The Texas Freedom Network supports the constitutional guarantee of the separation of church and state, which protects the right of all Americans to practice the faith of their choice, or none at all, free of government interference.

Unfortunately, efforts to knock down that wall are a constant in Texas. Politicians and activists have attempted to impose their views on others on issues like abortion and access to contraception. And in a distortion of the principle of religious freedom, far-right groups have supported legislative efforts to allow individuals to use religion as an excuse to ignore laws they might not like and even as a weapon to discriminate against others.

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If you read this blog, you’re probably the kind of person that, for one reason or another, knows the name Barry Lynn. But in case you don’t, here’s a brief refresher.

For starters, it’s the Rev. Barry Lynn.

Rev. Lynn is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He’s an accomplished lecturer and has written books on matters of faith in public life. He’s also the recipient of the Medal of Freedom from the Roosevelt Institute for his work in protecting the freedom to worship.

The Rev. Lynn also supports the separation of church and state, which is why he’s been the executive director of our friends over at Americans United for Separation of Church and State since 1992.

So, naturally, during a House hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Louie “Terror Babies” Gohmert, R-Texas, had to make sure that Rev. Lynn had his Christian bona fides in order:

I’m curious, in your Christian beliefs, do you believe in sharing the good news that will keep people from going to hell, consistent with the Christian belief?

Here’s video of the exchange:

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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… Read More

How inappropriate for public schools is the new Bible course curriculum from Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit created by Hobby Lobby President Steve Green? As Mark Chancey, a biblical scholar at Southern Methodist University, points out in his review of The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact, the curriculum echoes Green’s belief in the Bible’s complete literal and historical accuracy. From Prof. Chancey’s review:

The curriculum … follows Green’s lead by strongly affirming the Bible’s complete accuracy. For example, it presents Adam, Eve, and all other biblical characters unambiguously as historical personages. It frames stories of God’s interactions with various characters in such a way as to suggest that those passages, too, reflect historical events. (“Was Moses mentally unstable? No. His titanic swings of emotion and behavior sprang from his special call to stand in the gap between God and the people.”) “Travel through Time” sections found throughout the book encourage students to read biblical passages not only as reflections of the ancient cultures that produced them, but also as accurate historical accounts. The book also unquestioningly affirms traditional claims about the authorship of biblical books (i.e., Mosaic authorship of the Torah) without alerting students to the fact that much of the… Read More

Christian Creationists believe the Bible’s Genesis story of creation — that God created life, Earth and the rest of the universe in six days — is literally true. That certainly is not the belief of all or even most Christians (or Jews). Even so, SMU biblical scholar Mark Chancey points out that the new Bible curriculum from Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit created by Hobby Lobby President Steve Green, would teach public school students that science actually backs up the Genesis creation story.

From Chancey’s review of The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact:

At one point, Albert Einstein makes a surprising appearance to shore up a biblical story’s seeming inconsistency. To reconcile Genesis’s description of the creation of light on the first day of creation with the fact that the sun is not created until day four, the book appeals to the Theory of Relativity: Because “energy and mass are equivalent and transmutable” and “all matter is also energy,” then “could it be that creation begins with the advent of energy?” Such reasoning, it suggests, “seems to correlate nicely with the Big Bang Theory of creation, a mighty explosion releasing tremendous amounts of energy.” The section closes by asking, “Could it… Read More

Hobby Lobby President Steve Green and the nonprofit he created, Museum of the Bible, insist that respected scholars helped create their new Bible curriculum. But Mark Chancey, a biblical scholar at SMU in Dallas, questions how that could be true. Chancey found numerous errors and bizarre passages in his review of the curriculum for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund.

Here is just one example Chancey notes in his review of The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact:… Read More

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