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Bible Museum Coming to Washington, DC

There are many museums in Washington, D.C. One that is near the headquarters of the Voice of America tells about the American Indian. Next to that is the very popular National Air and Space Museum. Washington is also home to the National Museum of Crime & Punishment and the International Spy Museum.

Soon, the city will have a privately-owned museum that tells about Christianity’s holy book, the Bible.

Recently, reporters watched as crews began work on the planned Bible Museum. It is being built inside a former warehouse, next to a railroad bridge and train tracks in Southwest DC.

Bible Museum officials say the museum will use videos and historic artifacts to tell the history of the Bible. The objects include ancient Torah scrolls and parchments from the Christian New Testament. All of the artifacts come from the large collection of Steve Green, the chairman of the museum.

Mr. Green is an evangelical Christian. He believes in sharing his religious beliefs with others. A reporter asked him if he wants the museum to persuade visitors to accept Christianity.

“So do you hope it might bring other people to Christianity?”

“We would hope people would consider what the book has to say, and that’s a choice that they make, and if it’s compelling, then that is a decision they can make on their own. But we believe it’s something that everybody ought to consider.”

Reverend Barry Lynn leads a group called Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. He says that, under the U.S. Constitution, Steve Green has a right to build his museum.

“There’s no question that if you want to build a museum to the Bible, to the Quran -- any building at all -- and someone is willing to sell you the property, you have the right to buy it in this country.”

Reverend Lynn says he believes Mr. Green wanted to build the Bible Museum close to the U.S. Capitol -- the building in which Congress meets. He thinks the aim is to persuade lawmakers to pass legislation influenced by Christianity.

“I can’t believe that the people who created the Bible Museum wanted this to be anywhere but close to the center of power, and close to other -- official -- government buildings.”

Cary Summers is the president of the museum.

“The decision was made to be in Washington because of the museums here. It really was not because the capital was here.”

The museum is set to open in 2017. It will cost $400 million to build.

I’m Bob Doughty.

VOA Religion Correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reported this story from Washington. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted the report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

artifact – n. a simple object (such as a tool or weapon) that was made by people in the past

Torah scroll – n. a long scroll containing the entire text of the Five Books of Moses, hand-written in the original Hebrew. It is rolled up around two ornate wooden shafts, attached to either end of the scroll.

parchment – n. paper made from the skin of a sheep or goat

evangelical Christian – n. of or relating to a Christian sect or group that stresses the authority of the Bible, the importance of believing that Jesus Christ saved you personally from sin or Hell, and the preaching of these beliefs to other people

compelling – adj. capable of causing someone to believe or agree

Quran – n. the Islamic holy book, believed to be the word of God as dictated to Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel and written down in Arabic

Is the Bible displayed in museums in your country? Do you have museums in your country that display religious items? We want to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments section.

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