WASHINGTON D.C. (Christian Examiner) – Construction has begun on the "Museum of the Bible," which is set to open in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2017.
Last week Steve Green, CEO of Hobby Lobby, and his wife Jackie hosted a gala event at the Hobby Lobby headquarters in Oklahoma City in order to share their vision for the museum. The event attracted 200 of the most influential Christian leaders in the nation, including Franklin Graham, Jay Dardenne, and Rick Santorum, who gathered to show support for both the Green family and this venture.
The museum is to be the most innovative of its kind, holding $800 million worth of assets and boasting eight floors of interactive, high tech exhibits.
Steve Green is to serve as Chairman of the Board for the museum. Many of the biblical artifacts on display are expected to come from the Green family's personal collection, which is among the largest private collections of biblical artifacts in the world. Many of the family's 40,000 biblical relics have already been displayed in traveling exhibits since 2011.
"Our collection is of great historical and biblical significance," Green said. "It demonstrates the Bible's impact on every facet of life throughout the ages – including science, the arts, government, literature and languages."
The museum will do far more than house artifacts. Green said he has enlisted a host of world- class biblical scholars from institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge to analyze the materials and conduct research to further people's knowledge of Scripture.
Green said he believes the Bible needs to be understood and appreciated as an important book, regardless of whether people accept its teachings.
Green's personal commitment to the Bible and its ethics attracted widespread media attention when he defied the Obamacare mandate to provide his employees with access to the "morning after" pill, which he deemed incompatible with his religious beliefs. The case was eventually settled in June of this year by the United States Supreme Court, where the court ruled 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby.
Though Green said he knew his stance could result in major financial losses for his company, he insisted that he built the company on God's principles and he could not waver from those.
What many people do not realize is the extent of the Greens' philanthropic endeavors. From its inception, the company has donated 50 percent of its profits to charitable causes. Even the lowest-level employees are paid well above minimum wage.
The Green family has donated more than one billion copies of Scripture to people in about 100 nations.
Yet, despite owning massive storage and processing facilities in Oklahoma City and over 600 stores scattered across the nation, Hobby Lobby holds no long-term debt.
Green's religious convictions have directed his business, the successful businessman said. He said he hopes this museum will grant many people access to a book that has forever changed his life.
"Washington, D.C., is the museum capital of the world, so it's only fitting that our board selected Washington as the home for this international museum," Green said. "We invite everyone – adults and children, the intellectually curious and most seasoned of scholars alike – to Museum of the Bible to explore the most important and influential book ever written."