Introducing... The D.C. Hobby Lobby Bible Museum

by Lauren Barbato

The family behind Hobby Lobby has moved onto its next venture, and it doesn't involve stencils or sparkly pipe cleaners. It does, however, have to do with the Bible: the owners of Hobby Lobby are building a Bible museum in Washington, D.C., just a few miles south from the National Mall. The biblical museum, which doesn't have a name at the moment, is slated to open in the spring of 2017.

It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that Hobby Lobby owners, the Green family, are developing a whole museum dedicated to the Bible. The Green's, who are Evangelist Christians, already run a nonprofit organization called Museum of the Bible, which includes The Green Collection and The Green Initiative, a research arm for biblical scholars. The nonprofit also develops Bible curricula for high school students.

The official Bible museum will provide a permanent home for The Green Collection, an extensive archive of biblical artifacts. According to the Museum of the Bible website, the collection features more than 40,000 pieces — quite the stunning number, considering The Green family hasn't been in the Biblical artifact business very long. Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby, purchased his first artifact in 2009. Now, scholars from The Green Initiative work in acquiring these texts and artifacts.

The Green's currently showcase their collection of Bibles, Torahs and other rare classical artifacts through the traveling exhibit "Passages," which most recently landed in Springfield, Missouri. The exhibit also features "hands-on" activities for kids and adults.

"'Passages' brings the pages of the Bible to life. It allows people of all interests to experience the creation of the book that has altered history, shaped culture, inspired minds and changed lives — including my own," Steve Green said in April.

So, what can visitors to the national Bible museum expect to see in 2017? Some of the most noteworthy artifacts among The Green Collection include fragments from the Dead Sea Scroll, first editions of the King James Bible, Torahs that survived the Holocaust and letters from religious figures like Martin Luther.

It's apparent that the Green's have been wanting to establish a national Bible museum for quite some time. But the museum may not be the best business practice for the Green family, who just three weeks ago won the right to deny their employees four different types of contraception, including the IUD and Plan B, because of their strong religious beliefs.

According to The New York Times, part of Steve Green's plan for the Bible museum is to "reintroduce this book to this nation." Although the Green's won a historic religious freedom case, some see the family's future mission as a major distortion of the lines separating church and state — lines that many believe the family has already crossed in the Supreme Court case.

"I think they are a great threat," Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, told The Times. "My instincts would tell me that they are choosing Washington, D.C., because they intend to influence Congress."

Meanwhile, the Green family said in a statement that after looking into other cities, including Dallas, they decided on building the Bible museum in Washington, D.C., because the nation's capital attracts millions of visitors each year.

Between now and 2017, it seems like the Green family has no interest in slowing down — or sticking to craft items. Just a few months before the Supreme Court handed down the landmark Hobby Lobby decision, the Green family submitted a Bible high school curriculum proposal to an Oklahoma school board. From high schools to national museums, it looks like the Green family is moving from the craft to Bible business — and there's not much standing in its way.

Images: Passages Exhibit/Facebook