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Hobby Lobby president’s Bible curriculum shelved by Oklahoma school district

“The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact” was the first textbook of a curriculum the Green family hoped to introduce in Mustang, Okla., public schools. Photo courtesy of Museum of the Bible

(RNS) An Oklahoma school district has shelved a Bible curriculum that Hobby Lobby President Steve Green had hoped would be used by students in January.

Two legal groups that opposed the elective said Tuesday (Nov. 25) that the Mustang Public Schools decided not to feature the curriculum, which was approved in April by the school board.

The Book's curriculum cover photo courtesy of Museum of the Bible. Photo courtesy of Museum of the Bible

“The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact” was the first textbook of a curriculum the Green family hoped to introduce in Mustang, Okla., public schools. Photo courtesy of Museum of the Bible

“In summary, the topic of a Bible course in the Mustang School District is no longer a discussion item nor is there a plan to provide such a course in the foreseeable future,” Superintendent Sean McDaniel wrote in an email to the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The two groups, working with the American Civil Liberties Union, said they received the email in response to a freedom-of-information request they filed about documents concerning the school board’s role with the curriculum.

Jerry Pattengale, senior editor for the high school curriculum, said he looks forward to working with other school districts.

“We understand Mustang’s decision to withdraw the new, elective Bible course from consideration,” said Pattengale, who also is executive director of education of the billionaire Green family’s Museum of the Bible, scheduled to open in Washington in 2017.

“Museum of the Bible remains committed to providing an elective high school Bible curriculum and continues work on an innovative, high-tech course that will provide students and teachers with a scholarly overview of the Bible’s history, narrative and impact.”

Pattengale, who sits on the Board of Managers for Religion News Service, had said in July that the introduction of the curriculum’s first textbook was postponed until January due to “unforeseen delays.”

Opponents, who say the curriculum is biased and supports the conservative Christian belief that the Bible is inerrant, or without error, welcomed the Mustang district’s decision.

“Education officials in Mustang did the wise thing,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Objective study about religion in public schools is permissible, but this curriculum was essentially an extended Sunday school lesson.”

The superintendent wrote that the district was not able to review the final curriculum, nor did it receive a “commitment to provide legal coverage to the district” if faced with a lawsuit — both of which he termed “non-negotiables” that were not met.

“This development is a victory not only for reason and the law, but the sacrosanct right of a captive audience of students to be free from indoctrination in a public school setting,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president.

In June, Green’s company won a closely watched Supreme Court decision that granted corporations such as Hobby Lobby religious exemptions from covering women’s contraception in company health insurance plans. Green is the funder of Museum of the Bible, which will feature his family’s vast collection of biblical artifacts.

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About the author

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.

22 Comments

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  • “Unforeseen delays” being a euphemism for “Damn! They caught us!”

    The most telling feature of this story is why the curriculum was dropped by its boosters (who were bought and paid for by Steve Green).

    Green refused to cover legal costs should the school district be sued for that sectarian religious boondoggle of a curriculum. The school board pretty much knew they were doing something wrong, but didn’t want to bear any of the ultimate responsibilities.

    The curriculum was pushed by Green through economic coercion of the community and less than ethical procedures in coming to the vote. They kept discussion of it out of public disclosure.

    There was no way in hell this program was ever going to pass muster in public schools. It was designed from the outset to be sectarian Christian religious teaching in a public school environment. The assertion that the course was somehow objective could never pass the faintest whiff of “the smell test”

  • David Green has shown disrespect for what God wants him to fund… Town of Love.

    Find out more here:

    Townofloveokc.publishpath.com

    News channels in Oklahoma City have been directed to this site and you should know about it too.

  • Tough time getting donations? Stuff your linkspam already, Chuckie. You’ve lost, so bend over and take it.

  • “This development is a victory not only for reason and the law, but the sacrosanct right of a captive audience of students to be free from indoctrination….” said Annie Laurie Gaylor

    This success is a sweet.

    But It is a shame that we all have to play whack-a-mole
    as religion continues to try to pry its way into places it does not belong.

    Keep these awful religions out of our laws.
    It is insidious nonsense.

    “I shall kill her children with death” – Jesus (Rev, 2:23)

    Be gone, Jesus. I want none of it.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Reason and the Separation of Church and State

  • Children must have the chance to be called to God to serve him and bear the harsh burdens. This is important teaching. We should all learn and struggle to be slaves of Jesus. God cannot do all his work alone.

  • You want to teach children in the ways of your faith, do it with your own money. Send your kids to private school. Public money must serve more than your personal interests and religion. Its a shame that you feel your religious belief is more important than democratic principles and consideration for the beliefs of others

  • While I am elated that; “An Oklahoma school district has shelved a Bible curriculum” proposed by Steve Green, students should graduate from high school with at least some knowledge of major religions and their beliefs. Ignorance of any understanding of the Christian religion was displayed by a recent question by a French journalist of Pope Francis. See Mark Silk’s blog on Thanks to Pope Francis. Middle east history that also includes the history of Judaism is also good(as well as development of Islam). The small country has had a great influence on history.

    Trouble is, who is qualified to teach such courses in our schools. Sure, I’m a Christian Chaplain but I have taught classes on the cults and about other religions. I trust that the human mind can evaluate what is presented to it and decide which direction if any to take.

    Trouble is, finding teachers who are qualified.

  • @Fran, if there were a God he would be perfectly able (and I mean that quite literally) to do his own work. This is simply more indoctrination for defenseless children. If you want to brain wash your own kids do it at home or in your churches. But don’t push it in public schools.

  • Hi Chaplain Martin,
    “Trouble is, finding teachers who are qualified.”
    I agree that ignorance of religion is regrettable, but I disagree that the problem is finding qualified teachers. The problem is finding teachers that are acceptable to the community. I think I am qualified. You and Max are probably not. Why? Because I suggest that you and Max have a different understanding of Christianity than I do. For the same reason, you and Max would likely object to me.
    “I trust that the human mind can evaluate what is presented to it and decide which direction if any to take.” All i can say to this is that my reading of history does not support it. People are far too easily intimidated and lead to do terrible things. Human sacrifice is not just some bizarre notion, it is an all but universal historical practice. It lurks just under the surface, even today. Beware of putting too much faith in “civilization”.

  • Jesus said —

    1. Don’t think that I came to bring peace to earth. I didn’t come to bring peace but conflict………Matthew 10:34

    2. Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other!…….Luke 12:51

    There is ‘no way’…….’no way’ that such attitudes belong in any public school…..ever.

  • Hi Samuel Johnston,

    I know Christianity.
    First as a proselytizer and now as someone who came to his senses – a much enlightened Atheist.

    I have never had a clearer picture of Christianity than I do now.
    Christianity is terrorism for the mind.
    Christianity is Stockholm Syndrome; the Sadomasochistic idea that you must be compelled to LOVE (God) that which you are also enjoined to FEAR (God).

    Christianity is an entirely Sadistic and Masochistic man-made evil.

    “FEAR GOD COMPLETELY” (LUKE 1:50)
    “LOVE GOD COMPLETELY” (LUKE 10:27)

    COMPLETE submission. COMPLETE dedication.

    This is Totalitarianism. Every Dictator knows it well:
    Stalin, Pol Pot, Torquemada, Pinochet, Saddam Hussein…and on and on.

    No philosophy has been more disastrous to humanity.

    Teaching Christianity is like
    telling a battered wife
    she must suffer repeated brutal physical assaults by her bully husband.

    If one feels uncomfortable telling a battered wife she must submit to
    a vicious brute – one has no right discussing Christianity.

    Christianity is perhaps the most immoral idea ever devised.

    “Execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)
    Hey, Jesus. Bugger off!

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and the Separation of Church and State

  • What Fran advocates is NOT the proper business of the public schools. The Mustang School District’s decision to halt the Hobby Lobby attempt to indoctrinate kids is a victory for religious liberty and our constitutional principle of church-state separation that safeguards that liberty. — Edd Doerr, President, Americans for Religious Liberty

  • What Fran advocates is NOT the proper function for public schools. The Mustang school district’s cancelling of the Hobby Lobby indoctrination effort s a victory for religious liberty and the constitutional principle of church-state separation that safeguards that liberty. — Edd Doerr, President, Americans for Religious Liberty

  • @Edd Doerr,

    Thanks for all you do! We cannot speak up enough on the importance of Church State Separation. If the USA ever falls to a Totalitarian regime it will happen because the Separation of Church and State has been breached.

    Church State Separation is our best defense against becoming a dictatorial banana republic. Religion is never on the side of humanity for its own sake – it is too busy keeping its absolutist commitments to the sky fairies.

    ____
    Atheist Max
    For Peace, Civility and the Separation of Church and State

  • Fran said: “God cannot do all his work alone.”

    Seriously, Fran? The (supposed) creator of the frickin’ Universe? Some god.

  • Because it would never be approved by the school board.

    You would not have people like Steve Green buying off town officials and using economic blackmail of the town to get it past a vote.

    Your response was all kinds of stupid.

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