- The $A659 million private Museum of the Bible is set to open this week.
- Hobby Lobby’s president — who paid $A3.95 million in a case involving smuggling artifacts earlier this year — is one of the driving forces behind the museum.
- The enormous museum will feature artifacts and recreate Biblical stories, as well as discuss the book’s influence.
- However, it has been plagued by questions about how it will balance religion and facts.
The Museum of the Bible — a $A659 million private museum that has been dogged by scandal — is finally set to open this week in Washington, DC.
From the beginning, the private museum has been plagued by questions regarding how it will balance religious messages and historical facts.
Things were further complicated when news broke in July that the museum chairman and Hobby Lobby president Steve Green had been involved in smuggling ancient Iraqi artifacts into the United States.
On Wednesday, a new controversy reared its head, with news that the museum will display the Confederate flag and pro-slavery texts in an attempt to understand the Bible’s role in the Civil War.
Here’s everything you need to know about the controversial museum.
The Museum of the Bible will host 40,000 biblical and religious artifacts, such as this Gospel Book from 17th-century Turkey.
Green's collection alone includes Dead Sea Scroll fragments, Babe Ruth's Bible, and the world's largest collection of Torah scrolls.
According to a statement from the Museum of the Bible, none of the artifacts identified in the $A3.95 million smuggling settlement have ever been part of the museum's collection.
The first exhibit to arrive at the museum was a 3,200-pound replica of the Liberty Bell that had to be lowered into the building while it was still under construction.
An illustration of the Sea of Galilee and other biblical sites attempts to bring the narrative to life for visitors.
In addition to exhibits, the museum will have a restaurant that serves foods from the Bible, with the menu changing based on season and regional focuses.
Unlike many of Washington, DC's museums, the Museum of the Bible is privately funded, with much of its backing coming from the Green family.
'As many people as we can educate about this book, the better,' Green told the Washington Post in 2014. 'I think seeing the biblical foundations of our nation -- for our legislators to see that, that a lot of that was biblically based, that we have religious freedoms today, which are a biblical concept, it can't hurt being there.'
The fact that the museum is privately funded has raised concerns that it will focus on the Bible exclusively from a Christian perspective, promoting a specific evangelical interpretation of the Bible over an academic one.
Museum of the Bible workers have said these criticisms are baseless, noting that the Israel Antiquities Authority is partners with the museum.
'There's just a basic need for people to read the book,' Green told the Associated Press. 'This book has had an impact on our world and we just think people ought to know it and hopefully they will be inspired to engage with it after they come here.'
At the same time, Green has pushed for public schools to introduce a Bible curriculum, and he wrote in his book there is 'only one interpretation' of the Bible.
The opening ceremony of the museum will promote an interfaith message, with guests including dignitaries, a rabbi, and two Roman Catholic cardinals bearing a message from Pope Francis.
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