By Bob Allen
An Oklahoma school district has dropped plans for a pilot project by Hobby Lobby President Steve Green aimed at adding Bible study to the curriculum of public high schools nationwide, a church-state watchdog group reported Nov. 25.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State said Superintendent Sean McDaniel of Mustang Public Schools near Hobby Lobby’s corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City responded in an email that implementation of a Bible course “is no longer a discussion item nor is there a plan to provide such a course in the foreseeable future.”
McDaniel reportedly added the final decision came after the district requested that Hobby Lobby agree to pay its legal expenses in the event of a lawsuit, and Green refused.
“Education officials in Mustang did the wise thing,” said AU Executive Director Barry Lynn, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. “Objective study about religion in public schools is permissible, but this curriculum was essentially an extended Sunday school lesson.”
The Mustang school board voted in April to beta-test the first year of the Museum of the Bible Curriculum, an ambitious four-year public school elective on the narrative, history and impact of the Holy Bible.
In July the nonprofit started by Green for the project announced it was postponing the August introduction of the curriculum after church-state groups reviewed some of the book and complained that it was biased toward a particular religious perspective — biblical inerrancy — and would likely be declared unconstitutional.
Green, a member of Council Road Baptist Church in Bethany, Okla., said publicly the curriculum would teach that the Bible is literally true. “The book that we have is a reliable historical document, and we are going to point that out time and time again,” Green said at a ceremony in 2013.
Ayesha Khan, legal director for Americans United, said the district made the right call.
“There is a right way and wrong way to teach about the Bible and other religious texts in public schools,” Khan said. “The Hobby Lobby curriculum is an example of the wrong way. Education officials in Mustang have saved themselves many headaches by backing out of this ill-conceived plan.”