How did the Bible influence past presidents? New effort plans to reveal the answers

Posted September 11, 2016

Ahead of the Museum of the Bible's highly anticipated opening in Washington, D.C., next year, the organization has announced the launch of a seven-week lecture series to educate the public about "the Bible's influence on past U.S. presidents."

The series, titled, "Presidential Influence: The Importance of the Bible Among America’s Greatest Leaders," will launch Sept. 1, at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, Oklahoma, and admission is free for the public.

During each session, a different scholar will deliver presentations about the role and impact that the Judeo-Christian scriptures had on the lives of past presidents, according to a statement from the Museum of the Bible.

The first session will focus on Abraham Lincoln, with author Joshua Charles exploring the relationship that America's 16th president had with the Bible.

George Washington, too, will be the subject of discussion Sept. 15, with a lecture on Woodrow Wilson following on Oct. 6; the events will continue on select Thursdays through Dec. 1.

Other presidents on the agenda? Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams and George H.W. Bush.

The examination of the Bible's impact on the lives of past presidents comes amid the 2016 presidential campaign, with the Museum of the Bible looking to capitalize on the election season to spread its message.

"There is no doubt that the 2016 presidential election is one of the most talked about events in our country’s modern history," Museum of the Bible President Cary Summers said in a statement. "As such, we see it as a perfect opportunity to bring into the discussion an academic review of the Bible’s influence in the lives and careers of some of America’s greatest leaders."

Summers said the experience will help the public better understand the "weight of responsibility" that is shouldered by U.S. presidents as well as how each of the men explored in the series "relied on the Bible for comfort and guidance" in making oftentimes difficult decisions.

See an animated fly-through of the Museum of the Bible here.

Those interested in the lecture series are encouraged to get tickets on the museum's website.

The Museum of the Bible also announced this week that it is expanding its Bible-themed traveling exhibits and other academic events ahead of the museum's November 2017 opening.

In addition to launching the "Legacy of Christian Egypt" exhibit at the International Congress of Coptic Studies at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California, earlier this summer — an exhibit that focused on early Christian scribes — there's a separate display at The Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky.

The latter exhibit, titled "The Voyage of a Book," "shows the geographical spread of the Bible by exploring personal stories paired with biblical artifacts."

All of these efforts are helping further spread the word about the much-anticipated Bible museum. Spearheaded by the Green family, owners of craft store chain Hobby Lobby, the 430,000-square-foot facility will be just blocks away from the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Summers told "The Church Boys" podcast earlier this year that he believes the museum will have a major impact on visitors.

“I think people are going to grasp a much deeper understanding of how we got the Bible, how did it survive, how did it get transmitted — Is it correct? Can I rely upon it?” Summers said. “We don’t draw those conclusions for you. All we do is show you the evidence.”

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