The Ark Encounter or The Bible Museum

I am laughing quite hard at this. Of course, operating a museum in Washington DC is expensive. But doesn’t it say in the Bbile to give all your money to the poor so that you can reap your reward in heaven? :sunglasses: The Hobby Lobby family are very rich. Sure they poured $100s of millions into the bible museum, why not a couple of $100 million more to keep it open for free. :innocent:

Half a million in six months for the Bible Museum is better the Ark Encounter. Ark Encounter has less than 900,000 visitors per year.

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And the bible museum is historically accurate. It really is a museum. You can trust what they say in their displays. FFRF went through prior to opening and corrected historical inaccuracies. And to the Bible Museum made the corrections!. Also they also took responsibility for fake artifact that they purchased from unscrupulous Iranians.

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I’m having difficulty following your logic, Patrick. The museum is NOT an anti-poverty program nor does it only serve poor people. Indeed, providing free admission to everyone would conceivably require the diversion of other funds which the sponsors may ALREADY be channeling to serving the poor in other ways. (Of course, I don’t claim to know everything about every dollar the sponsors allocate to various charities and ministries—nor do you.) Increasing their museum sponsorship to sustain free admission for all would mean spending even more money on middle-class and wealthy visitors than is already the case.

Secondly, you have totally misunderstood something Jesus’ said to a particular individual (i.e., the rich young ruler, as he is described in the Bible.) Jesus did not tell everyone to give away all of their money to the poor. He told that particular young man to give away all of his money because Jesus knew that that fellow loved his money far more than God. Jesus knew that, if forced to choose between the two, the man would choose the money. Indeed, the Bible records his choice. Here is the passage:

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery,you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[a] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”

20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
— Matthew 19:16-22

Jesus and his disciples had a shared “treasury”, a bag of coins which Judas managed. The Bible doesn’t give us any details about who donated to it nor how it was disbursed as needs arose. Nevertheless, we can deduce that there was no urgency to immediately give it all away to the first poor people Jesus saw. Indeed, Jesus even said, “The poor you shall always have with you.” His point was that there are other worthy priorities, not just the poor.

Patrick, do you understand now how you misapplied Jesus’ teaching in this case? Meanwhile, although you don’t have any control over how much money the “Hobby Lobby family” gives to the poor, there is nothing stopping Patrick from giving more to the poor. You could even do as many non-wealthy Christians have done down through the centuries: They abstained from coffee, tea, beer, and other non-essential consumer items and gave that savings to the poor.

Just to be very clear:

But doesn’t it say in the Bbile to give all your money to the poor so that you can reap your reward in heaven?

No, it does not. Jesus placed no such demand on the Hobby Lobby family nor Christ-followers in general. He was speaking to those who value their money more than God.

Sorry. I missed the humor. Perhaps you could explain it to us.

Perhaps they believe that they can better allocate their wealth to help people in a variety of ways, not just through a Bible-education museum in one city. Indeed, millions of people will never visit Washington, D.C.—especially most of the world’s poor people. So why should the sponsors pour even more wealth into just one project in one place?

Also, I have found that people value something more when they share in its cost. Indeed, I’ve seen people stand in line for something that is being given away at no cost (such as a food item) and then a few minutes later throw it in the trash. Alas, if they are expected to pay even a small part of the cost, they tend to eat the item or take it home for later or give it to someone else who wants it. (I’ve even noticed something similar to this in RV parks where the electricity is provided “free” with the monthly rent. Some people ran their AC units at full blast with doors and windows left open. Yet the moment they were individually metered and charged for the electricity, they suddenly began to use it more wisely.)

Yes, we humans tend to place more value and give more serious thought to that which we helped fund. Even government and charity programs offering medical care to the poor often charge a token amount (e.g., $5) so that patients decide whether their case truly merits medical services. The efficiency of such programs improved considerably after token fees were initiated and far more poor people were better served as a result.

I generally disdain cheap political slogans. They are usually one-sided, inaccurate, and unhelpful. However, your glib comment reminds me of an old maxim that one of my uncles used to say in response to such ideas: “A liberal is someone who insists that he knows best how other people should spend their money.” [Keep in mind that I’m not trying to pick on liberals, especially when I’ve been labelled a “liberal” by my fellow Christians on more than one occasion.]

Rather than criticizing the museum or its sponsors, I prefer to praise the “Hobby Lobby family” and the museum’s directors and staff for providing such an excellent educational experience. Good for them.


Darn! I was just in D.C. (3rd time ever) for a conference and I didn’t even think of it. The only museum I did was the Spy Museum. I was 4 blocks away from the Bible Museum and I missed it! :frowning:

Regarding price, the Spy Museum was $25 and much smaller, though still pretty cool.


The Bible museum was originally planned to be free for the long term. After being open for a while they hired a consultant to get advice on this. The consultant made the case that they were so far below market that they wouldn’t be valued appropriately, and a $25 ticket would not be prohibitive for guests. In fact, it might even increase the number of visitors. So they changed the price based on that advice.

Even at $25 this museum is underpriced. It is really a phenomenal museum.

The building itself is shaped like an Ark. They considered styling it as the ark of Noah early on, but wisely chose not to do so.

Of note as well, one of their lead historians is an atheist. Nice guy. They are equal opportunity employers, without requiring a belief statement.


Interesting. I had assumed that, because the Museum of the Bible is in Washington D.C., the original plan for free admission was to tap into the fact that all of the incredible and prestigious Smithsonian Museums have free admission. (I had no evidence for that assumption about the management’s planning but that was my thinking.)

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It would be so fun to take a group of students there as a part of a faith integration experience. You could do the Bible Museum as well as the Smithsonian for space, natural history, art, etc. and have discussion groups afterward and curriculum to help guide them through making connections. Man, that would be fantastic!


@TedDavis and I, along with other scholars (including Darrel Falk and Se Kim), are currently advising their development of a “Science and the Bible” exhibit.


I guess I am still upset with the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case against Obamacare providing birth control to its employees. Here in NJ, every insurance plan must cover birth control was the law in NJ for years (decades) before Obamacare. So Hobby Lobby sued against Obamacare and won at the Supreme Court but it was moot in all their New Jersey stores as state law required all insurance companies to cover birth control.

To me, the family who owns Hobby Lobby company are just Christians who happen to own a large successful business and want to force their religious beliefs on their employees.

But on the other hand, could you envision this from the prospective of people who don’t wish to be entangled in something they are morally opposed to?

Say the NRA got a majority of Congress to create a law that required employers to subsidize the purchase of self-defense weapons and pay for monthly shooting training. If you were the owner of a private company, who is a pacifist and morally opposed to gun ownership, would you want to be able to avoid subsidizing guns and shooter training? Gun ownership is a constitutional right, but should that mean private company owners should be forced to support it despite their moral opposition?