The Freedom From Religion Foundation is strongly criticizing Hobby Lobby’s public school bible course recently approved by Mustang Public Schools in Mustang, Okla.
National state-church watchdog FFRF has been eyeing the bible course since November, when Hobby Lobby’s billionaire owner Steve Green personally pitched it to the school board. On April 23, FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel had a chance to look over the proposed textbook.
“I am amazed that any school district would think this is appropriate for public schools,” said Seidel, adding that his amazement isn’t accompanied by surprise. “This just confirms the suspicions we had about the class last year. Clearly, Hobby Lobby and the Greens are trying to convert children to their particular brand of Christianity. There is nothing scholarly, fair or balanced about the curriculum.”
In its April 24 letter to the school district, FFRF noted that the “the draft materials MPS intends to use unequivocally fail to meet the legal standards required by our Constitution. The materials show a clear Christian bias, treat the bible as historically accurate and true in all respects and make theological claims.”
FFRF intends to further review the materials this summer because “these criticisms are not exhaustive and were revealed after a brief glance.” Seidel hopes to enroll experts to critique the class more thoroughly.
Seidel noted numerous alarming inaccuracies, including:
- Perhaps the best example of the Christian bias of the book is the question it asks and answers: “What is God like?” It goes on to list only positive attributes (“Faithful and good,” “gracious and compassionate,” "orderly and disciplined,” “full of love”) or theologically Christian attributes (“always was, always will be,” “ever-present help in times of trouble,” “righteous judge”). God’s negative aspects go unmentioned. For instance, according to the same bible in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:5), it says, “I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.” Not only does God admit jealousy, he promises to punish innocent children for the crimes of their parents in the Ten Commandments. Any fair, balanced listing of God’s attributes must include those which he allegedly gives himself.
- The textbook criticizes the “historical half-truths” of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, a work of fiction, but fails to apply that same critical lens to the bible it’s so clearly promoting. The summary contained on that page reads, “[W]e can conclude that the Bible, especially when viewed alongside other historical information, is a reliable historical source.” The text even makes the claim that “The writer of Genesis (traditionally thought to be Moses) says . . .” Genuine scholarship shows that Moses was not the author.
For other examples of how the curriculum’s text fails to pass constitutional and scholarly muster, read FFRF’s letter.