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Secularist group accuses Bible museum of indoctrinating visitors

(Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)Visitors enter an exhibition at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has accused the newly-opened Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. of indoctrinating its visitors and said that it has taken steps to ensure that the institution has not received any taxpayer funds.

In an article posted on Patheos.com, Andrew L. Seidel, Director of Strategic Response for the FFRF, said that the group has been monitoring the progress of the museum for years and it has filed Freedom of Information Act requests to make sure that no taxpayer funds have been received during its construction.

Seidel noted that in 2014, the FFRF had tried to prevent Steve Green, who had funded the museum, from implementing a Bible course in Oklahoma public schools.

He contended that the materials in that course had a "clear Christian bias" and said that he expects to see "more of the same in the Museum of the Bible."

"Indoctrination, not education. Preaching, not teaching. Just like the bible class, it will try to prove the truth of the bible. And while the structure may be impressive and there may be some wonderful artifacts (hopefully not purloined), the underlying arguments will likely fall as flat as the class," he wrote.

The $500 million museum, which opened to the public on Saturday, features a large collection of Christian and Hebrew artifacts, as well as exhibits on the Bible's influence on society, including media, fashion and events in American and world history.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Tony Zeiss, the museum's executive director, noted that the museum consulted with 100 biblical scholars in an effort to avoid appearing partisan.

Seidel, however, suggested that a closer look at the museum's exhibits "will reveal a disturbing bias and dearth of scholarship."

Other critics have also complained about the museum's lack of representation of other religious points of view.

Joel S. Baden, a professor of the Hebrew Bible at Yale University, lamented that the museum puts too much emphasis on American Protestantism and leaves out other faiths, such as Mormonism and Islam.

Zeiss has said that the museum's aim is to educate people about the Bible and to show the history and influence of what he described as the world's most influential texts.

"Things are divisive, but we will not get into any of the cultural or social debates if possible. We just want to present the Bible as it is, and let people make up their own minds," he said.

The administrators of the museum have said that the primary goal of its exhibits is to get the people to read the Bible not necessarily to believe in it.

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