Steve Green, the president of the company Hobby Lobby that has a case pending in the US Supreme Court where they argued that they did not have to comply with the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act because of the religious objections of the owners, has even greater ambitions for the role of religion in public life. He has financed a new curriculum that he wants public schools to adopt that consists of a “four-year public school elective on the narrative, history and impact” of the Bible. One school district in Oklahoma has already adopted it.
This is going to run straight into a lawsuit because while the Supreme Court in the past has ruled that schools can teach about the Bible in a secular, academic, and neutral manner, what this curriculum seeks to do is something else entirely.
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.”
In the same speech, Green expressed hope that such courses would become mandatory, whereas now they are usually elective.
What people like Green seem to be hoping for is that the nature of the court has changed sufficiently so that they will be more sympathetic to inserting religion into schools than courts of the past.
These people never stop in their attempts to insert religion into public schools, however many setbacks they receive. As long as they have the money, they will keep at it. This is why I am unsympathetic to those who argue that we secularists should not fight to keep passive symbolic religion such as ceremonial prayer out of public life, that these are trivial intrusions of religion. The problem is that religious people will never be satisfied with just the symbolic trappings of religion but will use those to keep pushing to expand the role of religion. We have to be as implacable in our opposition as they are in their determination to advance it.