You’ve been following Hobby Lobby’s case for religious freedom before the US Supreme Court. But did you know Hobby Lobby’s Steve Green has also prepared an ambitious Bible curriculum for use in America’s public schools?
According to Religion News Service, the school board of Mustang, Oklahoma has voted to use the Bible curriculum in its public schools. Of course, despite some rumblings to the contrary, there is nothing unconstitutional about teaching the Bible in public schools. The US Supreme Court’s ruling in 1963’s Schempp decision specified that the Bible can and should be taught in public schools, as long as it is not taught devotionally. That is, children can learn about the Bible, about religion, but not be drilled in any particular religious belief.
But it often seems as if the folks who want to see more Bible in public schools have a decidedly devotional bias to their activism. As Mark Chancey of Southern Methodist University found in his study of Texas Bible classes, a significant proportion of them end up teaching religion, not just teaching about religion.
In this case, no one questions Steve Green’s ardent religiosity. As the Religion News Service article points out, Green has admitted in public statements that he hopes the Bible curriculum will show that the Bible is “good,” that it’s “true,” and that the Bible’s impact,
whether (upon) our government, education, science, art, literature, family … when we apply it to our lives in all aspects of our life, that it has been good.
It seems evident that Green hopes this Bible curriculum will lead students toward faith, at least incidentally. For that reason, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has promised to “scrutinize” the Bible curriculum.
More evidence, it seems, of the uselessness of talking about “America’s public schools” in general. Schools in some communities, such as Mustang, Oklahoma, may welcome evangelical Protestant curricula into their class schedules. In other places, Green’s Bible curriculum will not be an issue. Local school boards make decisions that fit with the cultural politics of their local communities.