Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, is the driving force behind the Museum of the Bible, a 430,000-square-foot facility scheduled to open in November in Washington, D.C., three blocks south of the U.S. Capitol. Green talks about the museum’s purpose and his view of the relationship between the Bible and American democracy.

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Video by Ilea Shutler. Produced by David Fritze.

“Conversations” is a series of video interviews with Oklahomans about subjects that relate to some of the state’s important issues. The 2016-2017 series is sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation and is made possible by a grant from the Institute for Nonprofit News.

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Green, son of David Green, founder of the arts and crafts store chain, grew up in a devout Christian family and reads the Bible daily. With the family’s wealth, Green began acquiring rare biblical texts and artifacts, called the Green Collection, many of which will be displayed in the $400 million museum.

The Green family and the museum are not without controversy. Hobby Lobby sued the federal government in 2012 over the Affordable Care Act’s mandate regarding coverage of contraception; the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the company in 2014. The museum has drawn criticism over the provenance of some artifacts, and some critics view its presence in the nation’s capital as an attempt to proselytize as much as educate.

Steve Green insists that education is its purpose, although he also hopes it will help stir people’s faith. “We want to educate them about this book, its impact, what its story is, and its history,” he says.

He sees an inextricable connection between the Bible and American freedoms and progress.

“I have traveled enough overseas to have a greater appreciation for our nation and the freedoms that our nation provides us, and the economic opportunities that our family has benefitted from,” Green says. “So the concern is, the less we know of this book, the more we’re going to walk away from principles that have benefitted all of mankind.”

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