An Oklahoma school district has announced that it has indefinitely cancelled a Bible curriculum developed by Hobby Lobby.
Even though school officials postponed implementing the curriculum from its initial August launch date to January, the full rejection of the course that was spearheaded by the giant Christian retail chain came as a surprise to many, especially after the school district unanimously voted (4-0) to adopt the Bible history curriculum earlier this year.
One of the chief opponents to implementing the Bible curriculum from the onset of the proposal has been the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist group that has gained a reputation for striving to eliminate all vestiges of America’s Christian heritage in the public schools. According to a news release issued by FFRF, the official plans to move forward with the elective course for students were announced by the district.
“In summary, the topic of a Bible course in the Mustang School District is no longer a discussion item nor is there a plan to provide such a course in the foreseeable future,” Mustang Pubic School District superintendent Sean McDaniel reportedly declared in an email.
According to McDaniel’s statement, Hobby Lobby’s Green family failed to meet some “non-negotiable” requirements, including the district’s ability to review the course material prior to its introduction, as well as providing legal coverage for the school district in the event of a future lawsuit.
Not giving up
Despite the latest setback, Museum of the Bible executive director of education Dr. Jerry Pattengale — who co-developed the course with the museum’s founder, Hobby Lobby president Steve Green — appeared unfazed by the cancellation. He indicated that Green’s Washington, DC-based museum, which is slated to open in 2017 just blocks from the U.S. Capitol, is moving forward with curricula to implement in other interested school districts.
“We understand Mustang’s decision to withdraw the new, elective Bible course from consideration,” Pattengale expressed to The Blaze. “Museum of the Bible remains committed to providing an elective high school Bible curriculum and continues work on an innovative, high-tech course that will provide students and teachers with a scholarly overview of the Bible’s history, narrative and impact.”
Pattengale, who is also chairman of the museum, said earlier in the year that the curriculum highlights many of the contributions and foundational principles exhibited through the extensive collection amassed by the Green family, which will soon be exhibited in the nation’s capital.
"We have a unique value proposition to offer with this curriculum, given our work with scholars, The Green Collection's rare biblical texts and artifacts that currently number more than 44,000, and the museum," Pattengale shared.
The Bible police
But FFRF celebrated the school district’s decision, claiming that the Bible course would have held students as "captive audiences" to proselytizing, even though the course had always been presented as a Bible history elective offering for students.
"This development is a victory not only for reason and the law, but the sacrosanct right of a captive audience of students to be free from indoctrination in a public school setting," declared Annie Laurie Gaylor, who is co-president of FFRF, which joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) in a concerted effort to thwart the biblical curriculum from the Oklahoma school district.
The three anti-Christian groups sought to oust the proposed course, titled “The Book, the Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact of the World’s Best-selling Book,” since Spring, upon hearing that the curriculum would eventually be proposed to school districts across the country. FFRF, ACLU and AU all issued letters to the district and made open records requests in an effort to pressure school officials to drop the course.
The activist organizations contend that content from the course’s proposed textbook would be in violation of the First Amendment — a charge that many questioned since the text is reportedly still in the editing process. They claim that taxpayers would have to foot the bill for any impending lawsuits debating the constitutionality of the curriculum, which FFRF alleges has a “heavy Christian bias.”
Continuing to fight the good fight
The Green family’s Hobby Lobby — with its corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, just five miles from Mustang — declares that its primary commitment is "Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles." It contends that its curriculum does not compromise any student rights protected by the U.S. Constitution — or state constitution, for that matter.
The national arts and crafts corporation recently won a decision in the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that corporations with objections on religious grounds would not be held to the Affordable Care Act’s problematic contraceptive mandate. Following that drawn-out lawsuit with Pattengale’s unswerving dedication to implement the biblical curriculum in other school districts, Hobby Lobby remains hopeful its Bible course will begin to take root in other parts of the country in the near future.