

    Finally, people will have a place to learn about the bible.

    Next year, he’s tackling the troubling problem of people not havng the time to pray.

  8. 8
    moarscienceplz

    Finally, people will have a place to learn about the bible.

    Praise Jesus! You are SO right about how the Bible is suppressed! Why, my neighborhood Barnes and Noble only devotes about 15 feet of shelves to Bibles alone, and an additional 90 feet to Religious Studies. When I compare that niggardly amount to the 60 feet that is reserved for ALL Science AND Math, I just about want to cry over how the Bible is so suppressed!

  9. 9
    colnago80

    Re eric @ #3

    Green’s agenda is to eventually make this course mandatory.

    http://goo.gl/SuiuBC

  10. 10
    felidae

    I bet they won’t teach whats really in the Bible: murder, rape, genocide, slavery,a petulant, narcissistic god and hundreds of falsehoods and contradictions

  11. 11
    Chiroptera

    Green does have a point. As long as we don’t have independent institutions devoted to teaching kids about the Bible and maybe even set aside an entire day of the week so they can devote themselves to studying the Bible, how can they possibly learn about it?

  12. 12
    D. C. Sessions

    It’s not even that clear who would have standing to bring suit, since it’s an elective so they’d have a hard time finding particular harm. But, hey, IANAL.

    What’s much clearer is that the timing is excellent. By the time the course is actually introduced, add a few years for the suit to clear the District Court, another couple for the Appellate Court, and again to get on the Supreme Court docket, it’ll be 2019 or so. President Bush III will have had time to replace, at a minimum, Justice Ginsburg with a recent graduate of Liberty University who will concur [1] with Justice Scalia’s opinion that the course is just ceremonial Deism.

    [1] The minority concurrence, written by Justice Thomas, will assert that the Establishment Clause does not apply to public schools and even if it did would only block preference of one Christian sect (e.g. the Southern Baptists) over the Roman Catholics. Many citations to the scholarship of David Barton.

  13. 13
    Artor

    Liars gonna lie…

  14. 14
    Area Man

    …that’s pretty obviously in conflict with the Supreme Court precedent that allows the teaching of courses on the Bible as history and literature as long as it is taught in an objective, scholarly way.

    While I agree that this is what makes sense as law given the 1st amendment, the problem is that virtually no one wants to teach the Bible in an “objective, scholarly way” in public school classes. It’s not an especially appropriate book to study as literature or history (most of it is ahistorical). And as for the fundies, they are always and everywhere trying to violate the intent behind the law in order to proselytize, and the last thing they’d ever want is to teach the Bible objectively, which makes it look fake.

    So it appears that just as we’ve been putting up with these attempts for decades, we’ll keep putting up with them. Nothing is going to change as long as the courts say, “You can teach about the Bible, but only in a way that doesn’t fit your purpose”, which is just an invitation for them to pretend that their purpose is other than what it is. We’re just going to have to hope that our culture changes to become less religious and less fundamentalist.

  15. 15
    Area Man

    Shorter #14: You’re never going to find a situation in which someone promoting a “Bible curriculum” does not have an ulterior motive and is therefore not trying to break the law.

  16. 16
    raven

    It’s not even that clear who would have standing to bring suit, since it’s an elective so they’d have a hard time finding particular harm. But, hey, IANAL.

    A taxpayer in that school district or even the state should do it.

    Public schools aren’t free!!! Well, they are for the kids.

    But someone pays for it. The taxpayers, local, state, and federal. To take the example I’m most familiar with, I pay property taxes. It’s a big chunk of money. Roughly half of that goes to the schools.

  17. 17
    Chiroptera

    Green explained that his goals for a high school curriculum were to show that the Bible “is true,” that it’s “good”….

    If they leave the quotes around those words while they teach it, I might sign off on this.

  18. 18
    Chiroptera

    In fact, I’d be willing to teach it.

    “Ok, kids, today we’re going to learn how…’good’…the Bible is.” [use fingers to make air quotes around the word "good".]

  19. 19
    deanbuchanan

    Not really an ulterior motive, it’s part of a plan
    http://www.washingtonian.com/blogs/capitalcomment/local-news/the-museum-of-the-bible-to-replace-the-washington-design-center.php

    It’s on capital hill, the perfect place for Republican House and Senate members to make a pilgrimage without leaving the ever-ready media circus of DC.
    I work at the WDC and walk over to the National Mall (2 blocks) for lunch when the weather’s good.

    I guess it’s a Green 3fer
    Close to the USCongress…
    most of the men in the Design Center are Gay, now losing their jobs or downsizing the companies…
    and
    the Kennedy family created the Design Center in the first place (1983) as a redevelopment project in a poor part of DC (Southeast).

  20. 20
    jaybee

    If Green is really serious about this, he should hire preachers to work the aisles of his stores, and maybe charge 10% more of customers who are unable to recite a randomly chosen chapter & verse at the cash register.

    But no, that would cost him money, so on to plan B: get the government to spend precious school money to indoctrinate kids.

  21. 21
    chrisdevries

    Ah Oklahoma, where 1/4 of biology teachers include information about creationism when teaching about evolution (PZ has a new post discussing this).

    If they cannot prevent proselytising in SCIENCE classes, how will they prevent it in a class on the Bible, especially since this is obviously what the guy who created it intends to happen.

    We can win the battles in the courtroom (wasting millions of both our dollars and the taxpayers’ dollars) but if the culture is dominated by people with fundamentalist views, it is impossible to keep this illegal crap out of our classrooms. Sickening.

  22. 22
    iknklast

    Pierce Butler, #1:

    Good luck getting that one its just deserts in any Oklahoma courtroom

    Actually, there are some courts in Oklahoma that have been good at striking things down. Not all the courts are peopled with religious right panderers.

    As for teaching the Bible in schools – when I was in high school (in Oklahoma!), I took a great books course. My teacher planned to include the Communist Manifesto in our readings, but when the parents protested loudly and vigorously, she substituted the Book of Matthew. That was the end of the beginning for me (I began my journey to atheism at 10, when I read the real Bible for the first time, not children’s stories). She taught it very critically, as a work of literature not a work of truth. We discussed it skeptically. If all courses could be like that, it would be a great addition to the curriculum. Unfortunately, the mind set has hardened so much these days that parents are aware of their students being taught the way they don’t like (my parents would have been horrified at how she was teaching it, but as a teenager, I assumed it was none of their business).

  23. 23
    matty1

    what the hell grammatical tense applies to “… so that we can have reintroduced this book …”?

    That is what we call the Barak tense* used while travelling through time for the purpose of altering the past.

    *Named for Barak Obama who invented it while on a journey to fake his own birth certificate.

  24. 24
    caseloweraz

    Steve Green: This nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught. There is (sic) lessons from the past that we can learn from the dangers of ignorance of this book. We need to know it. And if we don’t know it, our future is gonna be very scary. So we need to be able to teach and educate students.

    You know, those words of Green’s can almost be read as something I’d agree with. Only slight changes are needed:

    This nation is in danger because of its ignorance that God has taught it. There is (sic) lessons from the past that we can learn from the dangers of the ignorance in this book. We need to know it. And if we don’t know it, our future is gonna be very scary. So we need to be able to teach and educate students.

    But of course that is not what Green means.

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