The Hobby Lobby Bible Class IS Religious Indoctrination

hobby-lobby-1Allow me a moment to gloat, please. Last week, I predicted a couple of things, one being that Cliven Bundy is a complete racist and the other that Hobby Lobby’s Steve Green’s Bible curriculum for public schools would be thinly veiled religious proselytizing. No sooner did I surmise on Bundy than confirmation came in the guise of his cotton-picking pro-slavery screed. But deep in the heart of Facebook and Forward Progressive comments, I found a number of people questioning my mental acumen for doubting that billionaire Christian fundamentalist Steve Green would deliver a non-partisan curriculum on the bible – even with several reputed scholars in his backpocket aiding the project. Alas, vindication: The Steve Green Bible Class is, indeed, a credited Sunday School paid for by the public dollar, administered by a certified public school teacher, and in the context of other credited public high school classes.

Shocked? I know you are.

Furthermore, the Steve Green Bible Class is under the supervision of a public school principal, and a board of education that is supposed to serve the public. But in approving this class without vetting it for its faithfulness to the Constitution (yes, this is a constitutional issue, Tea Party), the Mustang, OK school board is opening themselves up for a slew of lawsuits.

How biased is it? According to a report in ABC News:

From the outset, the book describes God as eternal, “faithful and good,” ”full of love” and “an ever-present help in times of trouble.”
“The first pages of the Bible spotlight God’s desire for justice and a just world,” the second chapter says, but adds, “When humanity ignores or disobeys his rules, it has to suffer the consequences.”…..
The course also says people should rest on the Sabbath because God did so after six days of creation. Green’s stores, following the same principle, are closed on Sunday.

Additionally, the material asks leading questions such as “How do we know the Bible is historically accurate?” Questions such as these assume that the biblical narratives not only happened in historical time and space, but can be verified. Not only that, but phrasing the question as such means that students are graded upon accepting the assumption that the bible is literal and historical.

Not every student who goes to high school in Mustang, Oklahoma believes in a literal bible according to conservative Evangelical teaching*. Even in small suburbs in the heart of the Southern Baptist Bible Belt you can find young people wrestling and chafing with their religious heritage, or who grew up or identify as secular, atheist, Hindu, Muslim, Episcopalian, Orthodox or Reformed Jewish, pagan, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Black Baptist, AME, Unitarian, Lutheran, or agnostic (to name a few). They already feel ostracized in a largely socially/politically/religiously conservative setting.

As we have learned from experience, when one religion is given precedence over others in the public setting, practitioners feel a right to dominate over non-practitioners. Even though, for example, the class is not required, it can still affect those who do not agree with Steve Green’s view on the bible, God, and morality. This official, government-sanctioned consecration gives believers of the dominant religion (here, conservative Evangelicalism, mostly of the Southern Baptist variety) further justification to intimidate those outside the Southern Baptist culture and sends a clear message that outsiders are not welcome. Furthermore, it’s just bad, bad scholarship and gives students the impression that leaps of logic in defending our traditions and backgrounds are perfectly legitimate methods of conducting research and analysis.

Now, as to the doubters: Does it matter that I showed my work and quoted Green directly, in context? Not to some, apparently. I guess if one thinks that Hobby Lobby is a wonderful employer and is really only looking out for its own corporate religious freedom and not trying to impose its religion on others, than the fact that the Steve Green Bible Class is unconstitutional is irrelevant. Billionaire Christians are first in line to heaven cuz they get to buy their way in, eh? They’re rich, so they’re better than us cuz God blesses them, right?

That’s just #StuffWhiteChristiansSay.

*some Evangelical non-literalism can be seen through biblical scholars like Scot McKnight and Peter Enns.


When he’s not riding both his city’s public transit system and evil mayor, Jasdye teaches at a community college and writes about the intersection of equality and faith - with an occasional focus on Chicago - at the Left Cheek blog and on the Left Cheek: the Blog Facebook page. Check out more from Jasdye in his archives as well!


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