In an earlier Can This Class Be Saved? post we discussed a speech by Steve Green from April 2013 in which the president of Hobby Lobby discusses his Museum of the Bible public school Bible curriculum that has been approved for a trial run in Mustang, Oklahoma, and what Green’s comments say about his intentions in backing that curriculum’s creation.
Now, in this portion of the speech, Green makes a claim about the Bible that will cause many to scratch their head. In it, Green implies that the Bible is the primary source for all good, but he ignores ways in which the Bible has been misused.
Here’s what Southern Methodist University religious studies professor Mark Chancey, who authored the TFN Education Fund’s new report on the Steve Green-backed curriculum, had to say:
The curriculum implies that the Bible is the primary source for positive developments in Western culture, generally ignoring the ways in which the Bible has been used to justify various forms of oppression.
Green’s own comments to the National Bible Association again appear to have guided the curriculum’s direction: “In every area of our life, this book has impacted our world… Our job … is to show that whether it be our government, the education, science, art, literature, family, on and on, in every area of our life, this book speaks of it and has had an impact in our life…. The goal in this section is to show that this book, when we apply it to our lives, in all aspects of life, it has been good, because it has. In every area of our life, when we as man, live according to the precepts that are given, it is good for us. So it is true, it is good….”
To be clear, the Bible has surely guided many to do great and wonderful things. But it has also been used to, among other things, justify slavery in this country. And if you were listening to any of the testimony during the recent Houston Equal Rights Ordinance debate, there were plenty of people citing the Bible to justify allowing employers to discriminate against LGBT people in employment, housing and public accommodations simply because of who they are.
As we have said many times, Bible courses in public school are constitutional only if those courses are taught in an academic, non-devotional manner that refrains from promoting or disparaging religion or promoting one particular faith perspective over all others — basically, an impartial, purely academic analysis. Does the Green-backed curriculum meet that standard? Chancey is skeptical, particularly when he notes the curriculum’s (and Green’s) inclination to treat the Bible as having been used only as a source for good:
Such comments tend to mask the unfortunate fact that in both the past and the present, the Church has all too often not lived up to the egalitarian ideals the curriculum attributes to Jesus.