Civil Liberties Groups Alarmed by Content of Okla. Bible Course

Church & State, July-August 2014 | Go to article overview

Civil Liberties Groups Alarmed by Content of Okla. Bible Course


Three national organizations have been examining the content of a proposed public school Bible course put forth by craft store chain owner Steven Green and are alarmed by what they've found.

The class, which is being examined by Americans United, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, contains much sectarian content, the groups say.

Green, who owns the Hobby Lobby store chain, has denied accusations that the curriculum for the class, which is set to enter public schools in Mustang, Okla., next year, violates the First Amendment. However Americans United and its allies received copies of the curriculum in response to an open records request and discovered several issues.

In one passage, for example, God is described as "eternal, faithful and good, full of love" and "an ever-present help in times of trouble."

What's more, the Bible is explained in a matter clearly designed to establish it as a unique, even special, account of the world's origins distinct from other Near Eastern religious traditions.

"Even more astounding," reads one passage in the curriculum, "God placed human beings in a garden full of food he had made for them. This contrasts with the Near Eastern view that the job of humans is to provide food and entertainment for the gods. Everything is different!"

The curriculum goes on to suggest that the Genesis account of creation actually describes the Big Bang, and asserts, "When humans rest and stop working on the Sabbath, they are actually imitating God."

The curriculum lists 64 scholars credited for assisting with the production of the material. The vast majority --52--teach at highly sectarian institutions that require them to sign a doctrinal statement confirming the inerrancy of scripture. Several of them have no doctoral education or professional research experience whatsoever. …

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