Monday, September 7, 2015

New museum of the Bible - who cares?

The founder of the privately held company, Hobby Lobby, is once again in the news. As you may recall, Hobby Lobby entrepreneur Steve Green, previously protested against having to provide full healthcare benefits (e.g., contraception) to his employees. Now, Green has funded a new Museum of the Bible, set to open in a location near the US Capitol.

Who cares?

Unsurprisingly, a sizable number of people object for various reasons. First, some people object because the museum's proximity to the Capitol suggests an inappropriate mixing of religion and politics. I reply: What's new about this? Furthermore, I'm strongly support the presence of religion in the public square. Religious groups and perspectives, like other groups and perspectives, have a right to participate in public discourse.

Second, some people object because the museum may become an effective means of evangelical propaganda (aka evangelism). I reply (with a yawn): Anyone gullible enough to find an assortment of artifacts related to the Bible sufficiently persuasive to commit to evangelical Christianity would probably have the same commitment at the next convenient opportunity. As I have repeatedly contended in Ethical Musings' posts, the Bible is at best understood as a window or source of metaphors about life's deepest mystery and not a sourcebook of propositional truth.

What I find disturbing about this controversy is the lack of Christian concern that the money used to fund the Museum of the Bible is being used unethically. Jesus did not build any museums. Instead, he fed the hungry, gave water to the thirsty, stood firm against the forces of oppression, called for people to live justly, and worked for peace. The national mall does not need another museum; instead, the nation needs people who live more justly and love more fully.

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