Beliefs Culture

Hobby Lobby’s Green family postpones launch of public school Bible curriculum

Steve Green is the president of Hobby Lobby.

(RNS) Fresh off their victory in the Supreme Court, the Green family, owners of the Hobby Lobby craft chain, appear to have hit a stumbling block in one of their other projects — a potentially controversial public school elective on the Bible.

Steve Green is the president of Hobby Lobby.

Photo courtesy Bob Jones University Press Kit

Steve Green is the president of Hobby Lobby.

On Wednesday (July 16), the nonprofit led by Steve Green announced it was postponing the August introduction of the curriculum adopted by the Mustang, Okla., school district.

“We have operated on an aggressive timeline to deliver the curriculum for the upcoming school year,” wrote Jerry Pattengale, editor for the projected four-year high school syllabus, in a prepared statement. But “unforeseen delays” necessitated postponing the debut until January.

Pattengale, who has previously said he hoped to see the full curriculum introduced in thousands of schools by 2016, wrote: “We will continue to work with Mustang and other school districts that have shown interest” in the program.

The nonprofit Museum of the Bible, has already poured millions of dollars into developing the courses and hoped to introduce the first textbook, “The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact” in Mustang, just a few miles from Hobby Lobby headquarters, when classes begin later this summer. In April, the school board voted to adopt the course.

Pattengale has portrayed the curriculum as a conceptually elegant, technologically spectacular primer with 550 web links; proprietary videos; and connections to the Greens’ vast collection of biblical artifacts, which they also expect to feature in a museum to be built a few blocks from the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

But when the Mustang school board made 220 pages of the book public, church-state experts suggested that its claims and assumptions amounted to teaching the Bible from a particular religious perspective, which the Supreme Court has banned in public schools.

“In its current form, sectarian bias, including the principle that the Bible is inerrant, is built into the structure,” said Mark Chancey, a religion professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

The book had already undergone significant revision. But Pattengale, who sits on the board governing Religion News Service, told Time magazine last month that he intended to make more changes to correct “overreaching.” It was unclear from his comments on Wednesday whether the current glitches are technical or editorial.

In any case, commented Chancey, “it will give them the opportunity to develop a curriculum that treats the material in a more even-handed manner.”


About the author

David Van Biema


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  • If its elective, how can humanists and atheists object?

    Was the pride parade attendance and pepe rally held in a DC public high school elective? Yes. And you didn’t see any conservative groups reaching for the closest profit morivated lawyer to sue everyone in sight.

    Ah, but this will be the response of the humanists/atheists? Why? They don’t want you to have religion as an option. They don’t want you to have thar freedom. They are arrogant enough to believe it right to force only one answer….or theory. Since when is a theory an “answer” anyway?

  • I am a devoted Christian who is a recovering pentecostal who was indoctrinated into the conservative/inerrant/so-called-literal way of reading and understanding the Bible. I was excited about the prospect of a Bible-study course that met the requirements of legitimate public school curriculum. I thought it would be great for the children of conservative families and churches would actually have an opportunity to really learn about the Bible, outside the church’s bias. I will be interested in seeing the eventual curriculum.

  • yes, BUT this curriculum is taught from the standpoint that the Bible is literally true. There are a bunch of us Christians, like me, who don’t believe that. So why would a school district pick out one version of Christianity above all others? Best to leave it for church schools, not public schools. This is why many of us believe in separation of church and state. We all have to live together and this just inflames tensions.

  • Frankie-No-Facts at is again, I see. Knows squat about the curriculum, but full speed ahead, he says!

  • Yeah, yeah! It’s only a elective! Screw the First Amendment Establishment Clause! It’s only a elective! Let’em teach whatever they want!

  • Uh huh, and I suppose Creative Design will be prominently featured as a science topic, with evolution presented as a “theory”?

    Is everyone aware that there has been virtually NO scientific support for “creative” or “intelligent” design? It’s just another fantasy intended to indoctrinate our young people into an anti-science black hole.

    The Greens’ “hobby horse” is nothing more than a power grab–instead of educating our kids, we’re pulling them this way and that and they wind up learning nothing, putting American WAY behind the rest of the world. It’s an embarrassment and a shame.

    The Greens are probably feeling their oats from their Supreme Court victory; they relied on a 1993 law intended to allow American Indians to smoke dope (peyote) at their religious ceremonies! I hope they’re proud.

  • This is a crying shame. As a wealthy Christian in what is supposed to be a meritocracy and a nation under God, Stephen Green should be able to utilize his wealth to push through whatever he wants.

    Sadly, our Obamunist (that’s Obama + Communist, lol) nation punishes the wealthy and Christians instead of celebrating they’re acheivements. So Mr. Green’s wonderful curriculem has been CENSORED and BANNED!

    It would have been wonderful for the children–who are arrows in God’s quiver to fire against Satan–to learn something TRUE in school instead of LIES about monkeys turning into people and penguins getting gay married.

  • Religion is already an option. I believe they call it “Sunday School.” Nobody is stopping anyone from attending.

    The idea of this course being an “elective” is a blatan ruse. This strategy is sometimes called “getting the camel’s nose under the tent.” Green has already admitted publicly that his actual goal is for his course to be mandatory across the nation:–Hobby-Lobby-long-term-goal-Mandate-4-Year-Bible-Curriculum-that-HL-writes-in-Public-Schools

  • All it takes is a lot of money like the religious fanatics of the Green family have filched from unsuspecting customers so they can branch out as ignoramus quasi-theologians and start using that filthy money to buy everything and everyone they want, including the whole nation, to turn it into a bunch of desperado religious quacks like themselves. The Greens need to stop thumping their bibles and start studying all the high school lessons they missed in history and politics.

    Anyone who spends another penny in any Hobby Lobby store or any other business the deceitful Greens have acquired deserves to lose the very few democratic rights remaining in this country after this Catholic Supreme Court has ignored the protections of the Constitution and jumped in bed with every religious quack who participates in any suit brought before that Court.

    The behavior of this Catholic majority of this Supreme Court demands a constitutional amendment to end life tenure for federal judges. The people, all the people, must have input into the nomination, approval, and continuation in office of all federal judges. Separation of church and state, in spite of its defiance by the current Catholic Court, remains one of the sanest elements of the Constitution. Life tenure for federal judges remains one of the most insane elements of that same Constitution.

  • Ronald: Stephen Green, you, nor anyone else is allowed to defy the Constitution and “push for whatever he wants” especially for any religious preferences because that is a defiance of the very first clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution that defines and supposedly protects our individual rights! This Catholic court has decided against the Constitution on many occasions. That does not make it constitutional, democratic, or right.

    We easily recognize your nasty religious meaning in your use of “Obamunist.” No need to explain that ugliness. It’s plain racial prejudice–which, by the way, is contrary to the precepts of Jesus. It is so typical of religious extremists to distort the meanings of the mythology contained in the ancient writings of the bible. You are a writing contradiction of anything that is decent about religion or the bible. Sadly, the history shows too much of your attitudes put into practice in the name of religion.

    You are extremely, sadly in need of an extremely better elementary and high school education than what you received in whatever institutions you supposedly received it.

  • These extreme attempts by the Green family to further defy our Constitution and continue their ugly history of mingling religion and government, church and state, are the natural result of the twisted confidence given to them by the distorted rendering of the Alito decision by the Catholic majority of the Supreme Court in their Hobby Lobby case.

    It is going to get much worse before beginning efforts are made by the people of this nation to force each branch of government at every level to act in accordance with the wisdom learned from history and maintain a strict separation between religion and government, church and state, as our Constitution demands.

    Freedom of religion absolutely includes freedom from the religion of others, even that of the Green family, freedom from all religion. The ugly history of religion demands that we not neglect the extremely unfortunate lessons that so plainly show the mortal danger that results for any society that mingles religion, any religion, with government.

    Thomas Jefferson and all the other Founders and the Framers had learned those history lessons very well. It is to our very peril that we remain ignorant of them or defy them.

    Another clear example that matches that of the Greens’ defiance is the recent efforts of the Catholic bishops to intrude as a political group into the current problem with Central American children crossing our borders. The intentions of the bishops may be admirable, but they should stop considering themselves a political force. Let them exhort their flocks. Let them try to stop the ugliness of the fanatics demonstrating against those kids escaping the horrors of their homelands, but they are preaching to the wrong flock when they presume to be a political force in this nation, just as they were wrong in their actions about contraception.

  • Lies Nats: No one sued in that “DC public high school elective” because no one had standing!

  • The whole matter is a perfect example, a repeat, of the frequent demonstration in history of the evil that always resulted when there was any mingling of religion and government, church and state.

    That is precisely why the very first clause of the very First Amendment that outlined the rights of people forbade the mingling of religion and government, any church with this state.

    Freedom of religion includes freedom from religion!

  • Eric: It might be a bit helpful if you presented some facts, some explanation of a position about curriculum or any other aspect of this conversation–which is not helped at all by nastiness.

  • Pattengale left out a description of the Green family’s bible intrusion into any curriculum as thoroughly unscientific. No surprise to see the Museum of the Bible supporting it. That museum nor the bible has anything to do with science. The bible is pre-science, very pre-science mythology. The bible includes nothing reliable of facts. Science is all about facts, replicable, provable facts.

    The reason the Museum of the Bible calls itself a museum is part of its effort to deceive people that its demonstrations of mythology are facts.

  • So we can make em cheer for homosexuality despite their actually not legal age, but we can’t tell them about god even if they choose to listen¿?

    I think america is truly one of the saddest societies on the planet.

  • That why the course is elective. You can still elect to be godless all on your own. No one will stop you despite your desire to stop them from choosing god….which is wierd.

  • The curriculum of the Green family is absolutely not needed. Many public school systems religious studies options. Some allow release times if the curriculum meets the standards of a social studies program. These are not evangelistic programs, the Green’s are most likely to be evangelistic. The school in a county in Georgia, of which I am familiar, offered religious studies courses as elective, students did not flock to take them.
    I believe a non-partisan course on world religions should be part of every social studies curriculum. History courses that leave out religion and it’s influence all together really poor for doing that.

  • Because its ILLEGAL. Under your argument high schools can have voluntary human sacrifices as an elective.

    The class is deliberately sectarian. It has no place in a public school whatsoever. Steve Green is simply being a rich jerk who thinks he can buy off a public school district. He schemed with school board members to keep the vote out of the public eye and even threatened moving his corporate HQ if he did not get his way.

    “Since when is a theory an “answer” anyway?”

    Since it is the scientific meaning of the term. Thank you for displaying your ignorance so clearly.

  • Homosexuality is not a religion or religious view. But bigotry against it seems to be. At least that is what Christians are telling the public. 🙂

  • It makes no difference if it is an elective. It has no place in a public tax payer funded school. If you want children to voluntarily learn the Fundamentalist Christian view of the Bible, there are plenty of Sunday schools to do that in.

    Our government is not there to teach your religion.

  • “History courses that leave out religion and it’s influence all together really poor for doing that.”

    I have never seen a social studies curriculum which does that. They all hit the major points of religious influence in some way on history. You can’t avoid that. They just don’t teach it in any way which emphasizes furtherance of belief. That has no place in a public school.

  • Why should a school system teach one religion but not any of the others? If students require that, they could always go to church with their folks. I can think of many more valid electives to prepare a students for their future. Up front, I would fear that such a religious class might oppose birth control on religious grounds at a time when the world is suffering from extreme over- population. Also, we have many disagreements within the Christian faith. Who would decide which one to teach? Hobby Lobby?

  • So sad that a rich person (or company) can buy off a school board to advance it’s own religion. With a sunday school within reach of everyone in this country Hobby Lobby insists on forcing its own beliefs into the public schools. Now, instead of using public school resources to teach the basics of the legal system, financial system or good health practices, they will be learning about how snakes could speak (what language?) years ago and how god drowned the whole world (except for one family) because he (she, it) was angry etc. Very sad for America and, hopefully, unconstitutional as well.

  • I think Ronald’s image of children being shot at Satan from Yahweh’s bow is hilarious. I wonder how many “arrows” he’ll get back after he throws them away at his enemy.

  • It kinda reminds me of stories told by Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson. They both claimed their love of heavy rock music came from their Sunday schools, which played it to teach kids how satanic and evil that music was.

  • Ronald:

    If you are capable of reading history, then you would understand why there is a 1st amendment that promotes separation of church and state.

    By the way, there isn’t any god nor any devil, and ff there was an omnipotent god, then evil and the devil would not exist.

    You should not live your life based on fairy tales, nor does anyone have a right to force their fairy tales on others in a public school.

    However, if Mr Hobby Lobby wants to do so, then, since he is making an affirmative claim that there is a god, then he needs to produce proof.

  • Absolutely correct that to have “freedom of religion” then you first need to have “freedom from religion”.

    The coin of religion is ignorance. In the history of humanity’s parade of progress, religion was always at the rear of the parade, trying to pull it back, because knowledge is the enemy of religion. However, whenever a major benefit for humanity was discovered, religion then rushes to the front of the parade and tries to take credit for the new discovery.

  • I don’t know what you mean by a Poe but I don’t take laudanum if you are implying that.

    You guys are ignorant of the Quiverfull movement which doesn’t surprise me. But while you are smirking and laughing, these good Christian families will outbreed you and Christians will be the mejority again.

  • Sort like….to protect you I must destroy you first….kinda circular logic-ie…thingy.

  • So, you would have us believe this is a single family power grab…using religion as the tool to attain new power?

    First, I doubt loose women of the humanist or secular mindset are that interesting of a human to convert into a trapped slave. They just aren’t that deep in their thinking.

    Second, Can one family really rule the country with religion?

    You sound like a wingnut conspiracy theorist. And not a decent one at that.

  • I don’t know. I think we will have a challenge in “outbreeding” the tramps and pimps of the land. Its their main thing.

  • Basics of legal system…..yeah, that’s not in public skools.

    Financial system……definitely no where near public skools. Never will be.

    Good health practices….your liberals got all manners of wierd sex covered cause you define it as your pinnacle freedom. We put condoms on bananas in jr high, but don’t serve bananas in lunchrooms cause kids *can* hold it to pretend like its a gun. But yeah, as long as it has something to do with a orgasm, America’s liberals talk to public skool children all about it. Really outstanding!

  • Google “Poe’s Law of Internet Discussion”

    You aren’t fooling me. You are just a big ironic goofy faker. Posting out there to make Christian fundamentalists look like ignorant savages.

    Everyone here knows what Quiverful is. Its the cultural support for body augmentation of women. To turn a uterus into a clown car. People who thought Idiocracy was about a utopian society.

  • I was a history major in college and have read a lot of history. I followed both my children’s textbooks as they took history courses throughout their public schooling. There was only one text that did an adequate job of weaving religion in the study as it applied to movements in history. A number of college texts were some what lacking in the contribution of various religious movements as they influenced culture and government good and bad. Some books such as the classic book by Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism address how the Protestant work ethic helped the rise of Capitalism. The age of enlightenment and the continued reformation were developing at the same time. The quest for religious freedom and age of enlightenment came together in early US history in the work of such people as Rev. John Leland, Jefferson and Madison.

    Frankly, to be honest with myself, I am concerned whether enough public school teachers are adequately prepared to teach about religions, but certainly it should not be ignored in history, literature and philosophy courses. Millions upon millions of people follow religious beliefs in this world and students need to know more about these beliefs to understand history and culture. Evident in our present time is the complete lack of knowledge of our populace in understand the Muslim religion in its many facets as well of the culture of the Muslim nations.

  • The first amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion. It does not prohibit mingling religion and government. It does prohibit establishment of religion. ‘You cannot use government to pick this one instead of that one’. It does not establish ‘freedom from religion’ because that would also allow veto rights over others free exercise of religion. It does not mandate separation of church and state. The idea of separation of church and state came from a 1947 court case which drew the idea from a letter by an outstanding individual who, nevertheless, was not the one who wrote the Bill of Rights.

  • Sorry, but I still never see religion being “ignored” in public school social studies classes. You can’t discuss many subjects in US history or Global Studies without touching upon such things just in order to present the facts as to what happened. It simply is impossible to do.

    It may not be to the level of your liking, but it hardly gets omitted. You are asking public high schools to do what many college courses fail to do in a way you find satisfactory.

  • Theo, you are getting your information from David Barton Wallbuilders fiction (or people cribbing from them). Nothing you said is remotely true.

    “It does not prohibit mingling religion and government. It does prohibit establishment of religion.”

    Actually mingling of religion and government IS the establishment of government. It is even part of the criteria to see whether the Establishment Clause has been violated.

    “The Court’s decision in this case established the “Lemon test”, which details the requirements for legislation concerning religion. It is threefold:

    1. The statute must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religious affairs. (also known as the Entanglement Prong)

    2. The statute must not advance or inhibit religious practice (also known as the Effect Prong)

    3. The statute must have a secular legislative purpose. (also known as the Purpose Prong)

    If any of these prongs are violated, the government’s action is deemed unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

    You cannot protect free exercise of religion if the government is entangled with the machinations of any given faith or sect. When religious organizations gain political power they ALWAYS engage in sectarian discrimination. The separation of church and state protects both. What you are saying when you attack separation of church and state is that you want YOUR religion to have a monopoly on political power and everyone else can be damned.

    The concept of separation of church and state predates our nation by about a century with the works of Roger Williams (founder of Rhode Island) and William Penn (founder of Pennsylvania). That separation was exactly what was intended in the Establishment Clause. The First Amendment merely codified a century of thought on the subject by people who seriously considered the effects of religious persecution by governments.

    “was not the one who wrote the Bill of Rights.”

    James Madison was extremely critical of government entanglement in religion. He meant what he wrote in the 1st Amendment. Separation of Church and state enshrined as prohibiting establishment of religion.

    Essentially Theo you are trying to say that only your religion is deserving of political power in this country and the freedom of other faiths and practices are of no concern of yours.

  • Is it “elective” to the children who are being taught this stuff? Adults can choose to believe what they want, but children at the elementary school level believe what they’re taught. And if my kids go to public school in Mustang, Oklahoma, it’s not “elective” to me either. Introducing religious teachings into public school curriculum is clearly unconstitutional, for reasons which have been defended over and over again. The place for these teachings is in church.

  • Certain folks just haven’t been able to resist having a dig at Hobby Lobby since the Supreme Court ruling. There have been several articles on this site alone.

    It reminds me a little of when Germany were 7-0 up against Brazil in the World Cup. The Germans were furious when Brazil scored and marred their perfect scoreline.

    Evangelical Christianity is an awful lot more than 7 goals down in the culture wars but the opposition still can’t bear the thought that we got even one back.

  • If this was written to be a send-up of the stereotypical Christian fundamentalist, it was great. Otherwise, very disturbed.

  • Jesus is not love.
    Christianity is not good

    ‘Execute them in front of me’ – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

    Wake up. Religion is a charade. God isn’t real.

  • Considering the Green family’s lack of intellectual integrity in their Supreme Court case, in which they incorrectly claimed that that two contraception methods were abortifacients, why would anyone trust both their motives and public school Bible curriculum?

    They would seem to be all about the Golden Rule. No, not the one in the Bible, but this one: “Those who have the gold make the rules,”

  • Great! but don’t forget John Leland who actually lobbied Jefferson and Madison. He carried on a long campaign for religious freedom in Virginia and for the First Amendment. Isaac Backus also a great leader for religious freedom. Save us form those who want a state/church or a church/state. Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Freedom (not a part of SBC) has a web site and a newsletter addressing matters of Church and State.

  • Larry,
    “You can’t discuss many subjects in US history or Global Studies without touching upon such things just in order to present the facts as to what happened. It simply is impossible to do.” I agree with you that it can’t be done properly without the part of how religion and culture played. Maybe a lot has changed in the way social studies have been taught when my children went to school. When I was in the eleventh grade that main thing I remember about the Civil War was having to memorize the major battles, the commanding generals on each side and which side won. The part churches played on each side was left out together with the plight of the slaves during the war.

  • Hello Brother Max,
    Hadn’t seen your post in quite a while, was a little worried about you. I did attempt to send you another comment but think I failed to post it.

  • @Lles Nats,

    You ask ‘How can humanists object’?

    “I KILLED MY SON FOR YOU” – YAHWEH (Romans 8:3-4)
    “TIME TO EAT!” – JESUS (John 6:54)

    This nonsense has no place in school except as a topic of sociology class studying primitive civilizations and texts full of profound ignorance.


    If you are ready to teach ALL MAJOR RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD
    with equal measure as a course in comparative religions
    pointing out that no particular religion has been proven to be true
    and as such are simply CLAIMS AND ASSERTIONS….

    Then I am all for it.

    It will destroy religion. None of them can stand up to scrutiny.

  • Since it is apparently impossible to protect State/Church separation
    in our spectacularly ignorant USofA, I must resort
    to adding my voice to those who are objecting loudly
    to these persistent, fascist, absurdist tales of human blood sacrifice and God’s who insist on more of it.


    If Jesus were truly carrying a message of love, such outrageous, fascist nonsense would not be necessary.

    Everything about Jesus runs counter to humanity.

  • The only legitimate religious study in grades K-12 is primarily through social studies/history. Each era has it’s associated religions, which can be mapped out in a timeline. Maybe a study of various religions is appropriate for grades 11 and 12, but in order not to violate the separation principle, all major religions should be studied objectively It’s interesting to know more about religions, including the history of Christianity, but our children shouldn’t be taught that god is real anymore than they should be taught that Zeus is real.

  • The Quiverfull Movement’s objective is to outbreed blacks, Latinos, and Muslims. The Quiverfull Movements founders wanted to outbreed what they considered to be undesirables.

  • Well it gets poor and working class people to support the efforts of an employer to violate labor laws and to treat workers like personal playthings. So obviously it is working. Far better than just throwing his money around.

    Can one family rule a country with religion? Ask the Saud family. They have been doing it since 1918.

    Considering the average conservative Christian voter is unconcerned with 1st Amendment freedoms beyond what they can exploit for personal gain, I say it is just part of their overall game plan.

  • I’m atheist and I would LOVE to teach an elective class on the Bible with Bart Ehrman’s criticism as a leading text. It would be awesome! We’d compare various translations and discuss books that were taken out, apocryphal literature, propaganda literature, the art of translation, mis-translations, copyist errors, etc. I would show that the Bible is NOT “GAWD’ inerrant word” but a HUMAN construct. I would also show how the barbaric nature of Biblical morality. A great source would be John Loftus of Debunking Christianity. There are MANY ways of teaching the Bible and I would vehemently object to a Protestant bias. Teach the controversy!

  • There are many ways to approach the Bible as literature. Some ways might be offensive, and even blasphemous. TEACH THEM ALL! Censorship is for cowards. I’m atheist and I have no problems teaching the Bible from multiple perspectives, including blasphemous readings. John Loftus of Debunking Christianity is an EXCELLENT source.

  • Wow why are we so threatened by the BIBLE? It is the words of LIFE. Religion is what man made of it and the only way to move through all that is to bring it forth as RELATIONSHIP! The reason there were so many documented revivals was that the people got free from religion and found a living GOD that could understand them and give them NEW LIFE! Help them overcome and to realize that HE was on their side, that HE loved them and could show them how to really live. The saddest commentary in all of America is that we have stolen that TRUTH from our young people and yet we expect them to be good with absolutely no role model. Give HOPE back to them and that will bring the next revival that will eclipse all other revivals ever seen! Remember we are accountable for what we do with this knowledge and our CREATOR won’t be pleased if we miss this opportunity to help our youth. What are we helping them from? Drug addiction, teen suicide, cutting, murder and worst of all apathy . GOD BLESS…

  • You need to research the “mingling of religion and government” a little further. The first amendment is to keep the government out of religion, which is a fundamental reason came to America in the first place.

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