Washington, D.C. Will Be Home to ‘Bible Museum’

I know what you’re thinking: There’s just not enough to do in Washington, D.C. Yes, the Smithsonian. Yes, the White House. Yes, the Supreme Court. But what has D.C. done for me lately?!

That’s why you’ll be happy to know a yet-to-be-named Bible museum will open its doors in four years:

A sampling of the Bible museum’s offerings — from the collection of more than 40,000 artifacts — have been displayed in the Passages Exhibit at the Vatican and in Oklahoma City and Atlanta and will soon appear in Charlotte, N.C.

Summers said the traveling exhibit recreates at 80 percent scale the chamber of London’s Westminster Abbey where the King James Version of the Bible was written. A full-scale recreation is planned for the museum.

Maybe they can call that huge room the Hall of Biblical Contradictions and display this lovely poster (PDF):

Cary Summers, the chief operating officer of this museum, is a consultant to the Creation Museum. Which doesn’t lend him the credibility he seems to think it does. And he’s using the same line to promote the Bible museum as Ken Ham does to promote the Creation Museum:

Research they commissioned found that the general population was more willing to travel to the nation’s capital for a Bible-focused museum than the other two cities, Summers said.

“In reality, the population base within that eight-to-10 hour drive of D.C. represents half the U.S. or two-thirds and there’s a lot of Christians in that group,” he said Tuesday…

Here’s Ken Ham repeating the same damn thing on his own site:

were you aware that almost two thirds of the U.S. population can drive to our Creation Museum in one day (up to 650 miles)?

It’s almost as if there are *lots* of big cities in America within a day’s driving distance of each other… Amazing how it just worked out like that.

One of the sponsors of this museum is Hobby Lobby owner Steve Green:

[Green] said the museum will feature the history, contents and influence of the Bible but will leave it up to visitors to decide whether to believe the holy book.

Riiiiight. I’m sure their displays will be perfectly nuanced, including commentary from Bible scholars who believe in what it says and those who don’t… maybe they’ll include the Jefferson Bible, too?!

To paraphrase one of the commenters at the Washington Post, this museum isn’t needed.

Washington D.C. already has buildings that promote works of fiction. They’re called libraries.

(Thanks to Andrew for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.westley Brian Westley

    Hopefully, they will sell this game (which is actually fun):

    http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1304/credo

  • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

    I actually wouldn’t be opposed to a Bible museum if they actually did it well. There is a tremendous history associated with the Bible as a cultural artifact and much to be explored from a secular perspective. I wouldn’t even necessarily be opposed to the inclusion of Creationism, if it were included as one particular episode in the cultural phenomena surrounding the Bible. Creationism, as a doctrine, was an important episode in the history of American religion, regardless of whether that doctrine is true or false. Even a museum devoted to the history of American religion might be tremendously interesting. I think religious literacy should be an important part of what we are trying to accomplish as a movement; I also think Dennett makes a fairly decent case for that in “Breaking the Spell”.

    However, I think Hemant has made it clear here that that’s not what this is (or, at the very least, that it’s doubtful that it is.) I might still eventually go, especially if its free, but having Summers as a consultant is very worrying.

  • Loic

    The Jefferson Bible is currently on display at the National Museum of American History in DC! I visited a few weeks ago and was so thrilled to see the scissored-up pages where the POTUS #3 took out the sillier stuff. 

  • ConureDelSol

    I would take pictures of all the exhibits and then draw stupid stuff all over the pictures.  

    Next, let’s build a Quran museum.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1307550890 Marsha Whittington Abelman

    If they are honest about the Bible, if they put up a time line as to when the books were gathered together by the Catholic guys and also mention how they burned some scrolls they did NOT want to be included, then a whole batch of new freethinkers will be born! Finding out the truth about the Bible is one thing that helped me leave religion!  

  • A Reader

    Will there be exhibits on all the times the bible has been copied/miscopied, translated from dead languages, etc.?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, orphan

    meh. The District is a tourist town, and attracts all sorts. if someone wants to waste their money on building another monument, i don’t really care. fundies will go to all their tourist destinations no matter where they are, just as we will not. 

  • Leslidodgeharrer

    Who is paying for this?  

  • Ggsillars

    Arghhh! We don’t fucking want it here, put it someplace else!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

    We need a specific event in which on a certain day Atheists with all the same Atheist-based T-Shirt show up. When it opens of course. If it opens, I might add. Future Reddit, get on it!

  • Loic

    Linford86, I mentioned earlier that I saw the Jefferson Bible which is being displayed for a short time at the National Museum of American History. Of course, the Bible Museum being discussed here would be nothing of the kind, but the NMAH exhibit simply told about the evolution of Jefferson’s religious/non-religious thoughts and gave an account of how the JB came to be. I was probably in the exhibit for about half and hour and during that time I noted several people carefully reading the display text and it was kind of a “come from Jesus moment,” ha. I heard several people say “You mean Jefferson didn’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead? He didn’t think you have to believe in the lord to be saved?” etc. A REAL Bible Museum would be awesome. But not what’s being proposed…that one will probably have dinosaurs….maybe Jefferson riding on a dino in tandem with Jesus… :)

  • Emma

    As someone who grew up in the DC Metro area, I can tell you two things.

    1) Rent/land prices in DC are crazy expensive (even post housing bubble- having the feds here helps)

    2) I can’t say much about the tourists, but DC locals aren’t likely to flock to this place. Most of the people in the DC area are fairly liberal and/or secular, and thus, unlikely to go to it. Yeah, there are the African American religious demographic, but from what I know, they don’t tend to go in much for things like this.

    So that doesn’t bode well for a Bible museum in DC. Hooray.

  • Dxf

    I hope they have the same success with fund raising as they have with the Ark Encounter amusement part.
    No Ark Encounter?

  • B_R_Deadite99

    The government should call in scholars and historians to look into this and make sure that it accurately depicts the history of the bible, instead of having some Ken Ham animatronics scene of God influencing the gospel writers or some equally dumb shit.


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