The Family Behind a $500 Million Bible Museum Hopes to Change Washington

The new Museum of the Bible three blocks from the Capitol has a political ambition. The Bible, says the museum’s chairman and the president of Hobby Lobby, Steve Green, needs to have a prominent voice in Washington.

“We think Congress ought to know the foundation of the nation that they are running today,” Green told TIME in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

“We would hope the White House, whether it is the current president, former presidents, future presidents, we would invite all people to come and know about this book,” he said.

Green said that the museum hopes to engage “all people” with the Bible, and that Washington was chosen because of its volume of tourists and concentration of museums. The museum’s leadership has repeatedly stated that the project is nonsectarian and does not espouse a faith perspective. The evangelical Green family has largely funded the $500 million museum, and its board is comprised of mostly white evangelical men. It opens to the public on Nov. 18.

“While we say it is for all people, that includes our legislators,” Green said. “Many of the principles our nation was built on came from the Bible and we think that it is important for them to know that.”

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Asked what it was specifically that he wanted legislators to learn, Green said, “Our religious freedoms, and many of the principles our nation was built on, came from the Bible.”

“The idea that all men are created equal, as an example, has two biblical concepts right there; the idea that we are created is a Biblical concept, the idea that we are created equal, our founders got that from the Bible,” he said.

Asked what he hoped the White House would learn, Green said, “Hopefully the teachings of this book — which are to treat others as you would want to be treated, dealing with honesty, integrity, to love God and to love others as you would love yourself, these kinds of lessons that the Bible teaches — we would hope would be embraced by all people.”

The museum has invited President Trump to come visit.

“We heard that there was an interest from the family to come and view it, so we sent an invitation,” Green says. “I don’t know how well he is versed on the Bible and how much he has used it, but I think that obviously if it was of an influence, it would be good.”

Green says the museum has also discussed having an event for all living presidents to take a tour.

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