Hobby Lobby is in the news again, but this time for developing a Bible education program that will be taught in some public schools next year.
The Mustang, Okla., school board voted Monday (April 14) to adopt a Bible course developed by the Arts and Crafts Company president, Steve Green, whose suit against the Affordable Care Act is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The school district is very close to Hobby Lobby headquarters, and will test the first year of the 'Museum of the Bible' Curriculum, an ambitious multi-year elective class on the narrative, history and impact of the Holy Book.
Jerry Pattengale, head of the Green Scholars Initiative, is overseeing the development of the program. In September 2016, he hopes to place it in at least 100 high schools, and wants it in thousands of schools by the following year.
The Green curriculum "is like nothing we've seen before," Charles Haynes told the Religious News Service.
Haynes is a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center and editor of a booklet sent out to all schools by the U.S. Department of Education in 2000 on teaching religion in public schools.
"It's unique in its ambition and its scope and its use of the latest technologies. I think school districts far from Oklahoma will take note," he said.
Because the course is being taught within the dictates of the law, it does not violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Abington School District v. Schempp, the case that initiated the Supreme Court ruling that outlawed school-sanctioned prayer in 1963.
"Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible," the Court put forth, "when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment."
Pattengale said that the group had gone to great lengths to insure the program meets the framework of the law, and that it be high quality and accurate.
The program can be broken down into three main areas: the Bible's narrative; the history of its composition and reception; and its impact on human civilization.
According to Pattengale, The textbook links to a wide variety of state-of-the-art digital enhancements, like clips from the Mark Burnett/Roma Downey miniseries "The Bible", original lectures by Green Institute scholars, and access to the Green's world renown collection of bibles and biblical text.
Although the vote heard some opposition monday, the program, and the Green family, are widely supported in the Mustang community. Most residents seem to be looking forward to the new program.
Said Brady Henderson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma: "We don't like their Supreme Court brief, but they do give a lot to the community. They treat their employees better than a lot of service industries."
The ACLU said they plan to look into the program, "to ensure no students... have their right of religious liberty compromised."