The following story by The Associated Press appeared in the May 7, 2014, edition of The Washington Post and numerous other publications. Expertise for this story was provided by SMU Religious Studies Professor Mark Chancey.
May 9, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY — Steve Green’s faith led him to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he’s argued the nation’s new health care law and its requirement that his business provide certain types of birth control to employees violates his religious freedoms.
At the same time, the president of the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores is working to add the Bible to the curriculum of public high schools nationwide. His purpose, stated more clearly at some times than at others, is for students to learn its text and put America on a righteous course.
“This nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught,” Green said last year to the National Bible Association, announcing his plan for the high school course. “There are lessons from the past that we can learn from, the dangers of ignorance of this book. We need to know it, and if we don’t know it, our future is going to be very scary.”
Green has established a beachhead in his home state of Oklahoma, where the public Mustang School District in suburban Oklahoma City will begin teaching a class about the Bible as an elective beginning this fall. The goal is to place the Bible course in thousands of schools by 2017.
Green told the Mustang school board last fall that the one-year trial of the Bible curriculum developed by the Green Scholars Initiative wasn’t intended to proselytize or “go down denominational, religious-type roads,” and persuaded the board that the plan would pass any constitutional challenges.
That is possible, said Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University. But while a carefully constructed course about the Bible can be constitutional, it’s easy to cross a line.
“Sometimes it happens very intentionally where people and groups try to send in these courses as Trojan horses to try to get public schools to promote their religion over all other others,” Chancey said.
Read the full story.
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