The American Bible Society wants to showcase the importance the Bible has on American life.
The American Bible Society based in Philadelphia has unveiled plans to construct the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center, to be opened in 2018. The center is estimated to cost about $60 million dollars and will be located across from Independence Mall on the first floor of the Wells Fargo Building at Fifth and Market Streets. The center will focus on showcasing the importance and weight that the Bible has had on American life.
Roy Peterson, head of the American Bible Society remarked, “This location…places us between Independence Hall and the National Constitutional Center. It’s no accident that we decided to build this here in Philadelphia, a city founded by William Penn, whose belief in religious freedom landed him in prison before he had the ultimate opportunity to establish this city as a beacon for the world.”
The Bible discovery center is projected to attract at least 250,000 visitors every year. It is also projected that the museum will cost $5.3 million to operate while impacting the economy to the tune of $10.5 million. 60 permanent jobs will be created, coupled with 540 temporary construction jobs. The Mayor, Jim Kenney commented, “It really could be a world tourism attraction. Because there are so many faiths, so many ethnicities, so many experiences that are based in the Old Testament, I can see people from other countries really wanting to come here and experience this wonderful experience.”
The center will be paid for using private funding and will feature 40,000 square feet of space for exhibits, displays and programs. According to Daniel Dreisbach, a University Professor with expertise on the constitution, building the Bible center close to the Independence Mall is not a violation of the separation of church and state that is the foundation of the U.S. federal government. He stated, “There’s a distinction between education and proselytizing. The Bible provided the basic building blocks of American civic life. Hebrew Scripture is important to the American founding.”
— Anthony Hatcher (@ahatcher54) January 12, 2017
Kermit Roosevelt, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School commented, “I’m not sure it’s historically accurate to say the founders drew their thoughts from the Bible. I don’t think the U.S. Constitution reflects Christian ideals or doctrine. The Bible is not useful to interpret the Constitution.”
Local Projects, responsible for designing the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York will be designing the “immersive experience” of the Bible Center. The founder of Local Project, Jake Barton expressed his views to reporters, “What we’re trying to do is make an experience that’s personalized but also universal…We’re also interested in some immersive technologies, in particular in allowing people to understand that the streets of Philadelphia that we walk today literally have history encoded inside them.”