Hobby Lobby’s president Steve Green has sponsored the development of a new Bible curriculum, The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact, that he reportedly hopes thousands of public schools will adopt. The curriculum will be published by Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit organization created by Green to guide the development of a museum that will house his extensive personal collection of Bible-related manuscripts and artifacts. In mid-April the school board of Mustang, located six miles from Hobby Lobby’s Oklahoma City corporate headquarters, announced that it would teach a pilot version of the course beginning in the fall of 2014.
Today, a new TFN Education Fund report authored by Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University, finds that the curriculum’s combination of a religious purpose, pervading sectarian bias and frequent factual errors demonstrates that this curriculum has a long way to go before being appropriate for a public school classroom.
We just sent the following press release.
The first independent review by a biblical scholar raises serious concerns about a new curriculum that promoters – particularly Hobby Lobby President Steve Green – hope will combat what they see as ignorance about the Bible among public school students.
“This is a classic example of preaching religious beliefs in the guise of promoting religious literacy,” said Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, who reviewed the partial and preliminary curriculum for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund. “It’s hard to imagine this curriculum, with its sectarian elements, errors and oddities, was put together by dozens of scholars as claimed.”
Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit created by Green, is publishing the curriculum, The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact. Public schools in Mustang, near Oklahoma City, plan to teach a pilot version this fall.
Chancey’s review reveals that the new curriculum suggests the Bible is literally and historically accurate, promotes faith claims as fact, and advances a sectarian view of the Bible generally favored by fundamentalist Protestants but not people from other faith traditions. All of those issues raise serious constitutional concerns about the curriculum’s use in public schools, he writes.
Moreover, factual errors and idiosyncrasies in the curriculum betray a seriously flawed knowledge of the subject that fails to align with established, mainstream scholarship on the Bible. For example, the curriculum treats Adam and Eve as actual historical figures, suggests that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity provides evidence for the Creation told in Genesis, and bizarrely compares the Book of Exodus to the infamously racist, KKK-glorifying film The Birth of a Nation.
Chancey, a leading academic authority on Bible courses in public schools, has now written four reports on such classes for the TFN Education Fund. Chancey’s reports, including his new review, “Can This Class Be Saved? The ‘Hobby Lobby’ Public School Bible Curriculum,” are available online at www.tfn.org/biblecourses.
TFN Education Fund President Kathy Miller said Chancey’s review reveals that this new curriculum suffers from many of the same flaws seen in other public school Bible courses he has reviewed for her organization.
“Well intentioned or not, the writers of this curriculum seem to be confused about the job of public schools,” Miller said. “Families and faith leaders rightly have the responsibility of passing on faith beliefs to children. Public schools shouldn’t be put in the position of promoting anyone’s religious beliefs over those of everybody else.”
The rolling out of the new Bible curriculum comes as Green’s company also battles a new federal requirement that most employers provide coverage for birth control in employee health insurance plans. Green, an evangelical Christian, argues that the requirement violates his religious beliefs. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case by the end of June.
7 thoughts on “TFNEF Report: Bible Curriculum Backed by Hobby Lobby President Would Lead to Preaching, Not Teaching, in Public Schools”
Of course the curriculum is sectarian, it was designed to be. There is zero chance Hobby Lobby would ever teach anything factual involving religion–they don’t know how.
I’m surprised that members of the clergy haven’t expressed disappointment that they are being circumvented by public schools which might consider adopting this book. It is their job to teach about the bible — not public school teachers who are unqualified and untrained in religious education.
Permian High School Redeaux!
In other news, dog bites man.
Thanks to Mark Chancey and TFN for keeping this issue alive. This is Chancey’s fourth report on Bible Curricula, all of which are sectarian, unbalanced, unhistorical, unscientific, and deliberately written to indoctrinate unsuspecting public school students in Fundamentalist Protestant Christianity. I also reported on the first one, the NCBCPS, in great detail but I can’t keep up with the zealotry of the radical religious right to keep proselytizing and subverting public education in Texas. These Bible curricula have no place in public schools since their true intended purpose is religious indoctrination, not education in English literature. They all violate the Establishment Clause (constitutionally-required separation of government and religion, i.e. constitutionally-mandated secularism). Rather, students should take a comparative religion course that teaches them the positives and negatives of each religion in turn. That would be wonderful to see since it is a fantasy in this state, whose education system’s primary purpose is to keep students ignorant.
This’un here is the newest scheme weezuns is cum up with to sneak our way into the pubic skules and teach yer child what’s right. Hits different frum all that stuff yer childz izza gittin’ down at at air apostate churcha yorn. Ize jists luvs their little faces when weez tellums the parts about their skins a boilin’ off in hayul iffin theyzuns donts dooz azz we sayuz. Kin ah teachyur child about my Bobble at skule a usin’ this here lessin?
Bullet points from the report, for the lazy:
* Green’s own description of the curriculum suggests that it was created for a religious purpose.
* The curriculum promotes the religious belief that the Bible is literally, historically accurate and “reliable.”
* Central tenets of classical Christian theology provide the curriculum’s unifying conceptual framework.
* Theological concerns seem to underlie the selection of key themes in the curriculum.
* Theological claims are clothed in the language of literary analysis.
* The curriculum promotes the theological claim that God fulfills promises.
* The curriculum favors the Protestant form of the Bible.
* 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.
* The curriculum’s tone at times veers close to religious triumphalism.
* Numerous errors and idiosyncrasies detract from the course’s stated goal of cultural literacy.
* The curriculum’s claim of extensive scholarly input appears exaggerated.
The report’s suggestion that “Thorough revamping, not minor editing, would be required” seems generous.
In other words: