Earlier this year, before the Supreme Court decision came down, Hobby Lobby President Steve Green announced that he had developed a Bible curriculum for public schools and that Oklahoma’s Mustang Public Schools board had voted to approve it and become the first district to implement it. The course would focus on the “narrative, history and impact of the Good Book.”
Green said in the video below that he believed the course should be mandatory (at the 5:47 mark), though it would only be an elective for the time being:
This wasn’t a new idea. There are already courses like this in public schools around the country and they’re legal because they don’t treat the Bible as a Holy Book. They treat it as a book, period, and nothing more (though that line is crossed far more than it should be). There’s certainly a lot of value in teaching about the Bible because of the role it plays in literature, culture, and our own history… as long as you follow a simple rule: You can teach the Bible, but you can’t preach the Bible.
So that was the big question: Would Steve Green’s Bible curriculum really be objective?
Turns out women had a better chance of finding birth control pills in a Hobby Lobby store.
A first look at the course’s textbook showed instance after instance of the Bible being taught as factually and historically true — making it illegal for use in a public school.
It didn’t help that the Freedom From Religion Foundation exposed the all-too-cozy relationship between the Greens and the district administrators.
In July, under all this scrutiny, the Green family announced they would postpone the curriculum:
“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.
“Unforeseen delays” being a euphemism for “Damn! They caught us!”
It’s getting closer to January now, so you might be wondering about the status of the curriculum.
Last night, faced with an open records request by FFRF, Superintendent Sean McDaniel informed the group, along with the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, of some welcome news — which was passed along to me via email:
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. All students who were pre-enrolled in the elective had their schedules changed to a Humanities course or they were afforded the opportunity to select another elective. The two non-negotiables we had established from the onset were not met. Non-negotiable #1 was that the district have the opportunity to review a final product prior to introducing it to our curriculum. That did not occur and so, by itself, that was a disqualifier. Non-negotiable #2 was a commitment to provide legal coverage to the district. That did not occur, which also was a disqualifier.
I love that second non-negotiable: Hobby Lobby had to pay for the legal costs in case the district was sued and lost… and they refused to do it. That may be the most damning evidence that they were doing something wrong.
But the bigger story is that the curriculum has been shuttered indefinitely. There will be no Hobby Lobby-sponsored Bible course in any school district anytime soon — and part of the reason for that is that the company’s owners wouldn’t even stand behind their own supposed objectivity.
Andrew Seidel of FFRF told me this in the wake of McDaniel’s email:
“We’re thrilled the district has come to its senses and agreed to drop this class. From the beginning, they were pawns of the Greens and Hobby Lobby, but now they’ve seen the light.”
(Top image via Shutterstock. Large portions of this article were posted earlier.)